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Oklahoma State University

Doctor of Philosophy Degree

A Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from Oklahoma State University signifies that the recipient has demonstrated a breadth of advanced knowledge in the subjects that form the foundation of chemical engineering. In addition, the graduate will have demonstrated the ability to independently and efficiently make creative, relevant, significant contributions at the forefront of knowledge in traditional or emerging fields within the Chemical Engineering discipline. The program is designed to prepare the graduate with the widest possible career opportunities as a leader in industrial and academic arenas.

The Ph.D. experience allows the candidate to develop and demonstrate the independent, self-directed, creative, productivity of an accomplished professional. As such, the Ph.D. experience must go well beyond directed classroom courses in which the professor chooses the content, assigns specific homework and grades short-term projects. Personal attributes developed during the Ph.D. program include curiosity, perseverance, creativity, productivity, leadership, communication effectiveness, interpersonal skills, and the ability to develop a comprehensive understanding of any problem under study and its relation to societal needs. Accordingly, qualifications for undertaking the Ph.D. degree are predicated on attributes such as the above, plus indications that the candidate can meet the expectations of independent, accomplished, creative, engineering work. A formal “Qualifying Examination” is administered to determine the student’s readiness to undertake the research component of the Ph.D. program.

Breadth of advanced knowledge is demonstrated primarily by completion of a carefully prescribed “core” of class work. Additional courses may be selected by the candidate and/or prescribed by the Advisory Committee to assist in improving the candidate’s fundamental knowledge base or to allow the candidate to acquire specialized knowledge for the solution of a dissertation research project.

From the Qualifying Exam through the final defense of the dissertation, the candidate develops and demonstrates the ability to: independently identify an area in which research is needed; assemble the relevant existing knowledge; develop the requisite experimental; computational or theoretical skills; synthesize the existing knowledge; available skills and facilities into a scientifically defensible research plan; pursue the plan in an efficient and timely manner to realize a significant result; and organize and communicate his/her ideas and results in a professionally acceptable manner. A required presentation of the research in a public forum is used to further demonstrate the oral communication and organizational skills of the candidate.

    Objectives

    The specific educational objectives of the Ph.D. program may be met through a combination of course work, independent study and research, and other mechanisms (e.g., seminar). These objectives are expressed in terms of educational development beyond the B.S. degree. The criteria used to assess success in meeting the Ph.D. objectives are also listed, as follows:

    Educational Objectives Outcome Assessments
    1. Build upon and expand the student’s undergraduate education by emphasizing depth in thermodynamics, transport phenomena, kinetics and mathematical modeling Complete the “core” courses in the M.S. curriculum (or have previously completed equivalent courses in an M.S. degree program)
    2. Expand personal knowledge of the broad range of applications of chemical engineering

    Complete six credits of Chemical Engineering Seminar (CHE 6010)

    (three credits for students entering with an M.S. degree)

    3. Attain additional knowledge (breadth and/or depth) in topics related to chemical engineering Complete at least five elective courses related to the student’s career objectives
    4. Refine the ability to define a research problem and develop a plan for its solution Complete three credits of CHE 6703, Research Methods in Chemical Engineering
    5. Demonstrate the independence, initiative and ability to conceive, plan, execute, complete, and defend research work at the frontier of scientific and/or engineering knowledge Complete and defend a dissertation which includes a clear advance in the state of knowledge in some field of chemical engineering
    6. Develop effective written and oral communications skills Complete a written qualifying examination and a dissertation, present the results orally, and deliver a formal presentation at a technical society meeting or a CHE seminar

    Minimum Performance Requirements

    Satisfactory academic performance is required of all students in the Ph.D. program. Minimum acceptable performance is evaluated as follows.

    If a student receives a grade of “C” or "UR" in any CHE course the student’s performance will be reviewed before the beginning of the next semester or summer term by the committee, or the CHE faculty if the committee is not constituted. A decision regarding the student’s retention or dismissal from the program will be made by the school head based on a) overall classroom performance, b) progress to date on the research topic,and c) the faculty’s assessment of the student’s prospect for successful future progress in the graduate program.  Results of this review may include, but are not limited to:

    a. Continuation in the program,
    b. Required enrollment in remedial course work,
    c. Required defense of research progress to date and/or an effective outline of future research plans, or
    d. Dismissal from the graduate program

    In all cases, any CHE course with a grade of “C” must be repeated at the next offering of the course.  A grade of “C” in a second course will again result in a review of the student’s progress. In all but the rarest cases, a second “C” in a CHE course (or a “D” or “F” in any course) will result in dismissal from the graduate program.  Further, at the completion of 25 or more credit hours in the M.S. or Ph.D. program, the student must have a cumulative grade point average (exclusive of CHE 5000, 5990 and 6000) of no less than 3.00/4.00.

    In all cases where satisfactory performance is in question, the faculty has the prerogative to alter the degree program of the student.  A Ph.D. candidate may be reassigned to the M.S. program and expected to complete all requirements for that degree. For such a reassignment, the student will not be eligible to pursue the Ph.D. degree in Chemical Engineering at OSU.

    Course Requirements

    Ph.D. students may enter the program in two ways, either (i) with a B.S. degree in Chemical Engineering to pursue the Ph.D. without obtaining an M.S. degree, or (ii) with an M.S. degree in Chemical Engineering. The requirements for each degree path are as follows:

    Students with a B.S. degree only

    Items Course Description Credits
    Core courses

    CHE 5123-Advanced Chemical Reaction Engineering

    CHE 5213 - Selected Diffusional Unit Operations

    CHE 5743 - Chemical Engineering Process Modeling

    CHE 5843 - Principles of Chemical Engineering Thermodynamics

    CHE 6703 - Research Methods in Chemical Engineering

    15
    Seminar CHE 6010- Chemical Engineering Seminar 6
    Elective Graduate-approved elective (CHE or other) courses, selected by the student, with approval of the student's advisor. Suggested Elective Courses. 15
    Thesis CHE 6000- Doctoral Thesis (With approval of the student’s advisory committee, additional elective courses may be taken, with a corresponding reduction in required credits in CHE 6000; but the number of CHE 6000 credits may be no less than 36) 54
      TOTAL 90

    Students with a M.S. degree from OSU

    Items Course Description Credits
    Core courses

    CHE 6703 - Research Methods in Chemical Engineering

    3
    Seminar CHE 6010 - Chemical Engineering Seminar 3
    Elective Graduate-approved elective (CHE or other) courses, selected by the student, with approval of the student's advisor. Suggested Elective Courses. 9
    Thesis CHE 6000- Doctoral Thesis (With approval of the student’s advisory committee, additional elective courses may be taken, with a corresponding reduction in required credits in CHE 6000; but the number of CHE 6000 credits may be no less than 30) 45
      TOTAL 60

    Students with a M.S. degree not from OSU

    Students in this category will be required the following in addition to the requirements for students with a M.S. degree from OSU

    Items Course Description Credits
    Core courses

    CHE 5123 - Advanced Chemical Reaction Engineering

    CHE 5213 - Selected Diffusional Unit Operations

    CHE 5743 - Chemical Engineering Process Modeling

    CHE 5843 - Principles of Chemical Engineering Thermodynamics

    CHE 6703 - Research Methods in Chemical Engineering

    15
    Seminar CHE 6010 - Chemical Engineering Seminar 3
    Elective Graduate-approved elective (CHE or other) courses, selected by the student, with approval of the student's advisor. Suggested Elective Courses.  
    Thesis CHE 6000- Doctoral Thesis (With approval of the student’s advisory committee, additional elective courses may be taken, with a corresponding reduction in required credits in CHE 6000; but the number of CHE 6000 credits may be no less than 30) 42
      TOTAL 60
    • Twelve (12) hours of the OSU core courses (CHE 5123, CHE 5213, CHE 5743 and CHE 5843) -- or have completed courses with equivalent subject matter as part of their M.S. degree program. Students may use up to six hours of OSU core courses (if required) to satisfy an equivalent number of elective or doctoral thesis course hour requirements.
    • Six (6) additional hours of graduate-approved elective courses (which may replace six hours of CHE 6000), selected by the student and approved by the student's advisor

    Transfer of Credits

    For the M.S. degree, a student may transfer a maximum of nine (acceptable) credits. For the Ph.D. degree (following the M.S.), at least 30 credits must be completed at OSU, with no more than nine hours transferred from non-Ph.D.-granting institutions. For students in the direct Ph.D. program, at least 51 hours must be completed at OSU, with no more than nine hours from non-Ph.D.-granting institutions. In all cases, transfer credits must have grades of “B” or better. Decisions regarding the acceptability of transfer credits are made by the student’s Advisor, in consultation with the Graduate Program Director.

    Graduate Committee Meetings

    A Ph.D. Student is required to meet with his/her Advisory Committee at least once a year to review the student’s progress in graduate studies:

    • The review process will deal with both research and course work requirements
    • The student is expected to update the plan of study to reflect the current opinion of the Advisory Committee
    • The student will be responsible for facilitating the process
    • Failure to meet this requirement will result in blocked enrollment

    Minimum Enrollment

                                      (PhD Milestone Checklist)
    Ph.D. students without a M.S. degree are required to enroll as follows:

    First Semester

    • Ten (10) credit hours must be taken
    • All courses must be in CHE (unless approved by the Graduate Program Directory)
    • Courses must include all required CHE core courses offered that semester
    • Remedial English (ENGL 0003) may be taken in place of one of the above courses, if necessary (but may not be used to satisfy any graduation requirement)
    • One (1) hour of CHE 6010 must be included

    Second Semester

    • Ten (10) credit hours must be taken
    • Courses must include all required CHE core courses offered that semester
    • One (1) hour of CHE 6010 must be included

    Subsequent Semesters

    • At least three (3) hours of CHE 6000 and one (1) hour of CHE 6010 must be taken. This applies to all semesters, including the last semester (or part of a semester) in which the student is enrolled. (In summer sessions, at least two hours of CHE 6000 must be taken; CHE 6010 is not required).
    • CHE 6703 (Research Methods in Chemical Engineering) in the third semester
    • A minimum of six hours in the fall and spring semesters and three hours in the summer; the specific courses will be determined by the student, with approval of the advisor

    Ph.D. students with a M.S. degree from another university are required to enroll as follows:

    First Semester

    • Ten (10) credit hours must be taken
    • Courses must include all required CHE core courses offered that semester (except for previously-completed graduate courses, containing equivalent material, from another university)
    • Remedial English (ENGL 0003) may be taken in place of one of the above courses, if necessary (but may not satisfy any graduation requirement)
    • One (1) hour of CHE 6010 must be included

    Second Semester

    • A minimum of six (6) credit hours must be taken
    • Courses must include all required CHE core courses offered that semester (except for previously-completed graduate courses, containing equivalent material, from another university)
    • Three (3) hours of CHE 6000 and one (1) hour of CHE 6010 must be included

    Subsequent Semesters

    • At least three (3) hours of CHE 6000 and one (1) hour of CHE 6010 must be taken. This applies to all semesters, including the last semester (or part of a semester) in which the student is enrolled. (In summer sessions, at least two hours of CHE 6000 must be taken; CHE 6010 is not required).
    • CHE 6703 (Research Methods in Chemical Engineering) in the third semester
    • A minimum of six hours in the fall and spring semesters and two hours in the summer; the specific courses will be determined by the student, with approval of the advisor

    In each of the above categories, exception to the above minimum enrollment requirements can be made to permit a student to carry fewer than 10 hours in the first semester if, upon initial enrollment in the program, the student agrees not to request financial support at any future time while in the Ph.D. program.

    Ph.D. students with a M.S. degree from OSU are required to enroll as follows:

    All Semesters

    • At least three (3) hours of CHE 6000 and one (1) hour of CHE 6010 must be taken. This applies to all semesters, including the last semester (or part of a semester) in which the student is enrolled. (In summer sessions, at least two hours of CHE 6000 must be taken; CHE 6010 is not required).
    • CHE 6703 (Research Methods in Chemical Engineering) in the third semester
    • A minimum of six hours in the fall and spring semesters and three hours in the summer; the specific courses will be determined by the student, with approval of the advisor.

    Preliminary Examination

    To qualify for the Ph.D. degree, the student is required to pass the Preliminary Examination.  This is in addition to the student scoring a grade of B or better in each of the four ChE core areas during the first year.

    • A comprehensive final will be used for the Preliminary Exam in each of the four ChE core areas: CHE 5123, CHE 5213, CHE 5743 and CHE 5843.  However, a specialty course may be substituted for one of the four courses, upon approval by the Graduate Advisory Committee.
    • Students will be examined in two core subjects in each of two consecutive semesters upon completion of the course.  This schedule could change if a specialty course is substituted.
    • Each instructor from the core classes administers a comprehensive Preliminary Exam covering the material content of each course, which will be defined in concert with other faculty members with research interests in those core classes.  These exams may be scheduled at different times than the final exam of that course or may include the course final exam.
    • At the end of the semester, each student will be notified by the graduate program coordinator whether they passed the Preliminary Exam.  The decision is made by the instructor and faculty members who contributed to the questions on the Preliminary Exam.  The score for passing the Preliminary Exam is separate from the score towards the ChE core course grade.
    • Students who do not pass the Preliminary Exam are allowed to retake the exam one more time during the next exam period (1 year later).  However, the decision to allow a student to retake the Preliminary Exam is determined in consultation with the graduate (i.e., dissertation) advisor.
    • No intermittent exams will be offered.  The only exception is for one makeup Preliminary Exam to students passing three core areas.  The retake must be scheduled by the instructor and be at least three months after the first Preliminary Exam.
    • The student must complete the Preliminary Exam prior to completing the proposal Qualifying Examination.  Students who do not pass the Preliminary Exam will lose eligibility to continue in the PhD program.

    Qualifying Examination

    The Ph.D. candidate must complete a qualifying examination no later than the end of the fourth semester of matriculation in the Ph.D. program for candidates holding a M.S. degree, or the sixth semester of matriculation in the Ph.D. program for candidates holding a B.S. degree. This examination will consist of (a) a written proposal regarding the student’s thesis research project and (b) an oral defense of the proposal. The written proposal should conform to National Science Foundation formatting requirements for text, length, bibliography and budget; all other NSF-required documentation is not required. (see the NSF Grant Proposal Guidelines, accessible on the Internet at www.nsf.gov).

    • The student shall submit a hypothesis-based proposal as prescribed by NSF guidelines
    • Advisor may mentor the student in developing the proposal
    • Proposal defense includes questions relating to (a) the proposed work, (b) a novel research scenario, and (c) any other topic to assess student’s abilities and prescribe a plan of study
    • An evaluation form will be used to assess the student’s performance in proposal development and presentation
    • Failure to defend the proposal by the end of the appropriate period will result in loss of funding

    In preparation for the qualifying exam, the student must complete CHE 6703, Research Methods in Chemical Engineering, during the third semester in the program.

    The Advisory Committee will use the written and oral portions of the defense to evaluate the student’s ability to:

    • Identify a specific chemical engineering problem (or analyze an existing problem) where research is needed
    • Present a defensible rationale for undertaking the research
    • Through careful analysis of the problem, establish the current state of knowledge, determine additional knowledge needed to solve the problem, and then summarize this material in logical fashion
    • Articulate a testable research hypothesis
    • Construct a plan of research to solve the problem and provide sufficient evidence in support of the research hypothesis, including details on the specific methods to be employed
    • State clearly the expected outcomes of the research and the value of the results to the profession and to society
    • Develop a budget for the proposed work
    • Communicate all the above in clear, well-constructed written and oral presentations

    The Advisory Committee will use the above information to determine if the candidate is suitable for continuation in the Ph.D. program. Questions regarding the Qualifying Examination should be referred to the Graduate Program Director.

    Some decisions that the Advisory Committee may reach include, but are not limited to:

    • The candidate has successfully defended the proposal and may proceed with the proposed research program,
    • The candidate must revise the examination material to satisfy the Examining Committee, with possible reexamination,
    • The candidate must enroll in additional course work prescribed to address particular shortcomings in the candidate’s background, research program or communication skills, or
    • The candidate has failed the qualifying examination and is dismissed from the Ph.D. program; alternatively, the Examining Committee may offer the candidate the option to convert to an M.S. degree program

    Public Presentation

    A public presentation is required as part of the Ph.D. program. This requirement can be met by (1) giving an oral, full-length seminar as part of the CHE 6010 seminar series, (2) delivering an oral presentation at a professional society meeting, or (3) a similar experience deemed acceptable by the candidate’s Advisory Committee.

    This requirement will normally be met as soon as significant research results have been achieved. In the case of an on-campus seminar, the presentation will be made well in advance of the Ph.D. defense. Students wishing to give an on-campus seminar must make arrangements in a manner prescribed by the CHE Graduate Seminar Coordinator.

    Final Dissertation Presentation and Oral Examination

    The defense of the Ph.D. dissertation will culminate the candidate’s Ph.D. program. The candidate must make a public oral presentation summarizing the research work and results. The candidate must schedule his/her dissertation defense with the CHE Graduate Seminar Coordinator (CHE 6010). Usually, the defense will be scheduled during the CHE seminar period, given the availability of the candidate’s Advisory Committee during this time. The candidate will be allotted 20-30 minutes to summarize the objectives, methods, results and conclusions of the research.

    Following the candidate’s presentation, both the public and the Advisory Committee members will be permitted to ask questions for a period of time deemed reasonable by the Chair of the Advisory Committee. After the public questioning, the audience will be excused, and the Advisory Committee will pursue any further lines of questioning deemed appropriate. The candidate will then be excused during deliberations of the Advisory Committee. Decisions that the Advisory Committee may reach include, but are not limited to:

    1. The candidate has successfully defended the Ph.D. dissertation
    2. The candidate must revise the dissertation to the satisfaction of the Examining Committee, with possible reexamination, or
    3. The candidate has failed the dissertation defense and is dismissed from the Ph.D. program; alternatively, the Examining Committee may offer the candidate the option to convert to an M.S. degree program.

    Presentation of Research Findings at a National Forum

    The Ph.D. candidate is expected to present his/her findings in a national forum, such as the AIChE or ACS technical conferences. This will help disseminate the research findings to engineering and scientific community and generate useful technical feedback.

    Publication of Research Findings

    The Ph.D. candidate is expected to demonstrate a successful completion of research, as indicated by level of fruition and external acceptance. This may be accomplished by submitting:

    • Two manuscripts for publications in refereed journals
    • One refereed journal submission may be substituted for by two conference proceedings, or one patent application, or evidence for industrial process implementation.