Comprehensive Examination

It is strongly recommended that students schedule a comprehensive examination within 18 months after passing the qualifying examination.

As per the University regulations, all doctoral students must pass the department Qualifying Examination and all English Proficiency exams before they are allowed to schedule their Comprehensive Examination. The following is a brief description of the testing expectations and procedures.

The Comprehensive Examination is administered by the Ph.D. committee of the student and consists of two parts: the presentation of a dissertation proposal and an oral examination dealing with the research of the student. The student can also be tested on material drawn from the areas related to his/her research. It is urged that the comprehensive examination is taken as early as possible after passing the qualifying examination and the English Proficiency Exams. The student should submit his/her dissertation proposal to the committee well in advance of the comprehensive examination. The oral examination must be formally set up with the Graduate School at least two weeks before the date of examination. The student should work with the Graduate Program Staff Assistant in the department so that the necessary paperwork can be submitted on time. All signed Comprehensive Examination Request forms must be turned in to the department staff three weeks before the date of the examination.

While presenting the dissertation proposal to the committee, the student is expected to answer questions about the merits of the proposed work, development of ideas and concepts, and the deliverables. If the proposal is rejected, a new proposal will have to be prepared, presented, and approved by the committee. In addition, the examination will also consist of questions in areas pre-specified by members of the committee. The areas chosen will generally be important to the student’s research areas. In the case of clearly substandard performance, the committee may also recommend additional course work for the student. In this case, the student will be allowed one more opportunity to pass the Comprehensive Examination. At least three members of the doctoral committee (including the thesis adviser or chair) must be physically present at the comprehensive examination. No more than one member may participate via distance communication. Expectations must be approved by the Graduate School at least three weeks before the scheduled date of the examination.

In order to schedule the Comprehensive Examination, a student must: (1) be registered for the semester, including summer, for at least one credit, (2) have no missing or deferred grades, (3) have at least a 3.0 grade-point average, and (4) have passed all the English Proficiency Exams and the Qualifying Examination.

Contact Information:

  • Graduate Programs Office
    344 Leonhard Building
    University Park, PA 16802



Home of the first established industrial engineering program in the world, the Harold and Inge Marcus Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering (IME) at Penn State has made a name for itself in the engineering industry through its storied tradition of unparalleled excellence and innovation in research, education, and outreach.

We are Innovators. We are Makers. We are Excellence in Engineering. We are Penn State IME.

The Harold and Inge Marcus Department of
Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering

310 Leonhard Building

The Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA 16802-4400

Phone: 814-865-7601

FAX: 814-863-4745