Graduate School

Doctor of Philosophy

a commencement ceremony

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.

PhD Milestone thumbnail

PhD Milestone Timeline

 The Graduate School has created a handout that describes the milestones for the PhD degree.  This handout:

  • Describes each milestone
  • Identifies a recommended time to complete the milestone

Students with questions about the timeline are encouraged to contact their graduate program director who can clarify any differences between this timeline and specific program expectations.


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.

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).
    • MEng allows a maximum of 14 credits at the 3000 or 4000 level.
  • 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.

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 must be completed within the specified time frame starting from the first enrollment in the degree program or earliest course listed on the degree schedule, whichever is earliest.

  • Master’s degree must be completed within five (5) calendar years.
  • PhD must be completed within eight (8) calendar years.

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 later OR who are funded by external sponsor. See our web page for details on how to complete the training.

Advisor

All PhD students must have an advisor that meets the requirements of the Graduate School. These individuals advise students on course selection, supervise their research, and play an important role in their professional development.

Initially, students may be advised by the graduate program director for their degree program. However, students must choose a permanent advisor prior to the end of the second academic-year semester in residence or a registration hold will be placed on their account.

Advisory Committee

All PhD students must have an advisory committee that meets the requirements of the Graduate School. The purpose of the advisory committee is to provide the student with multiple independent viewpoints to guide the research project, provide advice on the student’s path to the degree, and assess the student’s work.

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 college 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. 

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 college 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. 

Candidacy and Research Mode

Once students have completed the requirements for candidacy and submitted a Petition to Enter Candidacy, students may register for research credits at the research mode reduced tuition rate. PhD students who have achieved candidacy are eligible for research mode tuition rates for research credits; they will be charged the regular tuition rate for courses they may want to take.

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 two weeks prior to the final examination.

Final Oral Examination

At a public final oral examination (“defense”), 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 defense must be scheduled at least two weeks in advance by completing an advisor approved dissertation, submitting a completed Pre-defense form to the Graduate School, and submitting copies of their dissertation to the advisory committee (via a method of their choice) and the Graduate School (via Canvas).

After the defense, the results must be reported to the Graduate School on the Report on Final Oral Examination Form.