Ph.D. Qualifying Examination

The Ph.D. Qualifying Exam tests the readiness of the student for research at the graduate level.

Qualifying Exam Registration Form (PDF)

Dates and Times of the Ph.D. Qualifying Exam

The Ph.D. Qualifying Exam will be offered each Fall semester (August) and Spring semester (January), subject to a minimum of 5 students registered by the dates below. In the case that less than 5 students register for any semester and the exam is not offered, it is guaranteed to be offered the following semester regardless of the number of students registered. The exam will be administered on the Monday just prior to the start of classes and is a half-day written exam.

Registration Deadlines

For Spring semester (January) exam: October 15
For Fall semester (August) exam: March 15

Registration Process

  • Students will select three areas of specialization at the time of registration. On the exam, students will answer a total of six questions with two coming from each of the three areas of specialization. There will be a minimum of three questions per area from which the student is allowed to select.
  • Students must sign up and declare three areas of graduate specialization at the same time.
  • Signing up is a commitment to take the examination if offered. No deletions or changes are allowed. For students who sign up but neglect to take the examination it will be considered a failed attempt.
  • Students who fail their first attempt at the Ph.D. Qualifying Exam must register for and complete the exam at the first subsequent offering.
  • Students will be afforded two attempts to pass the Ph.D. Qualifying Exam. Students who have failed the exam twice must petition the Graduate Studies Committee to be eligible for an additional attempt. The petition must be accompanied by a letter of support from the student’s advisor.

Exam Format

  • Exam questions are based upon the graduate courses and topics listed below. Their difficulty is commensurate with typical homework, quiz, and/or examination problems given in the associated class.
  • Students will answer a total of six questions with two coming from each of the three areas of specialization. There will be a minimum of three questions per area from which the student is allowed to select.
  • The examination will be closed-book, closed-notes, except for a CRC Handbook (Standard Mathematical Tables).
  • Students may use a scientific calculator. Allowed calculators are those on the list approved by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying which is available on their website.

Old Qualifying Exam Questions

Three years of past exams will be posted here, excluding the two most recent exams.

Courses That Form the Basis of the Ph.D. Qualifying Exam

The Ph.D. qualifying examination is based on the graduate core courses.