Ph.D. Academic Policies
Academic Policies and Other Information
Registration as a full-time student is required for each student receiving assistantship support, holding fellowships, or other awards. All degree requirements (including dissertation defense and submission) have to be completed prior to the deadline set by graduate school for a given semester for graduation in that semester. If the requirements are completed past that deadline, registration in the next semester is required. UTEP does not observe in-absentia registration.
Normal Academic Progress
Students pursuing a PhD degree are expected to complete the minimum credit requirement each semester and to maintain an acceptable academic grade point average. Acceptable is understood to mean a minimum 3.00 GPA. Students who fall below these standards will be considered to be on academic probation. If a student remains below this standard for two consecutive semesters, he/she may be terminated. Each advisor has the responsibility to submit a brief progress report to the Graduate Advisor for each student advised. The report needs to be submitted at the end of each semester if the graduate student is continuing in the next semester (or summer session). Each student's progress will be evaluated. Inadequate progress may result in the termination of assistantship support.
Graduate Studies Committee
The graduate studies committee of the Civil Engineering Department consists of all the graduate faculty members of the Department. The graduate advisor of the department is also designated as the Chair of the committee.
The chair of the graduate studies committee will assign a tentative advisor in concurrence with the Department Chair to each entering graduate student. New graduate students are highly encouraged to visit with various faculty members concerning opportunities for thesis research activities or graduate design projects. After the student has decided on the preferred option area, he/she should inform the Graduate Advisor within the first six weeks of the first semester of study of the preferred faculty member to serve as the student's advisor. Whenever possible, the research interests of the student and assigned advisor will be compatible. EACH STUDENT SHOULD SCHEDULE AT LEAST ONE MEETING EACH WEEK WITH THE FACULTY ADVISOR TO ENSURE ADEQUATE COMMUNICATIONS. The advisory committee must consist of at least three faculty members of the Graduate Faculty. One member of the committee must be from outside the Department in a field related to the thesis/project problem. If a student selects a minor, then one member of the committee must be a faculty member of the minor department.
Each advisory committee has the following responsibilities:
- Review and approve the graduate student's plan of study.
- Consult with and advise the graduate student on research approach, techniques, findings, and reports.
- Review and approve the graduate student's thesis research/project proposal before substantial steps are implemented to do the research/project.
- Review the graduate student's thesis/project and suggest improvements.
- Monitor and evaluate the student's progress in meeting the course and research/project requirements for the degree.
- Conduct the required examinations for the candidate's degree program.
- Approve each of the required documents and examinations (requires a two-thirds majority vote of the advisory committee members).
A plan of study is required so that no student proceeds without advice on a specific plan. Since a plan of study is developed quite early, a student does have the opportunity to modify his/her plan to make changes that are educationally sound based on new information. The preliminary degree plan of studies must be submitted during the first semester and must contain a declaration of the option program the student will pursue, in addition, to thesis or non-thesis option. Modifications of an approved plan of study must be approved by the faculty advisor and the advisory committee. If a student's plan of study deviates from the academic course requirements for the particular graduate degree, then a petition must be submitted by the student prior to enrolling in courses that are inconsistent with the specified course requirements. Furthermore, the final degree plan must be approved before graduation.
Each entering PhD students should successfully pass a qualification examination within the first two semesters of his/her enrollment at UTEP. Students that do not pass this examination may not continue their studies at UTEP. The qualification examination at a minimum consists of the following components:
- Taking and passing the Fundamentals of Engineering Examination or equivalent during the first two semesters of study. For this test the students can use any of the available study guides to prepare. Students that have already passed this exam or are already Professional Engineers in the US are exempt from this requirement.
- Taking and passing a web-based logic-based test offered by PsychTests. For this test no preparation or study is needed. It is designed to test the student's logic skills and not his/her knowledge of any specific topic.
- Taking and passing a discipline-specific written test that will be prepared by the student's individual dissertation advisor. The advisor will provide the topics to study and prepare for this exam. Upon passing, the results of this exam will provide an avenue for the faculty members to recommend the remedial courses necessary for a student.
The advisory committee will evaluate the results of the examination and make a recommendation. If the recommendation is for continuation in the program the student may be asked to register for remedial courses. These remedial courses will be selected by the committee to correct any academic deficiencies encountered during the examination and will not be counted towards the credit-hour requirements of the program. A recommendation for dropping a student from the program can be made if the advisory committee concludes that the student is significantly deficient and will not be successful in pursuing a doctoral degree.
Each PhD student is expected to complete and present a research proposal to the advisory committee. The proposal should be submitted to the advisory committee as early within the student's program as possible, and no later than the student's third semester. The approved proposal will serve as a guideline for initiation of the student's research. Copies should be prepared for each member of the advisory committee. After the research proposal has been approved by the student's committee, a copy of the approved proposal is to be submitted to the Graduate Advisor for placement in the student's file. The proposal should include:
- Dissertation Title - should be brief and clear.
- Statement of problem - should be in sufficient detail so that its nature, importance, and possible benefits are clear.
- Review of Literature - should indicate familiarity with past work.
- Objectives - should be concise and logical.
- Procedure - should be sufficiently detailed so that general plans and methods are clear. It is recognized that the development of specific experimental procedures may sometimes evolve as the project is pursued. In this case, the process for developing the procedures should be stated.
- Resources Needed - should indicate the equipment and personnel resources needed to complete the project.
- Timetable - should indicate tentative deadlines for completing various aspects of the research project.
The entire proposal should be brief. The faculty recognize that when a research proposal is formulated rather early in a student's graduate program, it may be necessary to modify the proposal at a later date. If a modified research proposal represents a significant re-direction, then it should be approved again by the student's advisory committee and the graduate studies committee of the department.
Dissertation Guidelines and Specifications
A PhD candidate must demonstrate ability to do independent research and competence in scholarly expositions by the preparation of a dissertation on a topic related to the major subject. The dissertation should represent a significant contribution to knowledge, be presented in a scholarly manner, reveal an ability on the part of the candidate to do independent research of high quality and indicate considerable experience in using a variety of research techniques.
All students must complete a final oral examination, consisting primarily of defense of the dissertation research. However, the examination may cover all courses in the student's degree plan. The dissertation is to be developed by the student with the supervision and criticism of the faculty advisor. The draft dissertation should be submitted first to the faculty advisor. After the dissertation has been approved by the faculty advisor, the student needs to distribute a copy to each member of the advisory committee. The student must allow enough time to make changes as required by the advisory committee. The student should plan to present the final draft of the dissertation to members of the advisory committee at least three weeks prior to the date of the final oral exam. The final draft should be complete in every respect including figures, tables and bibliography; the content and style should be correct and polished.
Graduate students should allow a minimum of three weeks for their graduate committee members to review draft copies of a dissertation. Turnaround time for dissertation reviews can often be reduced considerably if the graduate student notifies the committee members in advance of the date when draft copies will be submitted for review. The student and his/her advisor may agree to prior review of the dissertation, either section-by-section or in its entirety or both.
Guidelines for the preparation and submission of the dissertation can be obtained from the Graduate School Webpage.
A graduate student has the right to submit a petition concerning any academic and/or administrative policy related to the graduate degree program. The petition needs to be approved by the student's faculty advisor and the advisory committee before it is directed to the Graduate Advisor or the Department Chair. The Graduate Advisor will forward the petition to the Dean of the Graduate School for the final decision if necessary. The Departmental Graduate Studies Committee will make the recommendations on petitions relating to policies and requirements promulgated by the Department. In all cases, a petition must be submitted as early as possible so that the student has time to develop alternative plans if the petition is denied. Problems that develop between a student and member(s) of the advisory committee can be arbitrated on a confidential basis by the Department Chair and/or the Graduate Advisor, as appropriate.