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Ph.D. Preliminary Examination Application Form for 2016-2017

The examination is scheduled for the period January 13, 2017 to January 14, 2017
Sorry, the deadline for applying to the Ph.D. Preliminary Examination has already passed
Please read the general instructions below to learn about the structure of the Ph.D. Preliminary Examination.

Application Period: November 16, 2016 to November 30, 2016

General Instructions
Purpose of the Exam

The purpose of the PhD preliminary exam is to assess the student's competency in the discipline, knowledge of the fundamentals, and potential for independent research. The examination provides the faculty with an opportunity to evaluate the student's presentation and communication skills, the student's level of confidence in the mastery of the discipline, and the student's ability to tackle unfamiliar problems in real time.

Frequency of the Exam

The exam is administered by the department and takes place once every year. For the 2016-2017 academic year it will take place January 13-14, 2017.

Registering for the Examination

If you do not meet the following eligibility requirements, then your prelim registration or any PASS result is considered void. It is your responsibility to ensure that you meet these requirements, and department's failure to detect these before you take the exam is not an excuse and any prelim PASS result will be retroactively voided and the attempt counted against your permissible two attempts:
  • You must be in the UCLA-EE Ph.D. program in the quarter in which the examination is held, OR be a UCLA-EE MS student who would have completed 24 units of graduate lecture courses in EE or related areas by the end of the quarter prior to the prelims.
  • You must have a minimum un-rounded GPA of 3.5 considering only graduate lecture courses in EE or related areas at the end of the quarter prior to the prelims.
  • If your un-rounded GPA is < 3.5, you would need to take additional courses to bring your GPA up and take prelims at a later date.
Selection of Examiners
  • You need to provide the department with a rank-ordered list of all department faculty who are participating in the examination. Each faculty member in the department has provided a list of topics that they are likely to examine students from. For every faculty, the list of topics does not mean that students will be examined in all the topics listed by the faculty member. It only means that students should expect questions from any of the topics.
  • The department will assign you six examiners, at least three of whom will be from the Area you designate as your preferred area for the Examination (this Area may be different from your advisor's area in which you are classified for other departmental administrative purposes).
  • Since the examiner selection depends on a multitude of factors such as the time slots provided by different faculty and a equitable treatment of students, and not just the ranking you provide, no specific examiner assignment is guaranteed. Therefore, you should be prepared that in the worst case you may be examined by one or more faculty who you ranked low.
Examination Process
  • You will be notified of your list of examiners around 10 days prior to the exam, although we will attempt to notify you sooner if we can.
  • During the examination week, you must arrive at the offices of the faculty examiners promptly.
  • In between exams you would be required to report to and stay in one of the designated holding rooms that will be supervised.
  • The examination by each faculty member will last 25 minutes, and will typically include both oral and written components.
  • The purpose of the exam is to assess your competency in the discipline, knowledge of the fundamentals, potential for independent research, and ability to tackle unfamiliar problems in real time.
  • Each examiner will grade students on the following items: Communication skills, Creativity and originality, and Mastery of fundamentals. The results of the examination are announced by the Vice-Chair of Graduate Affairs. The result will be in one of three forms: PASS, FAIL WITH ANOTHER ATTEMPT ALLOWED, and FAIL WITH NO FURTHER ATTEMPTS ALLOWED. A student who fails the examination may repeat it only once, subject to the approval of the Vice-Chair of Graduate Affairs which will be based on feedback from the student's advisor as well as actual performance on the exam.
  • The Ph.D. preliminary examination should be passed within two (2) academic years after admission into the Ph.D. program.

Sample Questions
[Circuits and Embedded Systems]  [Physical and Wave Electronics]  [Signals and Systems]  

Dropping Out from the Examination

Following registration, students can only drop their participation in the PhD Preliminary Examination upon approval by the Vice-Chair of Graduate Affairs with a petition to this effect. The petition must be filed at least three weeks prior to the start of the examination and must contain a valid justification such as an emergency situation or medical reasons. Dropping the examination without approval will count towards the limit of two attempts by the student in the PhD Preliminary Examination.

Appeal Process

Following the examination, students who failed and wish to appeal the decision may do so. However, this must be done within one month from the date the examination results are announced. The petition should be filed using the standard petition form provided for this purpose by the Office of Student Affairs in the Department. Any appeal of the decision must be based on making a positive case for overturning the original decision by highlighting and providing evidence of factors such as proven research and academic excellence. Dissatisfaction with or complaints about specific examiners are not generally considered as valid grounds for the appeal. The appeal petition should also be supported by a letter from the student's advisor making a case for reconsideration of the decision to fail. The appeal would be considered by the Vice Chair of Graduate Affairs (or by the Department Chair in case of conflict of interest), who would provide the decision. No repeat appeals would be considered.

Honor Code

Obtaining a doctorate degree from UCLA Electrical Engineering is an outstanding accomplishment. Passing the Ph.D. Preliminary Examination is one step towards achieving this goal. The examination is a highly competitive process. Some students pass the exam and other students fail the exam. You should not share information about the examination with your fellow students until the examination week has finished. Doing so may jeopardize your chances of passing the examination. You will also be in violation of the University Academic Integrity Policy and the UCLA Student Code of Conduct. Students are required to report any infractions of this rule to the Department's Office of Graduate Student Affairs. Acts of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Office of the Dean of Students and serious penalties may apply.