PhD Candidacy Examination 

The purpose of the PhD Candidacy Examination in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science is for the doctoral student to demonstrate the student’s ability to identify, undertake, and analyze a specific substantive area (or areas) of research in electrical engineering, computer engineering, or computer science. 


Procedure for Candidacy Examination 

  1. The student is expected to take graduate courses and select a Dissertation Advisor during the first year of the PhD program. 
  2. Upon completing at least 9 credit hours and not more than 24 credit hours of graduate course work (including credit hours of Directed Independent Study and Advanced Research), a PhD student may request to take the PhD Candidacy Exam. A student entering the PhD program with a bachelor’s degree (direct-path PhD student) is expected to take the PhD Candidacy Exam upon completing at least 24 credit hours and not more than 36 credit hours of graduate course work (including credit hours of Directed Independent Study and Advanced Research). 
  3. The student will submit the Candidacy Exam Request Form, approved by the dissertation advisor, by a specified deadline—a date in September (Fall semesters) or January (Spring semesters). 
  4. The Candidacy Exam Coordinator, in consultation with the Graduate Programs Commitee, will appoint three members of the Candidacy Exam Commitee for each student (based on student’s major and research background), one of them designated as commitee chair who will lead the examination. The student's dissertation advisor is not a member of the Candidacy Exam Commitee. 
  5. The Candidacy Exam coordinator, in consultation with the Graduate Program Commitee, will announce between 5 and 10 research papers from 5 or 6 prominent research areas. For the sake of the exam, each student will select one research paper. 
    This exam must be passed for formal admission into candidacy in the doctoral program. A student failing the exam may, upon re- application, take it a second time. Two failures will normally result in the student's dismissal from the PhD program. 
    6. After the paper selection, the student has 4 weeks to prepare a 20 to 30-minute PowerPoint presentation to the commitee based on the paper. To demonstrate potential to begin doctoral-level research, the student must show the ability to perform the following tasks and answer questions about each: 
    • State a problem and provide motivation and requirements for a solution for the 
    • Describe the novelty of the work as compared to the field in general.
    • Determine if a proposed solution to the problem is correct and meets the requirements 
      for the solution. 
    • Describe how the problem and presumed solution fit in the broader research context.
    • Describe the meaning of mathematical equations (or models) used in the paper.  
    • Describe the system’s performance evaluation and results if present in the paper. 
    • Identify and describe the limitations of the work. 


Candidate Evaluation 

The PhD Candidacy Commitee will discuss and finalize their vote. Each commitee member will vote (Pass or Fail) based on the overall quality of the oral presentation, understanding of the research problem and presented solution in the seminal paper, and research area in general. The student requires at least two out of three “Pass” votes to pass the exam. 


Application for the Computer Science Qualifying Exam

Students need to fill out and submit an application for the qualifying exam. The application can be found here.