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Ph.D. Overview

The Texas Tech University Graduate School sets policies and regulations regarding admission, minimum grade requirements, final examinations, and other items of interest to the graduate student. Students should obtain and study the current Graduate Catalog in order to be familiar with these regulations. This Procedures Manual presents information specifically concerning the Doctor of Philosophy in Mechanical Engineering.

The Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering is a graduate degree requiring a minimum of three years of graduate study beyond the undergraduate degree. It is awarded to students who have completed a program of graduate courses, a final examination, and a dissertation. Completion of the Ph.D. normally requires approximately 24 to 36 months beyond the master's degree.

For the Department of Mechanical Engineering policies and graduation requirements for the Ph.D. program, please use the ME Graduate Student Handbook and the Ph.D. Graduate Handbook Supplement.

Faculty Advisor & Advisory Committee

When a student first begins a graduate studies program, he/she is assigned to the departmental Graduate Student Advisor. During the first semester of attendance, students should seek a Faculty Advisor. This advisor assists the student with the selection of a dissertation, research topic, and the courses needed to earn the Ph.D. degree. A Faculty Advisor should be selected by the student and reported to the Department Graduate Student Advisor by the end of the first semester of attendance.

Each student pursuing the Ph.D. program must also have an Advisory Committee to assist with academic and dissertation matters. This committee is chaired by the Faculty Advisor and consists of the Faculty Advisor plus a minimum of four additional graduate faculty members, excluding the Graduate Dean’s representative. Students are strongly encouraged to have at least one member from outside the Department. This committee is responsible for the comprehensive examination and approval of the dissertation. This committee should be selected shortly after the student has selected a Faculty Advisor and prior to the end of the first year of attendance. Committee membership is formalized when the student files for admission to candidacy.

Filing a Degree Plan and the Preliminary Examination

Ph.D. students must submit the Doctoral Proposal and Report of Preliminary Examination Form to the Graduate School by the end of the first year of attendance. This form is available from the Graduate School. The requirement to pass the preliminary examination can be satisfied in any of the following ways:

The preliminary examination should take place during the student’s first year of doctoral study and the doctoral plan should be submitted to the Graduate School before the student begins his second year work. Once the proposal is approved, the courses listed on this form become the official program of study for the student, and deviations can only be made when properly justified. Therefore, students are urged to work closely with their Faculty Advisor when submitting this form. The Ph.D. will be awarded once all the requirements of the Official Degree Program have been met. The Department is not required to accept any courses taken after the initial semester of attendance unless they have been previously approved as part of the Official Degree Program.

Qualifying Examination

The Qualifying Examination for Admission to Candidacy for the Ph.D. degree is one of the major features of the doctoral program and will be administered in both the major and minor areas of study. A student is eligible to stand for this examination after receiving approval of the doctoral proposal from the Dean of the Graduate School and completing most of the coursework prescribed by the approved proposal (e.g., the student should be in his/her last semester of coursework). At this point, the student should also provide an abstract of his/her thesis to the Department Graduate Student Advisor.

The following two options are available for a student who is required to take the Qualifying Exam:

  1. Project−Based Option
  2. Subject−Based Option

Project−Based Option

If a student and his/her Faculty Advisor choose this option, then the student will be examined on a research topic NOT part of his/her thesis. The examination consists of two parts:

  1. Written Part
  2. Oral Part

In the written portion of the exam, the student will provide a written report on his/her research topic to the Committee. After examining the written part, the Committee will examine the student in an oral setting on the chosen research topic. If the Committee finds the student’s performance to be satisfactory in both written and oral parts of the exam, the student will be allowed to proceed to the next stage. If the performance is unsatisfactory, then the student will be given one more chance to take the examination after four months.

Subject−Based Option

If a student and his/her Faculty Advisor choose this option, the examination is prepared and administered by the candidate’s Advisory Committee or any other professors the Committee may consider necessary. The Qualifying Examination consists of two parts:

  1. Written Part
  2. Oral Part

The Committee assigns a topic for each member who will then administer a written examination on that particular topic. Once the doctoral student completes the written examination with each Committee member, the Committee meets as a group and administers the oral portion of the Qualifying Examination. The procedure outlined in the Graduate Catalog applies when the examination is satisfactory or not satisfactory. If the student performance is not satisfactory, then the student will be given one more chance to take the examination after four months.

Admission to Candidacy

Authority for admitting an applicant to candidacy for a doctoral degree is vested in the Graduate Council. Once a recommendation is received from the Advisory Committee, the Graduate Dean will submit it to the Graduate Council for action. The Council may approve the Committee’s recommendation, or it may, after consultation with the Committee, suggest additional requirements for the applicant to satisfy. A student must be admitted to candidacy for the doctorate at least four months prior to the proposed graduation date.

Academic Regulations

Academic Probation and Suspension of Graduate Students (OP 64.04)

All graduate students at Texas Tech University must maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher. If a student’s cumulative GPA falls below 3.0, he/she is placed on academic probation. At this time, the student has two consecutive semesters to raise his/her cumulative GPA to at least 3.0. If during this two semester period, his/her semester GPA drops below a 3.0, the student is subject to suspension.

A student placed on suspension will be required to remain out of Graduate School for one semester. If a student is suspended two times, he/she will not be allowed to return to Graduate School. Any student who has been suspended must appeal to the Graduate School (according to OP 64.07), if reinstatement is desired. Summer sessions and/or trimester count as one semester.

Departmental Academic Standards

The Department will permit only a single grade of C for courses listed on the Official Degree Plan. If a student earns two or more C’s or any single grade less than C, he/she must meet with a group consisting of the Faculty Advisor, Advisory Committee, and the Department Graduate Advisor. This group will recommend appropriate action, which may include probation or suspension by the Department.

Minimum Residence

The minimum residence time for a Ph.D. is one full academic year of graduate study beyond the master’s degree or beyond the equivalent of this degree, if the student proceeds to doctoral work without getting a master’s degree.

Time Limit

All work for the doctorate must be completed within four years after the applicant has been admitted to candidacy. Students whose graduate study is interrupted by military service will be granted an extension of time for the period of their military service, not to exceed five years.

Intent to Graduate

Early in the semester in which the student expects to graduate, the student must submit to the Graduate School a form entitled "Intent to Graduate." The form is available from the Graduate School, and is intended as an aid to the University in preparing diplomas, graduation lists, etc.

Grade Requirements

The minimum academic requirement for a Ph.D. degree is a semester grade−point average of 3.0. If a student’s graduate GPA for a particular semester falls below 3.0, the student will be placed on academic probation. In order to remove probationary status, the student must make a 3.0 GPA or better in the next semester in which he/she is enrolled. Failure to do so, or to maintain a 3.0 current GPA in each succeeding semester, will result in academic suspension from further enrollment as a graduate student or in graduate courses at Texas Tech University. Regulations governing scholastic probation are based on semester grade−point averages and will be applied regardless of overall grade−point average. Any student who has been suspended must appeal to the Graduate School if reinstatement is desired at a later date. The Department will only permit a single grade of C for courses listed on the Official Degree Plan. If a student earns two or more C’s, he/she must meet with a group consisting of the Faculty Advisor, Advisory Committee, and Departmental Graduate Advisor. This group will recommend appropriate action, which may include departmental probation or suspension.

Final Examination

A final public oral examination, usually over the general field of the dissertation, is required of every candidate for the doctorate. The oral examination must be scheduled by the student and the Advisory Committee, after the Committee has read the completed dissertation and prior to the defense deadline during the semester of graduation. Students should present their dissertation to all Committee members at least three weeks before the defense date. In addition, the Graduate School requires three weeks notification prior to the oral examination. The required Defense Notification Form noting the time, place, and other information concerning the examination is available on the Graduate School website.

The Advisory Committee and the Graduate Dean, or a professor designated to act in place of the Graduate Dean, conduct the examination. All members of the Committee participate fully in the examination and cast a vote. Professors other than members of the committee, including the Graduate Dean’s representative (who is expected to come from outside the academic Department), may participate in the examination, but have no vote in determining the outcome. At the conclusion of the examination, the chairperson of the Advisory Committee will send a written notice to the Graduate School giving the result of the examination.

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