Engineering Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) Degree

An engineering Ph.D. that prepares the next generation of engineering leaders to tackle some of the most daunting and complex problems facing health care, communications, energy, and transportation.


Overview

The engineering doctorate produces graduates who are subject matter experts in a knowledge domain within an engineering discipline. Instead of restricting graduates to individual engineering fields, the engineering Ph.D. provides students with the flexibility to become discipline-specific subject matter experts and engineering innovators in an open-architecture environment, fostering intellectual growth along both interdisciplinary pathways and within the bounds of conventional engineering disciplines. With this approach, the program develops world-class researchers who can capitalize on the most promising discoveries and innovations, regardless of their origin within the engineering field, to develop interdisciplinary solutions for real-world challenges.

The engineering Ph.D. requires each student to address fundamental technical problems of national and global importance for the 21st century. Four key industries—health care, communications, energy, and transportation—are addressed specifically. These application domains impact every individual on the planet and are the focus areas doctoral candidates and faculty will contribute to through study and research. The college has identified several technology research strengths including: manufacturing and materials, signal and image processing, robotics and mechatronics, heat transfer and thermo-fluids, performance and power-aware computing, access and assistive technologies, simulation, modeling and optimization, safety and security, and nano-science and engineering. Students collaborate with faculty members from a variety of engineering disciplines to bring these technology strengths to bear on solving problems of global significance in the application domains.

Plan of Study

The curriculum provides disciplinary and interdisciplinary courses, research mentorship, and engineering focus area seminars. Students are expected to have a disciplinary-rooted technical strength to conduct and complete independent, original, and novel collaborative interdisciplinary research contributing to one of the four industrial and/or societal focus areas.

Discipline Foundation Courses

Foundation courses build depth within a disciplinary field of engineering, such as mechanical engineering, electrical and microelectronics engineering, computer engineering, industrial and systems engineering, chemical engineering, or biomedical engineering.

Application Domain Courses

This rigorous set of engineering courses provides students with comprehensive coverage of engineering challenges and solution approaches in one of the four key industry areas associated with the program: health care, energy, communications, and transportation. Students choose a focus area and work with the program director to identify a set of focus area courses appropriate to their research and professional interests. Students can also take additional courses from their selected industry as electives.

Qualifying Exam

Students complete a qualifying exam at the end of their first year of study. The exam evaluates the student's aptitude, potential, and competency in conducting Ph.D. level research.

Dissertation proposal and candidacy exam

Students must present a dissertation proposal to their dissertation committee no sooner than six months after the qualifying exam and at least twelve months prior to the dissertation defense exam. The proposal provides the opportunity for the student to elaborate on their research plans and to obtain feedback on the direction and approach to their research from his/her dissertation committee.

Research Review Meetings

Research review meetings provide comprehensive feedback to the student regarding their dissertation research progress and expected outcomes prior to defense of their full dissertation. Research review meetings must be held at least every six months following the conclusion of the dissertation proposal and candidacy exam until the dissertation defense.

Dissertation Presentation and Defense

Each doctoral candidate prepares an original, technically sound, and well-written dissertation. They present and defend their dissertation and its accompanying research to their dissertation committee.

Research Assistantships

Research assistantships are available to doctoral students. Learn more about the college's research assistantship opportunities and how you can apply.

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Latest News

  • February 1, 2023

    students wearing eyewear and microphones along with faculty members looking at computer screens.

    Doctoral offerings keep growing

    RIT is growing its Ph.D. offerings, adding one new program in the fall of 2023 and two in 2024. This fall, Saunders College of Business will offer a Ph.D. in business administration. In 2024, the College of Liberal Arts will introduce a new doctoral degree in cognitive science and the College of Science will launch a Ph.D. in physics.

  • September 14, 2022

    graphic with portrait of Susan Holliday, 2022 recipient of the Vanden Brul Entrepreneurial Award.

    Saunders College will honor Susan R. Holliday with 2022 Vanden Brul Award

    Susan R. Holliday ’85 (MBA), who led the turnaround and growth of the Rochester Business Journal during nearly three decades as president, publisher, and owner, has been named the 2022 recipient of the Herbert W. Vanden Brul Entrepreneurial Award, presented by Saunders College of Business.

Curriculum for Engineering Ph.D.

Engineering, Ph.D. degree, typical course sequence

Course Sem. Cr. Hrs.
First Year
ENGR-701
Interdisciplinary Research Methods
This course emphasizes collaboration in modern research environment and consists of five modules. Students will introduced to the concepts of inter-disciplinary and trans-disciplinary research conducted from both a scientific and an engineering perspective. Students will learn how to write a dissertation proposal, statement of work, timeline for their program of study and the elements of an effective literature review. Students will develop skills related to reviewing and annotating technical papers, conducting a literature search and proper citation. Students will demonstrate an understanding of (a) ethics as it relates to the responsible conduct of research, (b) ethical responsibility in the context of the engineering professions, (c) ethics as it relates to authorship and plagiarism, (d) basic criteria for ethical decision making and (e) identify professional standards and code of ethics relevant to their discipline. Students demonstrate an ability to identify and explain the potential benefits of their research discoveries to a range of stakeholders, including policy makers and the general public. Lecture 3 (Fall).
3
ENGR-702
Translating Discovery into Practice
This course provides graduate students with the professional skills needed by PhD graduates within their major research focus area to move the results of their research from the lab into practice. Students will demonstrate a strong contextual understanding for their research efforts. Students will learn professional skills related to Teamwork; Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Commercialization; Research Management; Policy and Societal Context; and Technical Writing. (This class is restricted to degree-seeking graduate students or those with permission from instructor.) Lecture 3 (Spring).
3
ENGR-795
Doctoral Seminar
This seminar course presents topics of contemporary interest to graduate students enrolled in the program. Presentations include off campus speakers, and assistance with progressing on your research. Selected students and faculty may make presentations on current research under way in the department. All doctoral engineering students enrolled full time are required to attend each semester they are on campus. (Graduate standing in a technical discipline) (This class is restricted to degree-seeking graduate students or those with permission from instructor.) Seminar 1 (Fall, Spring).
1
ENGR-892
Graduate Research
Doctoral-level research by the candidate on an appropriate topic as arranged between the candidate and the research advisor. Students may count a maximum of 9 credits of ENGR-892 towards degree requirements. If the student enrolls cumulatively in more than 9 credits of ENGR-892, the additional credits above 9 will not be counted towards the degree. Research 3 (Fall, Spring, Summer).
3
ECEP-796
Research Methods in Electrical and Computer Engineering
This course introduces students to foundational methods and skill to conduct research in electrical and computer engineering. The course focuses on the core aspects of all doctoral work, consisting of deep thinking about a problem and the ability to create new knowledge through channeling technical knowledge into creative thinking. From the context of research in electrical and computer engineering, this course complements the technically-oriented courses in PhD programs by introducing students to the craft of research, developing skills in systematic and rigorous deductive reasoning, argumentation, and critical thinking and analysis, and encouraging critical creativity by learning of its elements and associated techniques. Examples and case studies are drawn from different areas of electrical and computer engineering. (This class is restricted to Doctoral Program students.) Lecture 1 (Fall).
1
 
Discipline Concentration Courses
6
 
Engineering Foundation Courses
6
Second Year
ENGR-795
Doctoral Seminar
This seminar course presents topics of contemporary interest to graduate students enrolled in the program. Presentations include off campus speakers, and assistance with progressing on your research. Selected students and faculty may make presentations on current research under way in the department. All doctoral engineering students enrolled full time are required to attend each semester they are on campus. (Graduate standing in a technical discipline) (This class is restricted to degree-seeking graduate students or those with permission from instructor.) Seminar 1 (Fall, Spring).
1
ENGR-892
Graduate Research
Doctoral-level research by the candidate on an appropriate topic as arranged between the candidate and the research advisor. Students may count a maximum of 9 credits of ENGR-892 towards degree requirements. If the student enrolls cumulatively in more than 9 credits of ENGR-892, the additional credits above 9 will not be counted towards the degree. Research 3 (Fall, Spring, Summer).
6
 
Discipline Concentration Course
3
 
Focus Area Electives
12
Third Year
ENGR-890
Dissertation and Research
Doctoral-level research by the candidate on an appropriate topic as arranged between the candidate and the research advisor. Students must successfully pass the PhD Candidacy examination prior to enrolling in this course Research 3 (Fall, Spring, Summer).
21
Total Semester Credit Hours
66

Admissions and Financial Aid

This program is available on-campus only.

Offered Admit Term(s) Application Deadline STEM Designated
Full‑time Fall Priority deadline: January 15, Rolling thereafter Yes

Full-time study is 9+ semester credit hours. International students requiring a visa to study at the RIT Rochester campus must study full‑time.

Application Details

To be considered for admission to the Engineering Ph.D. program, candidates must fulfill the following requirements:

English Language Test Scores

International applicants whose native language is not English must submit one of the following official English language test scores. Some international applicants may be considered for an English test requirement waiver.

TOEFL IELTS PTE Academic
94 7.0 66

International students below the minimum requirement may be considered for conditional admission. Each program requires balanced sub-scores when determining an applicant’s need for additional English language courses.

How to Apply Start or Manage Your Application

Cost and Financial Aid

An RIT graduate degree is an investment with lifelong returns. Ph.D. students typically receive full tuition and an RIT Graduate Assistantship that will consist of a research assistantship (stipend) or a teaching assistantship (salary).