PhD Qualifying Exams

PhD Qualifying Exams

The written portion of the Ph.D. Qualifying Exam is a written exam covering fundamental material that students are expected to have covered before joining the Ph.D. program.  The questions are taken from the following eight areas of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Study guides for each area can be found by clicking on the appropriate link below.


Previous exam questions can be found here.

Exam review sessions are coordinated by the ECE Graduate Students’ Organization. More information about these review sessions can be found here.

Each student will select three of these areas before the examination and will receive two questions in each one of the selected areas during the examination (total of six questions).  Answers must be given to four of the six questions only, including at least one question from each one of the three areas. The examination will test problem solving skills, fundamental understanding, reasoning ability, and written communication skills, and will last for two hours. No materials are allowed during the examination (the department will provide scientific calculators for use during the exam).

The Written Qualifying Examination is offered only once a year (in the month of January), on a Saturday after the start of the Spring semester. Students can register for the exam by clicking on the test registration link below.

Ph.D. students must take the Ph.D. Written Qualifying Examination during their first year  of enrollment in the Ph.D. program. Financial support may be contingent on taking the exam. Upon failure, the Written Qualifying Examination can be retaken the next time it is offered. If more than two attempts are required, students may petition the Ph.D. Exam Committee for permission to retake the exam. A successful petition must include a letter of support from the proposed Ph.D. advisor.

Students with a minor in another department have to arrange for a written qualifying exam in their minor to satisfy Graduate School requirements. The exam must be administered by the student’s minor supervisor.

Test Registration