Thesis and Thesis Defense

Thesis Committee

  • Purpose : To provide an unbiased independent assessment of the research achievements of the student as presented in the written dissertation and oral thesis defense. The committee also serves to assess ongoing research progress and completion plans at both the candidacy and preliminary Exams (thesis proposal and thesis pre-defense).
  • Approval and Reporting : The Department graduate committee must first approve the thesis committee membership. Forms D3 and D5, which reports the membership of the thesis committee at the Candidacy Exam and Thesis Defense, respectively, must be submitted at the appropriate times to the Graduate College (through the Department For a committee that includes non-Department, non-Drexel, and/or non-faculty members, additional reporting documentation may be required (see policies on non-Department, non-Drexel, and non-faculty members below).
  • Makeup : Thesis committee must contain a minimum of five members (inclusive of student’s PhD research advisor). The majority of the total committee must be tenured or tenure-track faculty in the Department. At least one member must be from outside the Department, and may be from outside the University. Non-faculty members (e.g. from industry, national labs) are allowed but subject to approval (see policies on non-faculty members below).
  • Chairmanship : For each exam, including the final thesis defense, a thesis committee chair must be named among the faculty members in the Department that are on the committee. The chairman must not be the student’s PhD research advisor. The chairman’s role is to moderate the exams and coordinate post-exam reporting.
  • Non-Department, Non-Drexel and Non-Faculty Members : For an outside member who holds a tenured or tenure-track faculty appointment at another institution of higher education, two copies of the member’s standard academic curriculum vitae must be submitted to the Department graduate program advisor. For an outside member who does not hold a faculty appointment (maximum of one allowed), the following must be submitted to the Department graduate program advisor: (i) a curriculum vitae detailing the member’s research accomplishments and academic experience, and (ii) a letter from the student’s PhD research advisor explaining the rationale supporting the inclusion of this member. Non-Department, non-Drexel, and non-faculty members are subject to the approval by the Department graduate committee and the University’s Graduate College.
  • Co-Advising : A co-advisor from within the Department counts towards the required Department representation. A co-advisor from outside the Department but within the University can count as one outside member. There is no requirement of additional committee members in cases of co-advising.

Thesis and Defense

  • Purpose : To ensure that the student has completed a PhD project successfully and has made unique and independent contributions to engineering and science.
  • When : Should target in final graduation term.
  • Thesis (Written) : A written document detailing the entire PhD project, including background, methods, results, discussion, conclusions, and bibliography. The Drexel Library provides information on thesis format and guidelines on thesis submission.
  • Defense (Oral) : Student is required to give a formal defense of the thesis to the thesis committee. The student is responsible for scheduling the Defense.
  • Publications : The student is required to publish at least one original article in a refereed journal – this is the Department’s minimum requirement. The student’s PhD research advisor may impose further publication requirements.