PhD Candidacy Examination

All PhD candidates are required to pass an oral candidacy examination. The candidacy examination is intended to confirm that the student has a sound background knowledge, sufficient breadth and understanding of her/his discipline, an appreciation of the important issues in the proposed field of research, and a good preparation to perform the research.
The PhD oral candidacy examination normally takes place within 16 months of initial registration in, or transfer to, the PhD program.

Scheduling of Candidacy Examination
The student will select in consultation with the supervisory committee examination subjects from the Mechanical Engineering disciplines. The scheduling of the examination should be arranged at least four weeks prior to the proposed date.

Conduct of Examination
The student should prepare a written research proposal to provide as advance material to the examining committee at least two weeks prior to the examination date. The document should be read and approved by the supervisor prior to submission to the other committee members.

The total length of the proposal may be less than, but is not to exceed, 40 pages. Minimum spacing is 1.5 using 12 pt Times New Roman font. A proposal should typically consist of the following components (maximum length of each component is given in brackets):

  • Introduction:
    • Background and Motivation (2 pages)
    • Previous Work (6 pages)
    • Proposed Work (1 page)
    • Expected Contribution (1 page)
  • Research Proposal:
    • Hypothesis to be Tested or Objectives of Research (2 pages)
    • Theory (6 pages)
    • Experimental/Computational Methodology (8 pages)
    • Proposed Experimental/Computational Matrix (2 pages)
    • Analysis and/or Modelling of Results/Validation Approach (6 pages)
    • Anticipated Problems and Solutions (3 pages)
  • Management:
    • Plan and Schedule (2 pages)
    • Required Support and Sources (1 page)
Note: It should be emphasized that at this stage of the PhD program the candidate is not expected to have produced any new findings/results. However, clear objectives, usefulness and the research plan should be presented.

The candidacy examination is a formal examination consisting normally of a brief (15-20 minute) presentation of the research proposal by the student, followed by questions and then a deliberation of the examination committee. The duration of the examination should not normally exceed two hours. Each member of the examination committee, starting with the external member, will be given an opportunity to question the candidate in two rounds of questions.

Composition of the Candidacy Examination Committee
This committee will consist of the supervisory committee, and will be chaired by a faculty member (who may be the supervisor or any other member of the examining committee) appointed by the Department Chair. In the event that the examining committee chair is not a member of the examining committee, he or she will be non-voting.

Attendance at Candidacy Examination
The examination will be held in-camera. In addition to the examination committee members, the Dean of Graduate Studies and the Department Chair or their designated representatives may attend the examination without written prior notice.

Immediately after the completion of the oral candidacy examination, the candidate is asked to leave the room. Assessment is performed in two steps. First, before discussion, each examiner identifies her/his provisional recommendation (pass/fail) to provide a framework for a full discussion. Following this, a full discussion takes place. Upon completion of the deliberations, a formal vote shall be taken. The result can be:

  1. pass
  2. fail, but allowed to re-take examination once
  3. fail, and requested to withdraw from PhD program

The chair of the examination committee notifies the candidate of the decision of the committee immediately upon the end of the deliberation, and the Report of Candidacy Oral Examination form is signed by all examiners and submitted to the Dean of Graduate Studies with a copy to the Graduate Adviser.

In case of a fail, a copy of the Report of Candidacy Oral Examination form should be forwarded to the Department Chair, and, within seven days, each examiner must submit a written assessment of the overall performance of the candidate to the Department Chair with a copy to the Associate Dean of Graduate Studies.

Graduate students are required to give seminars (Mech 595/695) and attend the seminar series in order to graduate.

Typically, a seminar is a research talk of ~40 minutes followed by questions. There is no need for research to be complete and, in fact, a seminar midway through a program can help to provide useful feedback and direction. You may also find some useful approaches to your own research that are being used by someone else in a very different field. Moreover, listening to talks in areas outside of your research focus will help to reinforce what constitutes good speaking and presentation practices. Sometimes talks on items other than research are given, a few examples being: paper writing, intellectual property, library resources.

Graduate students are required to attend at least 2/3 of the seminars over the duration of their studies. Those registered in 595/695 for the term are also required to give a seminar. Seminars are held Wednesday afternoons and a teaching assistant schedules and organizes the sessions for the term.

Oral Examination
A final oral examination in which the student defends her/his dissertation/thesis/project is required for all graduate students. General regulations covering these examinations, examining committees and submission of Theses are outlined in the Calendar of the Faculty of Graduate Studies and in the Faculty of Graduate Studies Guidelines for Oral Exams. An application form for an oral exam must be completed at least 4 weeks prior to the exam.