Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
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The Office of Graduate Education, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Office of Graduate Education


Doctorial Scholars

Degree Requirements

Rensselaer awards the doctor's degree in recognition of high achievement in scholarship and independent investigation. The Doctor of Philosophy degree, under the auspices of the Graduate School, is awarded when the dissertation is directed toward making an original contribution to fundamental knowledge in a particular field or in an interdisciplinary field. A dissertation that is scholarly, creative, original, and publishable may deal also with the relation of a discipline to educational problems and objectives within the field. The Doctor of Engineering degree, under the auspices of the Professional School of the School of Engineering, is awarded when the student proposes an engineering problem of substance and develops a solution to it in a creative and distinguished manner.

A candidate for the doctor's degree must:

  • Complete a Plan of Study with satisfactory grades containing 90 credit hours beyond the bachelor's degree including any appropriate work completed toward a master's degree. In satisfying this requirement, at least two-thirds of the total credit hours, excluding thesis, must contain the suffix numbers 6000-7999, with the further limitation that no more than 21 credit hours of 4000-4990 courses are to be allowed.
  • Satisfy residence requirements.
  • Form an approved doctoral committee.
  • Pass a candidacy examination.
  • Present an independently written (single author) dissertation.
  • Pass a final examination.
  • Pursue a Plan of Study that will lead to the completion of all requirements, including those of his or her department, within seven years.
  • Satisfy the binding fee requirement.
  • File a degree application with the Registrar's Office by the date specified in the academic calendar for the semester in which he or she plans to be graduated. If a degree application was filed for a previous semester but the requirements were not fulfilled, a new degree application must be filed for the semester in which the student actually is graduated.
  • Be in good academic and disciplinary standing.

To be eligible to graduate, degree candidates must have either: maintained continuous full-time registration; maintained continuous full-time registration following a change of status from part-time to full-time; or been, at all times, a part-time student. Under no circumstances will a full-time student be allowed to transfer to part-time status and maintain eligibility for graduation.

Full-time degree candidates must be registered full-time during the semester in which they intend to graduate.