Comprehensive examination

Passing a comprehensive examination is required of all students in the doctoral program. Students must successfully pass all Core and electives courses before being deemed eligible to sit for their comprehensive exam. The Comprehensive Examination must include a written and oral portion. The objective of the examination is to determine the extent of the student’s knowledge and the ability to apply that knowledge in problem solving situations. The format of the Comprehensive Examination is determined by the Supervisory Committee. The written examination typically includes the preparation and defense of a scientific grant proposal, which may be evaluated by external or internal reviewers. The oral examination typically includes a defense of the proposal and may cover areas related to the student’s program of study.

Advancement to candidacy

After the student has passed the Comprehensive Examination, satisfied the requirements of his/her approved program, and other requirements of the Supervisory Committee, the committee will recommend to the Graduate Office, the student’s admission to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree. The recommendation must be filed at least seven months prior to the final oral examination (defense of dissertation).


The dissertation should demonstrate the student’s technical mastery of the applied behavior analysis and should advance or modify former knowledge; i.e. it should treat new material, or find new results, or draw new conclusions, or it should interpret old material with new insights.

Final oral examination and dissertation defense

The final examination is oral and public. It is given by the Supervisory Committee after all other requirements have been met. The committee also determines the character and length of the defense. The examination may be devoted to the special field of the dissertation or to related matters, or it may be designed to test the candidate’s judgment and critical thinking.

First author manuscript submission

Submitting a first author manuscript for possible publication to a peer reviewed journal is required of all students in the doctoral program. The manuscript does not necessarily have to be the student’s dissertation but should involve a related topic of study.

Apply Now
Students interested in applying to the PhD program should:
  1. Complete the online application, you will need an NUID and password. Once you sign in, under Term, Program & Plan/Academic Plan, please choose Medical Sciences Interdepartmental Area (MSIA). Under Academic Sub-Plan, choose Applied Behavioral Analysis.
  2. Request GRE scores be submitted to UNMC; and request official transcripts be sent to the UNMC Graduate Studies Office. Visit our Admissions page for more details
  3. E-mail Christy Williams your CV
For more information
Autism Spectrum Disorders
Christy Williams
Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders
Phone: (402) 559-8863