Nature and Purpose of the Doctoral Programs
The doctoral program is designed to prepare a student for a lifetime of intellectual inquiry that manifests itself in creative scholarship and research, often leading to professional careers in social, governmental, business, industrial organizations, and academia. The program emphasizes freedom of inquiry and expression and development of the student’s capacity to make significant contributions to knowledge. An essential element is the development of the ability to understand and evaluate critically the literature of the field and to apply appropriate principles and procedures to the recognition, evaluation, interpretation, and understanding of issues and problems at the frontiers of knowledge. These goals are most effectively accomplished in close association with those experienced in research and teaching.
A central purpose of doctoral programs is the extension of knowledge, but this cannot be accomplished on all fronts simultaneously. Students must choose an area in which to specialize, a faculty member with whom to work, and a research topic of mutual interest to the student and the faculty advisor. Individualized programs of study are then developed, and committee members are selected cooperatively as coursework and research are undertaken. When all coursework has been completed, the research finished, the dissertation written, and all examinations passed, the student will have acquired the knowledge and skills expected of a scholar and will have extended knowledge and research capability in the field.
Ph.D. Degree Requirements
The requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy degree are:
- satisfactory completion of a Comprehensive Examination,
- a minimum total of 80 semester credits beyond the bachelor’s degree, 50 of which should be coursework credit hours.,
- a minimum of 20 semester credit hours of appropriate research credits,
- satisfaction of academic standards as prescribed elsewhere in this catalog, including maintaining at least a 3.0 cumulative GPA,
- at least two consecutive semesters of residence as a full-time student.
- satisfaction of any departmental language or other specific requirements,
- a dissertation written in grammatical English that represents results from at least the equivalent of one academic year of full-time research.
Between three and four academic years of full-time graduate study beyond the baccalaureate degree normally are required to earn a doctorate.
Ph.D. candidates already holding an M.S. degree may request up to a maximum of 24 semester credits of appropriate M.S. coursework credits and up to a maximum of 6 credits of acceptable M.S. research credits to apply to the Ph.D. credit requirement. Students wishing to make such a request must use the “Reduction of Credits” form found at the graduate education website.
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 50 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 on Graduate Education through the Dean of Graduate Education for use of 300-level credits for Ph.D. programs.
The Graduate Advisory Committee approves the total number of research credits that the candidate may carry, consistent with departmental, continuing registration, and other requirements.
The student’s 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 some other institution of recognized standing, but may not reduce the two-semester residence requirement.
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.
In order to foster the principles upon which a Doctor of Philosophy degree is based, as set forth in the introductory paragraphs to this section on doctoral programs, a Ph.D. student and her or his advisory committee are strongly encouraged to formulate a program of study that comprises, minimally, one-quarter of the required coursework in a supporting fields. These courses may be completed in one or more departments in areas of study consistent with the student’s major program. Because individual program requirements may exceed these minimum institutional guidelines, the student is urged to review carefully the curriculum for his or her field of study.
The Qualifying Examination
Doctoral students admitted into all Ph.D. disciplines must pass a qualifying examination, normally to be taken no later than the second semester of residence. A master’s student who proposes to continue into a doctoral program should so advise his or her major professor. Thereupon, the student will be given an examination by the advisory committee to determine whether to permit the student to proceed to the doctoral level of graduate study. This qualifying examination may be scheduled in the semester during which it is expected that 36 hours of credit beyond the B.S. degree, (which are deemed acceptable toward the student’s doctoral program) will be accumulated. The examination for the master’s degree may be used as the forum for the qualifying examination, at the discretion of the department/program.
The Comprehensive Examination
When the student’s program of coursework has been substantially completed, she or he will undertake the comprehensive examination for admission to candidacy. This examination will consist of written and oral examinations covering his or her field of study and related subjects. It will be prepared by the student’s advisory committee, with potential suggestions from any faculty member from whom the student has taken a graduate course.
The student’s 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, and the results will be reported to the Dean of Graduate Education on the appropriate form supplied by the graduate office.
Satisfactory completion of the comprehensive examination requires that no more than one member of the advisory committee votes against passing. If the student passes with conditions, such as failure to pass a part of the examination, the committee shall inform her or him promptly as to how and when the conditions may be removed. If, in the opinion of two or more members of the advisory committee, the student has failed the comprehensive examination, another such examination may not be attempted during the same semester. After failure to pass a second time, work toward the doctorate can be continued only with the consent of the advisory committee, the Council on Graduate Education, and the Dean of Graduate Education.
The comprehensive examination should normally be passed at least 5 months before the dissertation is defended.
Admission to Candidacy
At least 5 months before the dissertation defense, the doctoral student should apply to his or her major professor for admission to candidacy on a form available from the graduate office. If the advisory committee and department head/program coordinator approve the application by certifying that the candidate has passed the comprehensive examination, the signed form must be returned to the Dean of Graduate Education who, in turn, will admit the student to candidacy.
It is expected that the dissertation will represent the culmination of at least the equivalent of one academic year of full-time research.
The dissertation need be of no specific length, but it must be written in grammatically proper English. It must also advance or modify knowledge and demonstrate the candidate’s technical mastery of the field. In lieu of the conventional dissertation format, the dissertation can consist of a compilation of three 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 600 words and vitae of the candidate.
The final draft of the dissertation, after all revisions recommended by the committee have been made, must be signed by the student and approved and signed by the major professor, the head/coordinator of the student’s major department/program, and the Dean of Graduate Education before final reproduction. Signatures of other committee members are allowed but not required. The Dean of Graduate Education requires the final draft of the dissertation to be submitted to the graduate office by the published deadline, approximately two weeks before graduation, to allow adequate time for review, corrections and revisions.
The institution requires one electronic copy and two paper copies (the original unbound manuscript and one bound copy) of the thesis to be delivered to the Devereaux Library in final form. Additional copies may be required by the student’s program or department. In the case of a proprietary thesis, the original hard copy and digital version will be retained without reproduction in secured graduate office files throughout the specified proprietary period.
Defense of the Dissertation
The defense of the dissertation is an oral examination open to the public except in proprietary programs. It will be scheduled at the convenience of the candidate’s advisory committee at any time after the student has completed the required coursework and after the major professor is satisfied that the dissertation is an acceptable manuscript, in terms of both technical quality and proper expression.
A final draft of the dissertation must be submitted by the candidate to each member of his/her advisory committee a minimum of 2 weeks before the scheduled dissertation defense. Earlier submission deadlines may be required by the advisory committee.
The student shall obtain and complete the graduate office 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 graduate office no less than 5 working days before the defense date. The graduate office will announce the defense to the campus community.
While the student’s committee determines the character and length of the examination, sufficient time should be devoted to a consideration of matters relating to the dissertation to test thoroughly the ability of the candidate to defend her or his work. Questions will, in general, be confined to the dissertation and to background material related to it.
Satisfactory completion of the final examination requires a “pass” vote from the graduate office representative and no more than one “fail” vote from the other members of the advisory committee. If the student fails, another examination can be scheduled only with the approval of the student’s advisory committee and the Dean of Graduate Education.
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.
By default, 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. The student’s name will appear in the program in the semester of completion, whether the student is participating in the ceremony or not, except as noted below.
A Ph.D. candidate must have successfully defended his or her dissertation and be substantially finished with all degree requirements by the designated date to participate in commencement and the hooding ceremony. A request to participate in commencement prior to completion of all requirements may be made to the Dean of Graduate Education.
A student who wishes to participate in a commencement ceremony later than the semester in which the degree is completed must notify the graduate office of his or her intent prior to the end of the semester in which the degree requirements are completed. In general, a student is expected to participate in a commencement ceremony within one year of completing the requirements for the degree.
If the requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy degree are not completed within a maximum period of 8 calendar years from the date of original enrollment in the doctoral program, the student’s program is subject to review by the staff of the student’s major department/program and the Dean of Graduate Education to determine whether a reduction in credits applicable toward the degree is justified before the student is permitted to proceed with the degree program. The procedures described under “Time Limitation” for M.S. degree candidates also apply here.
A student who is granted a Leave of Absence (see section on “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.