The following table shows the critical milestones of doctoral degree requirements. Most student who are on the master's plus Ph.D. (they have an M.S. degree when they start the program) complete the degree in four to five years. Direct to Ph.D. students (those entering the program with a bachelor's degree) complete the degree in five to eight years. Note that only direct to Ph.D. students have to complete the qualifying examination in the third semester.

Phd Examinations

Qualifying Examination

To demonstrate to the faculty that a student is qualified to continue in the Ph.D. program in the Purdue Polytechnic Institute, 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. The student must take the qualifying examination after the second semester of enrollment in the Ph.D. program. Exceptions to this may be granted at the request of the advisor/chair and approval of the Associate Dean for Graduate Programs. However qualifying exams should occur no later than the fourth semester of study. The Ph.D. Handbook provides more details about the examination.

Preliminary Examination

The purpose of the preliminary examination is to comprehensively assess the student’s mastery of the knowledge base(s) encompassed by the plan of study. Successful performance on the comprehensive examination admits the student to candidacy for the Ph.D. Unsuccessful performance can result in assignment of additional requirements or dismissal from the program.
One of the major outcomes of the preliminary examination is that students work actively to synthesize knowledge and skills learned while completing the courses required by their plan of study. To this end, major advisors need to work carefully with advisees over an extended period of time to enable them to evolve such integrated capabilities. It is also recommended that students at similar stages in their pursuit of the Ph.D. form independent study groups to help each other employ peer learning to assemble such capabilities.The Ph.D. Handbook provides more details about the examination.

Final Examination

A Final Examination is required after the student’s Ph.D. research is completed and a satisfactory dissertation, as deemed by the Ph.D. advisor or co-advisors, is written. The purpose of this examination is to assess the Ph.D. candidate’s capability to demonstrate advanced mastery of research as well as the specific topic investigated. This examination requires:

  • Distribution of the advisor-approved dissertation draft to all Ph.D. committee members, and the Purdue Polytechnic Associate Dean for Graduate Studies, at least two weeks in advance of the examination date
  • Oral presentation of the research to the Ph.D. examination committee during a publicized session open to the university community
  • An oral examination by the Ph.D. examination committee members conducted by the committee in closed session

The Ph.D. Handbook provides more details about the examination