Information about the Ph.D. Qualifying Exam


Typically, the Ph.D. Qualifying Exam is offered after Fall quarter (in late November/early December) and after Spring quarter (mid-June). Students with an M.S. in Chemical Engineering must take the Qualifying Exam at the first opportunity following the beginning of their studies. Students without an M.S. in Chemical Engineering must take the Qualifying Exam at the first offering after all four M.S. core courses have been offered after their entry into the program. A student whose first attempt is unsuccessful must make a second attempt at the next offering.  Students are allowed a maximum of two attempts to pass the exam.  Students failing two attempts will not be permitted to continue in the Ph.D. program.

The Qualifying Exam consists of two questions in each of the four areas generally covered by the four core M.S.-level courses

The higher of the two scores in each area, plus the highest two of the remaining scores, are counted. To be successful, a student must pass the entire exam in one attempt.  You cannot pass if you do not attempt at least one question in each of the four areas, and if you must take the exam a second time, you must repeat the entire exam, not just any specific portion that you did poorly on the first time.

Below is the text of the email sent to the students taking the exam
about 2 to 3 weeks prior.  
You are receiving this email because you indicated your intent to take
the Chemical Engineering Ph.D. Qualifying Examination on XXX.
That exam will be held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in XXX.
Guidelines for the exam are as follows:
The exam consists of eight sets of questions, two for each of the four
core areas of chemical engineering as defined by our required master's
level course (math, thermo, transport, kinetics and reactor design).   
You need an overall average score of 7.0/10 to pass the exam.  You must
answer at least six questions with at least one question from each of
the four areas.  The other two can be from any of the four at your
choosing.  You can answer seven questions or all eight, and we will
count only your best six scores so long as at least one score from
each of the four areas is included.
You are permitted to bring with you to the exam as many books, notes,
references, etc. as you wish.  You cannot use any device that gives
you access to the outside world, internet or otherwise, such as a
computer, cell phone, etc.  Once the exam starts, you cannot
leave the room to obtain additional books or other resources.  You can
leave the exam room to use the restroom, get a drink of water, or
stretch your legs.  It is suggested that you bring along a sack lunch
as you will not be permitted to leave the room to go eat lunch and
then return.
The exam is written such that each problem can be completed in no more
than an hour, and you will have nine hours in which to work the exam,
so time should not be an issue.
Please let me know if you have any questions.  

This page last revised on Nov. 28, 2012.