Qualifying Examination

The ECE Ph.D. Qualifying Examinations comprise of two written examinations: (1) the Breadth exam and (2) the Depth exam. Each exam has duration of three hours.

M.S.E.E. students must pass the Breadth exam as part of their requirements for the M.S.E.E. degree.

Part-1: Qualifying exam:

This exam evaluates the student’s breadth of knowledge in Electrical and Computer Engineering. This exam is usually conducted at the end of April in the spring semester and at the beginning of November in the fall semester. In this exam the student is required to answer 4 problems:

  • One problem on engineering mathematics: The student needs to answer one problem from a set of seven problems, each from a different mathematical topic. View the list of mathematical topics here.
  • Three problem from selected undergraduate courses of ECE: A sufficient number of problems are provided from four different Technical Thrust Group (TTG) areas from which the student needs to answer any three by selecting not more than two problems from the same area (i.e. all three should not be chosen from the same area). Complete reading lists along with samples of these problems in all found areas may be found here.

Part-2: Research Aptitude Test:

This evaluates the student’s potential for performing high quality research in the chosen discipline. This requires the student to submit a technical paper/report and make an oral presentation on a topic selected by the student to his/her advisory committee.

Paper/report: A written paper of 5-10 pages in standard IEEE format must be submitted to the committee at least one week prior to the scheduled presentation date. The topic and contents of the paper should ideally include the student’s original work; however, a review of a research topic within the student’s area of interest will also be acceptable. It should be indicative of the student’s research potential. The student may consult with his/her advisor about the topic, however, the paper must be written by the student. The paper should be commensurate in form and content to that of an acceptable technical article in the student’s disciplinary area. An accepted conference or journal paper that is primarily written by the student may be used to meet this requirement, but it is not necessary to have a published paper for this test.

Presentation: Following the submission of the paper/report, the student should make an oral presentation of the same to the committee. The presentation should be for approximately 20 minutes and demonstrate the student’s understanding of motivation for research on the presented topic; related work on the area; and the technical idea, novelty, and contributions being presented.

At the end of the presentation, the committee will perform an oral exam to evaluate the student’s research aptitude, presentation skills, and writing skills. Committee evaluations and the research paper will be reviewed by Graduate Committee, where a Pass/Fail result will be determined.

The evaluation form for the research aptitude test is available here.