MSME Comprehensive Exam Information

MSME Comprehensive Exam

What is the Comprehensive Exam?

The Comprehensive Exam in one of three options available to MSME candidates, for satisfying the Culminating Experience requirement for MS degree.  It is an alternative to the thesis (ME 299) or project (ME 295 A/B) option for satisfying the Culminating Experience option under "Plan B".   More details about graduation requirements are
provided by Graduate Admissions and Program Evaluations (GAPE) at


When is the Comprehensive Exam offered?

Every fall and spring semester, typically on the third or fourth Friday of the semester.  Exact date and time are identified on the (online) application form.


How and when do I apply for an exam?

The deadline for applying for an upcoming exam is the last day of instruction in the immediately preceding fall or spring semester.  For example, one must apply in early May for an exam scheduled in September, and one must apply in early December for an exam scheduled in February.  The application form with exact deadline and date
for the next available exam is online please click on the following link: MSME Comprehensive Exam Application. 

What are the eligibility requirements?

The student must have APPROVED Candidacy status before taking the exam, and 24 program units should have been completed before taking Comprehensive Exam.  However, a student may apply for an upcoming exam after submitting his/her Candidacy Form and while some course units are still in progress.


How does the Comprehensive Exam option affect coursework units?

All MSME candidates must complete at least 30 program units.  Students who complete a project or thesis earn 6 units for those activities, so choosing the Comprehensive Exam option means that the student would be taking 6 units of other program coursework (approved by the Graduate Program Director) instead of project or thesis.


What is the scope of the exam?

The Comprehensive Exam is comprised of three components: one common component and two specialization components. The common component involves broad knowledge and skills in mechanical engineering analysis (as covered in ME 230). The specialization components assess knowledge and skills from specific mechanical engineering subjects.  In addition to the common component (from ME 230), the student chooses two subjects from the following list.  Selections are made on the application form.  Faculty coordinators listed in parentheses for reference.

ME 210  Advanced Thermodynamics (Dr. Rhee)

ME 211  Advanced Heat Transfer (Dr. Okamoto)

ME 240  Rigid Body Dynamics (Dr. Du)

ME 250  Precision Machine Design (Dr. Furman)

ME 260  Applied Stress Analysis (Dr. Yee)

ME 273  Finite Element Methods in Engineering (Dr. Agarwal)

ME 280  Automatic Control Engineering (Dr. Barez)

What is the format of the exam?

By default would consist of approximately half short answer questions (multiple choice, true/false, write-in) and half problem-solving work.  The scope of knowledge and skills is aligned with the corresponding subject courses.  By default each component will allow a scientific calculator, but are closed-book, closed-notes.  Exam questions will include all necessary equations and look-up references (e.g. properties).  Upon timely receipt of applications, authors of individual exam questions will notify applicants if there are any exceptions to these defaults.

How long is the exam?

Each component of the exam is one hour long, so the entire exam is three hours long.

What is the threshold for passing?

Passing performance for each exam component means an equivalent of "B-" on a similar final exam in the source subjects.  Each of the three major components of the exam must be passed in order to pass the exam; not passing any of the three components means not passing the Comprehensive Exam overall.  In the case of not passing, a student may make another full attempt in the following semester, subject to university policies on maximum time allowed for degree completion (7 years) and policies on continuous enrollment.


2013 Sep 03