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PhD Degree Requirements
The Ph.D. is the highest degree awarded, and as such requires the highest level of proficiency and achievement, both in knowledge and in the performance of research presented in a written dissertation. While there are no specific course requirements, most doctoral students spend approximately four-to-five working toward a Ph.D., which includes 50-60 house course work and thesis research.
A minor field of study, consisting of a minimum of nine hours of course credit, approved by the student's thesis advisory committee, must be completed on a letter-grade basis while enrolled in the doctoral program at Georgia Tech.
Admission to the Ph.D. Program
The Ph.D. (or doctoral) program is available to selected students who have an excellent academic background and a capability for conducting independent research. Applicants must have received an acceptable MS or BS degree. To meet program requirements, each Ph.D. student must plan an individualized Program of Study and research that will result in a completed dissertation. The dissertation must make a unique and significant contribution in the selected field of research. Ph.D. degrees are undesignated.
Ph.D. applicants must choose a CEE discipline or specific field of study. After consulting with faculty, the Associate Chair for Graduate Studies grants or denies the applicant admission to the Ph.D. program in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering.
Admission to the Ph.D. program does not constitute admission to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree. Requirements for admission to candidacy are discussed under "The Ph.D. Dissertation" section below.
Requirements for the Degree
The research-oriented Ph.D. degree requires in-depth knowledge of a specific topic of study. As such, the administration of a student's Ph.D. program usually occurs within one of the six disciplines at CEE. Thus, all of the School's Ph.D. students are affiliated with one of the following:
- Construction Engineering
- Environmental Engineering
- Environmental Fluid Mechanics and Water Resources
- Geosystems Engineering
- Structural Engineering, Mechanics and Materials
- Transportation Systems
Because today's research often requires knowledge and skills beyond one CEE discipline, it is common to establish an interdisciplinary Program of Study and research. This sometimes includes areas of expertise outside of engineering. Interdisciplinary doctoral programs are strongly encouraged where appropriate.
Ph.D. students are expected to excel in classroom and research activities and to satisfy all Institute Ph.D. requirements. Major requirements for the degree include:
- A Program of Study must be approved by the student's Guidance Committee and the Associate Chair of Graduate Studies. There are no fixed course requirements for the Ph.D. degree. The student must have a major and minor field of study with the major field being in the area of the student's research. The minor field is preferably outside of the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering and must include at least nine hours of course work. The minor must be approved by the Office of Graduate Studies.
- Pass a Ph.D. comprehensive (qualifying) examination consisting of written and oral portions.
- Complete a Ph.D. dissertation.
- Pass an oral Doctoral Examination on the dissertation.
- Submit a petition for the degree.
All requirements for the Ph.D. degree must be completed within seven years from the end of the term in which the student passes the Ph.D. comprehensive examination.
Sequence of Events
Ph.D. Guidance Committee
During the first term of residence, the student should select an advisor. The advisor, in consultation with the student, will establish a Ph.D. Guidance Committee. This committee is expected to remain with the student throughout the student's Ph.D. program; adding or replacing members as needed to satisfy Institute requirements, changes in the faculty, or changes in the student's area of research. The advisor will submit a list of names to the Associate Chair of Graduate Studies of the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering for approval. The Guidance Committee must consist of at least four members.
The Guidance Committee will:
- Meet with the student as soon as practicable to develop a Program of Study. The Program of Study will be sent to the Associate Chair of Graduate Studies for final approval.
- Approve or otherwise act on changes to the student's Program of Study.
- Conduct the Comprehensive Examination.
- Serve as the Thesis Advisory Committee, and with one additional member serve as the Final Doctoral Examination Committee.
Comprehensive (Qualifying) Examination
The advisor, in consultation with the student and other members of the Examining Committee, will decide when this examination is to be scheduled. The Guidance Committee is expected to serve as the Examining Committee. Normally, most of the student's course work should be complete prior to the examination. The examination consists of two parts; the first part is a written examination and the second part is an oral examination.
The Examining Committee will inform the student as to the scope of the examination. The Examining Committee will administer both parts of the examination and a majority vote (with but one dissenter) is required to pass the examination. The advisor will inform the student and the Associate Chair of Graduate Studies of the results of the examination. If the student fails the first examination, a second must be taken no sooner than six months, nor later than twelve months after the first examination. If the student does not take the second examination, or if the student also fails the second examination, the student will be dropped from the Ph.D. program.
The Ph.D. Dissertation
A dissertation topic should be selected as early as possible. The Guidance Committee is expected to serve as the Thesis Advisory Committee although additional members may be added as warranted by the dissertation topic. The Thesis Advisory Committee must then be recommended by the Associate Chair of Graduate Studies and approved by the Dean of the Graduate Division.
The Thesis Advisory Committee approves the research topic, provides advice and guidance during the research, and approves the thesis when it is complete. When the student has selected a research topic and passed the Comprehensive Examination, a "Request for Admission to Ph.D. Candidacy" form must be completed. Copies of this form are available at the Georgia Tech Graduate Web site. The student should also get a copy of the "Policy on the Advisement of Graduate Student Research and the Appointment of Thesis Advisory Committees" from the Georgia Tech Graduate Web site. Doctoral theses are prepared and submitted in accordance with the "Manual for Graduate Theses" which is available at Georgia Tech's Graduate Studies Office. All Georgia Tech theses are now submitted online.
The Doctoral Examination
When the Thesis Advisory Committee approves the student's thesis, a final oral Doctoral Examination must be scheduled. This examination will be conducted by a Final Doctoral Examination Committee. This committee consists of at least five members and always contains the Thesis Advisory Committee. At least one member of the Final Doctoral Examination Committee must be from the academic faculty of a School outside of Civil and Environmental Engineering. The Final Doctoral Examination Committee is recommended by the School to the Dean of the Graduate Division for approval.
A notice of the Doctoral Examination, including time and place, will be posted at CEE facilities, and sent to all CEE faculty, with copies to all other engineering schools at Georgia Tech. This must be done at least two weeks prior to the scheduled examination. The examination is open to all faculty, staff and students.
A majority vote with but one dissenter of the Doctoral Examination Committee is required to pass the examination. Results of the examination are reported in writing to the student, the Associate Chair of Graduate Studies, and the Dean of the Graduate Committee by the Chair of the Examining Committee. If the student fails this final examination, one additional examination is permitted if recommended by the Examination Committee. The second examination is to be scheduled within one year of the first.
Submission of Thesis
The completed thesis must be submitted to committee members three weeks ahead of the institutional deadline for the term of graduation, although a student's committee may choose to set a different deadline.