University of Michigan - Shanghai Jiao Tong University Joint Institute

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Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) Degree Requirements

To obtain a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) Degree in Mechanical Engineering (ME) or Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) from the Joint Institute, students must fulfill the following requirements.

  1. Complete specific coursework sequence, which differs for students starting their Doctoral program with a Bachelor’s Degree or with a Master’s Degree.
  2. Preparation, propose, and defend a Doctoral Thesis.

While the typical duration of the doctoral program is of five years for students starting their Doctoral program with a Bachelor’s degree and of three to four years for students starting their Doctoral program with a Master’s degree, students are eligible to receive a doctoral degree when the above requirements are fulfilled.

Requirements for ME and ECE degrees are identical; the term “major” refers to the ME and ECE programs. Important dates of the doctoral program are summarized below for the present academic year.

1. Coursework (Students entering with Bachelor’s degree only)

To complete their coursework requirement, Doctoral students entering the doctoral program with a Bachelor’s degree must take a number of courses, while maintaining a minimum GPA. Specifically, students must take the following course.

  1. At least thirty nine approved credit hours of engineering, math, and science at the 4xx level or higher,
  2. A total of three credit hours of technical communication, Vg 500 Technical Communication, and
  3. A total of three credit hours of politics.
  4. The JI Grade Point Average for these courses must be at least 3.3.

The thirty-nine approved credit hours of engineering, math, and science are subjected to the following restrictions.

  1. At least six credit hours of mathematics must be taken at the 5xx level or higher.
  2. At least fifteen credit hours within the student’s major must be selected at the 5xx level or higher.
  3. A maximum of twelve credit hours may be selected from classes offered outside of the JI. These credit hours must be approved by the faculty adviser and the graduate committee. The Petition to Take a Non-JI Course form can be downloaded from the Graduate Student Forms.
  4. The total number of 4xx level courses cannot exceed nine credit hours.
  5. Students must take at least six credit hours outside their discipline group to ensure the breadth of their study program.
  6. The combined total of 4xx level credit hours and credit hours taken outside of the JI cannot exceed fifteen. If the Graduate Committee approves a non-JI math class to satisfy the math requirement, those non-JI math credits do not count toward this total of fifteen credit hours.

2. Coursework (Students entering with Master’s degree)

To complete their coursework requirement, Doctoral students entering the doctoral program with a Master’s degree must take a number of courses, while maintaining a minimum GPA. Specifically, students must take the following course.

  1. At least eighteen approved credit hours of engineering, math, and science at the 4xx level or higher, and
  2. A total of three credit hours of technical communication, Vg 500 Technical Communication.
  3. The JI Grade Point Average for these courses must be at least 3.3.

The eighteen approved credit hours of engineering, math, and science are subjected to the following restrictions.

  1. At least nine credit hours within the student’s major must be selected at the 5xx level or higher.
  2. A maximum of six credit hours may be selected from classes offered outside of the JI. These credit hours must be approved by the faculty adviser and the graduate committee. The Petition to Take a Non-JI Course form can be downloaded from the Graduate Student Forms.
  3. Students must take at least three credit hours outside their disciple group to ensure the breadth of their study program.
  4. If the Graduate Committee approves a non-JI math class to satisfy the math requirement, those non-JI math credits do not count toward this total of six credit hours.

3. Qualifying Grade Point Average

Doctoral students must write and defend of a formal doctoral thesis. For each semester they are involved in graduate research, ME or ECE students must register for doctoral thesis research, Vm 695 or Ve 695 Doctoral Thesis, respectively. This course will provide feedback on their progress toward the completion of their doctoral thesis.

For the first step of their doctoral program, students must become qualified doctoral students. This status is achieved through coursework only. For students entering with a Bachelor’s degree, the GPA for their first five courses at the 5xx level or above must be at least 3.5 . For students entering with a Master’s degree,  the GPA for their first three courses at the 5xx level or above must be at least 3.5. These classes must be completed within the first two years of the student’s doctoral program of studies. Upon completion of these five courses, students submit a Petition to become a qualified doctoral student to the graduate office.

If a student fails to achieve the qualifying GPA, the graduate committee will review their record. The graduate committee will take either of the following two actions: (1) dismiss the student from the Doctoral program, or, (2) specify additional coursework and target grades needed to continue in the Doctoral program.

4. The Candidacy Exam

For the second step of their doctoral program, students must pass the candidacy exam. Students entering with a Bachelor’s degree should schedule their candidacy exam after completing a minimum of thirty approved credits hours and Vg 500 Technical Communication and within the third year of their program of studies. Students entering with a Master’s degree should schedule their candidacy exam after completing a minimum of twelve approved credits hours and Vg 500 Technical Communication and within the second year of their program of studies.

The candidacy exam consists of a ninety-minute, oral examination administered by three distinct faculty members. For their candidacy exam, students select three courses, at least one of which is in their discipline area and at least two of which are within their major. Each of the three courses will be the basis for a thirty-minute portion of the oral examination. The pass/fail system is adopted. Students need to obtain unanimous pass from the exam committee to pass the course topic. The outcome of the examination is recorded in the Candidacy Exam Form.

Two examination sessions are scheduled during each academic year, one during the fall and one during the summer semester. If student fails a course topic, the same topic must be retested at the next available session. If student passes only one topic out of three topics, he/she is required to take the same three topics again at the next available session.

If unsuccessful at the second try, the student will be dismissed from the doctoral program.
Upon successful completion of the candidacy exam, the student becomes a doctoral student candidate.

4.1. The discipline areas

Candidacy exam sessions will be scheduled twice during each academic year. Candidates will choose the three courses that form the basis of the candidacy examination from the list of gateway courses below.

In Mechanical Engineering, the discipline areas and associated gateway courses are as follows.

  • Design and Manufacturing: Vm551 Mechanisms Design, Vm583 Manufacturing Processes and Systems.
  • Dynamics and Vibrations: Vm 543: Analytical Dynamics, Vm 541: Mechanical Vibrations.
  • Fluid Mechanics and Thermal Sciences: Vm530 Advanced Heat Transfer, Vm523 Advanced Fluid Mechanics / Comp Fluid Dynamics.
  • Solid Mechanics, Structures, and Materials: Vm 510: Advanced Structural Analysis, Vm 511: Foundation of Solid Mechanics.
  • Mechatronics and Control:  Vm564 Linear Systems, Vm552 Mechatronic Systems.

In Electrical and Computer Engineering, the discipline areas and associated gateway courses are as follows.

  • Computer Architecture and Engineering: Ve527 Computer-Aided Design of Integrated Circuits.
  • Electromagnetism, Optics, and Photonics: Ve 5xx abc, Ve 5xx, def.
  • Circuits and Devices: Ve 5xx abc, Ve 5xx, def.
  • Communications and Networking: Ve 5xx abc, Ve 5xx, def.
  • Signal Processing: Ve501 Probability and Random Processes.

5. The Doctoral Dissertation

The completion of the doctoral dissertation involves the following steps: (1) form the Doctoral Dissertation Committee, (2) call for one or more Doctoral Research Meetings, (3) develop a Dissertation Proposal, and (4) defend the Doctoral Dissertation. The time line for the doctoral thesis is presented in figs. 1 and 2.

5.1. The doctoral dissertation committee

After successful completion of their candidacy exam and in consultation with their research adviser, students invite a minimum of five faculty members to serve on their Doctoral Dissertation Committee. This committee will guide, monitor, and assess the student’s progress thereafter. The membership of the dissertation committee is subjected to the following requirements. (1) The head of the dissertation committee is the student’s thesis adviser, (2) the second member of the committee is a member of JI’s faculty within the student’s major, (3) the third member is a member of JI’s faculty outside the student’s major, and (4) the fourth and fifth members must hold a doctoral degree.

The membership of the dissertation committee must be approved by JI’s degree committee. The Doctoral dissertation committee membership form  must be submitted to the Graduate Program Coordinator for approval by the degree committee.

5.2. The doctoral research meeting

Doctoral candidates will call a research meeting with their dissertation committee. The purpose of this research meeting is to promote early planning of the doctoral thesis. The goals of the meeting are as follows: (1) give guidance concerning the proposed research plan in terms of scope, feasibility, and suitability for a doctoral thesis, (2) provide constructive feedback to the student, (3) assess the student’s familiarity with the literature in the field, and (4) delineate the expected technical contributions of the thesis.

If the dissertation committee deems it necessary, follow-up research meetings will be recommended. The dissertation committee can, after two or more unsatisfactory research meetings, dismiss the doctoral candidate from the doctoral program if they believe he/she is not capable of completing an acceptable doctoral dissertation.

The outcome of the doctoral research meeting is recorded in the Research Meeting Minutes Form. If follow up research meetings were held, this form documents the conclusions of all research meetings.

5.3. The doctoral dissertation proposal

The candidate then writes his/her doctoral thesis proposal. This document provides the following information: (1) the proposed content of the research work, (2) a comprehensive literature review of the state-of-the-art in the field, (3) a description of the research tasks that have been completed, (4) a discussion of preliminary results, (5) the original contribution of the proposed research, and (6) the tasks that will be completed before the thesis defense.

Next, the student presents his/her doctoral thesis proposal to the dissertation committee. This presentation must be open to the public. A minimum of one month should elapse between the research meeting and the thesis proposal. The environment is one of open discussion among the student, adviser, and dissertation committee members. The purpose is not to examine the student’s technical ability but to review of the doctoral research proposal. The dissertation committee must approve the dissertation proposal unanimously. If a unanimous vote cannot be reached, an additional thesis proposals must be scheduled after the student’s response to the concerns raised by all members of the dissertation committee.

The outcome of the doctoral dissertation proposal is recorded in the Dissertation Proposal Minutes Form. ThesisTimeLinePHD1

Figure 1. The doctoral thesis proposal time line

5.4. The dissertation defense

ThesisTimeLinePHD2Once the dissertation is completed, the candidate sends draft copies to the members of the dissertation committee with at least two weeks for their review. The committee will suggest corrections and modifications of the dissertation. The head of the dissertation committee then decides whether the draft dissertation is ready for defense. If not, the student will modify the draft of the doctoral thesis in accordance with committee’s recommendations. Resubmission of the dissertation to the committee is then required for final approval.

Upon approval of the draft doctoral dissertation by the head of the dissertation committee, the candidate is allowed to schedule his/her doctoral dissertation defense. A minimum of one year must elapse between the dissertation proposal and the dissertation defense.

Figure 2. The doctoral dissertation time line

The candidate then schedules a public oral defense of his/her dissertation. The dissertation committee must approve the dissertation defense unanimously. If a unanimous vote cannot be reached, the student must respond to the concerns raised by all members of the committee and an additional public defense must be scheduled in consultation with the dissertation committee.

The outcome of the doctoral dissertation defense is recorded in the Dissertation Defense Minutes Form.

 6. Important dates

SJTU accepts the final dissertation  at four dates.  They are March 15, June 30, September 30 and December 15.

So accordingly the doctoral dissertation due time at the JI will be March 1, June 15, September 15 and December 1.