Use this page as a guide through the process.  Print the Program Checklist now.

Requires a Master of Science degree program in an engineering or science field. Exceptional students may be admitted directly from a baccalaureate program in engineering, science or mathematics. Admission requirements are summarized in detail in the Ph.D. Handbook. 
[COE-PHD-01 Ph.D. Program Handbook of Policies and Procedures]

Read the handbook carefully and use this checklist in order to familiarize yourself with the required steps in your program.
When: First Semester

By the beginning of the first Ph.D. semester, identify a faculty advisor.
When: First Semester (a)

  1. If you do not have a faculty advisor, the Ph.D. Committee will assign you an interim advisor.

  2. A permanent advisor must be identified by the beginning of the third semester of course work.

When: Third Semester (b)

By the beginning of your first semester, meet with your advisor or Office of the Graduate Program Coordinator and fill out the anticipated dates of completion of each Ph.D. Program step in the boxes on the right. Make a copy of this form for your records and submit this form with your signature and your advisor’s signature to the Office of the Graduate Program Coordinator. 
[COE-PHD-02 Ph.D. Degree Program Checklist]
[COE-PHD-02.1 Ph.D. Degree Program Checklist Signature Page]
When: First Semester

  1. Full time students are required to take the qualifying examinations at the conclusion of the second semester of coursework.

  2. Part time students are required to have taken all of their qualifying examinations by the conclusion of the fourth semester of coursework.

Exam Dates:  Held at the beginning of each Fall and Spring semester on the second or third week of school.  Math is on a Wednesday and Discipline is on a Friday.  Please refer to GE Calendar for exact dates.

Students must register to take the examinations by filling out the registration form and submitting it to the Office of the Graduate Program Coordinator at least 60 days before the dates of the examination(s).
[COE-PHD-04 Application for Ph.D. Qualifying Examinations]

The qualifying examinations procedure is fully described in the referenced handbook which should be carefully studied prior to registering for the exams.
[COE-PHD-03 Ph.D. Qualifying Examinations Guidelines]

By the beginning of your third semester of coursework (fifth semester for part-time students) identify your advising committee and submit the form with verification (either in writing or by email) that each committee member is willing to serve on the committee. The regulations for forming the advising committee are detailed in the Ph.D. Program Handbook.
[COE-PHD-05 Ph.D. Appointment of Advising Committee]

By the beginning of the third semester of coursework (fifth semester for part-time students), meet with your advisor and advising committee and establish your plan of study for coursework and any extraordinary requirements established by your committee. After the signatures of your advisor and the advising committee are obtained, submit the original Plan of Study form to the Office of the Graduate Program Coordinator.

[COE-PHD-06 Ph.D. Plan of Study]
[COE-PHD-06.1 Prior Course Approval]
[COE-PHD-06.2 Permission To Change Plan of Study]

The comprehensive examination is normally taken after the fourth semester of coursework (sixth semester for part-time students), when the student has completed most of the formal coursework and other requirements outlined in her/his Plan of Study. The elements are:

  1. Written Examination (Dissertation Proposal)
  2. Written Examination—Disciplinary topics (optional)
  3. Oral Comprehensive Examination

Request to take the Comprehensive Examination must be made by submission of the referenced form to the Office of the Graduate Program Coordinator at the time of submission of the Dissertation Proposal to the committee. The Oral Comprehensive Examination will be scheduled at least 30 days after submission of the application and written proposal.

[COE-PHD-07 Application for Ph.D. Proposal Defense (updated 11/7/2022)]

[COE-PHD-07.1 Instructions for Oral Portion of the Comprehensive Examination]

Prior to the final Oral Defense, the student must formally submit an application for candidacy which must be approved and signed by the student and thesis advisor, and Office of the Graduate Program Coordinator. This form confirms that all requirements except the final defense have been met.
[COE-PHD-08 Application for Admission to Ph.D. Degree Candidacy]

The defense is scheduled by submitting the referenced form to the Office of the Graduate Program Coordinator and must be scheduled at least 6 months after the Comprehensive Examination, and at least 30 days after submitting a satisfactory dissertation draft to the advising committee.
[COE-PHD-09 Application for Dissertation Defense (updated 1/4/2023)]

A printed and signed copy of the final dissertation must be submitted to the Office of the Graduate Program Coordinator at least 14 days prior to the official end of the semester in which the student wishes to graduate. The official formatting requirements may be found in the referenced document.
[COE-PHD-10 Thesis and Dissertation Preparation Guide]

For questions about graduate admission or enrollment:

Kyle Murray
Assistant Director, Graduate Enrollment Operations

For current or incoming PhD students with questions:

Leslie McNamee
Assistant Director, Graduate Programs Operations



PhD student Li Chen

INTERN Supplement Supports PhD Student’s Opportunity with Nokia Bell Labs

An NSF INTERN supplement to an existing Phase II I/UCRC grant for the Center for Energy-Smart Electronic Systems will fund an opportunity at Nokia Bell Labs for Villanova PhD student Li Chen. Li will be working with Dr. Rafaelle Luca Amalfi on electronics cooling projects, which will complement his PhD research on the environmental sustainability of data centers. Li’s advisor is Dr. Aaron Wemhoff

Cutting-Edge Study Reveals Engineering Properties of Enhanced Bentonites

Cutting-Edge Study Reveals Engineering Properties of Enhanced Bentonites

Canadian Geotechnical Journal has published a new paper by PhD candidate Shan Tong and Assistant Professor Dr. Kristin Sample-Lord on the engineering properties of enhanced bentonites. The paper presents the results of Tong’s cutting-edge multi-year experimental study to better understand how polymer addition impacts the rate at which contaminants can move through bentonite barriers and into the environment over time. More.

PhD student Menglong Lei

Doctoral Student Recognized by ASME Fluids Engineering Division

Villanova PhD student Menglong Lei has been selected as an ASME Graduate Student Scholar for the Computational Fluid Dynamics Technical Committee by the ASME Fluids Engineering Division. The award is based on his submitted paper "Effects of Wing Kinematics on Modulating Odor Plume Structures in the Odor Tracking Flight of Fruit Flies.” Lei’s advisor is Dr. Chengyu Li, assistant professor of Mechanical Engineering.