Doctoral Degree Requirements

  1. Appointment of a Ph.D. advisor and formation of an advisory committee.
  2. Development of a Ph.D. Plan of Study detailing all course and examination requirements.
  3. Successful completion of the written qualifying examination.
  4. Presentation of a proposal for Ph.D. research and admission to candidacy.
  5. Successful defense of the Ph.D. Dissertation.

Within the first semester of being admitted into a Ph.D. program, the student should choose a Ph.D. advisor and form an advisory committee. In conjunction with the Ph.D. advisor and this advisory committee, the student will develop a Plan of Study to meet the Ph.D. program requirements of course work and examinations and prepare to undertake original research leading to a dissertation of a quality that would be acceptable for publication of articles in peer-refereed professional journals.

Plan of Study

The Plan of Study must show at least 72 hours of credit beyond the baccalaureate degree including at least 45 hours of graduate coursework (6000-level or above), and 21 hours of research/dissertation credits. For students who do not possess appropriate bachelor's and/or master's degrees in engineering, additional coursework will be expected. The specific course requirements will be set by the student's advisory committee, but must include:

  • At least 6 hours of graduate mathematics (e.g., MATH 6171, MATH 6172, MATH 6103, MEGR 7172/8172) and,
  • At least 18 hours of MEGR-prefix coursework. Graduate courses from outside the department may be taken, but must be approved by the Associate Chair for Graduate Programs as part of the student's Plan of Study. Students are pre-approved to choose one of the following Graduate School courses: GRAD 8001, GRAD 8010, or GRAD 8011.
The Plan of Study must be submitted to the department for review and approval no later than the second semester after admission to the Ph.D. program.


A student may satisfy the residency requirement for the program by completing 18 hours, either course work or research credits, by study-in-residence during the academic year and during the summer terms, as long as the study is continuous. Study-in-residence is deemed to be continuous if the student is enrolled in one or more courses (including research/dissertation credit) in successive semesters until eighteen hours of credit are earned.


A student is expected to achieve A's or B's in all course work taken for graduate credit and must have a GPA of at last a 3.0 in order to graduate. The dissertation is graded on a Pass/Unsatisfactory basis and, therefore, will not be included in the cumulative average. An accumulation of more than two marginal C grades will result in termination of the student's enrollment in the graduate program. If a student makes a grade of U in any course, enrollment will be terminated. A graduate student whose enrollment has been terminated because of grades is ineligible to attend any semester or summer session unless properly readmitted to the graduate program. Readmission to the program requires approval of the Dean of the Graduate School upon the recommendation of the student's major department and the Engineering Doctoral Graduate Committee of the College of Engineering.

Qualifying Examination

After completing two semesters in the PhD program, each student will take qualifying exams in math and two topical areas, selected by the student and his/her dissertation committee. The student and committee will select four out of the nine subjects in the math syllabus for the math qualifying exam. The student will be tested on these four subjects.  The student must answer all the questions in these four subjects and obtain 70% or above to pass.

Click here for more information about the Qualifying Exam.

Admission to Candidacy Requirements

The single requirement for admission to candidacy is the appointment of an advisory committee. This committee will consist of at least four graduate faculty members. Two of these four members shall be from a department other than the student's major. One of these external members shall be chosen by the student in consultation of his graduate advisor and the other member is appointed by the graduate school. The graduate advisor serves as chair of the committee. The committee is recommended by the department after appropriate consultation between the advisor and student.

Dissertation Proposal and Admission to Candidacy

Because the Ph.D. program is heavily based on independent research, each student must write a proposal describing his/her proposed dissertation research following the technical guidelines established by the department. The proposal should include a literature review, work already completed, and a plan of activities to complete the dissertation within a proposed timeline. Upon approval of the student's dissertation proposal, the advisory committee will recommend the student's admission to candidacy. This is subject to the approval of the Dean of the Graduate School.

Upon completion of a substantial amount of graduate work and in no case later than two weeks prior to the beginning of the semester in which the student expects to complete all requirements for the degree, the student shall file for Admission to Candidacy on a form supplied by The Graduate School. This application is a checklist approved by the advisor, department chair, and the College Dean listing all coursework to be offered for the degree (including transfer credit and courses in progress). A tentative date for the dissertation defense should be agreed upon by the candidate and chair and indicated on this application. The date should be realistic and allow ample time for completion and review of the thesis or project.


Evidence of a high degree of competence in scholarship, written exposition, independent inquiry and the ability to organize and apply knowledge must be demonstrated by the student in the dissertation. The student will make a public defense of the dissertation at which time the dissertation, as well as the student's knowledge of the field, will be appropriate matter for examination by the student's advisory committee. Although questions may be asked by the general audience, evaluation of the dissertation defense is the sole responsibility of the advisory committee. The dissertation will be graded on a Pass/Unsatisfactory basis.

Transfer Credit

Although the maximum amount of credit past the baccalaureate degree that a Ph.D. student may transfer towards a doctorate is 30 semester hours, only courses appropriate for the approved program and plan of study in which the student is enrolled may be transferred. Please consult with the Graduate Coordinator and/or Student Services Specialist for assistance with transfer credit.

Appropriate courses should be determined by the student's supervisory committee and approved by the Graduate Coordinator before the request is submitted to the Graduate School. This rule applies whether the courses were taken at UNC Charlotte or elsewhere and whether a master's degree was earned or not. However, no more than six hours taken when the student was in post-baccalaureate (non-degree seeking) status may be applied toward the doctoral degree.

The grade in any course accepted for transferred credit must be "A" or "B" as defined by UNC Charlotte. Courses that have been graded on a Pass/No Credit or Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory basis will not be accepted for transfer. Please refer to the Graduate Catalog regarding transferred credit.

Time Limit

Students are allowed a maximum of eight (8) calendar years from formal admission to the Ph.D. program to complete the program successfully.

Graduate Advisors

Graduate students are expected to select their advisors by the end of first semester. The Graduate Program Coordinator will assist students who wish to find a suitable match. Students may consult the list of graduate faculty to identify research interests.