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 are responsible for creating Zoom meeting links and/or reserving a room for their exam. After students locate the room in Packard building or AllenX building, their faculty administrator can help to book that room. If their faculty administrator is not in EE (e.g., CS, Ginzton Lab, etc.), please have the administrator connect with Laura Wuethrich ( for assistance on scheduling a room.

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.

Contact Information

Laura Wuethrich
Degree Progress Officer