Academics > Masters & Ph.D. > Qualifying Exam Syllabi

Systems, Controls and Robotics (SCR)

System, Controls and Robotics Qualifying Exam

The qualifying process is initiated by a letter from the research advisor, describing the research potential of the student and stating that the student is ready to take the qualifying exam.  

The candidate and her/his advisor should form a qualifying exam committee at least three weeks before the exam. The research advisor(s) are not members of the exam committee.  The exam committee may be different for each student.

The “syllabus” for the exam is contained in the following statement:

The Systems, Controls and Robotics (SCR) qualifying exam in Electrical Engineering is designed to test the student on the fundamental ideas in her/his research area. Because SCR faculty and student research is broadly interdisciplinary, a single curriculum does not fit all students. Therefore, each SCR qualifying exam is tailored to each student.

The emphasis is on:

The specifics of the exam are as follows:

The candidate should write a concise (no more than six page) document about what their proposed research area, with a thorough bibliography (not included in the page limit), and submit it to the committee. This document is recommended to have the structure of a proposal for an approximately year-long project, with following sections:

a) Objectives

b) Background and literature review

c) Preliminary results

d) Plan of work

d) Schedule and resources needed


The committee will assign no more than two major and substantial papers in the student's research area at least two weeks prior to the exam. The student must demonstrate a mastery of the material in the papers as well as any background needed to understand the papers.

The candidate will prepare a presentation in which they present a critical review of the assigned papers, then a discussion of their research proposal -- approximately 25 minutes for each.


The committee will ask questions on:

(1) the student's proposal

(2) the general research background required for the student's proposal, focusing on the assigned papers.


The "qualification" decision of the student will be based on:

(a) The exam;

(b) The letter (or other formal input) from the advisor, describing the research potential of the student.

(c) The student's performance to date.


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