PhD Examinations

Qualifying Examination

The Qualifying Examination (QE) must be completed within the first three regular academic semesters (i.e. not including summer and winter sessions) after admission to the Ph.D. program.  In the event that the student does not successfully complete this requirement, the student has the option to pursue a Masters degree (if one has not already been obtained) or to leave the program.  Specifics of the QE format and schedule follow:

The QE is administered in two parts:

  1. Written Examination:  This phase of the examination will comprise two test modules, the first focusing on fundamental materials science concepts and principles (thermodynamics, kinetics) and the second focusing on materials processing, structure, and properties.  Each module will last a maximum of 3 hours.  The written portion of the exam will be administered as needed every semester by MSE faculty.
  2. Oral Examination:  This exam phase will be administered upon availability of the written examination results before a committee of 3 MSE faculty members.

Failure of either portion of the QE constitutes failure of the exam.  In the event that a student fails the QE on the first attempt, another attempt may be made in the next academic semester.  No further attempts, however, may be made in the event of a second failure.

QE content will be focused on a limited set of primary source materials (texts, notes) identified to the student by the Graduate Studies Committee within the semester immediately prior to that in which the student will take the QE.

Comprehensive Examination

The Comprehensive Examination is comprised of two parts:

  1. a Written Examination
  2. an Oral Examination

Both parts of the examination must be passed satisfactorily in order to pass the entire examination.

1. Written Examination

Satisfactory completion of the MSE Qualifying Examination written component satisfies the written component requirement for the Comprehensive Examination.

2. Oral Examination

When the written portions of the Comprehensive Examination (in the major and in the minor fields) have been completed satisfactorily and when the student is ready to take the Oral Examination, the Department will officially acknowledge successful completion of the written Comprehensive Examination requirements.

The student will work with the MSE academic programs office to  notify the Graduate College and request a date for the Oral Examination. The oral portion of the examination must be taken within 6 months of departmental acknowledgement as required by the Graduate College. The Oral Examination shall be taken no later than 3 months before completion of the dissertation and Final Examination. It should be taken as soon as the student has met all the requirements of the written portions covering the minor field.

The Oral Examination will include a brief presentation reporting on progress on the dissertation topic. The presentation will be followed by a question period covering general MSE topics and concepts.  The Oral Examination is not intended as an opportunity for questioning regarding student dissertation work.

The members of the Oral Examination Committee will be chosen by the candidate.

University of Arizona College of Engineering