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 should submit a letter to the Graduate Director outlining a timetable for meeting the Ph.D. milestones. The letter should include your preliminary examination date, course work completed and to be completed, and an abstract of your research topic. This letter must be approved by your Faculty Advisor before submission to the Graduate Director.

After the Graduate Director approves your request letter, you must pick up a Nomination of Ph.D. Qualifying Examination Committee Form (Ph.D. Form I) from the Graduate Coordinator. Submit Ph.D. Form I 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. The committee must have five (5) members. Three members of this committee must be Core faculty in Environmental Engineering program. One member must be a UC faculty member from outside the Environmental Engineering program. Your Faculty Advisor serves as 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. 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 Environmental Engineering program. After the committee is assembled, Ph.D. Form I should be submitted for approval to the Graduate Director and the Department Chair. Once the department approves the committee, the form should be submitted to the Graduate Coordinator.

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.