Doctoral Qualifying Examination and Research Proposal

Before the end of the first semester in the doctoral program, the student and her/his adviser will set up an advisory committee of 2 or 3 faculty members. This committee will meet at least once a semester to assess academic and research progress of the student and to recommend corrective action in case of emerging or existing deficiencies.

Doctoral students are required to pass a qualifying exam soon after the completion of their first year into the program (May or December). They will submit and defend their research proposal before the fourth semester in the program. Submission of the dissertation and thesis defense will follow general university rules.

The qualifying examination will be an oral exam administered by four faculty members. The adviser of the student will be a member of the exam committee but may not be the chair. The students will be examined in their understanding of fundamentals as they apply in the four general areas of research of the department: water resources, materials processing, energy, and chemical and biochemical processes. It is expected that each question period will last about 20 minutes of which 15 minutes will be led by the faculty member from the area and the remaining 5 minutes will be open for questions by all faculty present at the exam. There will be a final period of 20 minutes for general questions.

All graduate students are expected to have a background equivalent to the required core of our undergraduate program . They have, of course, an opportunity to make up for any deficiency in their master's program. In order to prepare students for the exam, they will be required to take at least one course in each core areas during their first two semesters at Columbia. Below are listed courses representative of each specific area. In case the student declares an explicit minor in another department, the qualifying exam requirements will be modified in consultation with the graduate committee. The minor has to be approved by both departments.


  • EAEE E4550: Catalysis for Emissions Control
  • EAEE E4560: Particle Technology
  • EAEE E4900: Applied Transport and Chemical Rate Phenomena  


  • EAEE E4003: Introduction to Aquatic Chemistry
  • ECIA W4100: Management and Development of Water Systems
  • EAEE E6210: Quantitative Environmental Risk Analysis
  • EAEE E6240: Physical Hydrology  


  • CHEE E4050: Principles of Industrial Electrochemistry
  • EAEE E4200: Production of Inorganic Material
  • EAEE E4257: Environmental Data Analysis and Modeling  


  • EAEE E4150: Air Pollution Prevention and Control
  • CHEE E4252: Introduction to Surface and Colloid Chemistry
  • CHEE E4530: Corrosion of Metals
  • EAEE E4901: Environmental Microbiology

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