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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 industry and academia.

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 completion of a dissertation research project. A “Qualifying Examination” is used to show that a student has the necessary core knowledge and the potential to carry out independent research to successfully complete a Ph.D. in chemical engineering.

The Ph.D. experience allows the candidate to develop and demonstrate the independent, self-directed, and creative productivity of an accomplished professional. As such, the Ph.D. experience must go well beyond directed classroom instruction, 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, effective communication, interpersonal skills, and the ability to develop a comprehensive understanding of a 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, and creative engineering work. A formal “Preliminary Examination” is administered to determine the student’s readiness to undertake the research component of the Ph.D. program.

From the Preliminary Examination 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.

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. and M.S. degrees. 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 completed equivalent courses in a M.S. degree program) and complete a written qualifying examination

2. Expand personal knowledge of the broad range of applications of chemical engineering

Complete six credits of Chemical Engineering Seminar (CHE 6010)

3. Refine the ability to define a research problem and develop a plan for its solution

Complete CHE 5302 Introduction to Scientific and Engineering Research

4. Attain additional knowledge (breadth and/or depth) in topics related to chemical engineering

Complete elective courses related to the student’s career objectives

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 preliminary examination and a dissertation, give an oral defense of both, and deliver a formal presentation at a technical society meeting or a CHE seminar

 

Course Requirements

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

Students with a B.S. Degree in Chemical Engineering

Items

Course Description

Credits

Core courses

CHE 5123 – Advanced Chemical Reaction Engineering

CHE 5213 – Advanced Transport Phenomena

CHE 5743 – Chemical Engineering Process Modeling

CHE 5843 – Principles of Chemical Engineering Thermodynamics

CHE 5302 – Introduction to Scientific and Engineering Research

14

Seminar

CHE 6010 – Chemical Engineering Seminar

7

Elective

Graduate-approved elective (CHE or other) courses, selected by the student with approval of the student's Advisor.

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 15)

24

 

TOTAL

60

Students with a M.S. Degree in Chemical Engineering from OSU

Items

Course Description

Credits

Core courses

CHE 5302 – Introduction to Scientific and Engineering Research

2

Seminar

CHE 6010 – Chemical Engineering Seminar

4

Elective

Graduate-approved elective (CHE or other) courses, selected by the student with approval of the student's Advisor.

6

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 15)

18

 

TOTAL

30

Students with a M.S. Degree in Chemical Engineering not from OSU

Items

Course Description

Credits

Core courses

CHE 5123 – Advanced Chemical Reaction Engineering

CHE 5213 – Advanced Transport Phenomena

CHE 5743 – Chemical Engineering Process Modeling

CHE 5843 – Principles of Chemical Engineering Thermodynamics

CHE 5302 – Introduction to Scientific and Engineering Research

14

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.

6

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 15)

16

 

TOTAL

42

The emphasis in course work during the Ph.D. degree is on depth of understanding of subject matter and on preparing students for careers in the areas of interest. Depth is obtained through “core” courses that address knowledge that is expected of all chemical engineers, while other courses are targeted toward a student’s research and specific career interests. The core areas include fundamentals and applications of mathematical modeling, thermodynamics, kinetics and transport phenomena. The courses are structured to expand and add depth to a students’ undergraduate knowledge.

Additional “elective” courses must be selected from graduate-approved courses in any department, with the advice and consent of a student’s research Advisor. During the fall and spring semesters, students will participate in a seminar class that will give them an overview of – and appreciation for – the wide range of chemical engineering knowledge and applications. Students also complete “research” courses, which includes working with their research Advisors on their Ph.D. dissertation research projects.

Transfer of Credits and Course Exemptions

Students may transfer credit hours taken from another accredited college or university to a graduate degree at OSU.  For the M.S. degree, a student may transfer a maximum of nine credit hours. For the Ph.D. degree (following the M.S.), students may transfer up to nine credit hours that were not counted towards his/her Master’s degree. For students in the direct Ph.D. program, there is no official maximum limit on transfer credit hours, but at least 30 hours must be completed at OSU. In all cases, transfer credits must have grades of “B” or better, be less than ten years old at the time of the student’s graduation, and approved by the Graduate Program Advisory Committee.

If a student has completed course(s) equivalent to the CHE core course(s) as part of a M.S. degree program, then the student may be exempt from the core course(s) and can substitute graduate-approved elective course(s) and/or thesis hours.  The equivalent courses must have grades of “B” or better, be less than ten years old at the time of the student’s graduation, and approved by the Graduate Program Advisory Committee.

Minimum Enrollment

The following outlines the minimum enrollment that is required by the Graduate College.  Additional requirements for international students can be found at the site: Enrollment and Progress towards degree

  • To be considered full time in the fall/spring semester, a student needs to be enrolled in at least nine (9) hours. However, to qualify for an assistantship:
    • A student with an assistantship of 0.50 FTE or greater must be enrolled in at least six (6) hours to be considered full time.
    • A student with an assistantship of less than 0.50 FTE must still be enrolled in nine (9) hours to be considered full time.
  • To be considered full time in the summer, a student needs to be enrolled in at least two (2) hours.
  • In the semester (Fall, Spring, or Summer) during which a student intends to graduate: A student who does not hold an assistantship or who does not need to be declared full time must be enrolled in a minimum of two (2) hours.
  • Any semester that a student who is utilizing physical or faculty resources of the University (to include complete course requirements, creative component work, sitting for comprehensive exams, research leading to a thesis or dissertation, defending a thesis or dissertation, revising a thesis or dissertation, etc.) must be enrolled in a minimum of 2 hours.
  • Doctoral students who have completed the requirements for admission to doctoral candidacy and had their “Admission to Doctoral Candidacy” form approved by the Graduate College may enroll for a minimum of at least two (2) credit hours during any term and be considered full-time.

The program has the following minimum enrollment requirements:

  • All required CHE core courses must be taken during the first year
  • CHE 6010 – Chemical Engineering Seminar must be taken each fall and spring semester
  • A minimum of one (1) credit hour of CHE 6000 – Doctoral Thesis must be taken each semester

The following are sample schedules that meets the minimum degree and enrollment requirements.  A student should work with his/her Advisor and the Graduate Program Director to determine the best balance of course work and research hours to complete the degree in a timely manner.

Advisory Committee

The Advisory Committee must include a minimum of four members of the Graduate Faculty with at least three from the School of Chemical Engineering and one from outside of the School.  The chair of the committee need not necessarily serve as the student's research Advisor but must hold an OSU faculty appointment and have familiarity with the academic requirements of the degree sought.  The general responsibilities of the Advisory Committee include advising the graduate student and assessing the student’s progress as follows:  (1) meeting regularly, (2) assisting with developing the Plan of Study as well as its approval and revisions, (3) preparing and examining the student for candidacy, (4) assisting with the planning, conducting and/or redirecting of the research, (5) supervising the writing of the dissertation, (6) conducting the dissertation defense, and (7) approving the final research document. The student and the members of the Advisory Committee should consult regularly to review the progress of the student’s work. 

Graduate students must work collaboratively with their research Advisor, Advisory Committee Chair and/or Graduate Program Coordinator to recommend membership for their Advisory Committee. It would be very difficult, if not impossible, to successfully complete a graduate degree with an Advisory Committee composition that is not supported by the research Advisor. Recommendations for Advisory Committee membership should be based on expertise of the faculty member and his/her ability to positively contribute to the graduate student’s education.  The student should meet with potential Advisory Committee members prior to recommending them to better understand their experience, availability, mentoring style and willingness to serve as an Advisor Committee member.

Plan of Study

The student should develop the Plan of Study with the Advisor and committee using the online Plan of Study application (http:// planofstudy.okstate.edu/). The online submission requires approval by the Advisory committee and the student's graduate program with final approval by the Graduate College.  The student should meet with the Graduate Program Director to review the Plan of Study, prior to submitting the plan for approval.

The original Plan of Study must be submitted to the Graduate College prior to the end of the third semester (excluding summer sessions) of enrollment in the doctoral program. The plan must include all the acceptable graduate work that has been completed and all that will be taken for the doctoral degree. Courses used to earn a master's degree are not listed on the doctoral Plan of Study. Credit for all courses on a graduate Plan of Study must have been awarded within 10 years of completion of all degree requirements.

Changes in the Plan of Study can be made with the approval of the Advisory committee and the dean of the Graduate College. A final, accurate and approved plan must be filed by the eighth week of the semester in which the degree is to be conferred.

Qualifying Examination

A Qualifying Examination must be completed by the end of the student’s second semester (not including summer) for continuation in the Ph.D. degree program.  The Qualifying Examination consists of a comprehensive exam to show the level of competency of the four CHE core areas expected for a Ph.D. student.

A comprehensive examination of the four CHE core courses: CHE 5123 Advanced Chemical Reaction Engineering, CHE 5213 Advanced Transport Phenomena, CHE 5743 Chemical Engineering Process Modeling and CHE 5843 Principles of Chemical Engineering Thermodynamics will be administered the Friday following the final examination week of the semester that the student completes all four CHE core courses.  Instructors from the CHE core courses, along with CHE faculty input, will prepare questions from the content of each course.  The Qualifying Examination will be evaluated by the core course instructors and faculty members who contributed to the questions on the examination. The exams will be scored, and a pass/fail grade determined.  Students will be notified of the grade by the Graduate Program Director.  Students who do not pass the Qualifying Exam will be dismissed from the Ph.D. program.

Preliminary Examination

A Preliminary Examination must be completed for admission to doctoral candidacy.  The Preliminary Examination consists of (i) a written research proposal for doctoral research and (ii) an oral defense of the proposal to the student’s Advisory Committee, who will assess the proposal and offer the student pertinent counsel, advice and feedback.   The written proposal should conform to National Science Foundation formatting requirements and include the following: (i) Project Summary, (ii) Project Description, and (iii) References Cited; all other NSF-required documentation is not required. The “NSF Merit Review Principles and Criteria” will be used to assess the student’s performance for the Preliminary Examination.  The student should review the most recent “NSF Proposal & Award Policies and Procedures Guide” on www.NSF.gov for more information about proposal development and review.  The student’s Advisor may mentor the student in developing the proposal.  It is also highly recommended that the student seek out professional development opportunities related to writing a research proposal.  The student should work with the Advisory Committee to schedule a date for the oral defense and submit the written proposal to the committee members at least two (2) weeks prior to the defense date. The student must complete the Preliminary Examination no later than the end of the fourth semester of matriculation in the Ph.D. 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
  • Communicate all the above in clear, well-constructed written and oral presentations

The Advisory Committee will use the above information to determine if the student should be admitted as a doctoral candidate. Questions regarding the Preliminary Examination should be referred to the Graduate Program Director.

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

  • The student has successfully defended the proposal and may be admitted to doctoral candidacy,
  • The student must revise the examination material to satisfy the Advisory Committee, with possible reexamination,
  • The student must enroll in additional course work prescribed to address particular shortcomings in the student’s background, research program, or communication skills, or
  • The student has failed the Preliminary Examination and is dismissed from the Ph.D. program; alternatively, the Advisory Committee may offer the student the option to convert to the M.S. degree program.

Public Presentation

A public presentation is required as part of the Ph.D. program. This requirement can be met by (i) giving an oral, full-length seminar as part of the CHE 6010 seminar series, (ii) delivering an oral presentation at a professional society meeting, or (iii) a similar experience deemed acceptable by the student’s Advisory Committee.  If a student plans to give a seminar in the CHE 6010 Chemical Engineering Seminar Course, then he/she must contact the instructor on record by June 1 to be on the schedule for the fall semester and by October 1 to be on the schedule for the spring semester.

Research Publications

The publication of research findings is important for the scholarly mission for the School and is required as part of the Ph.D. program.  Students must prepare two manuscripts for publication in refereed journals.  One refereed journal submission may be substituted for by two conference proceedings, one patent application, or industry publication.  The student must work with the Advisor to plan and complete the publications.  Final drafts of the publications must be approved by all authors, prior to submission.

Dissertation and Final Examination

A dissertation (doctoral thesis) is required of each doctoral candidate.  The subject of the dissertation must be approved by the Advisory Committee and the dissertation is prepared under the direction of members of the committee.  The dissertation must follow specifications in the Graduate College Thesis/Dissertation Guidelines available at https://gradcollege.okstate.edu/tdg. The style of the document is to be determined by the Advisory Committee and should be reflective of publications in the student’s discipline.  Any graduate student writing a thesis must attend a format workshop prior to submission of their final copy.  The dates for the workshops are on the Graduate College calendar and a webinar version is available.

The student must submit a final draft of his/her dissertation to the Advisory Committee at least two (2) weeks prior to the defense date.  The defense will be announced within the School and to any outside parties that the student and/or Advisor deem relevant.  The candidate will be allotted 30 – 40 minutes to summarize the objectives, methods, results and conclusions of the research. Following the candidate’s presentation, all those in attendance 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. In the examination, the Advisory Committee Members will seek to determine if the candidate has done the following:

  • Identified a topic that is of scientific/engineering importance,
  • Performed a thorough search of the existing state of knowledge on the subject and synthesized this information into an integrated body of information,
  • Formulated a hypothesis/objective related to the topic,
  • Developed a thorough plan to test the hypothesis or meet the project objective,
  • Executed the plan successfully in conducting the necessary research,
  • Developed logical, defensible conclusions and recommendations from the work, and
  • Presented the work in clear, concise, well-organized fashion in the written dissertation and in the oral defense.

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 Advisory Committee, with possible reexamination, or
  3. The candidate has failed the dissertation defense and is dismissed from the Ph.D. program; alternatively, the Advisory Committee may offer the candidate the option to convert to a M.S. degree program.

The committee will notify the Graduate College immediately of results of the final examination. Following satisfactory completion of the final examination, the candidate will make changes in the thesis as required by the committee and by the Graduate College and submit it in final form signed by the committee to the Graduate College by the semester deadline.  The student should submit an electronic copy of the dissertation through the OSU electronic submission website. Instructions for on-line submission are given to the student after completion of the National Survey of Earned Doctorates. The student must also submit an electronic copy of the dissertation to his/her Advisory Committee and the Graduate Program Director.  In addition, the student must submit to the Graduate College one paper copy of the approval page with all original signatures and the student's name and CWID number entered at the top of the page. Both the electronic submission and paper approval page must be received no later than the stated final copy submission deadline date (see the Graduate College Calendar for dates).

Minimum Performance Requirements

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

If a student receives a grade of “C” in any CHE course, the student’s performance will be reviewed before the beginning of the next semester or summer term by the Advisory Committee (or Graduate Program Director and Advisor, if an Advisory Committee has not been formed) with input from the course instructor(s).  A decision regarding the student’s retention or dismissal from the program will be made, 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:

·         Continuation in the program,

·         Required enrollment in remedial course work,

·         Required defense of research progress to date and/or an effective outline of future research plans, or

·         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 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 Advisory Committee has the prerogative to alter the degree program of the student.  The student may be reassigned to a “Creative Component” option (see section in MS degree).  For such a reassignment the student will not be eligible to pursue the Ph.D. degree in Chemical Engineering at OSU. 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.