Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Admission Requirements and Procedures

A candidate to be considered for entrance into the PhD program must meet the admission requirements of the Faculty of Graduate Studies and must have:

  • A research Master’s Degree in engineering from Dalhousie University or any other recognized university, or a Master of Science Degree or its equivalent from a recognized university, acceptable to the Faculty of Engineering (in which case, a candidate may be required to take extra subjects to provide a suitable engineering background); or,
  • Acceptance for registration as a candidate for a research Master’s degree at this University.

A candidate registered for a Master’s Degree may be transferred to a Doctoral Degree on the recommendation of his/her department, according to the Regulations of the Faculty of Engineering. The recommendation will be reviewed by the Faculty of Engineering Departmental Graduate Coordinator.

An application for admission to the graduate program leading to the degree of Doctor of Philosophy should have a superior academic record and previous training or experience which indicates that the candidate should be able to do independent research.

Doctoral candidates are not admitted without appropriate funding to support the student and the program of research.

Health Insurance Requirement

Information pertaining to health insurance requirements is given in the Fees section.

Academic Regulations

All doctoral programs are developed under the regulations and procedures of the Faculty of Graduate Studies (see Faculty of Graduate Studies Regulations) and each program must be approved by the Faculty of Engineering and the Faculty of Graduate Studies.

Course Requirements

Doctoral programs in Engineering normally require a minimum of 12 credit hours, the graduate seminar, plus a thesis. No undergraduate courses are allowed for credit in a Doctoral Degree program.

Thesis Subject Matter and Supervision

The thesis shall consist of an original investigation or design carried out under the immediate supervision of a member of the Faculty of Engineering who is also a member of the Faculty of Graduate Studies.

Admission from Master’s Degree

Based on starting from a Master of Applied Science Degree, a candidate must complete not less than 12 credit hours and the graduate seminar. These courses will normally be selected in consultation with the research supervisor and supervisory committee, and must be approved by the Faculty of Engineering and the Faculty of Graduate Studies.

Thesis Requirement

A candidate will be required, as a major part of the program, to submit a satisfactory thesis embodying the results of original scholarship and independent research. See Faculty of Graduate Studies Regulations for information pertaining to doctoral theses.

Examination Requirements

All courses required to meet the degree requirements are considered essential courses and will be so designated by the Supervisory Committee. Essential courses can include any required undergraduate or prerequisite courses. Any courses taken in excess of the requirements are subject to approval by the supervisor. These courses will appear on the student’s transcript as regular courses.

A PhD degree candidate must pass all graduate level courses with a grade of at least B. Graduate students are allowed to repeat only one course during their program. Graduate students are not eligible to write supplementary examinations. Transfer credits from other universities will be considered on a case by case basis.

PhD candidates are also required to pass comprehensive examinations which normally take place within the fourth study term. Students who receive a “fail” on the comprehensive examination will be asked to withdraw. Students who receive a marginal fail may be permitted to rewrite once. See Procedures and Guidelines, Section 5, below.

As well, all PhD degree candidates must pass an oral examination of his/her thesis project after it has been submitted in satisfactory form, and in accordance with the Faculty of Graduate Studies Regulations.

In addition to meeting the grade requirements, failure to maintain an acceptable academic standing will result in a student being asked to withdraw from the program. Failure to achieve the minimum mark as noted above shall be considered grounds for dismissal.

Time and Residence Requirements

A candidate for the PhD degree must spend the equivalent of three calendar years of full time work on lectures and the thesis. However, credit for one calendar year may be granted for a Master’s degree or its equivalent. A student is required to register each session to maintain eligibility to continue his/her program of studies. A PhD candidate shall spend at least two years in full time attendance of his/her research work at the University. See Faculty of Graduate Studies Regulations for policies regarding the maximum length of time for degree completion and extensions.

Procedures and Guidelines

  1. The Department must ensure that supervisors are normally assigned to students prior to their registration. If the supervisor is not a full time member of the Department, a co-supervisor will be appointed from the Department. The Department is to submit the name of the supervisor to the Faculty of Graduate Studies and the name will be officially recorded in the student’s file.
  2. Granting of credits to a student’s program of studies for courses taken prior to commencement of the program requires the recommendation of the Department and approval of the Faculty of Engineering Graduate Studies Committee. A request for this transfer of credits must be made to the Department before the student’s first registration or in the first term.
  3. The supervisor is to appoint a Supervisory committee, within four months of the first registration, to be responsible for the Candidate’s program and thesis preparation. The membership of the Supervisory Committee is to be conveyed for approval to the Engineering Graduate Studies Coordinator and recorded in the student’s file. The Supervisory Committee will normally consist of the thesis supervisor, at least one other member from the department and at least one other member from outside the department with special interests in the proposed area of study. The supervisor will be the chair of the Supervisory Committee. The Supervisory Committee is encouraged to submit progress reports once every six months to the Department’s Graduate Co-ordinator.
  4. The Supervisory Committee is required to submit a title for the student’s thesis report, on the prescribed form, to the Engineering Graduate Studies Coordinator at least seven months prior to the formal submission of the thesis. On approval by Graduate Studies, the title will be recorded in the student’s file and forwarded to the Faculty of Graduate Studies.
  5. The Supervisory Committee shall be responsible for conducting the comprehensive examinations. The purpose of these examinations are to ensure that the student has a thorough understanding of the fundamentals in the student’s area of study and that the student has attained knowledge to an adequate level in the discipline. The comprehensive examination consists of at least two written examination papers and an oral examination conducted to meet the above objective. The written papers are to be set and assessed by examiners recommended by the Supervisory committee. The comprehensive examination shall normally be completed within the fourth session of study from first registration. A student shall be given at least three months notice of the examination. The topics and results of the examination will be conveyed to the Engineering Graduate Studies Coordinator on the prescribed form and will indicate “pass”, “fail”, or “re-examination”. Recommendation of the examining committee to re-examine shall only be permitted if the failure was marginal. Students receiving a recommendation of “fail” shall be required to withdraw from the program by the Registrar’s office. Re-examination of marginal students must be carried out within six months of the initial examination. Students requiring re-examination shall not necessarily be required to rewrite both written examinations. Students given the opportunity to rewrite shall only be permitted to rewrite once.
  6. An Examining Committee is appointed in accordance with Faculty of Graduate Studies procedures prior to the formal submission of the thesis report. The Examining Committee normally consists of the Supervisory Committee and an external examiner. At least two members of the Examining Committee must be from the candidate’s Department. The composition of the committee is to be recorded in the student’s file. The names of three external examiners will be recommended to the Faculty of Graduate Studies. The External Examiner will be approached and appointed by the Faculty of Graduate Studies according to Faculty procedures.
  7. A copy of the thesis must be submitted to the Faculty of Graduate Studies at least five weeks prior to the date of the oral defence. The copy will be sent to the External Examiner. The copy must be accompanied by the appropriate form. The oral presentation and examination will not be scheduled until the following requirements for the student’s program of studies have been met:

i)     Course work completed;
ii)    Thesis title approved;
iii)   The graduate seminar requirement completed;
iv)   Examining Committee established;
v)    Comprehensive examination passed;
vi)   A written report has been received by the Faculty of Graduate Studies from the external examiner.

  1. The student shall be advised by the departmental office of the approval of programs, the results of comprehensive examinations, and the approvals of the thesis title and committees.
  2. The thesis is to be prepared to conform with the standards of the manual for the Preparation of Graduate Theses, available online at the Faculty of Graduate Studies.
  3. The Associate Dean of Graduate Studies shall be the Chair of the Examination or shall appoint someone from the Faculty’s Panel of PhD Chairs. The oral defence and examination shall be carried out according to Faculty of Graduate Studies procedures.

Award of Degree

A candidate will not be awarded the PhD degree unless they have satisfied all the foregoing requirements.