The Qualifying Examination (QE) tests a PhD student's research progress, ability to explain and evaluate his/her research work in the context of the scientific literature, and ability to answer technical questions from other scientists.
Unless special permission is granted by the School, the QE must be completed within 18 months from enrolment in the PhD programme. Failure to do so may result in disqualification from the PhD programme.
Preparing for QE
To be eligible for QE, you must have completed the coursework requirements of the PhD programme, while satisfying the minimum CGPA of 3.5. If you are enrolled in and on-track to complete the last one or two courses in their 3rd semester, permission will be granted to attend the QE. However, the QE results will take effect only after the successful completion of the required coursework. If you foresee that you might not be able to meet the coursework requirements before your QE due date, you should inform the SPMS Graduate Office as soon as possible.
If you meet the eligibility criteria, your QE will be scheduled near the end of your 3rd semester (15–16 months after matriculation). You will be informed on the date/time of the oral examination via email.
You should begin preparing the QE report a few months before the scheduled QE. This is a short report (anywhere from 20-50 pages) detailing (i) your research progress thus far, (ii) how it fits into the broader scientific literature, and (iii) your future research plans. It should be written to be understandable by physicists who are not necessarily subject-matter experts in your research topic(s). It should be properly formatted according to the standards of the scientific literature (e.g., with page numbers, appropriately- captioned figures and tables, properly type-set and numbered equations, etc.).
Please discuss the contents of the QE report with your faculty supervisor in advance, and start working on it early; do not leave things to the last minute! You should show your completed QE report to your faculty supervisor, and receive his/her approval, before submitting it to the examiners.
You should also prepare a 30-minute presentation, with slides, covering the same material as your QE report. The oral examination will consist of the 30 minute presentation, followed by a 10–15 minute Q&A session. The examiners may ask you about anything relating to your research.