Most Ph.D. programs require that doctoral candidates pass a comprehensive exam prior to writing their dissertation. Ph.D. stands for “doctor of philosophy” and the “philosophy” that the doctoral candidate studies is typically the viewpoint of a particular specific academic discipline. In my case, I studied the “philosophy” of the management and organizational behavior (with concentrations in human resources and communication) academic disciplines at the University of Cincinnati. In my program, our comprehensive exams were structured like this: students chose to answer one of two questions in a secondary sub-field within management and two of three questions in their primary area of study within management. Students had four hours to answer each question and this portion of the exam took two days. Mid-week, students had a day break before being given a 48-hour portion of the exam where they had to evaluate a piece of research from their primary field, analyze the major findings, articulate what was well-done about the research and suggest what could be improved upon.
I am a wildlife biologist, but I am just as likely to be found swimming in the Resnik Pool at Saint Vincent College as I am watching birds fly over the Winnie Palmer Nature Reserve or the campus wetlands. I took some time during my sabbatical to consider how similar the transportation modes of swimming and flying are to one another and wrote an article to put my thoughts in order.