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Doctoral Student Information

Parks College of Engineering, Aviation and Technology doctoral students are required to take a qualifying examination, normally at the end of their first year of full-time doctoral study at Saint Louis University. They also ordinarily develop a dissertation proposal and defense.

Apply to Parks College Ph.D. Programs

To learn more about our admissions and program requirements, visit our  program pages below.

Aviation, Ph.D. 

  • Aerospace & Mechanical Engineering
  • Biomedial Engineering
  • Civil Engineering

Suggested Timeline for Doctoral Students

Doctoral students must maintain continuous enrollment. Review SLU's academic calendar to ensure you apply for graduation on time and schedule your defense and other appointments accordingly.

  • Meet with your adviser
  • Complete annual student review (January for new summer & fall students; May for all other students)
First semester
  • Submit your proposed Ph.D. program of study
  • Complete the evaluation of advanced standing of a doctoral student (when applicable)
End of first year
  • Submit the Ph.D. qualifying exam petition form
During your studies
  • Resume coursework
  • Decide on research topic
  • Begin research
When ready
  • Submit the doctoral oral examination form
  • Upon passing the oral examination, you will be awarded Ph.D. candidacy status
  • Complete a degree audit
Last semester
  • Apply for graduation
  • Complete final Ph.D. program of study
  • Submit notification of readiness for the public oral presentation of the Ph.D. dissertation
  • Defend dissertation
  • Meet with doctoral candidacy specialist
  • Submit dissertation to ProQuest

Qualifying Examination

The qualifying examination will focus on topics related to the required courses and your general preparation for graduate study and research. All qualifying examinations will be conducted by your guidance committee supplemented at the discretion of the graduate program director.

The intent of this exam is to determine if you are prepared to continue doctoral studies. The result of the exam may be a pass, no-pass or conditional-pass. The guidance committee will report the results of the qualifying exam to the graduate program director. Note that the conditional-pass will normally require that you correct specific weaknesses and modify your degree plan accordingly.

Proposal Defense and Dissertation

Doctoral students will ordinarily develop a dissertation proposal under the supervision of their research mentor and present at the proposal exam prior to their third year of studies.

During the development of program proposals, engineering candidates will have assistance from a faculty team in the selection of courses and focus for the dissertation. The associated academic department administers the dissertation proposal exam and the results are reported to the graduate program director. After successfully completing the proposal exam, you will become a doctoral degree candidate.

Dissertation Defense

Upon your completion of the final thesis document, a final public defense is held. Following the open forum seminar-style presentation, you will continue the defense in a private session with the guidance committee.

Normally, doctoral students will publish with their faculty mentors during the dissertation research. Although not a rigid requirement, doctoral candidates are expected to submit a minimum of one manuscript for journal publication prior to completing the degree.