Ph.D. Examinations

All ECE Ph.D. Students must participate in and successfully complete a total of Three (3) separate examinations in order to earn their degree.

graduates walk across the Cornell campus

ECE Ph.D. Examinations

Qualifying Examination (Q Exam)

The Qualifying Examination is an assessment of incoming graduate students in the Field of Electrical and Computer Engineering. The outcome of the Qualifying Examination is determined during the Graduate Annual Review (GAR) with input from all ECE Graduate Field Faculty and will holistically consider the following components to determine the outcome:
• Results of a set of Subject Examinations
• Grades in all Graduate Level Coursework to date
• Performance in Research and Teaching (if applicable)
The two possible outcomes as determined during the GAR are either Pass or Fail.

Admission to Candidacy Examination (A Exam)

Students are considered for Doctoral Candidacy after successfully completing a comprehensive examination administered by their Special Committee Membership.
• The A Exam may be taken after Two (2) Semesters of registration have been completed in the ECE Ph.D. Program.
• The A Exam must be successfully completed PRIOR TO THE BEGINNING of a student’s Seventh Semester of registration.

Ph.D. Thesis Defense (B Exam)

Doctoral Student Candidates must successfully complete their Ph.D. Thesis Defense upon completion of all requirements for their degree.
• A Minimum of Two (2) Semesters of Registration must be completed between passing the A Exam and the scheduling of the B Exam.