Rules and Guidelines

The School of Aeronautics and Astronautics offers the following graduate programs:

  1. MS Program in Aeronautics and Astronautics
  2. PhD Program in Aeronautics and Astronautics

The regulations governing the various programs of the School are covered in the present document and are supplemental to the regulations of the Graduate School of Purdue University. The students are advised to review the University regulations listed in the Graduate School Bulletin.

These regulations deal with procedural matters associated with meeting degree requirements. Since academic integrity is the foundation of all scholarship, it is expected that all study and research will be pursued with the highest standards of ethical conduct. Lapses in academic integrity will not be tolerated by the faculty or student body.

GENERAL RULES FOR MASTER OF SCIENCE (MS) PROGRAMS

The School of Aeronautics and Astronautics offers programs leading to the degree of Master of Science in Aeronautics and Astronautics (MSAA), Master of Science in Engineering (MSE), and Master of Science (MS). The MSE degree is awarded to those graduate students whose undergraduate degree is in an engineering field different from Aeronautics and Astronautics. The MS degree is awarded to graduate students whose undergraduate degree is in the physical sciences or mathematics rather than in engineering.

Before registration, the beginning student will confer with either his/her tentative choice of major professor or the Chairman of the Graduate Committee to determine his/her courses during the first semester.

Credit Requirements

The credit requirement for the MS degree is 30 credit hours. A full-time load is 9-15 hours per semester, although the student should consider a load of more than 12 hours exceptional. In the special case where a student selects a program which will include 18 hours or more of 600 level courses, he/she may be granted the degree with 26 credit hours subject to approval by his/her advisory committee and the Graduate Committee. Course numbers A&AE 690 (Directed Studies) may not be counted as part of the 18 hours of 600 level courses when the reduced hour option is elected.

Plan of Study and Advisory Committee

The student should select an advisory committee and a major professor before the end of the first semester. The student's advisory committee will normally consist of a major professor and two other professors from either the major or the minor area. One of their purposes is to help formulate a plan of study. This plan of study describes the program that they intend to follow while pursuing their degree at Purdue. It must be reviewed and signed by the Graduate Chairman who acts on behalf of the Faculty and the Graduate Committee. It is then sent to the Dean of Graduate School for final approval. The plan of study must be filed prior to the second semester of study at Purdue or registration may be denied.

The official student plan of study plays an important role in the student's program. Students are encouraged to discuss their academic and research objectives with several faculty members before formulating a plan of study. As an aid, a list of professors and their areas of primary interest is available. Members of the advisory committee need not be the staff members with whom the student has taken course work and may be outside the School, although the majority of the Committee must be Professors in AAE.

Each MS plan of study must indicate a primary area and two minor or related areas. All courses appearing on the plan of study should be at the 500 or 600 level, although an exception can be made if there are extenuating circumstances that the Advisory Committee deems appropriate. In such a case, the Advisory Committee can petition the Graduate Committee for an exception. A student must obtain grades of A or B on any course appearing in the primary area of his/her plan of study. In all other courses on the plan of study, grades of A, B, or C are acceptable so long as the cumulative grade point index is above a 3.0/4.0.

Minimum Index Requirements

The minimum graduate index for courses appearing on the plan of study is 3.0/4.0. A student is placed on academic probation if, at any time, the semester index falls below 3.0. Withdrawal from the School will ordinarily be recommended to the student's advisory committee following two successive semesters with a semester index below 3.0. Under special circumstances, the student's advisory committee may appeal to the Graduate Committee, which will then rule on the appropriateness of the request.

A non-thesis option student may be exempted from a formal final examination upon the recommendation of his/her advisory committee. The advisory committee may, at their discretion, require written and/or oral final examinations. After all requirements, including any final examinations, have been successfully completed, the advisory committee shall make a recommendation for the award of the degree. At the same time, the advisory committee shall make a recommendation for or against admission to the PhD program if the student has requested such admission.

M.S. PROGRAM IN AERONAUTICS AND ASTRONAUTICS

Non-Thesis Option

Students electing a non-thesis option are encouraged to include in their plan of study a course in a special project with a professor of their choice, so as to gain some experience in individual work. A student choosing the non-thesis option must select a major area of study, as well as a minor area in AAE and a minor area in Mathematics.

The student shall choose a major/minor area from one of the following areas:

  1. Aerodynamics
  2. Aerospace Systems
  3. Astrodynamics and Space Applications
  4. Dynamics and Control
  5. Propulsion
  6. Structures and Materials
  7. Interdisciplinary Areas (such as Aeroacoustics, Biomechanics, Design, Manufacturing)

At least twelve credit hours of course work are required in the major areas. The student shall choose at least six credit hours of course work in the AAE minors and in applied mathematics or mathematics. The minor shall be chosen by the student in consultation with the major professor.

MS Thesis Option

The MS thesis option consists of 21 hours of course work and a thesis which receives 9 hours of credit. The thesis topic is chosen by the student and the advisor, and is in an area of research related to the student's major area of study.

The 21 hours of course work chosen for the plan of study include 9 credit hours in the major area of research, 6 hours in applied mathematics or mathematics, and 6 hours in a minor area chosen by the student and his/her major professor. Thesis credit receives a grade of S (satisfactory) or U (unsatisfactory). University policy states that a student receiving a grade of U for two consecutive semesters will not be allowed to register for additional research credits, nor will they be allowed to continue in the thesis option program.

Following completion of the thesis research, a public presentation followed by a closed oral examination will be scheduled. Procedures for appointing the final examining committee and scheduling the final exam are, in general, the same as those followed for the PhD degree. The Graduate School requires TWO weeks notice before the examination can be scheduled. This is a hard and fast rule!

PhD PROGRAM IN AERONAUTICS AND ASTRONAUTICS

The School of Aeronautics and Astronautics offers a program leading to the degree of PhD Students enrolled in this program will be expected to meet the highest standards of academic achievement in both their course work and their research.

Admission

An application for admission to the PhD program must be submitted at least one semester prior to the desired admission date. Normally, this application should be submitted no later than mid semester before the desired semester of entry. Admission to a program of study leading to the PhD in the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics will be made upon the recommendation of the Graduate Committee.

The AAE policy is that the total time taken for the completion of the M.S. degree will not exceed 3 years, the PhD degree will not exceed 5 years (beyond the MS degree), and that the PhD degree in absentia will not exceed 8 years (beyond the MS degree) except in extreme circumstances.

Courses–Plan of Study

The minimum graduate index for courses appearing on the plan of study is 3.0/4.0. A student is placed on academic probation if, at any time, the semester index falls below 3.0. Withdrawal from the School will ordinarily be recommended to the student's advisory committee following two successive semesters with a semester index below 3.0. Under special circumstances, the student's advisory committee may appeal to the Graduate Committee, which will then rule on the appropriateness of the request.

The minimum PhD degree plan of study (excluding language requirements) will contain 18 credit hours beyond the Masters degree or forty-eight credit hours of graduate courses beyond the undergraduate degree. Admission is usually only given to those with a Master's degree. When counting from the BS degree, an MS thesis can be counted as equivalent to a maximum of nine hours. Included in the 48 hours shall be a major or primary area of study and at least one related or minor area. The major area is to be chosen from the list previously given in the MS program description. In the primary area of the plan of study, a student must obtain grades of not less than "B". It is strongly recommended that among the 48 hours at least 6 hours should be in 600 level courses (excluding 600 level special project courses).

Major Professor and Advisory Committee

A major professor should be selected from the faculty of the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics before the end of the first or second semester of studies to help the student select courses along the lines of his/her chosen area of PhD work. The PhD plan of study must be filed before the end of the second semester of study in the doctoral degree program. The advisory committee will consist of the major professor and three or four additional members. The majority of the committee must be from the School.

Qualifying Examinations

To demonstrate to the faculty that a student is qualified to pursue the PhD program in the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the student is required to take and pass written qualifying examinations. These qualifying examinations are offered once each semester (except Summer) at approximately mid semester time. The student must take the qualifying examination during the first three semesters after his/her admission to the PhD program.

These examinations are prepared and graded by the appropriate area committee of the School. The scores and a recommendation are forwarded to the student's major professor, and to the Graduate Committee for further action. The results of the Graduate Committee action are passed on to the faculty.

Examinations are offered in each of the following areas:

  1. Aerodynamics
  2. Aerospace Systems
  3. Astrodynamics and Space Applications
  4. Dynamics and Control
  5. Mathematics
  6. Propulsion
  7. Structures and Materials

The student shall be required to take the examination in: the Major Area of interest; Mathematics; and, one of the remaining four areas. As an option, a student may elect, with the approval of his/her advisory committee, to replace the minor area qualifying examination with two graduate courses, in one of the minor areas indicated above, using an approved list from the minor area committee. These substitute courses must be taken following satisfaction of the requirements for the MS degree, and the student must receive a grade of B or better in both courses. In a case where the student is in the last semester of MS study and takes more credits than required for the MS plan of study, these minor area courses will be accepted. Selection of the two course option, or the written examination for the minor area, must be made at the time the student originally schedules the major and mathematics exams. Switching from one option to another will not be permitted after this time.

In the event that a student fails one or more of the examinations, he/she must repeat that examination or examinations the next time they are offered. If, on the repeat examination, the student still fails to achieve acceptable scores, he/she will be required to terminate his/her studies in this school at the end of that semester.

Preliminary Examinations  

Each graduate student will take the preliminary examination within one year after completing the Qualifying Examinations. The preliminary examination is composed of an oral examination and submission of a written research proposal of not more than 25 typed pages. The advisory committee may require written examinations if it chooses. The purpose of the Preliminary Examination is to determine whether the student has assimilated the contents of the courses he/she has taken, both in the general and the specialized parts of his/her plan of study, and to evaluate his/her potential for successful completion of a PhD dissertation. The examining committee will assess his/her ability to use this knowledge in an independent and imaginative way in order to assure that future research work will lead to a suitable PhD thesis.

The examining committee is appointed by the Dean of the Graduate School and will normally include the advisory committee.

At least two weeks before the oral preliminary examination, the student must provide written copies of a research proposal to each of the members of the examining committee. The purpose of this proposal is to aid the student in selecting and initiating work on a dissertation, to provide a theme for the oral preliminary examination, and to enable the examining committee to offer maximum assistance and advice to the student. Although the format of this proposal varies, it should not, in general, exceed twenty five pages in length. The proposal should contain a clear statement of a proposed topic of research, a review of the literature relating to the problem, and an outline of the proposed solution to the problem. This proposal is not a contract between a student and the advisory committee.

At least two academic sessions devoted to research and writing must elapse between the preliminary and final doctoral examinations.

SCHEDULING OF THE PhD PRELIMINARY EXAM IS DONE BY SUBMITTING A FORM GR-8 (REQUEST FOR APPOINTMENT OF EXAMINING COMMITTEE) TWO WEEKS PRIOR TO THE EXAM.

Yearly Review

The Graduate Committee will review the progress of each PhD student in the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics at least once each year. The purpose of the review is to ensure that students continue to make reasonable and satisfactory progress toward their degree objective. All major recommendations from this annual review will be forwarded to the student and to his/her major professor.

Thesis

The special research carried on as part of the doctoral work is expected to make a definite contribution to the candidate's chosen field of knowledge—a contribution of sufficient importance to merit publication in a recognized journal. The candidate must, therefore, prepare a thesis describing his/her research, subject to the approval of his/her advisory committee.

Final Examination

In addition to the usual examination administered in primary and related area course work, the student will be required to take such final examinations over his/her major subject and thesis as the examining committee appointed by the Dean of the Graduate School may require.

If the candidate successfully passes these examinations, the Graduate Council will then formally recommend him/her to the Faculty to receive the degree.

Scheduling of the final exam for both PhD and thesis MS degree is accomplished by submitting form GR-8 (Request for Appointment of Examining Committee) to the Graduate School two weeks before the final examination is held.

Research in Absentia

Only PhD students who have passed their preliminary examinations may register for research in absentia. The designation "in absentia" means that a reduced fee is charged for registration. Although research in absentia is not permitted for MS students or for PhD students who have not passed their preliminary examinations, it may be possible, under special conditions, for them to conduct research at an off-campus location through a "Change of Duty Station". Details of this are available in the Graduate School Policies and Procedures Manual.

Since Research in Absentia places extra demands on the ability of the student's major professor to monitor the research, it is essential that particular attention be placed on timely communication of progress and potential problems. It is strongly suggested that a regular schedule of written reports, telephone conversations, and in-person visits be established. If, during the course of the annual review the Graduate Committee notes potential problems, they may require a more formal evaluation be held at the Purdue campus.

If the research requires non-Purdue support, a letter from the sponsoring organization authorizing the student's use of those facilities and research results must be placed in the student's academic file. It is recommended that, if possible, a qualified person in the student's organization serve as a member of the Advisory Committee. The procedures for this approval are governed by the Graduate School.

Direct PhD

Students in the Direct PhD program will first complete a MS non thesis with 10 courses. Two of these courses can be 590s related to the PhD dissertation. Then they will be able to move on to the PhD program. This option is open to students with GPAs greater than 3.5. The Qualifying Exam will be taken at the beginning of the third year.

DEGREE AND REGISTRATION REQUIREMENTS FOR ALL GRADUATE STUDENTS

In fulfilling degree requirements, a maximum of 18 credit hours will be allowed from any one semester (9 credit hours for the summer session).

The total number of hours of academic credit used to satisfy degree requirements consists of all graduate course credit hours with a grade of C or better that appears on the plan of study and research credit hours with grades of S that appear on the Purdue transcript.

  1. Master's Degree:
    1. At least one-half of the total credit hours used to satisfy degree requirements must be earned while registered at Purdue University.
    2. More than 50 percent of the Purdue credits must be earned through the campus where the degree is conferred.
    3. At least 30 total credit hours are required.

  2. Doctor of Philosophy Degree:
    1. At least one-third of the total credit hours used to satisfy degree requirements must be earned while registered for doctoral study at Purdue University
    2. At least 90 total credit hours are required.
    3. A master's degree or professional doctoral degree from any accredited institution may be considered to contribute up to 30 credit hours toward satisfying this requirement at the discretion of the student's graduate program.