Doctor of Philosophy

The doctor of philosophy degree is a research degree. It is awarded in recognition of demonstrated mastery of subject matter in a chosen field of study and demonstrated competence in the conduct of an individual research investigation that represents a significant contribution to the cumulative knowledge of the field. The program of study and research will be planned and supervised by an advisory committee. Each candidate’s course work and research topic must be approved by the advisory committee as meeting the standards generally associated with the doctoral degree.

The doctoral student must comply with the requirements on this page, the requirements of their program, and complete any necessary forms to document their progress with the Graduate School.

Individual programs may have higher standards, and students are expected to know their program’s requirements.

Milestone Timeline by Academic-Year Semester after Start of Program (click to expand)

SemesterRecommended TimelineDeadlines*
1Select Advisor Course work      
2       
3 Select Advisory CommitteeQualifying Exam     
4  Research Proposal Exam    
5        
6    Prepare DissertationFinal Oral DefenseComplete Degree 
7      
8      
9      
10     Qualifying Exam
11         
12        Research Proposal Exam
13         
14         
15         
16        PhD Completion

*Items noted in the deadlines column must be completed no later than the semester noted.

Description of PhD Milestones (click to expand)

Select Advisor
  • Purpose
    • Advises student on courses/research
  • Requirements
    • Member of graduate faculty
    • Regular or adjunct appointment in student's administrative home department
  • Recommended Timing
    • At start may be graduate program director
    • Permanent advisor chosen within 1 (post master's) or 2 (post bachelor's) academic semesters after start
Select Advisory Committee
  • Purpose
    • Advises student on courses/research
    • Provides cognate expertise
    • Contributes diverse perspectives
    • Promotes cross-disciplinary communications
  • Requirements
    • Members of graduate faculty
    • Minimum of one from outside student's academic home department
  • Recommended Timing
    • Appointed within 2 (post master's) or 4 (post bachelor's) academic semesters after start
Pass Qualifying Examination
  • Purpose
    • Test of disciplinary knowledge
  • Examiners
    • Standing Committee or Advisory Committee
  • Format
    • Written (required), oral (optional; determined by program)
  • Timing
    • Recommended: Within 3 (post master's) or 4 (post bachelor's) academic semesters after start
    • Required: No more than 5 years after start
 Pass Research Proposal Examination
  • Purpose
    • Test of capability to conduct independent research
  • Examiners
    • Standing Committee or Advisory Committee
  • Format
    • Oral (required), written (optional; determined by program)
  • Candidacy
    • After completion of qualifying and proposal Exam, can enter research-only mode
  • Timing
    • Recommended: Within 4 (post master's) or 6 (post bachelor's) academic semesters after start
    • Required: No more than 6 years after start
Prepare Dissertation
  • Purpose
    • Written description of research
  • Recommended Timing
    • Within 6 (post master's) or 10 (post bachelor's) academic semesters after start
Pass Final Oral Defense
  • Purpose
    • Public defense of research
  • Recommended Timing
    • Within 6 (post master's) or 10 (post bachelor's) academic semesters after start
Complete Degree Requirements
  • Purpose
    • Leads to awarding of degree
  • Requirements
    • Final dissertation approved
  • Required Timing
    • Within 8 years after start

Residency Requirements

  • A minimum of two-thirds of the required non-research course work credits required for the degree must be taken through Michigan Tech.  PhD students must take at least 20 credits beyond the masters or 50 credits beyond the bachelors through Michigan Tech.
  • Research credits used to satisfy degree requirements must be taken through Michigan Tech and must be supervised by a member of Michigan Tech's graduate faculty.

Courses which meet the "through Michigan Tech" requirement are defined as courses listed in the Michigan Tech course catalog and taught by Michigan Tech faculty.

Degree Completion Timeline

The slider(s) below shows a detailed timeline of items that you need to complete in order to obtain a degree and prepare for arrival on campus. Click on the arrow to expand the slider, and click on the buttons in the table for more information about each item.

You can check the Current Students area of MyMichiganTech for a detailed checklist of items that are required for you at this time, and see a list of items that are complete or pending for each degree you are pursuing. See the Graduate School's online tutorial for help with MyMichiganTech.

Doctoral Degree Completion Timeline

WhenWhatClick for detailsClick for an explanation
Before you arrive on campus Arrange for housing (not applicable for online students) Details Why?
  Consult with graduate program director and/or advisor for proper course selection Details Why?
  Submit your arrival information on MyMichiganTech to notify International Programs and Services (IPS) of your travel plans (International students only) Details Why?
  Upload your photo for your HuskyCard (optional) Details Why?
When you arrive on campus Obtain a HuskyCard Details Why?
  Report to International Programs and Services (international students only) Details Why?
  Complete Basic Responsible Conduct of Research Training Details Why?
  Submit official proof of previous degrees earned Details Why?
  Submit Patent, research, and proprietary rights agreement form Details Why?
Every year Provide proof of health insurance or pay for University policy (on campus students only) Details Why?
  Obtain a parking permit for any vehicle you desire to park on MTU property Details Why?
Every fall and spring semester until your degree is complete   Register for courses Details Why?
Pay your bill Details Why?
Confirm your enrollment Details Why?
Every summer session you are a supported student, plan to complete your degree, or defend   Register for courses Details Why?
Pay your bill Details Why?
Confirm your enrollment Details Why?
First (post master's) or second (post baccalaureate) semester Select advisor by submitting the Advisor and committee recommendation form Details Why?
Second or third academic semester Complete Advanced Responsible Conduct of Research Training Details Why?
Second (post master's) or fourth (post baccalaureate) semester Appoint advisory committee by submitting the Advisor and committee recommendation form Details Why?
Third (post master's) or fourth (post baccalaureate) semester Pass qualifying examination and record results Details Why?
Fourth (post master's) or sixth (post baccalaureate) semester Pass research proposal examination and record results Details Why?
Semester coursework is complete OR semester prior to entering research only mode Submit Degree schedule to Graduate School Details Why?
Due one week before semester student wishes to enter research only mode Submit Petition to enter full-time research-only mode (optional) Details Why?
Semester of planned degree completion Submit Commencement application form if you wish to participate in commencement (fall/spring semester only) Details Why?
Four weeks before your defense - Sixth (post master's) or tenth (post baccalaureate) semester Plan for your defense - by this stage your defendable draft should be almost complete with only minor edits needed prior to it going to your committee Details Why?
Two weeks before your defense Schedule your defense by submitting the Pre-defense form Details Why?
  Submit complete defendable version of your dissertation to the Graduate School Details Why?
  Submit complete defendable version of your dissertation to your advisor and committee Details Why?
Day of defense Publicly defend your dissertation  Details Why?
  Bring copy of Report on final oral examination form to defense Details Why?
Post-defense (see deadlines for upcoming semesters) Ensure that all required technical corrections from advisor and committee are made Details Why?
  Ensure that all required formatting corrections from Graduate School are made Details Why?
  Submit the Approval of a dissertation, thesis, or report form Details Why?
Within one week of submitting the Approval of a dissertation, thesis, or report form and by the deadline for the semester you wish to complete your degree Submit final dissertation to Canvas Details Why?
Submit Degree completion form to Canvas Details Why?
Submit dissertation to ProQuest Details Why?
Before completing degree Complete Survey of Earned Doctorates (required) Details Why?
  Complete Exit Survey Details Why?
When dissertation has been approved by Graduate School Obtain signatures on Graduate School approved Degree completion form found on Canvas Details Why?
After signatures are obtained on Graduate School approved Degree completion form   Submit signed Degree completion form to Graduate School Details Why?
Pick up diploma folder Details Why?
Pick up Graduate School pin Details Why?
After submission of Degree completion form Pay fees (if needed) Details Why?
Within two weeks after the end of the semester Watch your e-mail or MyMichiganTech for notification that your degree is awarded Details Why?
Two months after the end of the semester Watch your e-mail for notification that your diploma is ready Details Why?
Three months after dissertation approved by Graduate School Watch the mail for your bound copies (if applicable) Details Why?

Credit Requirements

Minimum requirements

Programs may have stricter requirements than listed here and may require more than the minimum numbers of credits listed here.

  • Thirty credits beyond the bachelor’s degree are required for a master’s degree.
  • Thirty credits beyond the master’s degree are required for a PhD.
  • Maximum of 12 credits may be at the 3000 or 4000 level (with program approval).
  • One-third of the non-research credits may be transfer credits as long as they were not applied toward another degree.
  • Research credits are the only non-graded classes that may be counted toward a degree.

Unallowable credits

  • Courses numbered below 3000
  • Audited courses
  • Continuous enrollment courses (ex: UN5951, UN5953)
  • Non-research courses taken for a pass/fail courses
  • Credits applied toward another degree (see exceptions below)

Special Exceptions

  • Peace Corps Master’s International students may use 2 credits of language courses below the 3000 level.
  • A portion of the non-research/non-practicum credits earned at Michigan Tech may be reused to earn an additional master's degree in accordance with Graduate School policy
  • Students in an accelerated master’s program may apply up to 6 of the credits earned while an undergraduate toward both their bachelor’s and master’s degrees in accordance with University policy. Each program may set limits on the type and number of credits.

Academic Progress

Students must be in good standing to earn a graduate degree.

Time Limits

All work for the master’s degree must be completed within five calendar years of the first enrollment in the degree program or earliest course listed on the degree schedule, whichever is earliest. All work for the PhD must be completed within eight calendar years of the first enrollment in the degree program or earliest course listed on the degree schedule, whichever is earliest. Requests for extension must be made by the advisor to the Graduate School.

Responsible Conduct for Research Training

The University requires that students complete basic and advanced responsible conduct for research training. Basic training is required for all students.  Advanced training is required for all students who began their degree in spring 2013 OR who are funded by external sponsor. See our web page for details on how to complete the training.

Advisor

Faculty who advise graduate students must be members of the Michigan Tech graduate faculty. These individuals advise students on course selection and supervise the students’ research. All graduate students must have an advisor.

Each student’s advisor must hold a regular or adjunct appointment in the student's administrative home department or school. Students may be co-advised by two faculty members. At least one of the co-advisors must hold a regular or adjunct appointment in the student’s administrative home department or school.

  • While one co-advisor may be from outside the student's administrative home department or school, it is recommended (but not required) that this co-advisor not also serve as the external member of the student's committee.
  • Before recommending a sole advisor who holds an adjunct appointment in the student's administrative home department or school, the appropriate graduate program director should ensure that this person is sufficiently familiar with the department/school standards for research and with applicable university policies/procedures and that this person can maintain adequate contact with the student.

Students who enter the University may initially be advised by the graduate program director for their degree program.

A permanent advisor should be chosen prior to the end of the second academic-year semester in residence.

Advisory Committee

The advisory committee consists of at least three members of the graduate faculty in addition to the advisor. The membership of the committee is recommended to the dean of the Graduate School by the advisor and the chair, dean, or graduate program director of the student’s academic home department or school or program using the Advisor and Committee Recommendation form. At least one member of the committee must be external to the student’s academic home department or school. If co-advisors are chosen and one co-advisor is from outside the student's home department or school, it is recommended, but not required, that an additional external member be chosen.

The advisory committee should be appointed prior to the end of the student’s fourth academic-year semester in residence.

Qualifying Examination

A qualifying examination will be given to determine each student’s ability to apply general concepts and methods in their chosen field. This examination must include a written component and may also include an oral component. Typically this exam is given prior to the research proposal examination.

The qualifying examination will be administered by members of the Graduate Faculty who are familiar with the examinee’s chosen field of study. The examining committee may be a standing committee appointed by the academic home department or school or it may consist of a student’s advisory committee. Any member of the graduate faculty may attend the oral component of this examination (if one exists) as an observer.

Satisfactory performance on the qualifying examination is required for students to maintain good progress toward completion of their degree.

The qualifying examination should be administered prior to the end of the fourth academic-year semester in residence at Michigan Tech. It must be given no later than five years after enrollment. It should be given at least two academic-year semesters before the final oral defense.

Research Proposal Examination

The research proposal examination is used to determine each student’s readiness to conduct and complete an independent research project that will contribute to the body of knowledge in their chosen field. This examination must include an oral component and may also include a written component. Typically this examination is given after the qualifying examination.

The research proposal examination will be administered by members of the Graduate Faculty who are familiar with the examinee’s chosen field of study. The examining committee may be a standing committee appointed by the academic home department or school or it may consist of a student’s advisory committee. Any member of the graduate faculty may attend the oral examination as an observer.

Satisfactory performance on the research proposal examination is required for students to maintain good progress toward completion of their degree.

The research proposal examination should be administered prior to the end of the sixth academic-year semester in residence at Michigan Tech. It must be given no later than six years after enrollment. It should be given at least one academic-year semester before the final oral defense.

Candidacy and Research-Only Mode

Students who successfully complete both the qualifying examination and the research proposal examination are considered candidates for the PhD. These students are also eligible for research-only mode tuition rates. Students in research-only mode are permitted to take courses, for which they pay regular tuition.

Dissertation

The research undertaken as part of the doctoral degree program will be presented in the form of a dissertation that will be a permanent acquisition of the library. Any classified or proprietary material that cannot be made available to the public is not acceptable as a dissertation. Completing the dissertation requires preparation of the document according to Graduate School guidelines, and submitting the completed (and successfully defended) dissertation to the Graduate School.

A completed draft of the dissertation must be distributed to the advisory committee chair two weeks prior to the final examination.

Oral Examination

At a public final oral examination, primarily concerning the research and doctoral dissertation, the candidate should justify the validity of the methods and conclusions contained in the dissertation and should demonstrate familiarity with the significance of the study in relation to the existing body of knowledge.

The examining committee will be appointed by the Graduate School in consultation with the department chair or school dean of the student’s academic home unit. The student’s advisory committee will typically serve as the examining committee. In all cases the examining committee will consist of at least four members of the graduate faculty. At least one of these will be from outside the student's administrative home department or school. The primary advisor, or a co-advisor who serves as chair of the committee, must be from the student's home department or school. While one co-advisor may be from outside the student's administrative home department, it is recommended, but not required, that this co-advisor not fill the role of sole external member on the student's committee. A person external to Michigan Tech may be appointed as an ad hoc member of the Graduate Faculty to serve as the outside examiner. Persons who are not members of the Graduate Faculty may not serve as voting members of doctoral examination committees.

The examination will be scheduled by filing a Pre-defense form with the Graduate School.

The date of the examination must be at least two weeks following approval of a completed draft of the dissertation by the advisor and distribution of the completed draft of the dissertation to the examining committee.

The examination may be given two academic-year semesters following successful completion of the qualifying examination and one academic-year semester following successful completion of the research proposal examination. The student’s examination results must be reported to the Graduate School on the Verification of final degree requirements form (D8).