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Qualifying Exams

The following is an extract from the AAE Graduate Program Rules and Guidelines.

"To demonstrate to the faculty that a student is qualified to pursue the PhD program in the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the student is required to take and pass written qualifying examinations. These qualifying examinations are offered once each semester (except Summer) at approximately mid semester time. The student must take the qualifying examination during the first three semesters after his/her admission to the PhD program.

These examinations are prepared and graded by the appropriate area committee of the School. The scores and a recommendation are forwarded to the student's major professor, and to the Graduate Committee for further action. The results of the Graduate Committee action are passed on to the faculty.

Examinations are offered in each of the following areas:

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The student shall be required to take the examination in: the Major Area of interest; Mathematics; and, one of the remaining four areas. As an option, a student may elect, with the approval of his/her advisory committee, to replace the minor area qualifying examination with two graduate courses, in one of the minor areas indicated above, using an approved list (see below) from the minor area committee. These substitute courses must be taken following satisfaction of the requirements for the MS degree, and the student must receive a grade of B or better in both courses. In a case where the student is in the last semester of MS study and takes more credits than required for the MS plan of study, these minor area courses will be accepted. Selection of the two course option, or the written examination for the minor area, must be made at the time the student originally schedules the major and mathematics exams. Switching from one option to another will not be permitted after this time.

In the event that a student fails one or more of the examinations, he/she must repeat that examination or examinations the next time they are offered. If, on the repeat examination, the student still fails to achieve acceptable scores, he/she will be required to terminate his/her studies in this school at the end of that semester."


(updated 6/25/2018)

(Ph.D. Students)

The following is the list of approved courses from which the student must select to be used in lieu of the minor area exam.


AAE 511, 512, 514, 515, 517, 518, 519, 520, 590 (Plasma and Electric Discharges), 590 (Molecular Gas Dynamics), 613, 615, 624, 626

ME 509, 510, 513, 517, 526, 533, 608, 610, 611, 613, 614


AAE 550, 551, 560, 590 (Air Transportation System), 590 (Intro. to Convex Optimization), 690B/ECE 695A (Hybrid Systems: Theory and Applications)

ME 553, 571


AAE 507, 508, 532, 575, 590 (Spacecraft Attitude Dynamics), 607, 632, 690G (Astrodynamics Navigation and Guidance), 690S (Adv. Signals and Systems Satellite Navigation), 690X (Orbital Perturbations)


AAE 507, 508, 564, 567, 568, 590 (Intro Convex Optimization), 607, 666, 668,

ECE 580, 600, 602, 675, 680, 686

ME 560, 562, 563, 564, 565, 575, 578, 579, 580, 664, 675, 677, 680, 689


AAE 535, 537, 538, 539, 590 (Electric Propulsion), 590 (Rocket Propulsion), 590C (Advanced Energy Solutions), 690 (Computational Combustion)

ME 500, 501, 505, 506, 525, 526, 533, 538, 585, 625, 697

NE 563

(In addition, we require at least one of the courses taken in lieu of the Propulsion Qualifying Exam be taken from AAE).


AAE 547, 550, 552, 553, 554, 555, 558, 590 (Mechanic Behavior of Materials), 590 (Dynamic Behavior of Materials), 590 (Mesoscale Failure of Aerospace Materials), 590 (Manufacturing Advanced Composite Materials), 590 (Experimental Characterization of Advanced Composite Materials), 646, 654, 690 (Modeling Damage & Strengthening Mechanisms in Materials)

ME 559, 563, 569, 612