Doctoral WPE II Exam Regulations

WPE II Framework and Guidelines

The purpose of the WPE II Exam is to demonstrate the candidate's ability to analyze, evaluate, and present an existing body of research, normally (but not necessarily) in the area in which they intend to carry out their dissertation work. The WPE II should be passed in the student's second year.

To use the Googledocs version of the WPEII approval form, send email to, you can share the WPEII form with your WPE II chair, the grad chair, etc. for approvals.

There are three options for fulfilling the WPE II requirement:

  • Critical review - a significant (15-25 pages) piece of scholarly expository writing based on a coherent selection of 2-4 papers from the research literature in the chosen area.
  • A master’s thesis.

For whichever above option is determined appropriate, the student must:

    • Select a faculty member, not the student’s advisor, who agrees to act as the WPE II Chair.
    • With the WPE II Chair select two other faculty members, one of whom may be the student’s advisor, who agree to be the WPE II committee.
    • Obtain approval of the WPE II Chair and Graduate Group Chair of the WPE II approval form.
    • Make a public oral presentation of approximately forty-five minutes overseen by the WPE II chair and committee.

The logistics are as follows:

    • Complete the WPE II approval form, obtaining approval of the WPE II and Grad Group Chairs.
    • The WPE II document should be delivered to the WPE II Chair and committee members.
    • The student, WPE II Chair, and committee agree on a date for the public oral presentation.
    • The WPE II public oral presentation announcement to faculty, fellow doctoral students, and postdocs, with abstract, committee members, room, time, etc., is sent by the student to at least two weeks prior to the presentation with a reminder the day before. Click here to acces the guidelines for using
    • The WPE II is graded either pass or fail: A 'fail' may be retried at most once.

The scheduling of the public oral presentation of the WPE-II is the responsibility of the student; it is a good idea to begin scheduling early, at least a few weeks in advance of the presentation. The SEAS Space Reservation website has information re: availability, technology, & reserving CIS/SEAS conference rooms; use this site to reserve the room for your presentation.