Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Ph.D. Screening Exam Information

Students entering the Ph.D. program in EE or CENG with either a B.S. degree or an M.S. degree are required to pass the Ph.D. Screening Exam. The exam is given every Fall and Spring semester around the 12th week of class. The exam is only for those students admitted to or enrolled in the Ph.D. program and in regular graduate standing. You are allowed two attempts to pass the screening exam. You must pass the screening exam no later than two years (four regular academic-year semesters) from your date of admission into the Ph.D. program, regardless of the number of units completed. Therefore, it is strongly recommended that you take the screening exam as early as possible and not wait until your fourth semester to take the exam for the first time! The screening exam is intended to gauge research potential; thus, when making a pass/fail decision, the Department also takes into account other evidence of your potential for research work, including GRE scores and your USC GPA, in addition to the grade on the administered exam.

You are eligible to take the screening exam only if your cumulative graduate GPA at USC is 3.5 or higher (this requirement is applicable to all students joining the Ph.D. program in or after Fall 2004).

If you wish to withdraw from the screening exam, you must do so at least one week before the first day of the exam. Any withdrawal after that point without a valid medical emergency will automatically be recorded as a fail for the semester's exam.

The screening exam application may be obtained in EEB 102. It must be submitted by October 1 for the Fall semester and February 1 for the Spring semester. As the exams draw near, you will be contacted with the exact times and locations. A pre-exam meeting will be held, conducted by a faculty member who will brief you on the content and procedures of the exam. You are responsible for the following topics:

Click on the course number to view its reading list(PDF):

Computer Engineering

For more information go here.


CILQ (Communications) Screening Exam
For more information go here.

Control Systems

  • EE 482 Linear Control Systems
  • EE 503 Probability for Electrical and Computer Engineers
  • EE 585 Linear System Theory
  • Choice of one 500 level Control course (e.g., out of EE 543, EE 556, EE 562, EE 587, EE 588, EE 593.)

Signal and Image Processing
  • EE 510 Linear Algebra for Engineering
  • EE 483 Introduction to Digital Signal Processing
  • EE 503 Probability for Electrical and Computer Engineers
  • EE 562 Random Processes in Engineering

Published on November 1st, 2016

Last updated on July 1st, 2024