Jun 25, 2024  
2017-2018 SDSM&T Academic Catalog 
2017-2018 SDSM&T Academic Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Ph.D. Degree Requirements

The general requirements for the doctor of philosophy degree are:

1. satisfactory completion of a comprehensive examination and admission to candidacy,
2. a minimum total of 72 semester credits beyond the bachelor’s degree, at least 36 of which should be coursework credit hours,
3. a minimum of 20 semester credit hours of appropriate research credits,
4. satisfaction of academic standards as prescribed elsewhere in this catalog, including maintaining at least a 3.0 cumulative GPA,
5. at least 2 consecutive semesters of residence as a full-time student,
6. a dissertation that conforms to standard American English style and usage, and
7. satisfaction of any departmental or program specific requirements (see department/program specific requirements in the department section of this catalog),

Between 3 and 4 academic years of full-time graduate study beyond the baccalaureate degree normally are required to earn a doctorate. Ph.D. candidates already holding graduate credits from another institution may request to apply them to the credits required for the Ph.D., under terms of the policy described in “Applying Credits from Outside Institutions”.

A candidate who has entered a Ph.D. program directly from a baccalaureate program may be allowed to use up to 12 credits of upper-division undergraduate 400-level courses (which have not been applied toward the baccalaureate) toward the 36 credit-hour course requirement for the degree, with the same restrictions and procedures as those specified for master’s degrees. Ph.D. candidates already holding an M.S. degree may use up to 6 credits of 400-level coursework in addition to any courses credited from the M.S. degree. The head of the student’s major department must petition the Council of Graduate Education through the dean of graduate education for use of 300-level credits for Ph.D. programs.

Research credit may be applied toward the fulfillment of credit hour requirements used toward the advanced degree. Research credits are defined as either doctoral dissertation credits (898), doctoral non-dissertation research credits (888), master’s thesis credits (798), or masters non-thesis research credits (788). All other credits are course credits.  Elective credits are “course credits”.

The graduate student advisory committee approves the total number of research credits that the candidate may carry, consistent with departmental, continuing registration, and other requirements.

The graduate student advisory committee can recommend to the dean of graduate education a program requiring more credits than the minimum indicated above if it believes that this is in the best interests of the student.

The committee may approve a plan for the student to undertake work at other institutions, but may not reduce the two semester residence requirement.

The Qualifying Examination

Doctoral students admitted into all Ph.D. disciplines must pass a qualifying examination, normally to be taken within the first two years of enrollment, as per the specific guidelines of the program.  The “qualifying exam” is a course-work based exam to test and demonstrate the doctoral student’s proficiency in the foundational material of his or her discipline.  When the student’s program of foundational coursework has been substantially completed, she or he will undertake the qualifying examination.   Results of this Qualifying Exam must be filed with the Office of Graduate Education by the department or program within one week of completion of the exam.

A master’s student who proposes to continue into a doctoral program should so advise his or her major professor in a timely manner.  The examination for the master’s may be used as the qualifying examination, at the discretion of the department/program.

The Comprehensive Examination and Admission to Ph.D. Candidacy

The “comprehensive exam” is a wide-ranging exam to test and demonstrate the doctoral student’s readiness to pursue doctoral research.   It includes a defense of a written dissertation proposal, and may also include additional written or verbal exam components to demonstrate the student’s proficiency in his or her field of study.  It will be prepared by the graduate student advisory committee, with potential suggestions from any faculty member from whom the student has taken a graduate course.

The graduate student advisory committee schedules and arranges the written and oral examinations. Review of the examinations will be accomplished as soon as possible by all members of the committee.  If the graduate student’s advisory committee and department head/program coordinator certify that the candidate has passed the comprehensive examination, the signed admission to candidacy form must be submitted by the graduate representative or another committee member to the dean of graduate education for review and approval.

Satisfactory completion of the comprehensive examination requires that no more than one member of the graduate student advisory committee votes against passing.  Upon satisfactory completion of the comprehensive exam, the student is then eligible for admission to candidacy.  If the student passes with conditions, such as failure to pass a part of the examination, the committee shall inform the student promptly as to how and when the conditions may be removed. If the student has failed the comprehensive examination, another such examination should not be attempted during the same semester, though exceptions to this may be granted by the student’s committee in consultation with the dean of graduate education.  If the student fails a second time, work toward the doctorate can be continued only with the consent of the graduate student advisory committee, the Council of Graduate Education, and the dean of graduate education.

The comprehensive examination, and subsequent admission to candidacy, should be passed at least 12 months before the dissertation is defended.   Results of the comprehensive exam and admission to candidacy must be filed with the Office of Graduate Education by the graduate representative within a week of completion of the exam.

Dissertation Submission Requirements

The dissertation is expected to advance or modify knowledge and demonstrate the candidate’s technical mastery of the field of study.  In lieu of the conventional dissertation format, the dissertation can consist of a compilation of published and/or submitted journal manuscripts that are derived from the candidate’s doctoral research and are either authored or co-authored by the candidate.  Dissertations submitted in this form must have an introduction and conclusion to tie the journal papers into a cohesive research paper.  The final dissertation must be accompanied by an abstract of 250 to 350 words and vitae of the candidate. Detailed instructions on the format, requirements and completion of a thesis or dissertation can be found on the website of the Office of Graduate Education.

The dissertation is written under the direction of the major professor, but the student should seek guidance from all members of the graduate student advisory committee.  Before starting to write the dissertation, the student is urged to review the document titled “Instructions for the Preparation of Theses and Dissertations” on the graduate education website and to consult style manuals online or in the SDSM&T Devereaux Library.  In general, the dissertation may follow the style of captions, footnotes, and bibliographical references used by the leading technical journal in the student’s field.

A final draft of the dissertation, which must include all components, including title page, abstract, vita, references, etc., should be submitted by the student to each member of the graduate student advisory committee a minimum of 2 full weeks before the time and date of the student’s scheduled defense. Final drafts must be complete, including all required components or the defense cannot be held. Earlier submission deadlines may be required by the graduate student advisory committee.

The graduate student’s committee-approved draft of the dissertation must be submitted to the Office of Graduate Education by the published deadline (approximately 2 weeks  before graduation) to allow adequate time for grammatical review, corrections and revisions.  This draft of the dissertation, after all revisions recommended by the committee have been made, must be signed by the author and approved, signed, and dated by all committee members,  the department head/program coordinator of the student’s major department/program. The final unbound manuscript must then be reviewed and signed by the dean of graduate education before any copies are made of any submissions for binding are done. 

The institution requires one electronic copy and 2 paper copies (the original unbound manuscript and one bound copy) of the dissertation to be kept in the Devereaux Library.  Additional copies may be required by the student’s program or department.

The dissemination of a dissertation may be temporarily restricted due to legal or proprietary issues (ITAR, EAR, FAC, proprietary, or otherwise restricted information). A restricted dissertation requires approval by the dean of graduate education and the graduate student advisory committee prior to the defense. Attendance at the defense will also be restricted.  The hard copies and digital version(s) of the restricted document will not be released until the end of the specified period, which may not exceed 3 calendar years.

Dissertation Defense Requirements

The defense of the dissertation is an oral examination open to the public except in the case of a restricted dissertation (see the Dissertation Submission Requirements section above).  The dissertation defense will be scheduled at any time after the student has completed the required coursework and after the graduate student advisory committee is satisfied that the dissertation is an acceptable manuscript, in terms of technical quality, completeness and proper expression and usage in American Standard English. The dissertation defense may not be scheduled during the period of university final examinations.  Under no circumstances should a defense go forward if the draft is incomplete.

The student shall obtain and complete the appropriate form to schedule the defense, and in conjunction with the major professor, shall seek the approval of all committee members.  The student shall return the form to the Office of Graduate Education no less than 5 working days before the defense date.  The Office of Graduate Education will announce the defense to the campus community.

The student’s committee constitutes the examining board for the thesis defense.  The major professor will head the session.  The major professor is responsible for ensuring that a majority of the committee is present.  The graduate representative must be physically present for the defense to go forward. The defense will not be held if these conditions cannot be met.  A negative vote by any 2 or more members of the student’s committee will signify failure of the defense, pending review by the graduate student advisory committee and the dean of graduate education. 

Results of all written or oral examinations will be attested to by all committee members on a form furnished to the graduate representative by the Office of Graduate Education.  Results must be returned to the Office of Graduate Education immediately following the exam by the graduate representative or other committee member to ensure chain of custody.  If the candidate fails to satisfy the examiners on either coursework or thesis, written or oral examinations, the committee may schedule a re-examination over general background, thesis, or both.  The re-examination will be scheduled at the discretion of the graduate student advisory committee, normally 8 to 12 weeks after the date of the first examination. The student may petition his or her committee for re-examination prior to the 8-week limit.

Ph.D. Participation in Commencement

A student must apply to graduate by completing the application for graduation form on the graduate education website and must meet the program requirements before the degree is awarded.  The application for graduation form also serves as a request to participate in the commencement ceremonies.  In general, for each degree earned, a student is allowed to participate in commencement once and have his or her name in the commencement program once.  Note that participation in the commencement ceremony does not equate to the conferring of a degree.  The degree is conferred when all requirements are met and the release of diploma process is completed.

The names of all students who have completed the requirements for graduation by the designated spring date will be included in the May program, and students who have completed the requirements by the designated fall date will be included in the December program.  Summer graduates will be listed in the December program and are eligible to participate in the fall commencement ceremony. The student’s name will appear in the program in the semester of completion, whether the student is participating in the ceremony or not.

A Ph.D. candidate must have successfully defended his or her dissertation, have deposited his or her final thesis or dissertation, and have completed all other degree requirements, including all fees related to the printing, binding and distribution of their dissertation by the designated date to participate in commencement and the hooding ceremony. 

A student who wishes to participate in a commencement ceremony later than the semester in which the degree is completed must notify the Office of Graduate Education of his or her intent prior to the end of the semester in which the degree requirements are completed.  In general, if a student wishes to participate in a commencement ceremony it is expected that the student will do so within one year of completing the requirements for the degree.

Residence Requirements

At least 2 consecutive semesters of residence as a full-time student are required at South Dakota School of Mines and Technology unless an exception is granted by the dean of graduate education and the Faculty Senate.

Time Limitation for Ph.D. Degrees

A doctoral degree program must be completed within 8 calendar years dating from the student’s formal entrance into a degree-seeking program.  Courses taken by the student at any institution that may be credited to the degree program and that were taken more than 8 years prior to the date of anticipated graduation must be reviewed by the student’s major department/program and the dean of graduate education for possible acceptance. Following this review, the student’s major department/program and the dean of graduate education will determine whether a reduction in credits applicable toward the degree, a re-examination, or both, is required for the student to complete his or her degree program. Students may petition the dean of graduate education for an extension to the 8 year time limit.   The applicable forms are available at the graduate education website.

A student who is granted a leave of absence (see section titled Leave of Absence ) will not be subject to continuing registration, and the leave of absence will not count toward the time limits to complete his or her program of study.