Oral Qualifying Exam
Each student is required to take a subject oral qualifying examination at the beginning of the second term of the first year in residence, the purpose of which is to examine expertise in kinetics, thermodynamics and transport phenomena. The intended level of the exam is approximately that of the corresponding undergraduate courses at Caltech.
Three types of decisions will be possible: pass, provisional pass, fail. A student with a pass or provisional pass is permitted to begin his/her PhD research. However, a student with a provisional pass will usually be required to satisfy some additional requirements, such as successful completion of specified coursework.
The intended level of the exam is approximately that of the corresponding undergraduate courses at Caltech. Students who fail one or more of the three subjects may be permitted, by approval of the chemical engineering faculty, to repeat the examination on the failed subject immediately after the spring term.
See "Ph.D. Qualifying Exams" on page 6 of the Chemical Engineering Graduate Studies Guide (PDF) for details.