Information for

PhD Comprehensive Exam

Comprehensive exam milestone

As a PhD student at the University of Waterloo, you are required to successfully complete the PhD Comprehensive Exam milestone.

The PhD Comprehensive Examination consists of an oral examination conducted at the University of Waterloo with the candidate and members of the Comprehensive Examining Committee present. The examination consists of the following two parts*:

  • an examination of the research proposal that the candidate intends to develop into a successful PhD research thesis,
  • an examination of the breadth of the candidate's knowledge of the academic field of the thesis and the adequacy of the candidate's background preparation to pursue the proposed research.

*Beginning in Fall 2015, Electrical and Computer Engineering will be implementing a 2-part Comprehensive Exam format:

  1. PhD Comprehensive Background Examination (set up by ECE)
  2. PhD Comprehensive Proposal Examination (set up by EGSO) 

Comprehensive Examination Research Proposal Document:

A research proposal will consist of a double-spaced report of no more than fifty (50) pages including tables, diagrams, and references. The proposal will identify:

  • The research problem
  • Review the relevant literature
  • Describe the tasks planned to solve the problem, and 
  • Propose a timetable for the completion of the project and defence of the PhD thesis.

For more information on the Comprehensive Examination milestone, please refer to the Faculty of Engineering Graduate Calendar