Requirements for the Ph.D. Degree

A student admitted into the Ph.D. Program is classified as a Ph.D. Applicant. After the successful completion of the Ph.D. Candidacy Examination (described below), the classification of the student changes to Ph.D. Candidate. The rules, regulations, and procedures pertaining to the required credits and the governance of the Ph.D. Candidacy Examinations are described below.


3.1 Ph.D. Degree Requirements


The Ph.D. degree requirements include 5 major elements: 

  • Course Requirements
  • Candidacy Examination
  • Thesis Committee and Meetings
  • Thesis Proposal
  • Thesis Completion and Defense

3.1.1 Ph.D. Course Requirements

By graduation, Ph.D. students must have completed:

(a) For students entering the Ph.D. program with a M.Sc. degree –  45 credits of graduate courses out of which 18 credits are graduate courses exclusive of Independent Study and Dissertation. If the M.Sc. degree was not from the MEM department, 12 of these 18 credits must be MEM graduate courses (600-level or above).

(b) For students entering the Ph.D. program with a B.Sc. degree (i.e. without a M.Sc. degree) – 90 credits of graduate courses. 45 of these 90 credits must satisfy the MSME degree requirements. The remaining 45 credits must satisfy the requirement in (a) above.

3.1.2 Ph.D. Candidacy Examination

Every Ph.D. Applicant is required to take the Ph.D. Candidacy Examination. Eligibility

A graduate student in the Ph.D. program with good academic standing must be nominated by his/her supervising advisor to take the candidacy examination. Examination Committee

a. The Candidacy Examination Committee can be formed as soon as the student enters the PhD program, but no later than four weeks before the student takes the candidacy examination.

b. With the consent of the student, the supervising advisor forms the Candidacy Examination Committee for the student. The supervising advisor may serve in this committee but cannot serve as chair of this committee.

c. Membership of the Committee: The Committee must consist of at least five members, at least three of whom must be currently tenured or tenure-track Drexel faculty members from the student's department. At least two of the committee members must be from outside the student's major area. At least one of the committee members must be from outside the student's department. Structure of the Candidacy Examination

The Candidacy Examination consists of two components: 1) a “course component” and 2) a “research component”. The student must demonstrate excellence in both components. Course Component

At the discretion of the supervising advisor, and with the approval of the MEM Graduate Advisor, the course-component for attaining Candidacy can be satisfied by either one of the following two mechanisms

  • Excellent performance (a grade of A) in any two core courses from MEM core areas
  • Excellent performance in a written examination prepared by the Candidacy Examination Committee. The content covered in this examination is decided by the Committee. Research Component

The research-component of attaining Candidacy is satisfied by a written report and an oral presentation of a review. The Committee selects three or more papers in student’s declared research area for student to conduct a critical review. In three weeks the student submits a written report (less than 10 pages) and makes an oral presentation within one week after the written report has been submitted. The presentation (less than 40 minutes) is followed by questions by the Committee. The goals of the questions: To evaluate the student’s knowledge in the scientific fields related to the research area, including related background and fundamental material, and the student’s ability to integrate information germane to success in research. Timing

Post-BS PhD student (i.e. student who enters the Ph.D. program without a prior M.S. degree): Must take the Candidacy Examination within 2 years after entry to the PhD program. Post-MS PhD student (i.e. student who enters the Ph.D. program with a prior M.S. degree): Must take the Candidacy Examination within the first year after entry to the PhD program. This timing is consistent with the Office of Graduate Studies requirement on accumulated credits to attain Ph.D. Candidate status, and with the Office of Graduate Studies requirement that all programs must allow their doctoral students to attain Doctoral Candidate Status within the first 2 years of the program. Repeat examination

At the discretion of the Candidacy Examination Committee, a student who does not pass the course-component and/or the research component of the Candidacy examinations may retake the respective component examination once. Release from Ph.D. Program

A student who does not attain Candidacy status within two years after first entry into the Ph.D. program, will be released from the Ph. D. program.

3.1.3. Thesis Advisory Committee and Committee Meetings

Upon successful completion of the Ph.D. Candidacy Examination, the student’s Supervising Professor will form a Thesis Advisory Committee for the student. This committee is chaired by the Supervising Professor. Its membership is governed by the stipulation in Form D-3 "Dissertation Advisory Committee Appointment" of the Office of Graduate Studies. The Thesis Advisory Committee is required to meet at least once every twelve months.

3.1.4. Thesis Proposal

The Ph.D. Candidate is required to give a presentation of his/her Dissertation topic to his/her Thesis Advisory Committee. This presentation should be publicly announced and open to the public. The student will submit a comprehensive Ph.D. Dissertation Proposal, which normally will include but not limited to abstract, introduction, detailed literature review, research progress, proposed research, and timetable. The committee will approve/reject the general methodology and approach and the scope of work so that it can be completed in a manageable time.

3.1.5 Foreign Students with M.S. Degree from Foreign Institutions

Students under this category may be required to take a special course in an "English as a Second Language" Program before entering Drexel University. Information on this course is provided upon application to the Graduate Program at Drexel University. Once admitted to Drexel University, in order to be appointed as Teaching Assistants, students must enter into Drexel's Incoming Foreign Teaching Assistant Program. The program is recommended for all incoming foreign students for improving their proficiency in the English language and for exposing them to the teaching techniques and campus life at Drexel University.

3.1.6 Other Requirements

All Ph.D. Candidates are expected to teach and participate in other educational activities of the MEM Department, such as the departmental Seminar Series.


3.2 Ph.D. Procedural Requirements


3.2.1 The PhD Forms

The Office of Graduate Studies has a forms webpage where students can download the university forms for graduate students.  In particular, the sequential Doctoral Program Forms (D-Forms) will guide students step-by-step through the procedural requirements of the Ph.D. process.

Doctoral Program Forms (D1 to D5)

For additional graduate forms from the Office of Graduate Studies please visit its forms webpage.


3.2.2 Clearance of Ph.D. Candidate for Graduation

Graduating Ph.D. students must complete the Completion Form with the Office of Graduate Studies. Submission of the Dissertation to the Drexel University Library is a prerequisite for completing this form. The Completion Form should be filed as soon as possible but no later than the first day of final examination week of the term in which they plan to graduate. Graduating Ph.D. students should pay attention to the Graduation Forms in the forms webpage of Office of Graduate Studies.