PhD Qualifying Exam

QUALS FORMApplication for Qualifying Examination

Guidelines for Conducting the PhD Qualifying Exam via Zoom: 
Zoom Qualifying Exam Guidelines

All PhD students need to complete and pass the qualifying exam, prior to the end of winter quarter of their second year of study (last day of class).  You must be registered in the quarter you take the qualifying exam.


The qualifying exam is an oral examination intended to provide the examination committee with evidence of your research preparedness and capabilities and allow the committee to give you useful feedback on your research direction.

Examination Committee

Your committee consists of 3 members, your advisor and two others. All committee members must be on the Academic Council, and at least two must be EE faculty (not courtesy).

You will be responsible for forming your exam committee and scheduling the exam date and room. Once the details of your event are finalized, bring the Application for Qualifying Examination form to the Degree Progress Officer. 

Room Scheduling

You are responsible for reserving a room for your exam. After you have located a room, if it is in the Packard Building or Allen/AllenX building, contact either Kara Marquez (for rooms in the Packard building) or Douglas Chaffee (for rooms in the Allen/AllenX building).

To schedule a room in another building on campus, please use Stanford 25live. View the Stanford 25live quick reference guide (PDF).

Examination Format

  • 15 minutes for the student to present background and proposed research.
  • 15 minutes for the committee to ask questions. Question topics can include the presented research or related general topics.
  • (Optional) 15 minutes for committee members to make suggestions.
  • The Faculty committee will then deliberate. 

Final Reporting Procedures

After the qualifying exam, students must remind their committee to submit their vote at

If there is a split vote (2-1 for or against), the Degree Progress Officer will give the results to the Associate Chair for Graduate Education, who will make the final decision.

Exam results will be sent to you via email within 1 week.


Feel free to contact the Degree Progress Officer, Laura Wuethrich, Packard 165 or email