Doctoral Degree Program
The doctor of philosophy program in the College of Engineering is intended for academically outstanding students with appropriate bachelor’s degrees. The program requires the completion and defense of a significant, original research dissertation. Potential fields of study are designated as areas of research focus by individual departments. Potential concentrations are bioengineering, chemical engineering, civil engineering, computer science and engineering, electrical engineering, environmental engineering, industrial engineering, manufacturing engineering, and mechanical engineering.
Doctoral students, in consultation with the graduate program director and departmental chair, should select an adviser during their first term of study. Since the adviser 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 adviser can work effectively together. Notification of the adviser’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 for approval.
When the student and adviser have agreed on a general area for the dissertation within the first year of study, 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 of whom from outside the focus area and one from outside the department of the adviser. 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 manuscript; 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 develop and submit for approval a doctoral program plan of study that meets all University, college and departmental requirements. This document specifies the course work and other requirements for the Ph.D.; it sets a tentative schedule for the examinations, and for presentation and defense of the dissertation proposal. Submission of the plan of study for approval to the graduate director, the departmental chair and the College of Graduate Studies also accomplishes official appointment of the advisory committee.
The plan of study requires a minimum of 45 credit hours each of dissertation and course work. (Students admitted to the Ph.D. program with an M.S. degree are granted up to 30 course work credits for 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, the student must have at least a B average (minimum GPA of 3.0/4.0) for all graduate course credits in the program as well as for their 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.
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.
Doctoral students satisfy the doctoral residency requirement by completing at total of 18 hours of coursework taken over 3 consecutive semesters. Enrollment in a summer term is not required to maintain continuity, but credits earned during summer terms could count toward the 18 hours required for residency. Each graduate program may exclude certain courses and credit hours from meeting the residency requirement.
Any exceptions to the residency requirement should be requested to the College of Graduate Studies on the “Residency Requirement Exception Form” that should be attached to a Plan of Study for students who have been determined by their academic program to need an exception to the residency requirement.
At the discretion of the student’s department, either a qualifying examination, a comprehensive examination or both will be required prior to admission to candidacy. Please refer to departmental and University requirements for details of the qualifying or comprehensive examinations.
Admission to Candidacy
When notified the required qualifying or comprehensive examination(s) have been passed and all other departmental requirements for candidacy are fulfilled, the student should initiate formal admission to candidacy. This requires the signed approval of the graduate program director and department chair and notification to the College of Graduate Studies.
The student, working with the adviser, 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.
After the adviser and committee have approved the dissertation proposal, the student should carry out the dissertation plan. When the adviser and student believe the work is complete and ready for defense, a dissertation manuscript should be prepared, with the adviser providing suggestions for improvement, until both the adviser and the student believe the document is ready for publication.
The student should distribute the final adviser-approved manuscript and schedule a defense before the advisory committee.
The defense is open to the public. Notice of the exam should be sent to the departmental 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 bulletin boards.
Following the 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 before another defense is scheduled. When the examination is passed, there are generally revisions for improvement to be implemented before final approval of the document. When the final corrected, signed dissertation is submitted to the College of Graduate Studies through the departmental graduate director, the department chair and the associate dean of graduate studies, the student is certified academically for graduation.