PhD Program

Doctor of Philosophy in Engineering

The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Engineering will require students to prepare a research proposal and dissertation in addition to limited graduate coursework. Students will be able to choose among concentrations in any of the different fields in the college, currently Biomedical Engineering, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Computer Science, Cyber Security, Data Science, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Engineering Management, Mechanical Engineering, and Industrial and System Engineering.

Program Description

The purpose of the Ph.D. program in engineering is to produce graduates who can think independently and develop creative and innovative solutions to engineering problems of interest to mankind.

Program Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of this program:­­

  1. The student should demonstrate breadth of knowledge in the discipline and depth of knowledge in the specific area of his/her research topic.
  2. The student should gain experience in and demonstrate the ability to do independent academic work and research.
  3. The student should demonstrate his/her ability to identify and define a research topic.
  4. The research work performed by the student should contribute to the existing knowledge in the engineering field and the discipline.
  5. The student should demonstrate the ability to clearly communicate complex engineering and research topics in both verbal and written form.

Admissions and Performance Standard

The doctoral degree is a research degree granted on the basis of broad knowledge of engineering and in-depth study in a specific area leading to a dissertation reflecting original work by the doctoral candidate. When applying for admission, a student must state on the application the major area of study for which admission is requested (i.e., biomedical engineering, civil engineering, etc.) and meet the following minimum requirement for admission to the program in addition to the general requirements of Graduate Studies at University:

  • Earned Master’s degree in a relevant discipline with a minimum GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale OR Bachelor’s degree in a relevant engineering or computing discipline with a minimum GPA of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale;
  • A minimum GRE score of 310 in Verbal and Quantitative combined (a least 160 on the quantitative portion) and a 3.5 on the analytical portion. GRE is not required for students with BS or MS degrees in related fields from Marshall University;
  • Three (3) letters of recommendation that demonstrate strong evidence for a high potential for success in doctoral studies and research;
  • International students must qualify for admission to the university through the TOEFL or IELTS.

Fulfilling the minimum requirements does not guarantee admission and factors such as appropriateness of the applicant’s research objectives to the research interests of the program faculty, availability of faculty to supervise the applicant’s research, availability of research funds to support the research, and prior research accomplishments of the applicant will also influence the admission decision. The criteria described below are used to evaluate admission to the program:

  • Prior experience in undergraduate or graduate research.
  • Post-BS degree and/or professional experience relevant to the planned degree of study.
  • Peer-reviewed publications and/or award-winning presentations in technical conferences.
  • Availability of appropriate faculty to serve as research advisor(s) and availability of research funds to support the student’s desired program of study.
  • The applicant’s test scores, recommendations, and relevant work experience must indicate a high potential for success in doctoral studies and research.

In addition, an applicant who does not meet the minimum requirements may still be admitted with provisional standing if they have potential for success as a doctoral student. His/her status may be changed to full standing after satisfying requirements specified by the director of the program, in consultation with the appropriate department chairperson, at the time of admission

Academic Requirements

The doctoral degree requires a minimum total of 68 credit hours, consisting of course work and dissertation work, beyond baccalaureate,  subject to the following:

  • Required Graduate Coursework (48 CR)
  • For Students Admitted with a master’s degree (18 CR)

A minimum of eighteen (18) credit hours of coursework beyond the master’s degree, including six (6) credit hours of full graduate courses acceptable to the student’s advisory committee. If a student completed a thesis at the M.S. level, then 6 hours of thesis research can be substituted for graduate coursework.

Required courses for all disciplines include:

  • ENGR 701: Research Methods for Doctoral Students 3 hours
  • EM 660: Project Management                                     3 hours
  • EM 675: Engineering Economics                                     3 hours

An additional 9 hours of graduate coursework is required in the chosen discipline. This coursework is to be negotiated with the student’s dissertation committee and taken at the full graduate (600 or above) level.

  • For Students Admitted with a bachelor’s degree (48 CR)
    • A minimum of twenty-seven (27) credit hours at the full graduate (600 or above) level, including those courses in 1) above, and
    • A maximum of fifteen (15) credit hours at the 500-level, acceptable to the student’s advisory committee.
  • Doctoral Research or Dissertation Courses (20 CR)

A minimum of twenty (20) credit hours of doctoral research and dissertation (ENGR 702) built upon the student’s course of study and making a significant contribution to the state of knowledge or to the art of the engineering profession is required; not more than 12 credit hours may be earned in a particular semester: ENGR 702 Dissertation Research    (can be taken as 1-12 hours at a time)

  • Residence Requirement (4 semesters)

Residence of four (4) regular semesters, with at least two (2) semesters in continuous residence, is required.  For students who wish to complete the doctoral program in a part-time capacity due to employment in a local industry, accommodation on residency will be negotiated between the student and his/her dissertation committee.

All students must complete a qualifying examination based mostly on undergraduate materials in their chosen discipline through a formal process established by the department prior to the end of the first year of doctoral study. Students admitted with a bachelor’s degree on an exceptional basis must successfully complete the qualifying examination before the end of the regular semester of enrollment in which the student is completing 24 hours or more of graduate coursework. The process should include, at a minimum, an examination of the student’s fundamental knowledge managed by the Graduate Committee of the department. Based on the student’s performance on the qualifying examination, the student may be (i) permitted to continue in the doctoral program or (ii) advised to transfer to a M.S. degree program in an appropriate discipline in the College (for students admitted without an M.S. in their chosen discipline), or (iii) recommended for termination from the graduate program of the College.

All requirements, including the dissertation, must be completed within a period of eight consecutive years. Maintenance of a minimum quality point average of 3.0 and adherence to the general regulations of Graduate Studies is expected.

Dissertation Committee

Each doctoral student’s dissertation committee must be formed after the successful completion of the student’s qualifying examination or the second semester in the program. The committee consists of a minimum of four (4) voting members from two or more disciplines in the academic unit at Marshall University or another accredited university.

The student’s Dissertation Committee shall formally meet with the student to make an objective assessment of the student’s knowledge relative to the field of study. The Plan of Study should reflect such an assessment. The Plan of Study based on this assessment must be completed before the end of the second semester of enrollment for the degree or completion of 12 credit hours of graduate courses, whichever comes first. A form indicating the date of this meeting and members of the Dissertation Committee in attendance shall be transmitted along with the Plan of Study to the Dean’s Office.

All courses shown on the Plan of Study, including background courses, are indicators of the student’s depth and breadth of knowledge in the discipline and shall be considered by the committee when designing the written part of the student’s comprehensive examination. In determining the time limits for taking the comprehensive examination, for earning the degree, and for determining eligibility for financial aid, the time that the background courses were completed shall not be considered.

Comprehensive Examination and Admission to Candidacy

The comprehensive examination will consist of a written portion and an oral defense of the written research proposal. The written portion will consist of several parts as appropriate to the major discipline and the research area. This examination will test the student’s breadth of knowledge in the discipline, depth of knowledge in selected areas, and the ability to integrate the knowledge acquired from several courses. This examination must be given after the student has completed at least eighty (80) percent of the coursework beyond the master’s degree with a point average of 3.0 or above, as prescribed in the program of study. However, the written comprehensive examination should be completed before the end of the semester following completion of the coursework prescribed in the Plan of Study. The extension of this deadline is possible with the appropriate justification. A student desiring an extension shall make a request in writing to the Program Director. The request must include justification and a schedule for completion. If the student is not satisfied with the decision of the Program Director, the decision may be appealed to the Engineering Graduate Committee, with the Dean of Engineering substituting for the Associate Dean as chair of the committee.

All parts of the written examination should be completed within a period of two (2) weeks. Other details of this examination, including format, content, method of evaluation and timing, will be left to the discretion of the dissertation committee. All voting members of the committee should participate in evaluating the student’s performance in the written parts of the examination.

The written research proposal should, as a minimum, consist of the development of the research problem from the extant knowledge in the area, the approach and methodology to be followed, the expected original contribution to the extant knowledge, and the expected timeline for the completion of the research. The student should submit copies of the written proposal to the committee within thirty (30) days from the date of taking the final part of the written examination, and the proposal defense will be scheduled shortly thereafter. The student will be informed of the results of the entire comprehensive examination (written part and proposal presentation) at the end of the defense of the research proposal.

On passing the entire comprehensive examination, the student will be admitted to candidacy for the doctoral degree. Normally, a student not passing any part of the comprehensive examination will not be permitted to continue in the doctoral program. However, at the request of the student and the agreement of the committee, a second chance may be given to the student to pass that part of the examination that he/she did not pass within a year. The committee may prescribe additional academic work to be undertaken by the student prior to making the second attempt. No student will be permitted to continue in the program if he/she does not successfully complete all parts of the comprehensive examination after the second attempt.

Completion of the Dissertation

To graduate in the program, each candidate will be required to complete and defend a written dissertation in front of their dissertation committee.  The dissertation shall be the culmination of work which advances the state of the art in their chosen discipline, as determined by the dissertation committee.  After successful defense of the dissertation, a written copy of the dissertation must be submitted to the library in accordance with requirements of the graduate school.

Program Delivery

All coursework will be offered on the Huntington campus following classical instructional mechanisms. Laboratory facilities are available on the Huntington Campus (see 3.6 Facilities Requirements for more details).  As online courses are available in the college in some subjects, students will be allowed to take online courses should they choose and count them in their program of study.


Contact Information

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Marshall University
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Phone: 304-696-5453
Fax: 304-696-5454