Time Limits for ME Doctoral Programs

Expected Time to Degree

Graduate study, particularly at the PhD level, is less rigidly structured than undergraduate study and the time needed for a particular student to complete a program depends on many factors.
Nonetheless, a student who is actively pursuing a degree should be able to complete the coursework and dissertation in a reasonable length of time beyond which the relevance and originality of the research may diminish.

Accordingly, the School of Mechanical Engineering adopted the following policy effective August 15, 2005:

The total elapsed time for completion of a PhD in the School of Mechanical Engineering shall be no more than six calendar years from date of entry into the PhD program to final approval of the PhD thesis by the Examining Committee. The date of the entry is defined as the start of the semester following receipt of the Master's degree. For students in the Direct PhD program, the date of the entry is defined as the start of the semester in which the status is changed to that of a PhD student. This policy applies to all students including those who register for research in absentia.

An extension beyond the six-year limit may be granted by the Graduate Committee upon recommendation of the student's Advisory Committee. However, such an extension will require re- approval of the POS and also may include requirements to re-take the Area Examinations and to have a research review examination similar in format to the Preliminary Examination. Only one-year extensions will be given.

Recommended Milestones for a PhD and D-PhD

  1. Selection of area of interest and Major Professor: 1st semester
  2. Creation and approval of the POS must be done prior to registration for second semester courses.
  3. Taking the PhD Area Examinations
    • In 3rd semester for students with a MS, enrolled in the PhD program
    • In 3rd semester for students enrolled as D-PhD at admission, or
    • In the 3rd semester after the change to the D-PhD is effective.
  4. Identification of a thesis topic: As early as possible.
  5. Preliminary Examination
    • Before the end of 9th semester or three calendar years following admission into the PhD,
    • Or before the end of 12th semester, or 4 calendar years, for D-PhD.
  6. Dissertation Research and Preparation of PhD Thesis;
    • Preparation of at least 2 manuscripts for scholarly journal papers.
  7. Defense of PhD Dissertation
    • Typically, before the end of four years after entry into the PhD Program, or
    • Before the end of five years for students in the D-PhD.

It is essential that students make steady progress toward a timely completion of the PhD. In cases where students have not completed the Preliminary Examination by the end of the student's 3rd year in the PhD program (4th year for D-PhD students), the following steps may be required:

  1. The Graduate Chair will inform the student and Major Professor of the need to convene the Advisory Committee for a review of the student’s progress.
  2. The Advisory Committee will convene and review the student’s progress within a month of this request.
  3. The Major Professor will summarize the results of the Advisory Committee review including the reasons for the delay and the plan developed with the student for completion of the Preliminary Examination. This summary will be submitted to the Graduate Chair for review.
  4. The Graduate Chair will discuss the Advisory Committee’s summary with the Graduate Committee and may meet with the Major Professor and student to discuss the feedback from the Graduate Committee.

Students who have not completed the PhD by the end of 6th year (7th year for a D-PhD student) in the ME Graduate Program may be dismissed from the graduate program. The student may submit a written request to the Graduate Committee documenting unusual and extenuating circumstances. If this request is approved by the Graduate Committee, the student may be reinstated in the PhD program.

ME Graduate Office
585 Purdue Mall (Room 1003)
West Lafayette, IN 47907
(765) 494-5730