Qualifying Exams & Candidacy

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  • Policy effective Fall 2021. Students who passed their Written Examination (Qualifying Examination) prior to Fall 2021, must follow the previous policy here.

    1. Ph.D. Course GPA Requirement

    In addition to existing MAE Ph.D. course requirements, students must fulfill a GPA requirement by the end of their second semester in the Ph.D. program.  Students take 4 classes from the list of courses below.  Students can take either:

    • 4 classes from Group A or
    • 3 classes from Group A and 1 class from Group B

    Group A
    EAS 6138 Gasdynamics
    EAS 6415 Guidance and Control of Aerospace Vehicles
    EGM 5533 Applied Elasticity & Advanced Mechanics of Solids
    EGM 6611 Continuum Mechanics
    EGM 6812 Fluid Dynamics I
    EGM 6813 Fluid Dynamics II
    EML 5104 Intro to Classical & Statistical Thermodynamics
    EML 5215 Analytical Dynamics I
    EML 5233 Failure of Materials in Mechanical Design
    EML 5311 Control Systems Theory
    EML 5526 Finite Element Analysis and Application
    EML 6154 Conduction Heat Transfer
    EML 6155 Convective Heat Transfer
    EML 6281 Geometry of Mechanisms and Robots I
    EML 6324 Fundamentals of Production Engineering
    EML 6350 Introduction to Nonlinear Control
    EML 6352 Optimal Estimation and Kalman Filtering

    Group B

    EGM 5121C Data Measurement and Analysis
    EGM 6321 Principles of Engineering Analysis I
    EGM 6341 Numerical Methods of Engineering Analysis I

    Students must achieve a cumulative GPA of 3.5 (for the 4 classes).  This GPA requirement must be fulfilled by the end of the second semester of enrollment. Students who do not meet this GPA requirement must re-take the classes in which they received a grade of B or below or take additional classes from this set until the required cumulative 3.5 GPA (for the 4 classes) is achieved.  If a student re-takes a course, the new course grade will replace the old course grade in the GPA calculation.

    Transfer students: Transfer students need to fulfill their GPA requirement by the end of their second semester in the MAE Ph.D. program.  Transferred coursework can be used to partially fulfill the requirement.  A petition showing an equivalent grade can be used to petition for completion of 1 class from Group A or B.  If more equivalent courses from Group A or B have already been taken (as part of the student’s transferred coursework), the student may petition to replace these classes with other MAE graduate courses (taken at UF).

    2. Written & Oral Qualifying Examinations

    The purpose of the Qualifying Exam is to certify that students possess the fundamental knowledge and the academic and research skills necessary to complete their Ph.D. dissertations. In the Ph.D. Qualifying Exam, students write a document, that includes a literature review and research proposal, and defends it orally in front of their Ph.D. supervisory committee (Ph.D. committee). In addition, the exam will test knowledge of core MAE subjects.Students have a maximum of two years from entry to the Ph.D. program and up to two attempts to pass the Qualifying Exam. (Students that fail the Qualifying Exam must retake it before the end of the following semester.) The Qualifying Exam is graded pass/fail separately for the writing and oral examination components. An overall passing grade requires passing both the written and oral examination components.

    Written Qualifying Examination: Students must write a document, that includes a literature review related to their research field and research proposal, following Department Guidelines (see next Section). The majority of this document must be a literature review related to the student’s research field. Because this document is intended to be written early in the student’s Ph.D. research, preliminary data is not required or necessary. The Ph.D. committee anticipates that the aims and the scope of work may change over the course of Ph.D. studies. Students are encouraged to consult with their Ph.D. adviser and Ph.D. committee about the preparation of the document. However, the document must be the work of the student.The document must be given to the Ph.D. committee 7 days prior to the oral defense.

    The document is graded pass/fail by the Ph.D. committee based on the following criteria:

    • Does the student provide a comprehensive survey of the literature? 
    • Does the student show knowledge in core engineering subjects?
    • Does the student provide a sound rationale for the proposed research (e.g., objectives, methods, and goals)? 
    • Does the student show the ability to communicate scientifically?


    Oral Qualifying Examination:
    Students give a short (30-40 min) oralpresentation to their Ph.D. committee based on their written examination document. This isfollowed by a question & answer session. The committee will evaluate the student’s competency in fundamental and applied knowledge related to their research field and graduate-level MAE topics.

    MAE Written Qualifying Examination Guidelines

    Students should prepare a Written Qualifying Examination document, which includes a literature review related to their research field and research proposal, according to the following guidelines. Please note that these guidelines are recommended but not required by the Qualifying Exam committee.

    Formatting: The Written Qualifying Examination document should be prepared following the UF Ph.D. dissertation template (https://helpdesk.ufl.edu/application-support-center/etd-technical-support/ms-word-and-latex-templates/). Additional information can be found on the UF Graduate School Thesis and Dissertation website: http://graduateschool.ufl.edu/about-us/offices/editorial/thesis-and-dissertation/.

    The document should be approximately 50 pages (single sided, double spaced, 1-inch margins).

    General: The document needs to include a Title Page, Table of Contents, Abstract, Main Body and References. The Main Body should include the following sections.

    • Introduction

    This section should include a brief introduction with the motivation and problem statement.

    • Literature Review (60%–75% of the document)

    This section needs to

    • provide a comprehensive review of the most relevant and important research papers related to the proposed field of study,
    • reflect understanding of the research methods, equations, and theories reviewed, and
    • highlight gaps in knowledge that need to be addressed with further research (i.e., proposed research studies).
      • Research Proposal (25%–40% of the document)

    This section should include a description of:

    (1) research goals, specific aims and/or tasks to complete,
    (2) major tools and techniques that will be used to achieve research goals, and
    (3) novelty of the proposed research (e.g., new scientific understanding, new properties, and/or societal or economic benefits).

    3. Yearly updates to Ph.D. Committee

    Students are encouraged to give a short (30-40 min) oral presentation annually starting their first year.  During this meeting students update the Ph.D. committee on their progress, e.g. literature review, research proposal, research completed to date, any changes to their research aims, an outline of the expected remaining research, and the anticipated timeline to complete their work.  The student can meet with their committee members individually or as a group.  This research update meeting allows the Ph.D. Committee to advise the student and provide research input prior to the student’s qualifying exam and final defense.