Ph.D. Qualifying Exam

New Policy on Ph.D. Qualifier

Effective Fall 2021, the ECE coursework-based Ph.D. qualifier requires a Ph.D. student to earn a 3.5 GPA on the first 18 credit hours of ECE graduate coursework (at least 50% of credit hours must be at 8000-level). DIS courses are not considered for Ph.D. qualifier. Full-time students are required to pass the qualifier by the end of the second year of doctoral enrollment.

For Ph.D. students with their doctoral enrollment before Fall 2021, they are considered "qualified" by either passing the written qualifying exam in old policy (see below) or satisfying the new coursework-based policy. Otherwise, they are required to have a minimum of four A's on ECE graduate courses (at least two at the 8000-level, DIS excluded) in their transcript by Spring 2022 for full-time students, or with the consideration of the next 10 credit hours starting Fall 2021 for part-time students.

Overview (Old Policy)

All students enrolled in the doctoral program in Electrical and Computer Engineering are required to pass a written qualifying examination. The purpose of this qualifying examination is to assess the student's broad background in ECE and ensure their capabilities for conducting doctoral work. This exam covers undergraduate EE and CPE course work.

Students who are classified as doctoral students must pass the qualifying examination within the first two years of full-time doctoral enrollment. Students enrolled in the doctoral program part-time have two years to pass the qualifying examination after completing 9 credit hours of course work.

The qualifying examination is given twice a year, each fall and spring semester, usually the first Saturday in October and the first Saturday in March, or as scheduled by the department. Students planning to take the qualifying examination must submit to the graduate program director a Qualifying Exam Form by September 15 for the fall semester and by February 15 for the spring semester.

In addition to students enrolled in the doctoral program, the following students may also take the qualifying examination:

  • students enrolled in the M.S. program within the department
  • senior undergraduate students with a GPA of 3.5 or higher enrolled in the department

Exam Overview

The ECE qualifying exam consists of a total of 25 problems, 12 problems form core courses in ECE and 13 problems from discipline-specific, upper-level areas. Each student must select a total of 8 problems (a minimum of two problems from upper-level areas) to work within a 4-hour duration for grading. Pass/fail results will be reported.

Sample Exam

Permitted Calculators

A basic calculator is permitted; that is, any calculator permitted to be used on the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) Examination may be used. See the NCEES Calculator Policy for more information.

Course Coverage

  • Core Courses:
  • Discipline Specific:
    • Digital Computing (5 Problems)
    • Signal Processing (2 Problems)
    • Microelectronics (2 Problems)
    • Power and Controls (2 Problems)
    • Electromagnetics and Telecommunications (2 problems)