PhD Degree Requirements

The PhD program requirements build upon those outlined by the Michigan Tech Graduate School which defines the Doctor of Philosophy degree as 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 supervised by an Advisory Committee.

Upon entering the ME-EM PhD program, a student and their Advisor develop a research thrust and course plan. The doctoral degree typically requires significant course work beyond the master's degree, along with the research dissertation.  A minimum of 30 credits are required beyond the master's degree and 60 credits beyond the bachelor's degree. Course credits and research credits both count toward this minimum.

Graduation must take place within eight years after starting the PhD program.

ME-EM Department PhD Comprehensive Examination

The Comprehensive Exam is one of several milestones on the way to your terminal degree.

The Comprehensive Exam consists of two parts; the ME-EM Comprehensive Written Exam, and the Dissertation Proposal and presentation. The following guidelines are to better standardize the Comprehensive Exam across the academic Areas, and to recognize the need to accommodate students engaged in interdisciplinary research spanning more than one Area, Department, School, or College. 

Guidelines for the ME-EM Comprehensive Written Exam

The purpose of the ME-EM Comprehensive Written Exam is to assess early in the student’s PhD program whether they will be successful completing the rigor of the program.  A full-time student is expected to take the ME-EM Comprehensive Written Examination within two years after initial enrollment in the degree program, or earlier as deemed appropriate by the Advisor.  The exam will be offered twice a year on the Saturday of the 11th or 12th week during Spring or Fall semesters.

Future exams will be held on:

  • PhD Comprehensive Exam:Fall Semester - Saturday, April 13, 2013

ME-EM Comprehensive Written Exam Content

  1. A written exam covering graduate understanding of material will be given over a period of 3 hours, maximum.  The exam should allow for interdisciplinary content, from within as well as from outside of ME-EM, as appropriate to the student’s area of research.
  2. The exam will consist of eight problems / questions.  The exam will cover at least two topics chosen by the student, which have been approved by the student’s Advisory Committee, and which are relevant to the student’s research.

ME-EM Comprehensive Written Exam Committee

  1. The exam committee will consist of at least three graduate faculty members and may include the PhD Advisor.  The committee membership should reflect the interdisciplinary nature of the research area as appropriate, and may include members from outside of the ME-EM Department.
  2. At least one committee member, other than the Advisor, shall be from the ME-EM Department.
  3. Each committee member will contribute problems / questions for the exam.
  4. Each committee member will grade her/his own problems / questions.

Advisor Responsibilities

  1. Register the student for the exam with the Director of Graduate Studies.
  2. Select and contact the exam committee members at least one month before the exam.
  3. Assemble the exam and inform the faculty that the exam is available for inspection, and administer the exam on the common date and time.
  4. Distribute the problems / questions to the exam committee for grading, summarize the results, and have the committee establish the exam grade within 2 weeks of the exam date.
  5. Report the exam outcome in writing to the Director of Graduate Studies and the Area Director, if appropriate.  The Director of Graduate Studies will inform each student and their Advisory Committee of the outcome.

ME-EM Comprehensive Written Exam Grading

  1. Each exam problem / question will be assigned a pass or fail grade.
  2. The committee will determine the overall exam grade as:
    1. Pass:   6 or more of 8 problems / questions passed;
    2. Pass-with-condition: 4 or more of 8 problems / questions passed;
    3. Fail: 3 or fewer of 8 problems / questions passed.

      The exam committee may have an optional follow-up interview with the student to further assess the student’s performance on the written exam.
  3. The exam committee may recommend additional coursework or tasks based on the exam performance to fulfill the “with-condition” stipulation.  Upon fulfilling the “with-condition” stipulation, the student has passed the exam.
  4. A maximum of two attempts to pass the ME-EM Comprehensive Written Exam will be allowed - failure to pass the exam after two attempts will result in a recommendation to the ME-EM Chair for dismissal of the student from the ME-  EM PhD program, in accordance with the Graduate School policy.

Supported PhD students who have passed their Comprehensive Written Exam will receive a stipend increase of $250/semester, if funded at the University’s minimum level.

Guidelines for the ME-EM Comprehensive Oral Exam

The Dissertation Proposal consists of a written proposal and an oral presentation and defense of the proposal.  The purpose of the Dissertation Proposal is to ensure that the student is planning to engage in an appropriate quality and quantity of research to successfully complete the PhD program.  The Dissertation Proposal is also an opportunity for the Advisory Committee to provide feedback and guidance regarding the research plan.  The written proposal should clearly show how the proposed research relates to the current body of knowledge and how it contributes to expanding the body of knowledge.  The Dissertation Proposal presentation and defense may be scheduled after the student has investigated the dissertation topic thoroughly enough so that the likelihood of a successful outcome to the research can be assessed.

A full-time student is expected to write and present the Dissertation Proposal within two years after initial enrollment in the degree program, or as deemed appropriate by the Advisor.

The written proposal must conform to the National Science Foundation proposal format.  The Executive Summary is limited to one-page, single-spaced with 12 font.  The Narrative is limited to 15 pages, single-spaced with 12 font.  The Reference section is not included in the 15 page limit. The student should develop the proposal in consultation with the Advisor and Advisory Committee to ensure the necessary elements of the proposal are included in the document.  The final written proposal must be distributed to the Advisory Committee members at least two weeks prior to the presentation.

The proposal presentation is open to the public and represents the oral component of the MTU Comprehensive Exam.  Successful completion of the Dissertation Proposal will consist of passing both the written and oral components.  Satisfactory completion of the Dissertation Proposal will be regarded as an indication that the PhD Advisory Committee has approved the research plan.

Supported PhD students who have passed their Comprehensive Oral Exam will receive a stipend increase of $250/semester, if funded at the University’s minimum level. Tuition for PhD students who have completed the required coursework, as well as the Comprehensive Exam (both parts), will be reduced to full-time research-only tuition status. These students will be charged a tuition rate equal to 1/3 of the normal graduate tuition rate.

PhD students are encouraged to receive their "MS-on-the-way" when they  have completed the requirements for an MS and do not already possess an MS in the discipline. PhD research proposals (used for students' proposal defense exam) could potentially be considered a "report" for the report-option MS degree. PhD students who take sufficient courses could potentially use those courses for a coursework-only MS degree (30 credits).

Supported PhD students entering the program who lack a MS degree will be paid a stipend at the MS level. All students must be continuously enrolled for a minimum of 1 credit whether on or off-campus. Off-campus students will not be charged fees. Students who must take a "time-out" due to extenuating circumstances or lack of available online courses (for students in online or blended degree programs) need to register for a no-fee section of UN5951.

Deadlines and Forms

To complete the degree in a timely manner, students must document their progress by completing tracking forms and other degree requirements as required by the Graduate School Forms and degree requirements must be submitted to the ME-EM Director of Graduate Studies who will then forward them to the Graduate School.  Other degree requirements are found in the Graduate Catalog for each degree program. ME-EM also has specific degree requirements. Students are advised to allow at least one week to process all final paperwork to graduate in the desired semester.

It is the student’s responsibility to complete the Graduate School ‘D’ forms as they become due. See the Catalog for other degree requirements.

Timeline to PhD Degree

Copyright, Plagiarism and Academic Integrity

As the University continues to acquire research grants and the graduate student population swells, academic integrity becomes essential. Training sessions to assist faculty, staff, and students are currently available.  Additional sessions are being developed. Several presentations have taken place and the links are provided below: