Computer Engineering Program Qualifying Exam

The objective of the qualifying examination is to assess the student’s potential to begin doctoral-level research. The latter requires the student to demonstrate the following in their primary research area and two secondary research areas:

  • an ability to state a problem clearly, provide its motivation, and the requirements for a solution.
  • an ability to determine if a solution is correct.
  • an ability to assess to what extent a (presumably correct) solution meets the requirements (solves the problem).
  • an ability to describe how a problem and its solution fits into the big picture (and to understand the big picture).
  • an ability to communicate effectively (both in writing and speaking) and to answer questions relating to the problem and its solution and the broader research context.

Exam Dates:  August 19-20, 2020

June 5, 2020  - The CpE Qualifiers Committee will announce 6 papers, one from each area, to be used for the Exam.

July 6, 2020 -- Declare intent to take the Qualifying Exam and state your selections of primary and secondary areas. (Please submit by email to

July 31, 2020  -- Submit a written report (max 3 pages in IEEE standard format *) on the paper in the primary area to the head of the CpE qualifiers committee.  We'll have a collab site set up where you can upload your paper in pdf form to file drop on the collab site.

24 hours before your exam -- Upload your presentation slides to file drop.   You must use the slides that you upload -- don't make changes after your submit them.   The committee will download your slides so that they can view them more clearly at home.

The areas identified in Computer Engineering Graduate Handbook for the qualifiers are as follows:

  1. Computer architecture and high-performance computing
  2. VLSI, System on chip; low power design
  3. Distributed systems; Dependable and Secure computing; software engineering
  4. Cyber-physical systems; Embedded, Autonomous, Mobile and Robotic Systems
  5. Machine Learning; NLP; Vision, Image and Signal Processing
  6. Networks and Internet; Internet of Things; Cloud computing


NOTE: Please read the handbook carefully and note the committee’s expectations. The committee will both “assess the student’s potential to begin doctoral-level research,” as well as examine fundamental understanding by asking questions on “related topics.” Therefore, students should not only understand the problem and solution presented in the paper (and demonstrate the “abilities” listed in the handbook), but also be responsible for background material (which is *not* limited to references in the paper) for the question-answer session.