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Ph.D. Degree Requirements

Qualifying Examination

Requirement: The qualifying exam is a written examination.  Students must pass TWO (2) qualifier exams by the end of the spring of the second academic year of their doctoral study.

1. If a student fails to pass a qualifier exam in its second try, the graduate chair will convene a meeting with the student’s adviser and the instructor that administered the exam in question. This committee may decide that:

  • The student is nonetheless making adequate progress and will stay in the program after completing a remedial action; or
  • The student is not making adequate progress but is allowed the chance to take the qualifier a third time because of extenuating circumstances; or
  • he student is not making adequate progress and must withdraw from the program.

2. If a student fails a qualifier exam for a third time, the student must withdraw from the program.

Selection: There are three core research thrusts – Devices; Circuits & Computer Engineering; and Information Systems.  There are two qualifier areas per research thrust.  Each doctoral student can select two (2) qualifier exams from any of the six available options.

Thrusts Devices Circuits & Computer Engineering Information Systems (Control & Communications)
ESE 510: Electromagnetic & Optical Theory
(offered in FALL)
ESE 532: System-on-a-Chip
(offered in SPRING)
ESE 500: Linear Systems Theory
(offered in FALL)
ESE 521: Physics of Solid State Energy Devices
(offered in SPRING)
ESE 572: Analog Integrated Circuits
(offered in FALL)
ESE 530: Elements of Probability Theory
(offered in FALL)

Grading:  The department will appoint a two-member committee for each of the courses, with the instructor for the current year acting as the head of the committee. Each committee will finalize and publicly announce the course syllabus by the second week of the semester.

These syllabi will serve both as plans for the courses and as reading lists for the corresponding sections of the Qualifier. All Qualifier courses will have written in-class final exams, taking place during the usual university final examination period.

The qualifiers will be set and graded by the same two-member faculty committee that also set the syllabus. The committee will then determine precisely the minimum performance on each specific exam that would constitute a Qualifier pass.

Thresholds for qualifier pass/fail will generally be higher than the pass/fail for that course.  The Qualifier results are separate from the grade in the course; i.e., the complete course load (e.g., homeworks, projects, midterms, quizzes). Thus the criteria for obtaining the grade in the course are set separately from the Qualifier passing criteria. The results will be announced to the students by the graduate chair/coordinator.

The faculty will meet once a year to review the performance of the doctoral students in the first and the second year.  Continuations in the program will be determined in these meetings.

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