Ph.D. Plan of Study

Once you have committed to pursuing your Ph.D., passed the Qualifying Examination, and have been admitted to the Ph.D. program, you are on your way to your doctoral degree! The next step is to commit to an interdisciplinary field of study, become assigned to a dissertation director, and form an Interdisciplinary Doctoral Curriculum (IDC) committee to review and approve your Plan of Study.

The Plan of Study includes coursework, the Candidacy Examination, Research Proposal Defense, Dissertation, and Oral Defense. The Plan of Study must include a language requirement as specified by the IDC Committee.

All doctoral work must be completed within ten years of starting coursework at The University of Akron or elsewhere. The Plan of Study should be completed within the first two semesters of study and/or immediately after successful completion of the qualifying examination.


A Candidacy Examination will be administered by the Advisory Committee after you have completed your graduate coursework. It will be your responsibility to request this exam before beginning extensive dissertation work. In some departments, the Candidacy Examination and Research Proposal Defense may be conducted simultaneously.

The purpose of this examination is to establish that you have developed the necessary background to undertake your research and determine whether you have been able to successfully integrate all of your coursework in order to make a significant contribution to your area of specialty.

The Candidacy Examination includes either a written or an oral component, or both to evaluate the appropriate background for research. The examination requires you to demonstrate the appropriate breadth and depth of knowledge in your chosen field of study. Becoming a doctoral candidate should indicate that you have the ability to conduct independent research.

Passing the Candidacy Examination qualifies you for admission to candidacy for the Ph.D. A failure of the Candidacy Examination will result in a review of your record and overall performance by the Committee, in conjunction with the Dean’s designee for the purpose of recommending that you be re-examined a second and final time or dismissed. With the approval of the Dean of the College of Engineering, this recommendation will be forwarded to the Dean of the Graduate School.

The scope of the re-examination may be narrowed at the discretion of the committee in cases where the unsatisfactory performance falls in a particular area.


Following the Candidacy Examination, you must complete any remaining course work and continue the research activities. Within two semesters, you must prepare and defend a research proposal. In some departments, the Candidacy Examination and Dissertation Defense may be conducted simultaneously. The research proposal will include a comprehensive literature review, clear articulation of the motivation and focus of their investigation/research, an outline of the approach proposed, a timeline for completing remaining research, and some general expectations of the nature of the results. Your research results must justify your approach and expected results. The proposal format should be as specified by the Advisory Committee.

The Research Proposal Defense includes a presentation to the Advisory Committee. The research proposal must be submitted to the committee at least two weeks ahead of the scheduled proposal defense.

Passing the Research Proposal Defense qualifies you for progressing toward completing and defending the dissertation.

Any student who completes their defense, and does not already have a Master’s Degree in Engineering, will be awarded either a college-wide master’s degree or a program specific master’s degree as outlined in the Plan of Study.


You must carry out the proposed research activities and complete the writing of the dissertation no earlier than one year after the date of the Research Proposal Defense.

The final dissertation must be submitted to the Advisory Committee for an evaluation. All advisory committee members shall be given two weeks to read and examine the dissertation. After the Committee has been given two weeks to review the dissertation, you will schedule a public defense.

The Dissertation Defense will include a public presentation of the results of the investigation. The Advisory Committee may ask the audience if there are questions of the candidate. After the general public has left, members of the Advisory Committee will pose in-depth questions to the candidate and may suggest additional work or modifications as required. The Advisory Committee will consult with each other to determine your success, which is the result of not receiving any no fail votes.


To receive a Ph.D. in Engineering from The University of Akron, the candidate must:

  • Satisfy the coursework requirements summarized in the Ph.D. in Engineering Degree Requirements.
  • Maintain a 3.0 GPA in all coursework
  • Pass the Qualifying Examination
  • Pass the Dissertation Proposal
  • Pass the Candidacy Examination
  • Write and successfully defend the Dissertation and make any corrections as required
  • Submit an electronic copy of the dissertation to the faculty advisor

Transfer credits

A student who has a master’s degree from another university or from one of the departments in the College of Engineering may, upon recommendation of the Interdisciplinary Doctoral Committee, transfer up to 24 credits of course work. If you have completed a non-thesis master’s degree or have graduate credits but have not completed the degree requirements for the master’s degree, you can transfer a maximum of 24 credits of course work toward the doctoral course requirements.

No more than six credit hours of research or completed thesis credits can be transferred. The courses comprising the transfer credits must be identified and itemized on the Plan of Study and must be substantiated by an official transcript from the educational institution that offered the courses.


The minimum residence requirement in all programs is one academic year of full-time study. Departments may require a calendar year instead. Any student on an assistantship may count it as nine hours per semester up to a total of 24 hours within an academic year toward the requirement. No resident student may take outside employment except with the permission of the Graduate Director and IDC and approval by the Dean of the College.

Tuition and fees

Information regarding tuition and fees can be found on the Office of Student Accounts website.


Applications are reviewed on an ongoing basis. Applications for admission and financial aid should be made through The Graduate School.