PhD Program General Exam 1

After the completion of three mechanical engineering core courses and two elective courses, the student will be required to take a General Exam 1, or PhD Qualifying Exam. The primary purpose of General Exam 1 is to evaluate the student's ability, not only to demonstrate a thorough knowledge of mechanical engineering course material, but to evaluate original thinking. The written exam will be in four parts:

  1. Core Course Exam: The exam on the three core courses will be three hours in duration and will require three problems to be answered. Students have the option to substitute an elective course for one of the core courses with the approval of their advisor.
  2. Elective Subjects Exam: The electives exam will be a one-hour exam and will require one problem selected from either of two elective courses to be answered.
  3. Engineering Math: This will be a two-hour exam and the student must answer two problems.
  4. Research Paper Exam: This will be a two-day take home exam requiring the student to answer questions on a specific research paper.
  5. A new set of exams will be prepared and questions and problems from previous exams are not available to students. It is expected that the exam on the elective courses will focus on the student's area of specialization.


An overall grade of 70 percent on each and every part of the written exam is passing. Students who score below 70 percent on certain parts of the written exam are given the option of re-taking exams on topic areas in which they scored less than 70 percent before the beginning of the next semester. The student must score 70 percent in each subject that is retaken. Alternatively the student may retake the entire exam when it is next offered. There would only be one opportunity to retake all or part of the exam. General Exam 1 is scheduled immediately after the last day of the final examination period in the fall semester and in the spring semester each year.

When to Take the Exam

For students who have obtained the MS in ocean engineering, or the MS in mechanical engineering at FAU, General Exam 1 must be taken no later than the beginning of the third semester of PhD study or at the first opportunity it is offered thereafter. Those admitted to the PhD program directly after the BS degree in ocean or mechanical engineering at FAU may take the exam after completing 24 credits of graduate coursework. For students not so previously enrolled, the exam must be taken by the beginning of the fourth semester or as soon as it is offered thereafter.