Ph.D. preliminary exams

General information

The exams are scheduled once each year in late May. The exam includes three separate tests: 1) probability, 2) statistics and 3) operations research. The material tested by the exams is generally covered in master's level or advanced undergraduate courses. Relevant courses include BE2100, IE6210, and IE6560. The math course MATH5700 is also good preparation for the probability exam. Students must take the preliminary examination before completing three academic year semesters of work after their masters degree. Doctoral students entering the program in Fall are expected to take the exam the following winter. Students who enter in winter would take the exam, a year later in their second winter semester. Students must notify the ISE Graduate Program Committee by Jan. 10 of the year they are first scheduled to take the exam if for some reason they are requesting the right to delay taking the exam. Not taking the exam as outlined above without written permission will constitute failure of the exam.

A student must take all three parts of the examination. If the student passes only two of the exams, the student will be required to retake only the third exam the next time it is offered. If a student fails at least two exams, the student will have to take all three exams the next time they are offered. Once a student has taken the preliminary exam once and failed all or part of the exam, the student MUST take the exam the next time it is offered; not doing so will count as a second failed attempt. Students will have two chances to pass the entire preliminary examination. If all or parts of the exam are not passed by the second attempt, the student will be asked to leave the doctoral program.

Students enrolled in one of our M.S. programs who are considering applying for admission into the doctoral program and funding are expected to sit for the Preliminary Qualifying Examination prior to applying to the doctoral program. Students who do not take this exam and pass it will not be considered for funding.

Students who work during the day can request in writing to start the exam in the late afternoon. On occasion, such requests are granted.

There is a list of topics covered by each exam as well as sample old exams. Students should not assume that a topic not tested on a previous exam would therefore not appear on a future exam. The old exams are still a good guideline to "start" studying.

Feel free to contact individual professors setting the exams for any additional information.

Sign-up procedures

Students must sign up in advance to take the exams. To sign up, send an email as soon as possible to Mark Garrison, in the ISE PhD Office. Students must take all three exams during the same offering unless, of course, a student has already passed two exams.

Exam schedule for 2020

May 27: Probability Exam from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Prepared by: Dr. Rickli and Dr. Venkatachalam )
May 29: Statistics Exam from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Prepared by: Dr. Qingyu Yang)
June 1: Operations Research Exam from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Prepared by: Dr. Evrim Dalkiran)

Location: Manufacturing Engineering Building - Room 2060 - Simulation & Advanced Computing Lab

All funded doctoral students who have not yet passed the preliminary exam must take the preliminary exam. For preliminary exams that are "open book", students are allowed to use eBooks to reduce costs for exam preparation and to be more resource efficient.

Sample exams

Operations Research Probability Statistics

OR, 2002
OR, 2006
OR, 2008
OR, 2009
OR, 2010
OR Study Guide
OR Study Guide  2013
OR Exam  2013
OR Exam  2014
OR Exam 2015
OR Exam 2016
OR Exam 2017
OR Exam 2018

Probability, 2000
Probability, 2001
Probability, 2002
Probability, 2003
Probability, 2004
Probability, 2006
Probability, 2011
Probability, 2012
Chapter 5 - Modeling & Analysis of Stochastic Systems
Probability Study Guide
Probability, 2014
Probability, 2015
Probability, 2017
Probability, 2018

Statistics, 1999
Statistics, 2002
Statistics, 2003
Statistics Sample Exam 2005
Statistics Sample Exam 2006
Statistics Sample Exam 2007
Statistics Study Guide
Statistics Study Guide 2013
Statistics Sample Exam 2013
Statistics Sample Exam 2014
Statistics Sample Exam 2015