EE Student Information

PhD Oral Exam

Near the completion of the doctoral program, students must present a 30-45 minute public seminar on their dissertation research. Following the public presentation, the student is examined in private by a faculty committee of at least five examiners approved by the Electrical Engineering department. 

The Oral Examination is intended to verify that the student’s research represents his or her own contribution to knowledge and understanding of the research. The oral examination is a dissertation defense in which the candidate is expected to:

  • Demonstrate his or her ability to explain and defend the thesis and its contribution to knowledge before experts in the field;
  • Present an understandable picture of the research and its setting to scholars whose special areas of interest lie outside the candidate's area of research; 
  • Answer satisfactorily any questions deemed pertinent by the examining committee. 

The examination begins with a public presentation of research results by the PhD candidate, during which clarifying questions may be asked by members of the audience. This part of the examination is open to the public. After a brief recess, the examination continues in a private session with only the candidate and members of the examining committee in attendance. The examination, including the public portion, should not exceed three hours in length. 

Students are advised to pass the oral examination within one year of the date of completion of the other requirements for the degree.

If the oral examination was passed more than one year prior to the date of graduation, the examination is void and the candidate may be asked to repeat the oral examination. The 12-month period of validity for the oral examination may be extended by petition to the Degree Progress Officer.

Students who plan to take the University Oral Examination need to submit the University Oral Examination form and an abstract to the Degree Progress Officer at least 1-2 weeks prior to the exam.

Related Information

Oral Exam Procedures

Notes on PhD Oral Exams

Zoom Oral Exam Guidelines (valid from Spring 19-20 through Summer 20-21)

Oral Exam Abstract Template (Word document)

University Oral Examination Form

Contact Information

Rachel Pham
Degree Progress Officer
(650) 723-3194