The AE Qualifying Exams: Testing Your Readiness

The School of Aerospace Engineering's qualifying exams are oral exams that you must pass during your second year of graduate school in order to continue in the AE doctoral program. Once you have passed 'the quals', your status will be changed from 'grad student' to 'doctoral student' and you will focus more intently on your doctoral research, in preparation for the doctoral proposal and doctoral defense portions of your degree.

AE PhD Qualifying Examination Courses and Topics

Eleven (11) exam areas are offered twice per year (normally 2nd week of classes in Fall and Spring semesters) • Qualifying Exams are designed for Ph.D. students to demonstrate mastery in 2 of the 6 discipline areas in AE: Students select one exam in two different discipline areas. 

Before you plan to take the exam, remember:

  • The exam will test the student's mastery in two (2) out of the six (6) AE graduate research areas, to be chosen by the student in consultation with the faculty advisor;
  • The general scope of each area's exam is inclusive of subjects covered in primary courses, prerequisites, and background material at the graduate and undergraduate level;
  • Candidates are not required to take certain courses before taking the qualifying exams, but a list of primary courses and subject mastery that support each of the six qualifying exams may be found in this Qual Exam Topics sheet (pdf);
  • The exams are 75 minutes in duration; a decision on their outcome (Pass/Fail) will be announced within a week;
  • Students who do not pass on the their first attempt will have one additional opportunity, which must be taken the next time the exams are offered;
  • Students who do not pass on a second attempt will be given the remainder of the current semester to finish their masters work and make other  arrangements.
  • More information on the qualifying exams is available in the Graduate Student Handbook
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