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Ph.D. Comprehensive Exam for Mechanical Engineering

The Graduate School of The University of Texas at Arlington requires all doctoral students to pass a Comprehensive Exam. In the Mechanical Engineering Program, this exam consists of both a written document and an oral presentation of the student’s proposed dissertation research. The Mechanical Engineering faculty requires that full time doctoral students take this exam within twelve months following successful passage of the Diagnostic Exam. For most students the Comprehensive Exam ordinarily will be taken during the student’s second year of doctoral studies. At this point a doctoral student should have commenced concentrated work on dissertation research under a faculty advisor and established a Comprehensive Exam Committee of at least five qualified faculty members. Faculty serving on the committee typically are ME faculty, but faculty in other UTA departments and programs and other qualified professionals can be certified to serve on this committee by the Mechanical Engineering Committee on Graduate Studies. Members of the Comprehensive Exam Committee are expected to serve later on the student’s dissertation committee.

The Comprehensive Exam is used to determine if the student has the necessary background and specialization required for the dissertation research and if the student can organize and conduct the research. An applicant must pass this examination to be admitted to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree. The Comprehensive Examination may result in: (1) unconditional pass and recommendation to proceed to the next phase of the program; (2) approval to remain in the program but a requirement to meet certain specified additional criteria; (3) failure, but with permission to retake the examination after a period specified by the examining committee; or (4) failure with recommendation not to continue in the program.

The student must set the exam date with the agreement of the committee members and file the “Request for the Comprehensive Examination” with the Graduate School at least 14 days prior to the exam date. The exam specifically involves evaluation of the student’s dissertation research proposal. A written proposal document is to be provided to all committee members at least 7 days prior to the exam date. On the day of the exam, the student is to provide the committee members copies of the presentation material that is to be covered. This document details guidelines for students in preparing the written proposal.

Although the topic and scope of the proposed research should be determined with the consent of the student’s research advisor, the proposal must be developed and written by the student, not by the advisor. Since this is an exam, the role of research advisor should be very limited. Excessive comments and document editing by the advisor are prohibited.

Further details of this exam are provided in the Ph.D. Program Graduate Student Handbook.