Doctor of Philosophy

Program Requirements

Applicability: This policy applies to all students beginning their program of study in September 2013 or later. Students who began between September 2013 and 2014 may choose to be grandfathered into the incumbent system.

Program Entry: The department offers a Fall, Spring, or Summer semester program entry for its PhD program. To apply for Summer semester entry for the PhD program, the deadline is March 1. (By faculty advisor invitation only)

Course work

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. 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

  • Crisis, Emergency and Risk Management
  • Economics, Finance and Cost Engineering
  • Engineering and Technology Management
  • Environmental and Energy Management
  • Knowledge and Information Management

Systems Engineering

  • Operations Research and Management Science
  • Systems Engineering
  • Enterprise Information Assurance

Students who already have a master’s degree must complete a minimum of 30 credit hours at the graduate level, all of which must be completed by the end of the semester in which they take their doctoral qualifying exams (DQE) . For students without master's degrees, a minimum of 54 credit hours in a formal program at the graduate level is required. In addition, all doctoral students take a minimum of 24 hours of dissertation research once they have been admitted to candidacy (post DQE).

Program Prerequisites

The following courses or their equivalent are prerequisites for the D.Sc. program and are required in addition to the credit hours discussed above:

  • Math 31  Single-Variable Calculus I
  • Math 32 S Single-Variable Calculus II
  • APSC 3115 Engineering Analysis III

If not met at admission, these courses must be completed within the first year of study. The Doctoral Program Coordinator will evaluate doctoral students after one year of study and any student who has not completed his/her prerequisites by that time will be in violation of their admissions contract and barred from further study.

Direct Admits

Students who do not enter the program with a master's degree will be required to take the following courses: 

  • EMSE 6001 The Management of Technical Organizations
  • EMSE 6410 Survey of Finance and Engineering Economics
  • EMSE 6020 Elements of Problem Solving and Decision Making for Managers
  • EMSE 6801 Systems Engineering I

Students who enter with a master's degree may also take the above courses for doctoral credit if they have not previously taken such courses, however, they are not recommended and are subject to approval by the advisor. 

Core Courses

All doctoral students are required to take the following three courses:

  • EMSE 6765 Data Analysis for Engineers and Scientists (Offered in Spring and Fall)
  • EMSE 8000 Research Formulation in EMSE (Offered in the Spring)
  • EMSE 8001 Survey of Research Methods in EMSE (Offered in the Fall)

It is recommended that students select an additional advanced methods course relevant to their doctoral work.

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 specified in their DegreeMap Plan).

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 DQE will be offered in January (both parts) and September (only data analysis).

Before taking the examination, students must have completed the core courses and 27 credits (nine courses) of their required coursework and have the DegreeMap finalized. Students must also submit a Doctoral Qualifying Exam Checklist to the doctoral coordinator.

The Qualifying Examination consists of two parts: a two-part written examination and a focus area exam.

Written Exam (Part I)

This exam will consist of a 2 hour in-class exam covering EMSE 6765 and an 8 hour take-home exam covering EMSE 8000 and EMSE 8001. Both exams are offered in the last week in January. The EMSE 6765-based exam will also be offered in the last week in January. Students should apply to take this exam before the end of the preceding Semester. 

Focus Area Exam (Part II)

The Focus Area Exam will be both a written and oral exam. Students must take this exam by the end of the semester following the successful completion of DQE part I (i.e., student will nominally complete Part I in January, you must take Part II in the third week of May). Students should register for EMSE 8999 for the semester in which they will be taking the exam.

Students have three options for the basis for their oral defense:

  1. A conference or journal paper, on which they are the lead author. If it is a conference paper, the full paper must have been peer-reviewed.
  2. A seminal journal paper in their focus area. Their advisor and examining committee must approve the paper.
  3. A 10-page literature review on a topic in their focus area. They will have two weeks to complete the review. 

In all cases, students will be required to defend the work in front of a committee. The committee must consist of three faculty members, at least two of which are full-time in EMSE. 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 attempt qualification for candidacy. Usually, only the failed portion of the 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. The research committee must be formed before the proposal defense (described below) and must consist of the student’s advisor and two other faculty members, at least one of which must be full-time. 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 by the Department Chair and advisor.

Publication Requirement

Students will be given 18 months from completion of DQE Part II to be accepted into a pre-approved conference for presentation on a topic relevant to their research. This presentation must be co-authored by their adviser. Failure to do so will result in termination of their candidacy in the doctoral program.

Proposal Defense

After acceptance to a conference, students are required to present a written dissertation proposal to their research committee and to successfully defend the proposal in an oral defense. This proposal should consist of, at a minimum, an introductory chapter, a review of the literature chapter, a methodology chapter, and a chapter on potential results.

The Request for Proposal Defense form must be filed and approved two weeks prior to the defense. The Form 5 Doctor of Science Dissertation Form will be present at the proposal defense and, after a successful defense, will be signed by all committee members. After the defense, the advisor in collaboration with the student will submit, in writing, a copy (signed by student and adviser) of all suggestions, clarifications, and corrections to the proposal along with the signed Form 5 to the Doctoral Coordinator within four weeks of the defense. Failure to do so will void the defense. The Doctoral Coordinator will forward the Form 5 to the Department Chair for signature.

Students will be given a maximum of two attempts and a maximum time limit of two years past the semester in which they pass their DQEs to successfully defend their proposal. Failure to do so will result in termination of their candidacy in the doctoral program.

Final Examination/Doctoral Defense

Once the dissertation has been completed and accepted by the faculty advisor and research committee, students may file a Request for Final Examination Form with the Doctoral Coordinator. This form must be filed and approved by the Department Chair at least two weeks prior to the Final Examination date. Approval will be granted only when all required materials have been presented to the Doctoral Coordinator. The required materials include a completely filed Request for Final Examination Form, a copy of the journal article with reviews, resumes of outside evaluators and electronic and written copies of the dissertation.

The Final Examination is oral and open to the public. The candidate must demonstrate mastery of the special field of study and of the materials and techniques used in the research. The committee of examiners may include qualified experts brought to the University especially to participate in the examination. The Director of Research usually serves as advocate for the candidate. Students should consult department regulations concerning the formation of the committee. The committee will vote on 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. Upon a majority vote for pass, the committee recommends the candidate for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. The vote to pass may be provisional based on committee recommendations for changes to the dissertation in terms of additional analysis, writing or clarifications.

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.

Complete the Survey of Earned Doctorates. 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 [email protected] or by phone 1-800-248-8649.