The Catholic University of America

Doctoral Degree Program

The doctoral program requires a master's degree in an appropriate field at an accredited institution; successful completion of a minimum of 30 credit hours above the master's degree; a written doctoral qualifying examination and a written comprehensive examination; completion of an approved dissertation in a selected area; and passing of an oral examination of the dissertation. Doctoral programs are arranged in close consultation with a faculty advisor.  

EECS Departmental Requirements For Ph.D. Dissertation Proposal

Updated: April 2015

The combined EE and CS graduate committees met to formulate the department's requirements for approval of a dissertation topic, and their relations to those of the University.

The University's requirement of the "two-page summary," addressing the Statement of the ProblemPurpose,MethodologyContribution and Originality, and Selected Bibliography, is the starting point for assessing additional requirements that are recommended at the department level. In particular, in order to obtain approval of the Doctoral Dissertation Topic and Committee form by the dissertation committee, the candidate must give an oral presentation before the committee. The presentation should fulfill the following criteria:

  • The candidate must demonstrate in-depth knowledge of the general subject area;
  • The candidate must display reasonably comprehensive familiarity with the technical literature relevant to the projected field of study;
  • The candidate is expected to clearly define the problem at hand and identify the anticipated contributions that will mark the success of the proposed study;
  • The candidate must distinguish and situate the originality of the expected contributions, and compare them to existing results and/or alternate approaches to the problem;
  • The candidate must answer satisfactorily any questions from the committee relating to the field of study, the expected contributions, and the potential impact of the proposed work.

The university requirements stipulate that the candidate should not embark in research beyond the preliminary stage of the investigation prior to approval of the topic by the University.

After the approval of the Doctoral dissertation Topic and Committee by the committee the major Professor should present it to a meeting of EECS faculty and obtain approval by the faculty before forwarding it to the Dean.

The EE and CS graduate committees further believe that a feasibility appraisal of the research plan is a critical indicator of potential success or failure of the project. Accordingly, the committee will require that the candidate present preliminary results specific to the dissertation topic, within three to six months of the approval of the Doctoral Dissertation Topic and Committee by the University. The preliminary results should be developed in an extended summary (or "Long Form," between 20 and 40 pages) accompanied by an oral presentation to the committee. At the committee's discretion, it can decide not to require the second presentation.

 

Number of courses

The PhD requires 54 credit hours (or 18 courses), of which 24 are normally obtained during a Master's program, leaving 30 credit hours at the PhD level:

  • For students with a Master of Science degree from an external institution, 30 credit hours (i.e., 10 courses) are required for the PhD degree;
  • For students with a Master of Science from CUA, the requirement drops to 24 credit hours (i.e., 8 courses).

Comprehensive Exam

After the doctoral student has passed18 credit hours (6 courses), he/she is eligible to take the Comprehensive Examination, consisting of two-hour examinations in three (3) subject areas, for a total of six (6) examination hours. These subject areas are proposed by the student's Dissertation Advisor in a recommendation to the Department Chair, who then forwards the recommendation to the Dean for final approval.

Dissertation Proposal

After the student has successfully passed the Comprehensive Exam, he/she may begin writing the Dissertation Proposal. This consists of two parts:

1. A two-page written summary addressing:

  • Statement of the Problem;
  • Purpose;
  • Methodology;
  • Contribution and Originality;
  • Selected Bibliography.

2. An Oral Presentation fulfilling the following criteria:

  • The candidate must demonstrate in-depth knowledge of the general subject area;
  • The candidate must display reasonably comprehensive familiarity with the technical literature relevant to the projected field of study;
  • The candidate is expected to clearly define the problem at hand and identify the anticipated contributions that will mark the success of the proposed study;
  • The candidate must distinguish and situate the originality of the expected contributions, and compare them to existing results and/or alternate approaches to the problem;
  • The candidate must answer satisfactorily any questions from the committee relating to the field of study, the expected contributions, and the potential impact of the proposed work.

The university requirements stipulate that the candidate should not embark in research beyond the preliminary stage of the investigation prior to approval of the topic by the University, which is granted/rejected based on the two-page written summary. The Oral Presentation is required within three to six months of the University's approval of the dissertation topic, and is intended to satisfy the department's requirement for verifiable preliminary results; it is usually accompanied by a Long Form summary (between 20 and 40 pages). At the dissertation committee's discretion, a combined oral presentation, which addresses the University's requirements for approval in parallel with the department's requirement for verifiable preliminary results, may be acceptable.

Dissertation Defense

Following successful completion of the research objectives laid out in the dissertation proposal, the complete dissertation is formally written and presented to the dissertation committee. This is followed by an oral defense in which the PhD candidate is to present the major findings of the research project to a public audience, and successfully answer all questions raised by the committee members.

 

Ph.D. Dissertation Procedure

Doctorate Dissertation Checklist

Ph.D. Comprehensive Examination Guidelines

Doctoral Dissertation Oral Defense Guidelines

Relevant Classes