Skip to content Skip to navigation

Ph.D. Pre-Candidacy Examinations


Ph.D. Pre-Candidacy Examinations

Preliminary Examinations (Ph.D.)

Some doctoral programs require a preliminary examination before a student may apply to take the Qualifying Examination. This may entail the completion of a paper, a series of papers, a written examination, or some other requirement defined by the program. Currently, only the Mechanical Engineering program requires a preliminary examination.

Qualifying Examination (Ph.D.)

The qualifying examination, also called candidacy examination, tests primarily a student’s research proposal and research competence. A typical examination begins with an oral dissertation proposal (no longer than 1/2 hour of prepared material). This proposal will give rise to questions from the examining committee. While the examination centers around the dissertation topic, it also assesses the depth and breadth of knowledge, and aptitude in approaching and solving fundamental research problems.   Students should consult with their qualifying examination committee and their faculty advisor regarding the structure of the exam.

Application for Qualifying Examination and the Qualifying Examination Procedure

  1. Complete and submit the Application for Qualifying Examination at least ONE MONTH prior to your proposed examination date.  The form can be found at:
  2. Once your form has been approved by the Graduate Dean, please schedule the room for the exam.
    1. To reserve a conference room or meeting space, please go to
    2. Click on EMS Room Reservation System Icon (conference table) on the right-hand side of the webpage to complete the room reservation process. 
    3. For a how to guide on reservaing a room, see EMS Room Reservation Instructions. For additional FAQ's, vist:
  3. Announcements (Please check with your faculty advisor as this process varies)
    1. Fill out the seminar announcement template with your seminar information and abstract. (Template: soe_defense_seminar_template.docx)
    2. Please email your announcement at least 1 week prior to your examination date in a word document and a pdf to and copy We will post the announcement in SE1 & SE 2, and send out the announcement 1 week prior to your examination date.
  4. Examination Date
    1. Stop by SE2 Room 315 to pick up school-specific documents from the front desk and hand them to your committee chair.  The committee chair will be responsible for submitting all forms to the SoE Graduate Staff in SE2 315 within 48 hours of the completed examination.