The Ph.D. Thesis Proposal is an oral examination and an integral part of the Ph.D. approval process.

Students who successfully pass the Research Aptitude Examination are recommended to take the Ph.D. Proposal exam within 24 months of passing the Research Aptitude Examination. However, they must pass the Ph.D. Proposal exam within 48 months of passing the Research Aptitude Examination to remain in good standing (unless otherwise approved by the graduate studies committee). If the student successfully completes the requirements for an M.S. degree within 18 months of passing the Research Aptitude Examination, an additional 6 months is added to both limits.

The proposal committee must include at least three members of the faculty in ChBE. These faculty members are listed on the Faculty page of this website. All of these members will normally serve on the final dissertation committee.

An exemption from the above requirement can be granted under special cases. To request an exemption, the student’s advisor must petition the Graduate Director detailing specific reasons for the request and listing the modified committee. The Graduate Director will make a decision on the request after consulting with the Graduate Studies Committee.

The candidate must submit an electronic document to the committee at least 5 business days before the examination. If requested by a committee member, a hardcopy will be provided. The proposal must follow one of the two template options provided on-line with both requiring a maximum of 15 pages (description and graduation timeline) single spaced with font and margin definitions described in this template. Double spaced is allowed at the discretion of the faculty advisor and all single-spaced page limits will be doubled. Additional material to supplement the proposal may be included in the appendix but should be limited to supplementary figures, tables, detailed methods, or complex theoretical derivations. This document must be prepared with the consultation of the thesis advisor and be approved before sending out to the PhD proposal committee. 

For formatting requirements, download a template:

Abstract/Summary Submission and Announcement

Please submit a completed abstract (or summary), proposal title, and the time, date and location of your proposal exam to Kathy Gardinier ( one week in advance. This will be announced to the ChBE community. 

The following must be documented on the final page(s) of each student's written proposal:

  1. A list of publications on which the student is either the first author or a co-author. Provide the full citation (title, all authors, DOI, etc.). Subdivide into:

    1. Publications that have appeared in print: specify full citation

    2. Publications that have been submitted and are under review: specify dates

    3. Publications that will be submitted after the defense: specify tentative titles and dates

  2. A list of conference presentations on which the student is either the first author or a co-author. Provide full details (title, authors, etc.). Specify speaker. Subdivide into:

    1. Presentations that have been delivered

    2. Presentations that have been scheduled (abstract accepted): specify dates

    3. Presentations for which abstracts will be submitted: specify tentative titles and dates

The candidate must prepare an oral presentation, approximately 25-30 minutes in length. The seminar is open; however, the final deliberations are closed to all but the committee members.

The student must secure a majority of positive votes to pass. The student may apply for admission to candidacy to the Ph.D. program upon passing the Ph.D. Proposal exam.