Doctor of Philosophy Degree

The course of study for the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree responds to the unique interests of the student, who designs an individual program in close consultation with the assigned advisor.


Program Requirements

The program is divided into two stages. The first comprises a study of related fields of learning that support the general area of research focus and culminates in the qualifying examination. The second, composed of original research and the presentation of findings in a written dissertation, culminates in the final examination.

Students admitted to doctoral study are encouraged to undertake one year of full-time study on campus. In general, the advisor will require the student to register for a minimum of 6 credit hours of course work in every fall and spring semester.

Upon admission to the first stage of the program, the student will meet with their assigned advisor to structure their programs of study. Programs of study will include a focus area selected from the following:

Engineering Management

Systems Engineering


A minimum of 30 credit hours in a formal program at the graduate level beyond master's study or, for students without master's degrees, a minimum of 54 credit hours in a formal program at the graduate level beyond the baccalaureate, is required. In addition, all doctoral students take a minimum of 24 hours of dissertation research once they have been admitted to candidacy.

The following courses are prerequisites and are required in addition to the credit hours discussed above: Math 1231, 1232, and APSC 3115. Students who do not have a master's degree will be required to take the following courses: EMSE 6001, EMSE 6410, EMSE 6020, EMSE 6801. Students with a master's degree may also take EMSE 6001, EMSE 6410, EMSE 6020, EMSE 283 for doctoral credit, however they are not recommended and are subject to approval by the department chair. All doctoral students are required to take EMSE 8000 and EMSE 6765. It is recommended that students register for EMSE 8000 in their last year of course work. In addition, students must select one quantitative method course from the following list: EMSE 6750, EMSE 6710, EMSE 6760.

If a doctoral student receives two grades of F or three grades below B -, graduate study is terminated and further enrollment prohibited. Courses in which the student earns grades below B - are not included in the total credit-hour requirement for the degree. Students who receive any grade below B - are required to review their programs of study with their advisors. Students must maintain a GPA of 3.5 in their program of study (all courses on the Form 1).


Qualifying Examination

The Qualifying Examination is the principal means of determining whether a student will qualify as a candidate for the doctoral degree and progress to the second stage of the program. Its purpose is to ascertain that the student's background and intellectual development are adequate to support doctoral research in the central field.

The Qualifying Examination consists of two parts: a Quantitative Methods Exam and a Focus Area Exam.

The Quantitative Methods Exam is a three-hour written exam offered the last week in September and the last week in January. Students should apply to take this exam before the end of the preceeding Semester. The Quantitative Methods Exam consists of a one-hour exam covering EMSE 6765 and a one-hour exam covering either EMSE 6750, EMSE 6710 or EMSE 6760. Students should fill out the DQE checklist and either email or fax it to the department, to the attention of the advanced degree program coordinator, Michelle Mazzuchi.

The Focus Area Exam will be both a written and oral exam. Students will take this exam the first semester following the completion of their coursework. Students should register for EMSE 8999 for the semester in which they will be taking the exam. Students will be required to complete a 10 page literature review on a topic in their focus area. They will have two weeks to complete the review. At the end of the two weeks they will be required to submit the review to a committee of three faculty members (the advisor, one faculty member appointed by the chair, and one additional faculty member). The student, along with their faculty advisor, will then schedule their oral exam. Oral exams will be approximately one hour long.

At the discretion of the committee a student who fails any part of the qualifying examination may be given a second opportunity to qualify for candidacy. Usually, the entire examination must be retaken. Students who fail to qualify for candidacy in a doctoral program of the School will be considered to have failed on a school-wide basis and will not be admitted to further doctoral study within the School.

After successful completion of the DQE, the candidate's advisor will present the academic record of the candidate and request the formation of a research committee. The Department will vote on (provisional) admission to candidacy and the research committee. Once the student is admitted to candidacy for the degree, he/she begins specialized study and research under the supervision of their research committee. At this point the research committee will remain fixed unless a change is formally requested and approved.


Proposal Defense

Each candidate must also present an oral defense of his/her proposal for dissertation research to the research committee for approval. The proposal defense provides feedback and direction for the remainder of the candidate's research leading up to the completion of the dissertation and the final examination.

Full-time doctoral students must register for a minimum of nine credits per semester until 24 credits of Dissertation Research have been completed, and one credit of Continuing Research each semester thereafter until satisfactory completion of the final examination. Part-time doctoral students must normally register for a minimum of six credits per semester until 24 credits of Dissertation Research have been completed and one credit of Continuing Research each semester thereafter until satisfactory completion of the final examination. No minimum load is required during the summer sessions.


Final Examination

The Department of Engineering Management and Systems Engineering requires that an article be submitted and accepted for review by a refereed journal prior to the scheduling of the final examination. Confirmation by email or other means must be submitted to the advanced degree program coordinator.

Upon acceptance of the dissertation by the research committee, the candidate is presented for the final examination. The final examination is oral and is open to the public. The candidate must demonstrate a mastery of the special field of study and of the materials and techniques used in the research. The committee of examiners must include one qualified experts brought to the University especially to participate in the examination. The director of research usually serves as advocate for the candidate, and the committee is chaired by a full-time faculty member who is not a member of the candidate's research committee. When the examining committee is convinced of the quality and originality of the candidate's contribution to knowledge as well as his or her mastery of the scholarship and research techniques of the field, the committee recommends the candidate for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.


Electronic Dissertation Submission

All dissertations must be submitted electronically and meet the formatting and other requirements set forth on line at A processing fee is paid directly to Proquest/UMI. Detailed regulations regarding the form of the dissertation and preparation of the abstract are available in department offices. The dissertation, with accompanying files, becomes the property of the University.

For other policies and procedures, as well as the SEAS Doctoral Student Handbook, can be found here.


Post-Graduate Survey

The Survey of Earned Doctorates (SED) is an ongoing survey sponsored by the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the US Department of Education, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the US Department of Agriculture and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The survey helps these and many other agencies and entities assess the availability of highly educated personnel. The survey gathers data from all research doctorate graduates each year on their educational history, sources of support and post-graduation plans. The completed survey responses become part of the Doctorate Records File (DRF), a nearly complete data bank on doctorate recipients from 1920 to the present and the major source of doctoral data at the national level. The profiles of doctorate recipients that emerge from these data assist policymakers at the federal, state, local and university levels.

The information provided on the survey questionnaire remains confidential and is safeguarded in accordance with the Privacy Act of 1974, as amended. The survey data are reported only in aggregate form or in a manner that does not identify information about any individual.

To complete the Survey of Earned Doctorates, go to and follow the instructions. Once you complete the questionnaire via the web you can have a confirmation email sent directly to your university to show that you have completed the survey or you can print a certificate that you can turn in to your university.

If you have any difficulties or questions please contact us by email at or by phone 1-800-248-8649.