Doctoral Degree Programs

The Doctor of Philosophy programs in the College of Engineering are intended for academically outstanding students with appropriate bachelor’s degrees. The programs require the completion and defense of a significant, original research dissertation. Potential fields of study include bioengineering, biomedical engineering, chemical engineering, civil and environmental engineering, computer science and engineering, electrical engineering, industrial engineering, and mechanical engineering.

Advisory Committee

Doctoral students, in consultation with the graduate program director and departmental chair, should select an advisor during their first term of study. Since the advisor is expected to become the student’s dissertation supervisor, selection should be based on mutual agreement and common interests with the expectation that the student and advisor can work effectively together. Notification of the advisor’s appointment should be forwarded to the department’s graduate program director, the college’s associate dean of graduate studies, and the College of Graduate Studies.

The student and advisor should agree on a general area for the dissertation within the first year of study, and an advisory committee should be appointed subject to the approval of the graduate program director and departmental chair. This committee, in general, is composed of a minimum of five graduate faculty members, with at least one from outside the focus area and one from outside the department of the advisor. The duties of the advisory committee include developing a plan of study that will prepare the student in the chosen field and facilitate successful completion of the dissertation; reviewing and approving the dissertation proposal; advising and assisting in the completion of the dissertation research and preparation of the dissertation document; and conducting the dissertation defense. Students are referred to additional details and requirements provided in the graduate student handbook of individual departments.

Plan of Study

The advisory committee’s first responsibility is to work with the student to develop and submit for approval a doctoral program plan of study (POS) that meets all university, college, and department requirements. The POS must be filed with the College of Graduate Studies prior to completion of 12 credit hours. The plan of study specifies the course work and other requirements for the Ph.D., including qualifying examinations or publications.

The plan of study requires a minimum of 45 credit hours each of dissertation research and course work. Students admitted to the Ph.D. program with an M.S. degree may be granted credit for up to 30 credit hours of course work from their M.S. degree. Course work must satisfy core course and other requirements specified for the student’s focus area by the department.

In order to be awarded the Ph.D. degree, a student must have at least a B average (minimum GPA of 3.0/4.0) for all graduate course work satisfying the degree program as well as for the entire graduate transcript. Only credit hours obtained with a letter grade of “C” or higher, or an “S” grade for the limited number of classes offered on a satisfactory or unsatisfactory basis, will fulfill degree requirements.

Residency Requirement

The College of Graduate Studies has established an academic residency requirement in order to provide doctoral students with the opportunity to engage in intensive, concentrated study over an extended period of time in association with faculty members and other students in an atmosphere conducive to a high level of intellectual and scholarly activity.

More information can be found under the College of Graduate Studies academic regulations section of the catalog.


Doctoral students must complete a qualifying examination, a comprehensive examination, or both to continue in the program of study. Please refer to departmental handbooks for details on the qualifying or comprehensive examination timing, process, and procedures.

Admission to Candidacy

Students typically apply for admission to candidacy following the completion of coursework requirements and completion of any required qualifying examinations. At the time a student applies for admission to candidacy, the student must have a minimum 3.0/4.0 cumulative GPA and have satisfactorily completed the department examination requirements.

Dissertation Proposal

The student, working with the advisor, should develop a detailed written dissertation proposal for presentation to the advisory committee. The proposal should state the objectives, provide appropriate background, and describe the general approach to accomplish the research clearly and completely. Specific procedures and details for the timing, preparation, distribution and defense of this proposal are noted in departmental requirements. An approved copy of the accepted proposal, signed by each member of the advisory committee, will be kept in the student’s file.

Dissertation Defense

After the advisor and committee have approved the dissertation proposal, the student should carry out the dissertation plan. When the advisor and student believe the work is complete and ready for defense, a dissertation document should be prepared with the advisor providing suggestions for improvement until both the advisor and the student believe the document is ready for publication. The advisor-approved dissertation document should be distributed to the committee in advance of the public dissertation defense.

Notice of the scheduled dissertation defense exam should be sent to the department graduate director, associate dean of graduate studies of the College of Engineering, and the College of Graduate Studies, and should be posted on College of Engineering notification sites. Dissertation defenses are open to the public; however, if intellectual property disclosure would be jeopardized by public disclosure, a closed defense can be requested.

Following the oral examination, the advisory committee will vote on whether to approve the dissertation and its defense. The committee will advise the student on what additions or corrections are necessary for the written dissertation document to be considered approved. When all corrections have been approved by the advisor and/or committee, the dissertation is uploaded to OhioLINK for electronic access and archiving. If additional time is needed for completion of patent applications and publications after the dissertation is uploaded, the student must submit an OhioLink publication delay request to the College of Graduate Studies.