There are three examinations that must be taken and passed at various stages of the doctoral program in Electrical and Computer Engineering.

The Qualifying Examination

Students admitted to the doctoral program must pass a written qualifying examination. This exam ensures that a candidate for the doctoral degree has a basic fundamental knowledge of electrical and computer engineering. The exam must be taken by the end of the second semester of study. If a student fails the exam, the student will immediately be required to design a remediation plan with his or her advisory committee, submit a signed copy of that plan to the ECE Graduate Program Officer, and then retake the exam at its next offering. Only one repeat is allowed for the exam. A second failure will result in dismissal from the doctoral program.

The Qualifying Examination is administered by the ECE Graduate Faculty in the Fall and Spring semesters. It will be a three-hour closed-book written exam covering undergraduate material in four fundamental areas of electrical and computer engineering:

  1. Circuits, signals,and systems
  2. Electronics
  3. Electromagnetics
  4. Digital systems

The exam will comprise twelve questions, three from each area. Eight questions must be submitted for grading.

The General (Preliminary) Examination

A general examination, often called the "preliminary examination", is required of all applicants for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. It consists of written and oral testing by the student's advisory committee in the student's major and minor areas. The written portion of the examination does not require approval in advance by the Graduate School. The oral portion, however, does require such approval. Arrangements must be made by application to the Gradate School one week in advance.

The primary purpose of the general examination is to assess the student's understanding of the broad body of knowledge in a field of study. The examination also affords the advisory committee an opportunity to review the student's proposed research and understanding of research methods and literature in the chosen field. If the general examination reveals deficiencies in any of these areas, the advisor committee may recommend remedial work, re-examination, or discontinuation of doctoral study.

The general oral examination should be conducted immediately after the successful completion of the written examination and well before the final examination. At least one complete semester - preferably more than one - must intervene between the general oral and final examinations. The two examinations cannot be taken either in the same semester or in consecutive semesters.

Successful completion of the oral examination requires unanimous support of the student's advisory committee. If the general examination is failed, a re-examination may be given upon recommendation of the committee and approval by the dean of the Graduate School. Further examinations require exceptional circumstances and approval by the Graduate School

The student becomes a candidate for the degree on successful completion of the general examination and has four calendar years thereafter to complete all additional requirements. If unable because of reasons beyond the candidate's control to compete the requirements on time, the student may petition the dean of the Graduate School for an extension. Otherwise, the student will revert to the status of an applicant.

The Final Examination (Dissertation Defense)

After the first draft of the dissertation has been completed and has been approved by the student's advisory committee, it is submitted to the Graduate School. An outside reader will be appointed to review the dissertation. However, the student's advisor may request appointment of an outside reader at any time rather than waiting until after the dissertation is drafted. When the Graduate School has approved the dissertation, the student may apply for the final examination on a form obtained from the Graduate School. The application must be filed with the Graduate School at least one week in advance.

The examination is administered by the student's advisory committee. The representative of the Graduate School, the outside reader, also attends and participates. The examination, which generally is oral but may be both oral and written, includes the major and minor fields and a defense of the dissertation. Successful completion requires unanimous support of all members of the committee. Any member of the Graduate Faculty may attend.

If a student fails the final examination, a re-examination may be given on recommendation of the advisory committee and approval by the Dean of the Graduate School. Further examination requires exceptional circumstances and approval of the Graduate Council.

In addition to successful completion of all examinations, final copies of the dissertation must be submitted to the Graduate School before the degree is conferred. Refer to the Graduate School Calendar for the deadline.

Last Updated: 8/22/16 1:21 PM