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.
- 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.
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.
- All credits must meet the Scholastic Standards of the Graduate School in order to be counted toward the credit requirements.
- 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)
- 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.
Students must be in good standing to earn a graduate degree.
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.
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.
The advisory committee consists of at least four members of the graduate faculty including the advisor/co-advisors. 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.
In addition to the primary advisor/co-advisor requirements specified in the Advisor section above, at least one member of the committee must be external to the student’s academic home department or school. A faculty member is classified as external if one of the following is true:
- They have less than a 50% primary appointment in the student's administrative home department, OR
- They are appointed as an ad-hoc graduate faculty member
An advisor or co-advisor cannot serve as an external member of the committee.
The advisory committee should be appointed prior to the end of the student’s fourth academic-year semester in residence.
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.
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.
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. For requirements on committee composition, please see Advisory Committee section above. 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 Report on Final Oral Examination Form.