Direct-to-PhD Qualifying Exam (QE) MAE Standard Operating Procedure

All Direct-to-PhD students are required to complete a Qualifying Exam (QE) absolutely no later than the third semester that they are enrolled. The below guidelines must be followed when completing the QE.


A minimum of three committee members must participate in administering the QE (a Chair, and at least two Members). Each committee member will identify written questions, in addition to the timeframe in which the student is expected to complete the assignment.


Participating committee members email their assignment instructions to the committee Chair who will administer the exam. Finally, the committee Chair should submit all approved assignments to the MAE Graduate Office ( with the QE Cover Sheet found on MyMAE.

All Qualifying Exams must be submitted at the same time—they will not be accepted individually, nor without a QE Cover Sheet.

Written Preliminary Exam (Dissertation Proposal)

MAE Standard Operating Procedure

The written preliminary exam for MAE PhD Students has now taken the form of a Dissertation Proposal.

Format Requirements

The dissertation proposal MUST be 5-6 pages in length and MUST contain the following information:

  • Motivation
  •  Methodology
  •  Research Objectives
  •  Proposed work
  •  Timeline
  •  References

The Dissertation Proposal guidelines are explained in the PhD Student Guide and on the MAE Graduate Advising FAQ website.


PhD students coordinate the completion of the dissertation proposal with their committee.

Step 1

The student emails the completed dissertation proposal to their advisory

committee, and coordinates a date a time to perform the oral Prelim Exam.

Step 2

The student emails their completed dissertation proposal and the Prelim

Exam Request form to the MAE Graduate Office (


If the dissertation proposal meets the departmental formatting requirements

(above), the student will be approved to proceed with scheduling their oral Prelim



Graduate teaching and research appointments