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)
|1||Select Advisor||Course work|
|3||Select Advisory Committee||Qualifying Exam|
|4||Research Proposal Exam|
|6||Prepare Dissertation||Final Oral Defense||Complete Degree|
|12||Research Proposal Exam|
*Items noted in the deadlines column must be completed no later than the semester noted.
Description of PhD Milestones (click to expand)
|Select Advisory Committee|
|Pass Qualifying Examination|
|Pass Research Proposal Examination|
|Pass Final Oral Defense|
|Complete Degree 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
|When||What||Click for details||Click for an explanation|
|Before you arrive on campus||Arrange for housing (not applicable for online students)||Details||Why?
Look for housing early to ensure the best selection and to obtain housing that meets your needs.
|Consult with graduate program director and/or advisor for proper course selection||Details
If you have not already been assigned an advisor, your graduate program director serves as your temporary advisor, and can advise you on courses that will meet your needs and degree requirements.
Some courses have restricted enrollment, or are only offered in certain years. Consulting early with your graduate program director will ensure you make the most of your education at Michigan Tech.
|Submit your arrival information on MyMichiganTech to notify International Programs and Services (IPS) of your travel plans (International students only)||Details
Submitting your information will help IPS plan for your arrival and provide you information about the transportation and pick up services they offer.
|Upload your photo for your HuskyCard (optional)||Details
If you'd like a favorite picture of you to be on your ID, this will allow you to customize your ID. You are not required to upload a photo.
|When you arrive on campus||Obtain a HuskyCard||Details
|Report to International Programs and Services (international students only)||Details
All F-1 & J-1 visa students are required to report to IPS so that we can activate your record in the SEVIS system.
|Complete Basic Responsible Conduct of Research Training||Details||Why?
|Submit official proof of previous degrees earned||Details
In order to earn a graduate degree at Michigan Tech, all students must provide proof of a bachelor's degree or its equivalent. Doctoral students who have earned a master's must also provide proof of their master's degree to adjust the credits required to earn the doctoral degree.
|Submit Patent, research, and proprietary rights agreement form on MyMichiganTech||Details
This form defines the rights you and the University have with respect to proprietary work you develop while a student at Michigan Tech.
If you do not complete this agreement in the first semester of your enrollment, you will have a hold placed on your account and you will be unable to register for future semesters.
|Every year||Provide proof of health insurance or pay for University policy (on campus students only)||Details||Why?
All enrolled graduate students, with the exception of off campus students, must have health insurance. You may select a policy from the University or submit proof of an equivalent policy. More information is available on the Student Health Insurance site.
|Obtain a parking permit for any vehicle you desire to park on MTU property||Details
All persons who own and/or use motor vehicles on campus, including any type of motor-driven cycles, must register them online or at the Transportation Services office.
|Every fall and spring semester until your degree is complete||Register for courses||Details
|Pay your bill||Details||Why?
Your bill must be paid in full by the Wednesday before classes start to avoid late fees. Payment is required by the Wednesday of first week, or the Registrar's Office will drop your course schedule.
|Confirm your enrollment||Details||Why?
Even if you have a zero balance due, all graduate students need to confirm their enrollment by Wednesday of the first week or the Registrar's Office will drop your course schedule.
|Every summer session you are a supported student, plan to complete your degree, or defend||Register for courses||Details
Registration in the summer is only required by the Graduate School if you are a supported student, plan to complete your degree, or defend.
|Pay your bill||Details||Why?
Your bill must be paid in full by the Wednesday before classes start to avoid late fees. Payment is required by the Wednesday of first week, or the Regisrar's Office will drop your course schedule.
|Confirm your enrollment||Details||Why?
Even if you have a zero balance due, all graduate students need to confirm their enrollment by Wednesday of the first week or the Registrar's Office will drop your course schedule.
|First (post master's) or second (post baccalaureate) semester||Select advisor by submitting the Advisor and committee recommendation form||Details||Why?
An advisor is needed to assist you to progress toward your degree. The Graduate School uses this form to identify which faculty member is working with you. Although the form will ask if you want to appoint a committee, this is not required at this time. You will need a committee in your second (post master's) or fourth (post baccalaureate) semester.
|Second or third academic semester||Complete Advanced Responsible Conduct of Research Training||Details
|Second (post master's) or fourth (post baccalaureate) semester||Appoint advisory committee by submitting the Advisor and committee recommendation form||Details
Your committee will:
|Third (post master's) or fourth (post baccalaureate) semester||Pass qualifying examination and record results||Details||Why?
The qualifying examination is a test of your disciplinary knowledge.
|Fourth (post master's) or sixth (post baccalaureate) semester||Pass research proposal examination and record results||Details||Why?
The research proposal examination is a test of your capability to conduct independent research.
|Semester coursework is complete OR semester before you wan to enter research mode||Submit Degree schedule to Graduate School||Details
The Graduate School will review your courses and ensure that they meet the requirements for your degree.
|Due one week before semester you wish to enter research mode||Submit Petition to enter research mode (optional)||Details||Why?
Once you have completed 30 credits and all of your required coursework, you can enter research mode. This will allow you to pay a reduced tuition rate as a full time student. See our web page for more information about this policy.
|Semester of planned degree completion||Submit Commencement application form if you wish to participate in commencement (fall/spring semester only)||Details||Why?|
|Submit Degree completion form to Graduate School||Details
This form lets the Graduate School know you intend to complete your degree this semester. If you have any missing paperwork, we can let you know at this time. The form will also let us know how you wish to have your name printed on your diploma, your future career plans, and if you intend to participate in commencement.
|Pick up diploma folder||Details
If you are not attending the upcoming graduation ceremony, or have not yet participated in a graduation ceremony, the Graduate School will provide a diploma cover to you.
If you have not already received a diploma folder, or will not be attending a ceremony, we will provide a diploma folder so you will have a safe place to store that important document. When we are able to give this to you, it saves the University the expense of mailing it to you.
|Pick up Graduate School pin||
Every Graduate School alumni receives a pin as gift from the Graduate School.
We would like the opportunity to congratulate you on your success and give you this small token of our best wishes to you. When we are able to give this to you, it saves the University the expense of mailing it to you.
|When you leave campus or complete a degree||Submit the Graduate student workspace cleanout form on MyMichiganTech||Details||Why?
University policy requires that all faculty, staff, and students clean their workspace prior to leaving campus or completing a degree program.
|Four weeks before your defense - Sixth (post master's) or tenth (post baccalaureate) semester||Plan for your defense - by this stage your defense draft should be almost complete with only minor edits needed prior to it going to your committee||Details
You will need this information for the Pre-defense form that will be submitted two weeks prior to your defense. Planning early for your defense will help ensure you are on track to complete your degree.
|Two weeks before your defense||Schedule your defense by submitting the Pre-defense form||Details
A public defense is required for all students, and this form will allow us to publicize your defense to the campus community on our web page.
|Submit complete defense draft of your dissertation to the Graduate School||Details||Why?
The Graduate School will review your dissertation and give you information about formatting changes that will be required in order to submit an acceptable document.
|Submit complete defense draft of your dissertation to your advisor and committee||Details
Your advisor and committee will read your dissertation before your final defense, and will use this to formulate questions about your research topic for your defense. At your defense, they may each ask you to make changes or corrections to parts of your dissertation.
|Day of defense||Publicly defend your dissertation||Details
As a public University, Michigan Tech is required to share the results of our scholarship with the public. The defense will also give your committee the opportunity to examine the depth and breadth of your knowledge about your research topic.
|Bring copy of Report on final oral examination form to defense||Details
Your advisor and committee will use this form to report the final results of your defense.
|Post-defense (see deadlines for upcoming semesters)||Make all required technical corrections from advisor and committee||Details
Correct your document using the comments provided at or after your defense.
Your advisor and committee want to ensure that your dissertation is technically accurate and well written.
|Make all required formatting corrections from Graduate School||Details
Correct your document using the comments provided by the Graduate School. These comments are found on Canvas with your pre-defense submission.
The Graduate School's comments will ensure that your document is accepted by ProQuest, is professional in appearance, and can be printed now or in the future.
|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 dissertation to Digital Commons||Details
|Submit dissertation to ProQuest||Details||Why?
ProQuest is the leading archiver of theses and dissertations, and submission to them will allow 3000 domestic and international research libraries, cultural organizations both domestic and international (museums, national public libraries, historical societies), governmental agencies (e.g. US Supreme Court, state and local governmental agencies, international (European Patent Office) access to your dissertation.
|Before completing degree||Complete Survey of Earned Doctorates (required)||Details||Why?
The Survey of Earned Doctorates (SED) collects data on doctoral students to assess national trends in doctoral education and demographics. More information is available on their web site.
|Complete Exit Survey||Details
The Exit Survey is optional and anonymous. The inputs from this survey are very helpful in improving the experience for future graduate students and identifying areas in which we can improve the graduate student educational experience.
Your feedback helps us to improve our programs and communications with students.
|After dissertation is approved by Graduate School||Pay fees (if needed)||Details
Visit MyMichiganTech for fee payment instructions. The Graduate School will email you when your fees are ready to be paid.
All Graduate School fees are required to be paid before we can award your degree.
|Within two weeks after the end of the semester||Watch your e-mail or MyMichiganTech for notification that your degree is awarded||Details
Watch your e-mail or visit MyMichiganTech for confirmation that your degree requirements are complete.
Degrees can only be awarded after grades are posted for the semester. Once grades are posted for the semester and your degree has been awarded, you can order official transcripts if you need official proof of earning your degree.
|Two months after the end of the semester||Watch your e-mail for notification that your diploma is ready||Details
Your diploma will be printed two months after the semester you complete your degree requirements. If you are still in the Houghton area, you may pick up your diploma after the Graduate School emails you. If you are not in the Houghton area, you will receive a final e-mail asking for updates to your mailing address that you provided with your Degree completion form
We want to be sure you receive your diploma in a timely manner. Watching for our notifications will help us deliver it to you promptly.
|One month after Degree is awarded||Check Digital Commons to see your published dissertation||Details
Check that everything is published as you specified.
A permanent link to your submission can be used on your resume or social media sites to publicize your accomplishments.
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.