Carnegie Mellon University
PhD Examinations


PhD students are required to take a Qualifying Examination consisting of two parts:

  • Comprehensive Examination (part one)
  • Thesis Proposal Examination (part two)

Students must satisfy the requirements for both parts to pass the Qualifying Examination. Passing the PhD Qualifying Examination admits a student to candidacy for the PhD degree for a period of no longer than six calendar years.  If, at the end of this six-year period, the PhD has not been awarded, the student must reapply for admission to the graduate program and will be judged competitively with other students applying at the same time.

PhD candidates will be examined in a public Doctoral Defense of the PhD thesis. The decision regarding the acceptability of a PhD Defense will rest with the candidate’s Doctoral Committee.  Once the final dissertation is submitted and approved by the Doctoral Committee, the student will be deemed to have satisfied all of the requirements for the PhD degree.