Doctoral Students

Candidates for doctoral degrees should consult their advisers to determine if there are any special regulations or requirements in effect in their particular departments or programs.

Engineering-based doctoral degrees require a minimum of 72 units. The doctoral program requires 36-48 units of course work and 24-36 units of research. The specific distribution decisions are made by the individual programs and departments.

The doctorate can be awarded only to those students whose knowledge of their field of specialization meets contemporary standards. Hence, course work completed more than seven years prior to the date the degree is awarded generally cannot be accepted as satisfying degree requirements. All requirements for the degree must be completed within seven years from the time the student is admitted to the doctoral program.

The doctoral degree has a residency requirement of one year. To satisfy the requirement, the student must devote full time for two consecutive semesters to academically relevant activities on the Washington University campus. A limited amount of outside employment may be permitted, but only with the approval of the department or program chairman and/or the Dean. Candidates for the Doctor of Philosophy degree are required to follow the guidelines of the Graduate School. Please refer to the Graduate School website for policies and guidelines for the Doctor of Philosophy degree. Candidates for the Doctor of Science degree are required to follow the guidelines of the School of Engineering & Applied Science (SEAS). Please refer to the DSc and PhD Comparison (PDF) for more information about the DSc requirements.

Adviser & Doctoral Committee

Once admitted to graduate standing, each doctoral student will have an adviser appointed by the chair or director of the designated area of specialization. It is the responsibility of the adviser to help the student plan a graduate program.

After the student completes a maximum of 24 units of course work, the chair will appoint a doctoral committee for the student, with the student's adviser normally serving as chair of the committee. The doctoral committee will include at least three members of the Engineering regular faculty. The committee will advise the student on course work and research and must approve the proposed program.

Doctoral Qualifying Examination

To be admitted to a candidacy for the doctoral degree, a student must pass a comprehensive qualifying examination consisting of both written and oral portions. The written portion of the examination is administered by the student's department or program, and students should consult their adviser for information concerning the scope of the examination and the dates on which it is given. Students passing the written portion of the examination are eligible to take the oral portion. The examining panel for the oral portion will consist of the student's doctoral committee, plus additional members recommended by the student's doctoral committee and approved by the department chair or program director. The panel will have a minimum of five to six members, representing two or more departments at Washington University.

Doctoral Dissertation

The candidate must defend the dissertation during a final oral examination by an examining committee to be nominated by the adviser and approved by the appropriate dean. Doctor of Philosophy candidates will have their committees approved by the Dean of the Graduate School. The committee normally consists of five to six Washington University ​faculty representing two or more departments in the Engineering school and requires the approval of the department chair or program director.

Doctor of Philosophy candidates should refer to the Doctoral Dissertation Guide found on the Graduate School website for specific information on preparing their dissertation for submission. Other Engineering doctoral students should prepare their dissertation according to the DSc & Master's Thesis Format Guidelines found on the Engineering website.

Each candidate for the doctoral degree must electronically submit a final approved .pdf version of his or her dissertation. The dissertation should include an abstract embodying the principal findings of the research and approved by the doctoral committee as ready for publication. Such abstract will be published in Dissertation Abstracts, which announces the availability of the dissertation for distribution.