PhD Qualifying Examination

Aims of Examination

The PhD Qualifying Examination (PQE) aims to

  • Allow the student to confirm as a PhD candidate
  • Ensure that the student has satisfactory research progress
  • Ensure that the student’s research proposal is sufficient for a PhD
  • Ensure that the student is competent at the PhD level

Composition of Examination Panel

  • With effect from the August 2010 intake, the PQE will comprise of a written and an oral component. The written component will be assessed by two invited examiners.
  • The Head of Department may be requested to help nominate an examiner in a highly specialized area.
  • Students will be allowed to proceed to the oral component after they have passed the written component of the PQE.
  • For the oral component, there will be at least three members on the Oral Panel; a Chairperson nominated by the CSI Graduate Program Academic Committee (GPAC) and the two invited examiners.
  • The Chairperson of the Oral Panel is empowered to make decisions on the outcome of the PQE in consultation with the other two members.
  • Supervisor(s) will be invited to sit in as observers. Supervisor(s) are not allowed to speak on behalf of their student unless he/she is asked to do so by the PQE Oral Panel. The supervisor(s) are also not allowed to take part in the deliberations on the outcome of the PQE.


  • Pass the 4 prescribed core modules (CDM5101, CDM5102, MDG5108 and MDG5771) with an average of at least 3.6 for all core modules.
  • Pass and obtain a minimum grade C for Graduate English course(s), where applicable, for students admitted before August 2010 or a minimum grade of C+ for students admitted with effect from August 2010.
  • Substantial published / publishable work done in a project that is highly creative/original, or involves innovative new technology.
  • Student must complete the PQE within 24 months from the date of enrollment. Therefore, we recommend students to apply for PQE about 3 semesters after enrollment.

Examination Format

Student needs to submit an application form to the Chairperson of the GPAC together with:

  • A written PhD Research Proposal for the written component using the prescribed template.
  • Any publication(s) or manuscript(s) submitted, accepted or published.

These documents are to be submitted at least two months ahead of the oral examination.

The written PhD Research Proposal will be forwarded to the two invited examiners for examination. If the student passes the written component, the oral examination will be scheduled. If the student is asked to revise his/her Research Proposal, he/she will be given 1 month for revision and re-submission. If the student fails the written examination, he/she will be asked to exit from the program.
For the oral component, the student will make an oral presentation in front of the PQE panel. He/She will be questioned on the work done as well as his/her future research plans.

Possible Outcomes

  • Candidate with good coursework grades and with data published or publishable in a reputable journal will be allowed to confirm as a PhD candidate
  • Candidate with good coursework grades but whose preliminary data was deemed unsatisfactory after oral examination will be given written recommendations and requested to resubmit application after 6 months.
  • Candidate with poor coursework grades and with no publishable data will not be allowed to register for PhD.


Students who do not complete their PhD Qualifying Examination by the 24th month will have their Research Scholarship (RS) monthly stipend reduced to S$2,000. CSI will only reinstate the RS after student has completed and passed PQE.

Template for PhD Research Proposal

PQE Written Examination – PhD Research Proposal