All Ph.D. students must
take the preliminary examination after completing the core course
requirement, usually at the end of the first year in the graduate
program. Because the courses provide a basic level of preparation and
breadth, the preliminary exam has broader latitude to probe synthesis
and high-level thinking skills, rather than serving as a check on
Civil engineering graduate students will be
required to take their written preliminary exam on Friday before the
classes of the spring semester, 1.5 years from the fall semester they
enter into the program, and take the oral exam on Friday the first week
For the CE sub-track, the format of the Preliminary Exam is as follows:
Day 1: Written Exam (closed book)
2 hours - Applied Mathematics
2 hours - Structures/Mechanics/FEM/Related Areas
2 hours - Structural Dynamic Systems
2 hours - Optional Area: Mechanics/System Reliability/Bridge Eng./Earthquake Eng/ Nonlinear continuum mechanics and Nonlinear FEM/ Struc.Control & Identification/Computational Nanoscience
(Optional area can be chosen by the student)
Day 2: Oral Exam 1 hour per student
Civil Engineering faculty examine/question the student about the
written exam and additional broad set of topics to assess the students
thinking ability, comprehension, problem solving skills and overall
aptitude in the field of structural engineering, structural mechanics,
and system reliability.
For the EES sub-track, the examination consists of three parts:
Day 1: Written Exam
A three-hour exam on fundamentals of environmental engineering covered
in the core courses. This exam does not necessarily test understanding
of the specific materials covered in these courses, but knowledge in
physical, chemical and biological principles of environmental
engineering, as well as mathematics skills that are necessary to solve
problems discussed in the courses above. Recognizing that students
taking the exam may not have taken all core courses, students will have
the flexibility to answer four (4) out of all sets of questions posed by
the professors of the environmental engineering and science program.
Unless otherwise stated, Part I is closed-book.
A 3-hour open-book exam in specialized areas of environmental
engineering. The purpose of this exam is to evaluate the student’s depth
of knowledge in subjects relevant to his or her research topic. The
student will be given one comprehensive, in-depth question by the thesis
advisor. The graduate committee will exercise quality control of the
exam questions to ensure that these questions are not a simple extension
of those in Part I.
Day 2: Oral Exam
The oral examination takes 30-45 minutes per student. It is a general
exam on common topics of environmental engineering, with the intent to
probe for high-level thinking across broad themes. A faculty committee
will preside over the exam and each committee member may ask questions.
The questions may or may not be related to those in the written exam.
will be informed of the results after all students have finished the
oral exam. Students who fail the exam either fully or partially can
petition for retaking the exam. Petitions will be considered on a
case-by-case basis by the department chair, who will consider the advice
of both the Preliminary Exam and Graduate Studies committees. Students
who fail the preliminary exam twice will not be allowed to continue in
the Ph.D. program.