PhD Qualifying Exam

The Basics

  • Approach it seriously, prepare rigorously, and pass it on the first attempt.

Sample PhD Qualifying Exams

Codification of Procedures

  • You must have an advisor before taking the Oral portion of the exam.
  • The PhD Qualifying exam is composed of a Written exam, typically administered in the 4th week of the semester, followed by an Oral exam.
  • A student may attempt the Qualifying exam twice.
  • All students must attempt the Qualifying exam by their 3rd semester after enrolling in the graduate program at MTU. For a student transferring from the MS to PhD program, he/she must take the exam by their 3rd semester or the next available offering, whichever comes last. Note that skipping an offering is considered as failing the exam.
  • Upon passing the Written exam, the Oral exam can be scheduled and must be taken by the semester following the semester in which the Written was first taken.
  • A failed Oral exam does not require retaking of the Written portion.
  • A failed Written exam must be retaken and passed upon the next offering of the exam.
  • A failed Oral exam must be retaken and passed by the end of the following semester.

Issues of Content

  • There will be Written and Oral parts of the Qualifying exam. The purpose of the Written exam is to test fundamental engineering problem solving skills and conceptual understanding at the undergraduate senior level. The Oral exam is to test skills in independent research, written expression, and oral presentation.
  • The Written will consist of a 3 hour closed-book, closed notes fundamentals exam. The student must answer 6 of the 8 questions with scope defined by the course specifications for the list of required courses in EE. The required courses are 2110, 2150, 2173, 3120, 3130, 3140, 3160, 3170.
  • The fundamentals exam for EE will be assembled by the Chair of the Grad committee.
  • The Oral will consist of:
    1. Follow-up of the student’s performance on the Written exam
    2. The student presenting to his/her committee a paper written in IEEE format as a response to a set of selected questions provided by the faculty in the candidate’s field of interest. The selected questions will be given to the student upon returning the results of the Written exam. A minimum of 2 weeks will be allowed for preparation for the Oral. The committee will serve as “referees” to the student’s work and the student will be expected to orally defend their paper.