Ph.D. Degree Requirements
After the first year, the student works with their advisory committee to make sure that all degree requirements are met. The requirements include:
- Technical proficiency
- Technical breadth
- Professional competence
- Original research
- Dissertation archiving
- Additional requirements for the Innovation program
- Additional requirements for the IGERT program in Polar Environmental Change
The oral qualifying exam (ENGG 194), a set of questions put forward by an oral examination committee to the candidate, normally takes place before or during the 5th term of the student's program, or in exceptional circumstances early in the 6th term. The exam is open to the faculty, but not to the general public.
The committee tests the candidate's knowledge of principles and methods underlying the field in which advanced work is to be performed. The exam covers material selected by the candidate's advisor in consultation with the examining committee and includes coverage of mathematical techniques appropriate to the research area. The structure of the preparation for the exam is flexible.
The student prepares a description of the planned exam, obtains signatures of the advisor, committee members, and the director of the M.S. and Ph.D. programs, and submits this to the Registrar (103 MacLean) at least 1 month prior to the exam date.
The examination committee consists of 4 members — the Chair plus 3 Dartmouth faculty examiners, with at least 2 of the examiners from Thayer School. A Thayer faculty member other than the student's advisor chairs the committee. This chair is assigned by the director of the M.S. and Ph.D. programs.
The examination committee gives the student a pass, fail, or conditional pass result. Students who fail may retake the oral examination — one time only — within the following 3 months. Upon passage of the exam or fulfillment of the conditions of the conditional pass (before the assigned deadline) and with a letter of support from the advisor, the student is admitted to Ph.D. candidacy pending vote by the Thayer School faculty.
- Oral Qualifying Examination - Details and Examples: PDF | Word
- Oral Qualifying Examination form (PDF)
The faculty advisor helps the candidate plan a demonstration of technical breadth, which is approved by the Graduate Program Committee. The plan details one of the following options:
A set of courses, taken for credit, outside or secondary to the candidate's principal area of specialization
A focused set of courses, taken for credit, which creates a secondary emphasis in specialization and may involve independent study or research
Defense of a research proposal OR an oral examination in an area outside the main area of specialization. The candidate might present a research seminar on the topic with an examination committee of 3 faculty members probing the candidate's depth of knowledge of the secondary area. This option may be combined with the ENGG 197: Ph.D. Professional Workshops. Students who do not pass may be permitted to take the oral examination—one time only—within the following 3 months.
A creative design project, completed within a time limit of approximately 30 days, in an area outside the main area of specialization. The project is defined and the candidate's performance is evaluated by a committee of 3 faculty members appointed by the program director. The committee gives the student a statement of need, and the student proposes a means of satisfying that need in an effective, elegant, and economic manner. The project should display the candidate's ability to conceive and evaluate alternative solutions; carry out analytical evaluations at levels of approximation suited to the problem and the time limit; and recognize situations in which experimental work is needed. If the time limit prohibits experimentation, the candidate should devise the appropriate experiments and demonstrate how the expected results would aid in the design. Within the 30-day time limit, the candidate submits a written report plus an executive summary. Following an oral presentation of the project, the committee examines and evaluates the candidate's performance in the project. Students who do not pass may be permitted to revise and resubmit the report—one time only—within the following 3 months.
The candidate demonstrates mastery of an area of specialization by writing and defending a thesis proposal within the first 18 months of candidacy. A thesis committee, approved by the director of the Ph.D. program, advises the candidate on the proposed thesis research and administers the defense of the thesis proposal.
The Ph.D. examination committee consists of a minimum of 3 full-time Dartmouth faculty members of which a minimum of 2 must be from Thayer School (including the dissertation advisor) as well as an external member with a faculty equivalent research appointment outside of Dartmouth. The external member may participate in meetings in person or via video conference.
The candidate's proposal—a presentation of the proposed thesis research—explains the scope and importance of the proposed research and plans for its completion. The defense presentation should be understandable, at least in a general way, to students and faculty not in the subject area.
Two weeks before the defense, candidates must:
- submit the thesis proposal in writing to their committee
- submit an electronic copy of the defense notice to the Thayer registrar for distribution to the faculty and for posting
Students who do not pass may be permitted to defend the proposal—one time only—within the following 3 months.
The candidate demonstrates professional competence by completing ENGG 197: Ph.D. Professional Workshops, which is offered each winter term by the faculty and outside experts. The workshop emphasizes skills in completing competitive proposals, business funding, patenting, research team organization, teaching, résumé and CV creation, and job search techniques. The candidate generally completes the workshop in one of the latter years in residence.
Each candidate completes a competitive research proposal or a business plan for critique by 2 expert referees selected from among faculty, outside experts, and/or corporate representatives.
Candidates who have submitted a competitive research proposal to a funding agency or a business plan to a venture capitalist or financial institution prior to completing the workshop may petition to have the proposal or business plan fulfill this requirement.
Candidates demonstrate their significant contribution to engineering knowledge and professional expertise in the chosen area of study by performing original research. The Ph.D. examination committee consists of a minimum of 3 full-time Dartmouth faculty members of which a minimum of 2 must be from Thayer School (including the dissertation advisor) as well as an external member with a faculty equivalent research appointment outside of Dartmouth. The external member may participate in meetings in person or via video conference.
The research is reviewed through all of the following means:
- Presentation: Elements of the research presented at a professional meeting with the candidate as first author
- Dissertation: Written abstract followed by detailed explanation of the research, approved and signed by the Ph.D. thesis committee
- Oral defense: Presentation of the dissertation in a forum open to the public. A two-week notice of the defense is required. Each student must submit an electronic copy of the notice to the Thayer Registrar for distribution to the faculty and for posting.
- Paper: Elements of the research accepted for publication with the candidate as first author.
A hard copy and a PDF version of the final dissertation must be submitted to the Registrar for archiving. Copyright to the dissertation is held by the Trustees of Dartmouth College.
See Ph.D. Innovation Program Requirements for details.
The Ph.D. program can also be combined with the IGERT program in Polar Environmental Change. Students must fulfill all the requirements listed for first-year Ph.D. students and Ph.D. candidates, plus the additional requirements of the IGERT program.