Grad Students

Qualifying Examinations

The Qualifying Examination (QE) tests a PhD student's research progress, ability to explain and evaluate his/her research work in the context of the scientific literature, and ability to answer technical questions from other scientists.

Unless special permission is granted by the School, the QE must be completed within 18 months from enrolment in the PhD programme. Failure to do so may result in disqualification from the PhD programme.

Preparing for the QE

To be eligible for the QE, a PhD student must have completed the coursework requirements of the PhD programme, while satisfying the minimum CGPA of 3.5. (If the student is enrolled in and on-track to complete the last one or two courses during Year 2 Semester 1, permission will be granted to attend the QE, but the QE results will take effect only after successfully completion of the coursework.) Students who think they might not be able to meet the coursework requirements before the QE due date should contact the PhD programme administrators as soon as possible.

PhD students who meet the eligibility criteria will have their QEs scheduled near the end of Semester 1 of the second year of study (15–16 months after enrolment in the programme). Students will be informed via email of the date/time of the oral examination, and the faculty members who will be the examiners.

A few months before the scheduled QE, each students should begin preparing the QE report. This is a short report (20-50 pages) detailing (i) the research progress thus far, and (ii) future research plans. It should be properly formatted according to the standards of the scientific literature.

The PhD student must also prepare a 30-minute presentation. The oral examination will consist of the 30-minute presentation, followed by a 10–15 minute Question and Answer session. The examiners may ask about anything relating to the research.