Exam process information

Required registration

  1. All PhD students must register each year as a PhD student using code: GRAD 8020. All PhD students must register in GRAD 8020 until graduation. 
  2. ALL incoming Ph.D. students MUST register in GRAD 8010 (Doctoral Candidacy Examination) in their first year in the PhD Program to allow us to record your exam results.
  3. The Department will distribute Candidacy Exam Registration forms approximately 6-8 weeks prior to a schedule exam. This is required to allow us to have an exam ready for you. Paper Registrations must be signed by your Academic Advisor to confirm you have permission from your Academic Advisor to sit for an exam and are registering for the correct exam. Paper Registrations must be returned the Graduate Student Advisor at least 1-month prior to a schedule exam.

General information 

Depending on subject area, the exam length is between 2-3 hours. All exams are written. Students must successfully complete their Candidacy within their first in the PhD program. If all requirements have been met students may give their final, oral exam 1-year after the Candidacy Exam.

Selecting an exam subject area

  1. The student's advisor selects the student's Candidacy Exam subject area. The Candidacy Exam is usually a subject in the student's research area. The Candidacy Exam is usually a subject that the academic advisor believes is important and rudimentary to the student's research.
  2. Exams are announced and registration forms will be available 3-4 weeks prior to the exam. 
  3. It is the responsibility for the student to discuss the Candidacy Exam with their academic advisor around the time when the Candidacy Exam is announced. Students must fill-in the Candidacy Exam Registration Form, obtain the signature of the academic advisors and submit the Candidacy Exam Registration Form to the Graduate Student Advisor by the deadline.

Deadline for exam completion 

The successful completion of the Ph.D. Candidacy Exam is required within the first year of the student beginning their PhD program. Up to three registration opportunities are offered to a student within the first-year in the PhD program. Students re given two chances to pass the exam.

Subject areas

What to study and sample exams.

Algorithms & Data Structures


T. H. Cormen, C. E. Leiserson, R. L. Rivest, C. Stein, Introduction to Algorithms, 3rd ed., MIT Press, 2009.

  • Chapter 2: Getting Started
  • Chapter 3: Growth of Functions
  • Chapter 4: Divide-and-Conquer
  • Chapter 6: Heapsort
  • Chapter 7: Quicksort
  • Chapter 8: Sorting in Linear Time
  • Chapter 10: Elementary Data Structures
  • Chapter 11: Hash Tables
  • Chapter 12: Binary Search Trees
  • Chapter 15: Dynamic Programming
  • Chapter 16: Greedy Algorithms


Circuits & Electronics



Richard Spencer and Mohammed Ghausi, Introduction to Electronic Circuit Design, Prentice-Hall 2003. ISBN 0-201-36183-3 

  • Chapter 8: Low-Frequency Small-Signal AC Analysis and Amplifiers
  • Chapter 9: Amplifier Frequency Response
  • Chapter 10: Feedback
  • Chapter 12: Low-Frequency Large Signal Analysis
  • Chapter 15: Transistor Level Digital Circuits



C. A. Desoer, E. Kuh, Basic Circuit Theory, McGraw-Hill, 1969. ISBN 07-016575-0 

  • Chapter 6: Introduction to linear time-invariant circuits (impulse response is discussed here)
  • Chapter 12: State Equations
  • Chapter 13: Laplace Transform
  • Chapter 14: Natural Frequencies
  • Chapter 15: Network Functions (poles and zeros are discussed here)
  • Chapter 16: Network Theorems
  • Chapter 17: Two-Port Networks


Students are allowed to bring a letter-sized, single-sided, handwritten formula sheet with them to this exam.

Computer & Digital Systems

Lecture Notes
  • ECE 3730: Principles of Embedded System Design
  • ECE 3610: Microprocessing Systems
Additional Reading Material

J. W. Valvano, Embedded Microcomputer Systems: Real Time Interfacing, 3rd Edition, University of Texas, Austin, CENGAGE Learning, 2012. ISBN-10: 1111426252  ISBN-13: 9781111426255

Materials allowed in exam room
  • This exam is open book.
  • Students will be given a copy of the instruction set for the 68HC11 for assembly language programming.
  • Students may bring a copy of the web site Lecture Notes for courses ECE 3610 and ECE 3730.




K. Ogata, Modern Control Engineering, 5/E, Prentice Hall, 2010

  • All chapters 
Materials allowed in exam room
  • This exam is closed book. No books or notes are allowed.




Simon Ramo, John R. Whinnery, Theodore Van Duzer, Fields and Waves in Communication Electronics, 3rd Edition, John Wiley, 1994. ISBN: 0-471-58551-3.

  • 1-3
  • 5
  • 6
  • 8
  • 10-12
Materials allowed in exam room
  • One textbook (hardcopy) of student's choice.
  • Calculators with empty memory and no pre-stored programs.
  • One 8-1/2" x 11" formula sheet (writing on both sides allowed).


Engineering Mathematics


Gilbert Strang, Introduction to Applied mathematics, Wellesley-Cambridge Press, 1986.

  • Symmetric Linear Systems
  • Equilibrium Equations
  • Equilibrium in the Continuous Case
  • Analytic Methods
  • Numerical Methods
  • Initial-value Problems
  • Network Flows and Combinatorics
  • Optimization



S.O. Kasap, "Principles of Electrical Engineering Materials and Devices", 3rd Edition, McGraw-Hill (2006).   ISBN 0-07-295791-3.




C. Durkan, Current at the nanoscale - an introduction to nanoelectronics, Imperial College Press/World Scientific (2007); ISBN 978-1-86094-823-7.




Saleh, Teich, Fundamentals of Photonics, 2nd Ed. Wiley, 2007.

  • 1-6
  • 11
  • 13-18
Materials allowed in exam room
  • One 8-1/2" x 11" formula sheet (writing on both sides allowed).


Power Systems


J. J. Grainger, W. D. Stevenson, Jr., Power system analysis, McGraw-Hill, 1994.

  • Chapters 6-12

P. C. Sen, Principle of Electric Machines and Power Electronics, 2nd Ed., Wiley, 1997

  • Chapters 2-12


Signal Processing


Digital Signal Processing, 4th edition, John G. Proakis, Dimitris K. Manolakis, Prentice Hall, 2006.

  • Chapter 1: Introduction
  • Chapter 2: Discrete-Time Signals and Systems
  • Chapter 3: The Z-Transform and Its Application to the Analysis of LTI Systems
  • Chapter 4: Frequency Analysis of Signals and Systems
  • Chapter 7: The Discrete Fourier Transform: Its Properties and Applications
  • Chapter 9: Implementation of Discrete-Time Systems
  • Chapter 12: Linear Prediction and Optimum Linear Filters
  • Chapter 14: Power Spectrum Estimation 
Materials allowed in exam room
  • This exam is closed book.
  • Students are allowed to bring a single letter-size, handwritten formula sheet. Photocopies are not allowed.
  • A non-programmable calculator is allowed.
Additional information

There will be exactly one problem from the material covered in each of the following chapters of the textbook. The problems shall be prepared by at least two faculty members. Students must attempt all 8 questions. Only the 7 questions with the highest obtained mark are counted towards the student’s final mark.

All students registered for the candidacy exam in a given semester receive the same written exam.



Exam information


Exam results

Depending on the time of year, the results of the Candidacy Exam results are announced 2-3 months after the exam.

Pass results

Students who receive a passing grade on their Candidacy Exam should complete the following two forms:

Non-pass results
  1. Meet with your academic advisor. They may have you exam for you to review.
  2. Plan to register for another Candidacy Exam.
  3. Complete the Report on Candidacy Exam (signatures from academic advisor and internal committee member required).
Borderline Results 

Meet with your Academic Advisor to discuss your exam results. You may have missed a question as the reviewers were unsure they understood your response or the reviewers were unsure you understood the exam question. You will be asked to meet with the Candidacy Examination Committee and possibly orally answer the question. Your result will be announced immediately after the Oral Presentation.

Complete the Report on Candidacy Exam (signatures from academic advisor and internal committee member required).

Exam dates

Exam date Time Details Registration form deadline
December 14, 2023 10:00 am - 1:00 pm In-person exam, location TBD.  November 10, 2023
April 16, 2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm In-person exam, location TBD. March 22, 2024
August 2023 10:00 am - 1:00 pm In-person exam, location TBD. Electromagnetics candidacy exam not offered in August TBD

Other information

You must register for your candidacy exams on Aurora and using the registration form below for the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. The form must be received by the deadline to qualify for the exam period. 

Exam dates are tentative until a room assignment is indicated. If you foresee a date/time conflict or have any questions or concerns as it relates to the exam, please contact Dr. Ekram Hossain.