What are your opinions on serving sweets at an oral exam. The only people attending would be the exam committee members.

For my master's degree I was at a school where it was customary for everyone to bring cookies and coffee at oral exams or presentations. However, now I'm at a school where generally nothing is served at seminars unless the speaker is visiting from another university.

My lab-mates mostly only brought some bottled water to the exam for the committee members. One, also made a pot of coffee and brought it to the exam.

My exam will be later in the afternoon and I know that two of my committee members will have been in another exam prior to the start of mine. I feel like it would be nice if I brought a box of candy or something along with water and maybe coffee for refreshment. I'm a little worried about them getting impatient or in a bad mood as the exam draws on. One of my lab-mates however thinks that I would be taking it too far and I may offend the committee members.

What are your thoughts?

EDIT: this was marked as a possible duplicate. I believe it is different because the other question was referring to a defense where anyone could attend. Providing refreshments in such a case could be seen as an attempt to get more people to attend. In my case no one was allowed to attend and I was afraid that a committee member could see this as me giving "gifts" in hopes of swaying them.

  • Opinion about serving sweets? I find this question a mockery of the tags applied.
    – Sathyam
    Commented Mar 1, 2016 at 21:33
  • 5
    I think most faculty would not object to being offered some cookies; I think it's cute. That said, make sure that your presentation is impeccable because otherwise, one might grumble that your priorities are wrong. Commented Mar 1, 2016 at 22:28
  • While not an exact duplicate: academia.stackexchange.com/a/7264/929 and I stand by my answer everybody likes cookies/biscuits
    – StrongBad
    Commented Mar 1, 2016 at 22:57
  • 1
    I think you should ask your advisor what's appropriate. For mine, I did quite a range of appetizers & cookies (it was open to anyone at the school), but then my fallback plan if I didn't pass was to work as a chef :-)
    – jamesqf
    Commented Mar 2, 2016 at 6:11
  • 1
    Possible duplicate of Is it appropriate to bring coffee and cookies to a PhD defense?
    – Davidmh
    Commented Mar 2, 2016 at 10:59

1 Answer 1


Over here in the UK, we do not provide anything as a candidate, if necessary the research group's secretary knows what to do. Anyhow, I would agree with your friend, I would provide only water, and then if applicable I would ask a senior lecturer (such as your supervisor or head of group) in the research group to invite the examiner(s) for tea/coffee/beer and/or lunch.

  • Thanks. I'm studying in the US. My last school was also in the US. Commented Mar 1, 2016 at 21:29
  • 1
    @Hadi Ok then, add the beer as well :-)
    – o-0
    Commented Mar 1, 2016 at 21:31

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