The oral Preliminary exam is a requirement of every Ph.D. student’s program that provides official feedback from an exam committee composed of faculty members. Students must be able to demonstrate an integrated grasp of the exam area’s body of knowledge in an unstructured framework. Students must pass the oral portion of the preliminary exam within their first two attempts. A third attempt is possible with a petition of support from the student’s faculty advisor and final approval by the Prelim Committee Chair. Failure to pass the oral portion of the preliminary exam will result in the student being ineligible to complete the Ph.D. program.

The spring prelim exam application deadline is usually in March. The fall prelim exam application deadline is usually in October.

PLEASE NOTE: You must submit the application (online ONLY) through MY EECS INFO.  If you do not meet one of the requirements for eligibility to take the preliminary oral exam (see below), then you must submit a general petition to


The EECS Preliminary Requirement consists of two components: the oral examination and breadth courses. You will have fulfilled the Prelim Requirement only after you pass the oral exam and meet the breadth course requirement.

  • Only students admitted to the Ph.D. program are permitted to take the oral prelim exam.
  • All students are expected to take the oral exam by their third semester.
  • You must be registered the semester the oral prelim exam is taken.
  • You must have a cumulative GPA of 3.5 in courses taken at Berkeley while in graduate standing to take the prelim (Graded units of 299 and 298 are not included in this computation).
  • You need a score of at least 6.0 out of a possible 10.0 to pass.
  • The prelim oral exams are usually scheduled:
    • EE: during the week preceding the start of instruction each semester.
    • CS: over a 3-week period beginning the week in which classes start. Further details will be emailed to those who sign up.
  • petition for an exception must be submitted in hard copy to your staff graduate advisor ( at the time you apply for prelims if you:
    • want to delay the prelim oral exam for ANY reason
    • want to take the prelim oral exam early
    • want to take the prelim oral exam in spite of your having a GPA below 3.5
    • have deviated or will deviate from the usual procedure or policy in any way.
  • The GSAs have developed a page of advice about how to approach prelims if this is not your first time taking them.
  • Once you have completed your oral exam you must complete a Tentative Program of Study Card (Blue Card).
  • Students who are not able to pass the preliminary oral exam will be ineligible to continue in the Ph.D. program.

Electrical Engineering Syllabi and Sample Questions

  • Architecture (AR) – Included in the EE areas in Fall 2021

  • Control, Intelligent Systems and Robotics (CIR)Replaced LIN Spring 2021
  • Cyber-Physical Systems and Design Automation (CPSDA)Replaced CAD in Fall 2019
  • Information, Data, Network, and Communication Sciences (IDNCS)Replaced COM in Fall 2019
  • Integrated Circuits (INC)
  • Micro Electro Mechanical Systems (MEMS)
  • Optoelectronics & Photonics (OPTO)

  • Power and Energy (ENE)
  • Semiconductor Devices (SCD)
  • Signal Processing (SP)

Computer Science Syllabi and Sample Questions

  • Machine Learning (ML)

Exams Not Routinely Offered

Discontinued Exams