Master's and doctoral students will find information, policies, and procedures for each step of the way to degree completion. 

Path to Degree: Ph.D. Students

  • Course Level

    Only courses 500 level and above may count towards the Ph.D. degree. 


    At least four (4) credit hours of coursework must be outside your degree area.  A mathematics class can be used to satisfy all or part of this requirement. Several other ways of fulfilling this requirement are detailed on the degree program requirements page.


    All students enter their program in the pre-candidacy stage.  In this stage, students complete advanced coursework in core areas and gain knowledge of the primary field and skills to conduct independent scholarly research.  The Ph.D. coursework ranges from credits based on your prior degree attainment, prerequisites, planned research area, and the faculty advisor's recommendation.  At a minimum, six (6) credits for students with a University of Michigan master's degree, 36 credits for a student with a bachelor's degree and 18 credits for a student with a non-University of Michigan- degree is required.  


    A minimum of 24 credits of doctoral dissertation research is required to complete the candidacy coursework requirement. Up to 12 credits may be completed through the 980 Pre-Candidate Dissertation Research course.  The remaining 12 credits or all 24 credits may be achieved by taking 990 Doctoral Dissertation course.

  • Advising Model

    Ph.D. students are advised by a graduate faculty member who also serves as the student's mentor.  In addition to academic and course planning,  the faculty advisor helps the student to clarify and advance his or her academic and professional goals.

    Annual Review

    Doctoral programs must conduct annual reviews to assess student's progress toward candidacy and degree completion.  At the end of each year, around April/May,  each student meets with his or her Faculty Advisor to complete the Annual Review Report.   An Annual Review form is available for documenting issues/topics discussed and providing feedback to the student.  The completed review is due to the Program Chair by May 31.  Students who are not making progress may be placed on probation and must meet each term.

    Degree Tracking

    The university provides the Degree Works software which allows you to track your progress towards the degree.

  • It is essential to reference both the approved Study Plan and the Ph.D. program curriculum sheet when choosing courses.  Document all courses on your approved Study Plan with your faculty advisor.  The graduate staff can assist you with registration based on the approved Study Plan.  Directed Study, Pre-Candidacy Dissertation 980, and Dissertation 990 courses required approval before registering.  If you have any questions regarding course selection or changing a course on your Study Plan, contact your faculty advisor.  Students register online through UM-Dearborn Connect to register for classes. For web registration instructions see here.

    Required First Year Course

    All Ph.D. students are required to enroll in ENGR 700 Doctoral Research Methodology course for the first two terms, Fall and Winter.  As part of this course, all CECS Ph.D. students are required to complete training in the responsible conduct of research (RCR) and scholarship before advancing to candidacy. Information on the RCR Workshop times is provided in the ENGR 700 course syllabus.  Students may be required to complete the PEERRS modules through MY LINC as a pre-requisite to the face-to-face RCR workshop. 

    Continuous Enrollment

    Students are required to be enrolled every Fall and Winter term.  Students are required to register for Spring/Summer term if taking an exam or completing the degree requirements.  Students who are not enrolled must be on an approved leave of absence.  A Ph.D. student who is not on an approved leave of absence and who does not maintain registration through Fall and Winter term will be considered to have withdrawn and will be discontinued from the graduate program

    Full-time Enrollment

    At the University of Michigan-Dearborn, a full-time graduate student is one that registers for a minimum of eight credits during the Fall and Winter terms. 

    Maximum credits

    Students may enroll in a maximum of nine credits each Fall and Winter term.

    Minimum Credits

    Students with a GSI and GSRA appointment must register for a minimum of six credits each Fall and Winter term.  All students must be registered for at least one three (3) credits course each semester. 

    Candidacy Registration Requirement

    Upon achieving Candidacy, students must register full-time (8 credits or 6 credits with GSI or GSRA appointment) in the 990 Dissertation Research course each Fall and Winter term until graduation.

  • Overview

    Each doctoral program determines the form and content of the examinations and informs students in advance about the format, schedule, procedures, and expectations for the exams.  At a minimum, the tests assess the student's knowledge of each primary field and supporting fields.  The exam may be written, oral or a combination of both.  Students must be enrolled in the term the exam is administered. Students must submit the Qualifying Exam Request Form to the department graduate staff by the registration deadline.  After the exam, the exam committee completes the exam notification form and all rubrics to the department graduate staff.

    Exam Dates

    The Qualifying exam is offered once in the fall and once in the winter term.  You may take the exam at any time before the established program deadline.  It is not necessary to have all coursework completed before taking the exam.  

    TERM Registration Deadline Exam Date
    Fall October 15, 2017  November 13-17, 2017
    Winter February 1, 2018 March 5-9, 2018


  • Students advance to candidacy within three years of first enrollment.  Students entering the program with a master's degree should advance to candidacy within 2 years.   All students meet the following requirements:

    • Completion of all required coursework
    • Completion of the Cognate course requirement
    • Completion of the Responsible Conduct of Research and Scholarship Training
    • Achieved the minimum program and course GPA  
    • Completion of the Qualifying Exams (ECE & CIS)
    • Completion of  the Dissertation Proposal Defense  (IMSE & ME)

    Students must apply and submit the necessary paperwork to advance to candidacy. The faculty advisor submits the application for candidacy to the Ph.D. program chair.  

  • After passing the Qualifying exam and before beginning work on the dissertation research, students should begin to form the Dissertation Committee.  Dissertation committees must have at least four members, three of whom are regular members of the CECS Graduate Faculty and two of whom are from the doctoral candidate’s program department.  The composition of the committee must be as follows:

    • A sole chair or two co-chairs;
    • A cognate member who is familiar with the standards for doctoral research and holds at least a .50 appointment in a graduate program, other than the student's home department/program
    • May include a University faculty member who is not a regular member of the CECS Graduate Faculty, a University staff member, or a qualified individual outside the University to provide expertise in the candidate’s discipline

    The faculty advisor submits the required form with the membership of the dissertation committee to CECS Graduate Education for approval at least 1 month prior to taking the Dissertation Proposal Exam.  

  • The timeline to take your Dissertation Proposal exam or Preliminary Exam, as it is often called, is set by each department by the dissertation committee.  Students should reach this milestone within one year of passing the Qualifying Exam.  

    Students must submit the written proposal to the Dissertation Committee for review prior to the oral exam.  After the exam, the student will receive written feedback from the committee based on the Proposal Rubric.   After the exam, the exam committee submits the exam notification form and all rubrics to the department graduate staff.

    Unsuccessful Attempts

     Students with an unsatisfactory performance were may be granted a second and final attempt at the discretion of the Program Chair.  

    Registration Policy

    Students must be enrolled in the term the exam is administered.  Students who were enrolled full-time during the proceeding Fall and Winter terms may take the Proposal exam in May following the Winter term without registering for Spring/Summer. 

  • Dissertation
    Required in all programs.  Students must complete the Dissertation Defense, based on the student’s original independent research, within five years after candidacy, but no more than seven years from first enrollment.  

    A copy of the written dissertation approved by the Faculty Advisor/Dissertation Chair must be submitted to the Dissertation Committee at least two weeks prior to the oral defense.  Each member of the Dissertation Committee will complete written feedback on the written dissertation prior to the oral defense. 

    Dissertation Defense Request Form

    Dissertation Rubric


    Registration Policy

    Students must be enrolled fulltime in the 990 Doctoral Dissertation course in the term the exam is administered.  Students who were enrolled full-time during the proceeding Fall and Winter terms may take the Oral Exam exam in May following the Winter term without registering for Spring/Summer. 

    Oral Defense 


    • Maximum of five (5) years after achieving candidacy
    • No earlier than 14 weeks after the Proposal Exam
    • Seven (7) years total from first enrollment

    Each department handles the coordination for conducting the Dissertation Oral Defense.  At a minimum of three days prior to the oral defense, the Ph.D. Program Chair must review the written dissertation assessments from the committee members and authorize the Oral Defense.  The written dissertation report and the Oral Defense will be assessed based on the Dissertation Rubric.  

    After the defense, the student will receive written feedback and the committee will decide based on the rubric if the student’s performance meets the requirement, distinguished, or did not meet the requirement.  Students, whose performance was unsatisfactory for the written dissertation and or oral defense, must meet with their Research Advisor/Dissertation Committee Chair for next steps.

    Oral Defense Deadline

    The date by which a candidate must complete and submit all degree requirements, including format revisions, is a firm date.  Extensions are not permitted.  A candidate who does not meet the final deadline cannot be listed among the degree recipients for that particular term, nor participate in commencement.

    The Last Date to Complete all Requirements and Last Day to Apply for Graduation is 6 weeks out from the degree conferral date, and the Last Day to Defend is 8 weeks out from the degree conferral date.  The deadline by which a candidate must defend a dissertation and complete all degree requirements is located here.

  • Pre-Defense Review

    A Pre-Defense Review is held with the student and CECS Graduate Education prior to the Oral Defense.  During the Pre-Defense review, the student's record check is completed.  Registration, GPA, Candidacy, timeline, and dissertation committee requirements are reviewed.  Submission of the written feedback from each committee member is verified.  Once approved, the student receives approval to schedule the Oral Defense. 

    Post-Defense Review

    A Post-Defense Review is held with the student and CECS Graduate Education after to the Oral Defense.  The students must schedule a meeting with the CECS Graduate Education office to discuss finalizing the degree, dissertation submission, and requirement deadlines.  During the Post-Defense review, a degree audit is conducted.  The student’s file will be reviewed to ensure that he/she has met all the degree requirements for graduation.  The final defense exam rubric, written dissertation feedback, and the Certificate of Completion of Dissertation  Requirements for Doctoral Degree are reviewed and verified.  In addition, each student must complete the Survey of Earned Doctorates and the UM-Dearborn Doctoral Exit Survey.

  • The Office of Graduate Studies conducts the final formatting check of the Dissertation.  Students must follow the format guidelines for CECS dissertation.   You can learn more about the formatting and submission guidelines and process here.

    Dissertation Submission Form

    Dissertation Release and Embargo procedures

    Doctoral dissertations and abstracts are normally made publicly available upon degree conferral when they are deposited electronically in Deep Blue. The student is responsible for requesting an embargo of the dissertation.

  • Students may apply for graduation after successfully defending the final dissertation and submitting the necessary forms.

    Apply to Graduate 

    Request to participate in commencement 

Path to Degree: Master's Students

  • Registration is by appointment only and based on academic level and the number of credits completed.  You can register on or after your registration date.  Graduates students typically have priority before after doctoral students.  Students may register online using UM-Dearborn Connect or by walk-in.

    To learn more, visit the Registration and Records page to find information about registration instruction, registration timetableadding or dropping a course, waitlist and withdrawing

    Some courses may require faculty or department approval prior to registering.  In these cases, students should contact the department advising and registration graduate staff for assistance.

  • All master's degree students must complete 30 credits at the 500-course level or higher.  The degree requires core and concentration coursework, two cognate courses, and the option to complete electives and a project or a 6 credit Thesis.

    Students are required to maintain a 3.0 (B) cumulative GPA or higher each term.  Each department may have additional minimum course grade requirements.  Refer to your degree program curriculum or requirements page for additional guidance. 

    Course Planning and Degree Tracking Tools

    Students should follow the curriculum requirements as listed on the degree program webpage.  Most programs offer a selection of courses in each area to meet the degree requirements. As a tool, students may use this Study Plan to select tentative courses for the degree.   

    The university provides the Degree Works software which allows you to track your progress towards the degree.

  • Each department assigns a faculty advisor for all graduate students. Students may schedule an appointment with the faculty advisor during posted office hours.  However, students may first contact the graduate staff with any questions. If it becomes necessary to meet with the faculty advisor, the graduate staff will schedule an appointment.  Please check the CECS Advising and Registration page for a list of department faculty advisor by programs and additional details.

  • All students must apply to graduate during their final term of study.  It is advisable for students to contact the graduate staff as soon as they have registered for their final course(s) to request a pre-audit.  Applying to graduate can be done through UM-Dearborn Connect or the Registrar’s office website.  Choose “Applying to Graduate” from the list on the left, then click on one of the icons to the right.  All students must submit the application by the posted deadline. Applications submitted after the deadline will be charged a late fee.

    Graduation deadlines

    Apply to graduate

    Participate in commencement