PhD in Engineering


Your dissertation must meet all of the requirements of the Graduate School. Your research must be a significant, unique contribution to the field of engineering, and should provide an important creative experience for you. The subject matter of your dissertation should lead to a refereed journal publication.

Dissertation Committee

The Dissertation Committee is responsible for administering the Candidacy Examination (in some Focus Ares), Research Proposal Defense, and Dissertation Defense. The committee also plays an advisory role to the student during research study.

By the end of the first year of study (16 credit hours of regular graduate course work), the student, in consultation with the dissertation advisor, should select a Dissertation Committee of at least five graduate faculty members, including the dissertaton advisor, who will serve as the committee chair.

Since the WSU Engineering PhD Program is a member of DAGSI, it is strongly encourgaged that a faculty member from a DAGSI partner serve on the committee.

In consultation with your dissertation advisor, you should choose the remaining four members of your committee. Once your dissertation committee is complete, you are required to complete and submit a Dissertation Committee Form. If you have questions about who can serve, please contact the Program Coordinator. Ideally, this should be done by the end of your second semester in the program (6 to 10 credit hours of regular graduate course work).

Committee Members

A minimum of four members in addition to the dissertation advisor as follows:

  • Two faculty members from WSU with full graduate status, at least one of whom shall be a PhD in Engineering dissertation-qualified faculty member. At the time of Dissertation Committee approval, a WSU faculty member must possess full graduate faculty status or expect to obtain full graduate status by the student's Dissertation Defense.
  • There must be at least one external member from the graduate engineering faculty of either one of the four collaborating DAGSI-partner institutions (Air Force Institute of Technology, The Ohio State University, University of Cincinnati, and University of Dayton) or from a Carnegie-classification doctoral research university, having full graduate status at their home institution. Adjunct faculty members cannot fulfill this role.
  • A final member of the committee can be from WSU, another research university, a government laboratory, industry, or a non-academic research institution. This member must have either full graduate status or adjunct full graduate status. For additional information on graduate status, refer to Graduate Council and Graduate School's Policies and Procedures Manual.
  • In all cases, the majority of the members of the Dissertation Committee shall be WSU Engineering PhD Program Faculty.
  • One of the committee members can serve as a co-advisor.
  • Exceptions to the committee composition as specified above can be made on a case-by-case basis through a petition by the dissertation advisor to the Program Affairs Committee.

Once the members have been selected, the student must submit a Dissertation Committee Form for approval by the Engineering PhD Program Director, the Dean of the College of Engineering and Computer Science, and the Dean of the Graduate School. In the event a member can no longer serve on the Dissertation Committee due to unforeseen circumstances, a suitable replacement must be found, and the student must submit a new Dissertation Committee Form for approval. The final committee shall follow the above-stated committee structure.

Dissertation Defense

The dissertation must meet all of the requirements of the Graduate School. The research must be a significant, unique contribution to the field of engineering, and should provide an important creative experience for the student.

The Dissertation Defense is the final examination for the PhD degree. It is a public, oral examination that is administered by the candidate's Dissertation Committee.

The dissertation advisor and the focus area's home department are responsible for preparing and distributing the Dissertation Defense announcement. Announcements, including the abstract, must be posted in engineering departments and emailed to College faculty and students at least one week prior to the defense. Announcements may be produced in the form of a flyer. The defense should also be announced on Russ Center TV.


The purpose of the Dissertation Defense is to examine the candidate's depth of engineering knowledge, mastery of research techniques, and the application of both in conducting the research.


After successfully finishing the Research Proposal, the candidate must devote at least six months to research before being eligible for the final examination; the Dissertation Defense cannot take place until six months after the Research Proposal.

Required Actions

The candidate is required to do the following:

  1. The candidate must complete and submit a Dissertation Defense Request Form (PDF) to the Program Coordinator no later than 30 days before the scheduled defense. The dissertation advisor and Program Director must sign this form.
  2. At least two weeks prior to the scheduled defense date, the candidate must submit the dissertation to all members of the Dissertation Committee.

Examination Format

On the day of the defense, the examination begins with a public presentation by the candidate, followed by a question period by the Dissertation Committee. At the conclusion of the examination, the dissertation advisor announces one of four decisions:

  1. The candidate passed the final examination and the dissertation is accepted as submitted. All members of the committee sign the Dissertation Certificate of Approval.
  2. The candidate passed the final examination but the dissertation will not be accepted and signed by the committee unless various specified corrections and revisions have been made.
  3. The examination is temporarily adjourned. The candidate must revise the dissertation, complete any additional independent study or research required by the Dissertation Committee, and be examined again. The second examination must take place within six months of the first.
  4. The candidate failed and will not be readmitted to another examination.

At the conclusion of the defense, members of the Dissertation Committee must sign a Record of Dissertation Defense Form.

Dissertation Submission and Binding

Students are responsible for the formatting and submission of their final dissertations to the Graduate School. Refer to the Graduate School's Graduate Policies and Procedures Manual for complete information.

The focus area's home department is responsible for ordering the advisor's copy of the dissertation as well as a copy for the PhD in Engineering Program.

Dissertation Defense Assessment and Exit Interviews

The University requires a yearly assessment of the PhD in Engineering Program, focusing primarily on coursework, dissertation research, and student learning. After a Dissertation Defense, the committee members are requested to complete Doctoral Dissertation Assessment Form (PDF) to assess the quality of the research that was performed by the student. In addition, prior to when the student is ready to submit his or her dissertation to the Graduate School, the Program Director will conduct an exit interview with the student to gain information about the student's learning outcomes and complete an Exit Interview Form (PDF).

Dissertation Seminar

As part of the PhD requirements, each student must present a one-hour seminar on his/her research results. This seminar is given as part of the EGR 8901 class. The seminar must be given in any semester prior to the Dissertation Defense period. At the beginning of the planned semester, the student needs to confirm the seminar schedule with the responsible department faculty member. During summer semester, EGR 8910 is not offered, so advance planning is recommended.

The department with teaching responsibility is responsible for preparing the seminar announcement. Announcements, including the abstract, may be produced in the form of a flyer and be posted in engineering departments and emailed to College faculty and students at least one week prior to the seminar. The seminar may also be announced on Russ Center TV.

Journal Publication Submission

The results of your dissertation must be sufficiently significant to warrant submission of at least one article to a peer-reviewed journal. A copy of the manuscript and transmittal letter must be submitted to the Program Coordinator.