The PhD Written Qualifying Exam must be passed by all students wishing to be admitted to PhD candidacy. It is a necessary step toward completing the PhD degree.


The Written Qualifying Exam is given once a year in June. If you begin the PhD program in the fall, you should try to take the exam during your first year.


It is a sequence of three, three-hour exams on fundamental subjects in the student's Area of Study. Students are required to take a combination of three exams from the following topics, depending on the Area of Study: aerothermodynamics, control theory, dynamics, fluid mechanics, mathematics, orbital mechanics, solid mechanics, and systems.


The exam date will be announced in mid March. You will be asked to go to the office of the Graduate Coordinator and register for the exam. You should first consult with your Supervisor to be sure you register for the right exams.

Guidelines and Sample Exams

Written qualifying guidelines and sample exams are available on the Graduate Student Portal on Canvas (see forms below).


The results will be announced as soon as possible after the exams are graded, usually by mid-July.

Retaking the Exam

If you do not pass the exam, the Graduate Studies Committee may or may not allow you to take the exam a second time. If you are allowed to retake the exam, you must retake all three exams.




All departmental forms are available ASE/EM Grad Student Portal on Canvas.