Doctorate Degree (Ph.D.)

About the Doctoral Program The Doctoral degree (Ph.D.) requires at least 72 credit hours and a dissertation. Additional courses should be taken as appropriate for the student’s research program. There is an MSE Ph.D. qualifying exam, a preliminary oral exam, and a final oral exam.


A plan of work (POW) is to be submitted by all candidates, no later than the end of their second semester. The MMSE degree requires a chairman for the POW, but no committee members. The thesis MS and Ph.D. degrees require a committee of faculty members and a chairman. Consult the director of graduate programs (DGP) for more details and approval of the POW.

Course Requirements At least 27 credit hours must come from graduate course work and the remaining credit hours from thesis research (MSE 895). The courses must include 18 credit hours of MSE 700-level graduate courses and 9 additional graduate credit hours (500 and 700 level) in MSE or other technical disciplines.
  • The MSE Ph.D. qualifying exam (QE) is required for all Ph.D. candidates. The MSE QE is based on a general oral exam that tests basic knowledge of MSE principles and includes a written research review. 
  • A Preliminary Oral Exam is also required for Ph.D. candidates and should be taken within three semesters after having completed the qualifying exam. The process for scheduling the preliminary exam can be found in the NC State graduate student handbook. See the MSE guidelines for preparing for the preliminary oral exam.
  • A Final Doctoral Oral Exam is required for Ph.D. student candidates. The guidelines for the Doctoral Oral Exam are available on the Graduate School website.
Residency Requirement 1 year. See also Visa and Immigration information and English proficiency requirements.
How to Apply Apply to our Ph.D. program
Departmental application requirements