Students are admitted to the Ph.D. program as a Post M.S. student. Each Post M.S. student must choose a core faculty member as mentor who agrees to chair the student's dissertation research committee.
Generally, Ph.D. students are supported at initial salaries of $1,300-$1,700 in direct support for their research and teaching duties. Financial support includes medical insurance and qualifies the student for the lower, Texas-Resident Tuition, a tuition scholarship may also be awarded. This covers up to nine hours of tuition per semester.
The Ph.D. degree requires 52 credit hours of approved study beyond the M.S. degree. These requirements translate to a minimum of 24 credit hours of organized course work (eight 3-credit non-research courses) beyond the Master's Degree plus 28 hours of Ph.D. research and dissertation. It is also possible to obtain the Ph.D. degree without obtaining the M.S. degree. Consult program director for details. A maximum of 100 credit hours as a Ph.D. student also applies. After 100 hours, the student is no longer eligible for the lower, Texas-Resident Tuition.
A Post-M.S. student becomes a Ph.D. student after passing the qualifying examination, which is usually taken after three semesters in residence. The qualifying exam consists of a critical review of a manuscript published in the peer-reviewed literature, and related to the student's research area chosen by the chairman of the student's dissertation committee. The student has 10 calendar days to write a comprehensive critique of the article and then, approximately two weeks after submitting the written critique to the examination committee (consisting of the core faculty members) the student presents and defends the critique in front of the committee. The result is pass (excellent, good or fair) or fail (poor). The examination may be retaken once.
After the student has completed 1-2 years of course work and preliminary research, they prepare a formal research proposal as their Candidacy Exam and select a dissertation committee consisting of a chair, two program faculty members and two faculty members from outside the CEE Department. Members are chosen by agreement between the student, the chair, and the potential member. All committee appointments must be approved by the Program Director and the Associate Dean for Graduate Studies. A candidacy examination consists of a formal proposal presentation and defense in front of the dissertation committee. The result is pass or fail. If the result is pass, the Ph.D. student becomes a Ph.D. Candidate. Even with a pass, the committee may point out deficiencies in the proposed research and recommend additional course work or require that specific experiments be completed. The exam may be retaken once.
After completing the research and writing the dissertation, the candidate defends the dissertation in a public meeting of the committee, interested faculty, staff, and students. The result is pass or fail with a pass usually being accompanied by recommended changes to the final draft.
Full-time students receiving financial support must register for 12 credit hours each Fall and Spring semester until they pass the Ph.D. qualifying exam, then students register for 9 credit hours each Fall and Spring and 6 hours each summer semester.
Although all graduate students must maintain a "B" average (GPA 3.0), a Doctoral student should aim for a GPA of 3.5. Any graduate student who earns four "C" grades in graduate courses will be dropped from the Program. Doctoral students who fail to complete their dissertation within five years after completion of the comprehensive examination must retake the exam. For an example Ph.D. course of study click here.