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Ph.D. Degree Requirements

Comprehensive Examination

A Comprehensive Examination is required of all doctoral candidates by the Graduate School. As partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Comprehensive Examination, the candidate must submit a dissertation proposal. The finished report must be presented in writing to the Doctoral Committee and defended orally after it has been accepted. The Comprehensive Examination must be completed before the end of the fifth semester after joining the Ph.D. program.

The dissertation proposal should be of the same nature and quality as would normally be submitted to a funding agency such as the National Science Foundation i.e., it should define a significant problem, review the current literature and provide a critical review of the state of the art, propose methods of investigation, and contribute some significant new information, data, or preliminary results which could be submitted to research sponsors or for publication in a journal. It is recommended that the dissertation proposal be prepared by adhering to the guidelines provided for research proposals submitted to the National Science Foundation.

The size of the main body of the proposal is limited to the equivalent of 15 single-spaced pages or 25 double-spaced pages, using a font size not smaller than 11 pt and margins not smaller than 1". These are upper limits, and do not preclude shorter documents that convey the needed material. The pdf file for the written document must be submitted to Cathy Krause in the department office at least two weeks before the scheduled exam date. The written document will be checked for format and length requirements, and then distributed to the Doctoral Committee for review. Please note that written reports that do not meet the format and length requirements will be returned to the student. In such cases, the exam will need to be rescheduled.

The candidate will be responsible for arranging a time for an oral defense of the dissertation proposal. The oral defense will consist of a 30-minute presentation by the candidate on the highlights of the work, followed by questions from the Doctoral Committee. The oral defense of the proposal is intended to help the candidate develop better technical communication skills as well as demonstrate his/her knowledge of the area.

This Oral Examination constitutes the official Graduate School Comprehensive Examination, and must be officially scheduled through the Graduate School at least three weeks prior to the date of the Exam. Students should note that in order to schedule the Ph.D. Comprehensive Exam, they must have successfully completed the English Competency requirements. Students must schedule and complete their Comprehensive Examination before the end of their fifth semester in the graduate program. It is expected that all of the course requirements for the Ph.D. degree will be completed by the end of the semester in which the student completes the Comprehensive Exam.

The Chemical Engineering Department is fully committed to recognizing outstanding performance in all of our graduate students. Special Fellowship funds have been set aside to provide cash awards to selected graduate students based on outstanding performance on the Comprehensive Exam. Decisions on the Robb Fellowships will be made by the Department Head in consultation with the faculty.

For a copy of the "Schedule the Comprehensive Examination Form" please see Cathy Krause in room 158 Fenske Laboratory.

Updated on 07/23/14

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