Qualifying Exam

  • Purpose: To evaluate student proficiency in core undergraduate chemical engineering knowledge.
  • When: Year 1, Winter Term, Week 1 (can be subject to change).
  • Format: Four problems, each covering a core chemical engineering subject at the undergraduate level, including thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, heat/mass transfer, and kinetics and reactor design.
  • Evaluation: Student must demonstrate mastery in all four subjects to pass the exam.
  • Any student who does not pass the exam may petition the Department graduate committee through the Department graduate program advisor for a second-chance exam administered at the end of Winter term in which the original exam was administered. Approval to take a second-chance exam is not guaranteed and will depend on the student’s performance in coursework, research, and TA assignments.

Candidacy Exam / Thesis Proposal

  • Purpose : To determine whether the student has the potential to succeed in PhD research.
  • When : Year 2, Fall Term.
  • Proposal Document (Written) : Student is required to write a research proposal of about 15 pages, including background, preliminary results, and a research plan (with input from PhD research advisor). The proposal must be submitted to each member of the student’s thesis committee and to the Department graduate program advisor before 5pm on the first day of Fall Term, Year 2.
  • Proposal Defense (Oral) : Student is required to give a formal defense of the research proposal to the thesis committee before the end of Fall Term, Year 2. The student is responsible for scheduling the proposal defense.
  • Thesis Committee : Prior to the proposal defense, the student is required to form a thesis committee that would evaluate his/her performance in the proposal defense. See policies on thesis and thesis defense for more details.
  • Reporting : Forms D-2, D-2A, D3 and D3-A must be submitted to the Graduate College (through the Department program coordinator).

Preliminary Exam / Thesis Pre-Defense

  • Purpose : To ensure the student has made adequate progress in PhD research and has gained skills to write an independent research proposal.
  • When : Should target at least 6 months prior to thesis defense.
  • Exam Documents (Written) : Student is required to submit the following documents to each member of the student’s thesis committee well in advance of the oral exam date:
    • an abstract of the pre-defense talk
    • one page document describing the plan for completing the thesis (thesis completion plan)
    • a tentative list of the chapter titles of the thesis
    • a current list of the student’s publications and presentations
  • Preliminary Defense (Oral) : The student is required to defend the second proposal and thesis work to date to the thesis committee. This should occur at least six months in advance of the anticipated thesis defense, subject to the discretion of the PhD research advisor. The student is responsible for scheduling the preliminary defense.
  • Manuscript Submission : Before taking the preliminary exam, the student is required to submit at least one paper based on PhD research to a refereed journal. This must be an original article and not a review paper.
  • A copy of all the written documents, together with a copy of the submitted paper with acknowledgement of submission from the journal editor, must be submitted to the Department graduate program advisor before the preliminary defense.
  • Reporting : Preliminary Exam Reporting Form must be submitted to the Department program coordinator.