Ph.D. in Engineering


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.

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Dissertation Committee

Dissertation Advisor

  • The dissertation advisor must be a dissertation-qualified faculty member of the Ph.D. in Engineering Program. The dissertation advisor is responsible for the overall direction of the research, the regular advising of the student, and the continuing progress of the student in completing his or her Program of Study in a timely manner.
  • It is permissible to have two committee members co-advise a dissertation if at least one member has dissertation-qualified faculty status. Dissertation Advisor:

Committee Members

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

  • At least two faculty members shall have Ph.D. in Engineering dissertation-qualified status.  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.
  • All members must have either full graduate status or adjunct full graduate status. For additional information on graduate status, refer to the Graduate School's Graduate Policies and Procedures Manual.
  • In all cases, the majority of the members of the Dissertation Committee shall be WSU Ph.D. in Engineering 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 Committee.

Once the members have been selected, the student must submit a Dissertation Committee Form for approval by the Engineering Ph.D. 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.

The Dissertation Committee is responsible for administering the Candidacy Examination (in some Focus Areas), Research Proposal Defense, and Dissertation Defense.

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 Ph.D. 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 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.


There are a few steps depending on your focus area to complete before you can give your dissertation defense.

The first step is to complete the candidacy exam. Depending on your focus area the format might differ. Please refer to your focus area. The second step is to finish your research proposal.  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 Ph.D. in Engineering mailbox (207 Russ) 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.

Dissertation Defense Assessment and Exit Interviews

The University requires a yearly assessment of the Ph.D. 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).

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 Director.

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