Qualifying Exam

Qualifying Exam

The Qualifying Exam (QE) has a twofold defined purpose of evaluating a student’s advanced knowledge of industrial and systems engineering (ISE) through graduate coursework and assessing a student’s research propensity through a scholarly literature review. The QE is the first step for Ph.D. students to complete before they can form a dissertation committee and proceed in the program.

The exam takes place at the end of the first year of Ph.D. student study. Students entering the Ph.D. program in the Fall semester will complete the QE at the conclusion of the following Summer term, while students entering the Ph.D. program in the Spring semester will complete the QE two Summer terms after starting the program.

Examination Dates (for 2021)

Literature Review Proposal Due: January 31, 2021
Literature Review Paper Due: August 1, 2021
Literature Review Presentation Deadline: August 20, 2021

Content and Organization of the Exam

The QE consists of two distinct parts: a Coursework Assessment and a Literature Review. Students must pass both parts of the exam in order to continue their Ph.D. program.

Coursework Assessment

This part of the QE is intended to assess advanced knowledge of ISE acquired through graduate coursework during the first year of study. With the help of the faculty advisor, a student selects three courses from the following pool of 5000- or 6000-level courses, with the minimum requirements of two A- grades and one B+ grade or higher in their selected courses, to pass the coursework assessment.

  • Data Analytics for Systems Monitoring (DASM)
  • High-Dimensional Data Analytics (HDDA)
  • Human Factors in Systems Design (HFSD)
  • Linear Programming and Network Optimization (LPNO)
  • Stochastic Modeling and Analysis (SMA)
  • Systems Safety (SS)

If the above minimum grade requirement is not achieved, a retake is required in the format of a  written examination for each unsatisfied course. Written exams are administered at the end of the summer term within one week of the student’s literature review presentation date. If a student does not satisfy the minimum grade requirement after retaking the exam(s), the student will receive a fail for the course assessment.

Literature Review

This part of the QE is intended to assess research potential through a literature review. Students will take a research course during the Spring or Summer term of the first year of study, under the supervision of an advisor/mentor. The student, with help from the advisor/mentor, will select a topic for the Literature Review, and the student will submit a proposal to the QE committee, formed by the Graduate Program Committee Chair with input from the committee membership. The proposal will be evaluated by the QE committee, and initial feedback will be provided, after which the student will prepare both a written literature review on the proposed topic and an oral presentation for the QE committee. Requirements for these documents are outlined below:

Proposals should be one page in length and include the following information: student and advisor/mentor names; title, abstract, a clear and concise research question; an initial set of references for the research (10-12 papers).

The final literature review report should be 6-12 pages in length (1.5 spacing, 12-point font, 1” margins) and represent a stand-alone, readable document. Appendices are allowed but may not be reviewed by the QE committee.

Students will be assigned a QE committee with membership representative of both student interests and subject breadth. A student’s advisor/mentor will not be a member of the student’s QE committee. The QE committee will assess the student’s research potential and render an outcome of a pass or a conditional pass. A student who receives a conditional pass will need to provide a written response to the QE committee within one week, satisfying the enumerated condition(s), in order to receive a pass. Otherwise, the student will receive a fail for the literature review.