CENG – Curriculum

Screening Exam Info

Students entering the EE-Systems 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. Thus 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 and on this website – Click Here
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 in CENG who will brief you on the content and procedures of the exam. You are responsible for the following topics.

Exam Format and
List of Eligible Courses
(To print the exam format in PDF Click Here)
  1. Fundamental courses: Students will have one 30-minute oral exam in front of one faculty for each of four fundamental courses that they will select from the following list:
click on any course number below to view the reading list in PDF

EE 450 Introduction to Computer Networks
EE 451 Parallel and Distributed Computation
EE 457 Computer Systems Organization
EE 467 Introduction to Communication Systems
EE 477 MOS VLSI Circuit Design
EE 503 Probability for Electrical and Computer Engineers
CSCI 402 Operating Systems
CSCI 570 Analysis of Algorithms

  1.  Depth courses: Students will have one 30-minute oral exam in front of one faculty for each of two depth courses that they will select from the following list: (The questions in these exams may go beyond the standard curriculum of the selected courses to test research capability in the selected areas.) Depth courses may be selected from any of the three areas listed below.

    click on any course number below to view the reading list in PDF

In the area of Computer Architecture:

EE 532 Wireless Internet and Pervasive Computing
EE 542 Internet and Cloud Computing
EE 557 Computer Systems Architecture
EE 653 Advanced Topics in Microarchitectures
EE 657 Parallel Processing
EE 659 Interconnection Networks
EE 677 VLSI Architectures and Algorithms
CSCI 503 Parallel Programming

In the area of Digital Systems Design (VLSI/CAD)

EE 552 Logic Design and Switching Theory
EE 536a Mixed-signal integrated system design
EE 577a VLSI System Design
EE 658 Diagnosis and Design of Reliable Digital Systems
EE 680 Computer Aided Design of Digital Systems I
EE 681 Computer Aided Design of Digital Systems II

In the area of Computer Networks

EE 512 Stochastic Processes
EE 550 Design and Analysis of Computer Communications
EE 555 Broadband Network Architectures
EE 597 Wireless Networks
EE 649 Stochastic Network Optimization
CSCI 551 Computer Communications