Ph.D. preliminary exams
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.
Students must sign up in advance to take the exams. To sign up click this link and complete the registration form. Students must take all three exams during the same offering unless, of course, a student has already passed two exams.
Exam schedule for 2021
- June 3: Probability Exam from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Prepared by: Dr. Sara Masoud)
- June 7: Statistics Exam from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Prepared by: Dr. Yanchao Liu)
- June 9: Operations Research Exam from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Prepared by: Dr. Murat Yildirim)
Exam schedule for 2022
- June 2: Probability Exam from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Prepared by: Dr. Sara Masoud)
- June 6: Statistics Exam from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Prepared by: Dr. Yanchao Liu)
- June 8: Operations Research Exam from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Prepared by: Dr. Murat Yildirim)
Exam schedule for 2023
- June 1: Probability Exam from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Prepared by: Dr. Sara Masoud)
- June 5: Statistics Exam from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Prepared by: Dr. Yanchao Liu)
- June 7: Operations Research Exam from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Prepared by: Dr. Murat Yildirim)
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.