Chemical Engineering Doctoral Degree Program

The Ph.D. Program is intended to prepare students for a variety of careers in research and teaching. The emphasis is on research. In general, there are no formal course requirements. All students, in consultation with their advisors, develop appropriate course programs that will prepare them for the Preliminary Qualifying Examination and for their dissertation research. These programs must be planned to meet the time limits established to advance to candidacy and to complete the requirements of the degree.

All Ph.D. students are required to pass three examinations. The first is a Preliminary Qualifying Examination, which should be taken within three to four quarters of full-time graduate study. The second is the Ph.D. Qualifying Examination. The last is the Dissertation Defense.

Preliminary Qualifying Examination: The examination is intended to determine a candidate’s basic understanding of engineering fundamentals and the candidate’s ability to pursue successfully a research project at a level appropriate for the doctorate. The scope of the examination is based on topics selected from the core curriculum as listed under the M.S. degree program. A candidate is expected to demonstrate knowledge equivalent to these courses and formal enrollment record is not a prerequisite. The format is an oral examination administered by a committee of three faculty members in the Chemical Engineering Program. The candidate should present to the committee, prior to the examination, the five core courses that will constitute the basis of the examination.

Depth Requirement: A candidate must have the ability to perform in-depth analysis in the dissertation topic. A candidate should consult with the thesis advisor to develop a proper course program if it is deemed necessary. Depending on an individual’s background and the nature of the research problem, a candidate should either complete a set of a minimum of four courses or demonstrate to the thesis advisor the equivalent knowledge and ability.

Ph.D. Qualifying Examination: Prior to taking this examination, the candidate must have completed the departmental qualifying examination, obtained a faculty research advisor, and must have made initial progress on a chosen dissertation project. At the time of application for advancement to candidacy, a doctoral committee responsible for the remainder of the student’s graduate program is appointed by the Graduate Council under the policy listed in the “Graduate Studies” section of the UC San Diego General Catalog. The committee conducts the Ph.D. Qualifying Examination, during which the student must demonstrate the ability to engage in thesis research. The process involves the presentation of a plan for the thesis research project. The committee may ask questions directly or indirectly related to the project and general questions that it determines to be relevant. Upon successful completion of the examination, subject to the UC San Diego time limit policy, the student is advanced to candidacy and is awarded the candidate in philosophy degree (see “Graduate” section in this catalog). Please note that there is a $50 candidacy fee upon completion of the examination.

Teaching Experience: Prior to the dissertation defense, the candidate must serve at least once as a teaching assistant with the responsibility to hold a problem-solving section one hour a week.

Dissertation Defense: This is the final Ph.D. examination. Upon completion of the dissertation research project, the candidate writes a dissertation that must be successfully defended in an oral examination and public presentation conducted by the doctoral committee. A complete copy of the student’s dissertation must be submitted to each member of the doctoral committee four weeks before the defense. It is understood that this copy of the dissertation given to committee members will not be the final copy, and that the committee members may request changes in the text at the time of the defense. This examination may not be conducted earlier than three quarters after the date of advancement to doctoral candidacy. Acceptance of the dissertation by the Office of Graduate Studies and the University Librarian represents the final step in completion of all requirements for the Ph.D. degree.

Ph.D. Time Limit Policy: Pre-candidacy status is limited to four years. Doctoral students are eligible for university support for six years. The defense and submission of the doctoral dissertation must be within seven years.

Annual Evaluation: In the spring of each year, the faculty advisor evaluates each doctoral student’s overall performance in course work, research, and prospects for financial support for future years. A written assessment is given to the student after the evaluation. If a student’s work is found to be inadequate, the faculty may determine that the student cannot continue in the graduate program.