The fundamental concepts of a qualifier is as a test of the student's ability to reason in a limited area of research; comprehensives are to ensure the students have a suitable breadth of knowledge. The qualifying exam should be taken at the first opportunity after entering the PhD program, if the student has a Masters degree, or after taking 27 credits that count towards the PhD degree, if the student does not have a Masters degree prior to entering the PhD program. The comprehensives should be completed before a student graduates.

General Information:

Any group of 3 faculty may propose a "qualifier" area. To do so they must provide, by the end of the fall term, a reading list that defined at most 300 pages of material for which the student is responsible. The faculty may also provide a few "questions" to help the students focus while reading the material. The associated faculty then make up and administer the qualifier.

The qualifiers will be offered in mid/late January. If a student does not pass the initial attempt, a second attempt may be made at a time mutually agreeable to the examination committee and the student. (It is expected to be within a few weeks). In all cases the qualifier must be completed before the end of the spring term. (The additional time is intended to allow students who had an off day to recover.) The same timing requirements apply to part-time Ph.D.'s as well.

The CompE qualifiers will be oral, though the student or faculty involved may petition for a written exam. (Departmental petition, not a University Petition)

Any student planning on being a Ph.D. candidate must take the qualifier. M.S. candidates who wish may formally petition for admissions to the Ph.D. program. If accepted they must take the qualifiers in the spring following the acceptance of their petition. (This requires a departmental petition, not a University Petition.)

Students that have passed the qualifier in one area are permitted, if they can find a willing advisor, to do research in a different area. As always advisors may set preconditions to taking on a student; thus advisors may require students to take the qualifier in their research area before they are willing to advise that student.