Three grades are possible: pass, pass with reservations, or fail. If two of four members of the committee vote to fail the exam, the vote is recorded as a failure. If members vote to pass with reservations, it is taken as a passing vote; however, the reservations must be satisfied before you can continue in the program.
If you pass with reservations, you will be told so immediately after the exam by your advisor. Within one week, your advisor must send a letter to you that clearly stipulates the reservations and the steps required to remove them. A copy of that letter is sent to the Graduate School and will accompany the signed Preliminary Oral Examination Report form (GS18). When you have satisfied the committee’s reservations, a second letter informing you and the Graduate School that the reservations have been removed and that you may proceed toward the degree is also required. You cannot take the final oral examination (dissertation defense) until this is done.
Students who fail the examination may be excluded from candidacy or may be allowed, on unanimous recommendation of the examining committee, to retake the examination, providing the reexamination is conducted by the original committee. In no case may the reexamination take place before 10 weeks have passed. No more than one reexamination is allowed.