PhD Preliminary Examinations

Purpose: The Preliminary Examinations exist to provide assurance that all PhD candidates have in-depth knowledge of subject matter closely related to the student’s research topic. It is the responsibility and authority of the Preliminary Examining Committee to determine whether the student is qualified and ready to undertake or continue research and proceed toward the PhD degree.

Format: The Major Professor establishes the format for the Preliminary Examination.

The student should:

  1. Demonstrate competency with fundamentals in areas that required remedial action as a result of the Area Examination.
  2. Demonstrate in-depth knowledge of subject matter related to the thesis topic.
  3. Present a written research proposal containing a research plan for the thesis.

Timeline: The Preliminary Examination for the PhD program, should be completed within one year after passing all of the Area Examinations.

IMPORTANTStudents are not eligible to take the Final Examination (thesis defense) until two (2) full semesters (including summers) have been completed following the Preliminary Exam.  Students must be registered for research (ME69900) for these semesters.

How to Register for the Preliminary Exam: To schedule a Preliminary Examination, the Graduate School Form 8: Request for Appointment of the Examining Committee must be submitted electronically no less than 3 weeks prior to the Preliminary Exam Date. The Preliminary Examination Committee must consist of at least 3 members of the graduate faculty.  The Examining Committee members, may or may not, be the same as the student’s Advisory Committee members. The Preliminary Examination must take place before the last day of the semester to be considered as having been completed in that semester.

Submitting Results: Once the student’s Form 8 has been approved, the major professor will receive an email that contains a link where they can electronically complete the exam rubric and identify attending examining committee members, after the preliminary exam has been held. The attending examining committee members will then receive emails with links as to where they can complete the exam rubric and electronically sign. 

(If you have a “special” appointment examining committee member, please contact so that a proxy form can be sent to the them.  They’ll need to complete and return, so the grad office staff can complete the electronic form on their behalf, as they will not have access to the Purdue systems.)


ME Graduate Office
585 Purdue Mall (Room 1003)
West Lafayette, IN 47907
(765) 494-5730