Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Information on Ph.D. Qualifying Exam

The qualifying examination, also called candidacy examination, tests primarily your research proposal and your research competence. You should begin the examination with an oral dissertation proposal (no longer than 1/2 hour of prepared material). This proposal will give rise to questions from the examining committee. While the examination centers around your dissertation topic, it also assesses the depth and breadth of your knowledge, and your aptitude in approaching and solving fundamental research problems. The examination is scheduled for 2-3 hours and normally occurs within two years of the preliminary examination.

When you are ready to take the qualifying examination you must submit the Nomination of Ph.D. Qualifying Examination Committee Form to the Graduate Coordinator, April Heath, at least two weeks in advance of your scheduled exam date. This form is used to propose a Qualifying Examination Committee. You should complete this form in consultation with your Faculty Advisor, and the form must be signed by both the student and their advisor before submitting to Ms. Heath. Ms. Heath will then submit the form on you behalf for additional signatures and further processing.

The committee must have five (5) members. Three (3) members of this committee must be Core faculty in the Civil & Environmental Engineering (CEE) Department. One member must be a UCI faculty member from outside the CEE Department. Your Faculty Advisor serves as the technical chair of the committee. By exception, one committee member other than the Chair or the outside member can be a non-voting member of the UC Academic Senate (e.g. Adjunct Professor, faculty holding professorial positions outside the UC system). Only one exception per committee will be considered (please see Ms. Heath for more information). However, in case that the previous rules preclude members that can offer valuable advice and guidance for your research, such members can be included in addition to the five committee members as long as the majority of the committee still stands in the CEE Department.

After approval of your Qualifying Examination Committee you must take the qualifying examination. All members of the Qualifying Examination Committee must be present at the exam. At least 2 weeks prior to the examination, you are obliged to provide the committee members with a preparation package containing a proposed table of contents for the dissertation, a program plan, an outline of work completed, an outline of work remaining, a bibliography, and any other pertinent information. Inform the Graduate Coordinator of the time and place of the examination, so that your file and Ph.D. Form I will be available for the exam.

After passing your qualifying examination, the Qualifying Examination Committee will give you the signed Ph.D. Form I. Ph.D. Form I describes the results of your qualifying examination, and lists members of your Dissertation Committee. The Dissertation Committee consists of 3 members of your qualifying examination committee, and is normally organized immediately following your qualifying examination. Your Faculty Advisor is chair of your Dissertation Committee. After receiving all the required approval signatures on the Ph.D. Form I, you must pay the $90 Advancement Fee at the UCI Cashier’s office and then submit the Ph.D. Form I to the Office of Graduate Studies to be advanced to candidacy in the Ph.D. program.

If you do not pass your qualifying examination, you must fulfill the conditions imposed by the qualifying examination committee before reapplying to take the exam. You will have two chances to pass the qualifying exam.