Ph.D. Milestones

Ph.D. Faculty Advisor Policy

Ph.D. students should have a research advisor at all times throughout their graduate study in order to fulfill the requirement of making satisfactory progress towards their degree. However, as matching with a Ph.D. advisor can take some time, the following guidelines have been put in place:

  • In order to remain in good academic standing, newly admitted students must be matched with a faculty research advisor no later than 12 months after the student’s first quarter of Ph.D. study.
  • In order to remain in good academic standing, continuing students who are switching advisors (for whatever reason) must match with a new faculty research advisor no later than by the end of the subsequent quarter (excluding summer term).

Once you have matched with a faculty research advisor, please submit the Ph.D. Faculty Research Advisor Verification Form. Please note that matching with a faculty research advisor is independent of locating funding for a student's studies.

Annual Review Policy and Procedures

Doctoral students will be required to complete the Engineering Individual Development Plan (E-IDP) on an annual basis in consultation with their faculty advisor. This will help graduate students to structure their goals, identify skills and competencies that need to be developed, maintain a record of their achievements, and start conversations with their advisor about career goals.

Nomination of Ph.D. Qualifying Exam Committee

The Qualifying Exam Nomination Form should be submitted to your department prior to the qualifying examination taking place to esnure there are no problems with your committee.

Guidelines for Committee Membership:

  • This committee must consist of at least 5 members.
  • All committee members must hold a Ph.D.
  • At least 3 members, including the Chair, must hold a tenure track faculty appointment within your home department.
  • For each committee only one exception request will be considered. Exceptions could include an adjunct professor serving on the committee. In the case of an exception request, the department must turn in an exception memo and a copy of the professor’s CV with this form in order to get this approved. 
  • Please note that some departments/programs have additional guidelines. Please refer to your department/program website or handbook for more information.

It is the expectation and requirement of the School of Engineering that a doctoral student’s Qualifying Examination take place on one day at one time with all members the Candidacy Committee (same members listed on the Qualifying Exam Nomination Form) in attendance. If it is not possible for all members to physically be in attendance, one member (maximum) can be present via video conference with the use of Zoom or another similar application. However, students should note that the Ph.D. I form must have original signatures from all members and must be submitted prior to the submission deadline and, as such, plan accordingly.

Doctoral Defense and Dissertation Submission

It is the expectation and requirement of the School of Engineering that a doctoral candidate’s Dissertation Defense take place on one day at one time with all members of the Doctoral Committee in attendance. The defense must be open to the public.

You must still be in the area when electronically submitting the dissertation, as you will still need to turn in other hardcopy forms in person to the Graduate Division. As such, if you will be out of the area, you will need to authorize that a friend turn in these forms for you. You cannot electronically submit your dissertation one hour before the deadline. Part of the process is that after you submit the dissertation electronically, the Archives sends you an email saying that they received it and it is being processed. You must then take that email with your other required forms (including the PhD Form II) to the Graduate Division by the submission deadline. The email can take up to 24 hours to be sent to you, so it is imperative that you submit the dissertation electronically at least a day in advance to meet the deadline.

Normative and Maximum Timelines

Samueli School of Engineering Advancement Degree Completion Maximum
Biomedical Engineering PhD 2(2) 5(4) 7
All Other Engineering PhD Programs 3(2) 5(4) 7

Parentheses represent reduced time to advancement and degree completion for those students who entered the PhD program with a previous MS degree.