Ph.D. Degree Requirements (Ocean Engineering)

The Ph.D. in Ocean Engineering program is aimed at training graduate students to achieve the highest level of proficiency in research. Mathematics, fundamental sciences, ocean sciences and engineering sciences are combined to provide a personalized program of study and research. All graduate students work in close cooperation with the faculty on their dissertation area.

Residency Requirement

The student must meet a campus residency requirement of at least one continuous academic year devoted exclusively to full-time study in the major field at the University of Delaware. The residency requirement may be fulfilled in the fall and spring semesters but not in the summer or winter sessions. If a student has earned a master's degree at the University of Delaware, this can be used to fulfill the residency requirement.

Course Requirements

A student's doctoral program, comprising 72 credits beyond the bachelor's degree (including doctoral dissertation), is planned around a central objective in applied science and mathematics. If a student who already holds a master's degree in the specific field of study is accepted directly into the Ph.D. program, the coursework from the master's degree will be taken into account in the design of the doctoral program. All courses in the program are selected with the approval of the student's dissertation advisor. The program requirements are shown in the following table.

Graduate Courses Beyond the Bachelor of Science Degree 36

The purpose of the course work is to provide a solid foundation for original research in the field of study and, within the limits of available time, to extend the student’s knowledge outside that field. At least 6 of the required credits should be taken outside of the Program of Ocean Science and Engineering and may include significant components from other departments.

RESEARCH (minimum) 9
MASTER’S THESIS (if applicable) 6

Required courses include courses in mathematics and engineering sciences designed to insure that Ph.D. candidates have the basic skills in Physical Ocean Science and Engineering needed to conduct dissertation research.

Required courses beyond the Bachelor of Science:

  • CIEG639/MAST691 Ocean Fluid Dynamics
  • CIEG672 Water Wave Mechanics
  • MEEG690 Intermediate Engineering Mathematics
  • MEEG691 Advanced Engineering Mathematics
  • MAST693 Waves in the Marine Environment
  • MAST882 Physical Ocean Science and Engineering Seminar
  • CIEG865 Civil Engineering Seminar

Students matriculating from other universities may petition to have these courses waived if their course of study included equivalent courses.

Doctoral Committee

Each Doctoral Committee shall consist of no fewer than four or more than six members. The selection of members of the Doctoral Committee is made by the student and advisor. This is forwarded via the Department Chairperson or a program director and respective college deans to the University Coordinator of Graduate Studies. A Doctoral Committee in the Ocean Engineering program is required to have at least four members. This is composed of the student's advisor, who is also the chair of the committee, at least one member each from CMES and CIEG faculties, and one member from an outside academic unit. At least two committee members, one of whom is the committee chairperson, represent the major field of interest.

Qualifying Exam

Doctoral students must demonstrate to their advisory committee that they have acquired a comprehensive grasp of their field of study through a Qualifying Examination (written and oral) before they are admitted to formal candidacy.

The examination process begins when the student submits a dissertation proposal to his/her committee at least six weeks before the written and oral examination. Then the student consults each member of the Doctoral Committee for advice on any specific preparation that the committee members suggest. Any committee member who is not fully satisfied with a student's preparation for the formal exam will advise the Doctoral Committee chairperson promptly.

The Qualifying Exam is a comprehensive written and oral exam. It is administered in two sections approximately a week apart. This examination is designed to test the student's preparation and the aptness of the proposed research. It measures the student's preparation, including knowledge about the area of Physical Ocean Science and Engineering, the student's capability to apply knowledge gained in courses, and the student's qualifications in written and oral communication. Qualifying exams are not open to the public. The advisor, as Exam Committee Chairperson, administers the written exam and chairs the oral. The written exam usually consists of one independent exam of at least two hours duration set by each of the committee members and administered over two or more consecutive days. At the oral exam, the student gives a brief review of the research plan and then answers questions from each committee member related to the dissertation proposal or to the student's coursework. In general, the Doctoral Committee should strive to achieve consensus concerning the student's performance and quality of work. In the case of dissenting votes, the majority opinion rules and a majority vote in favor is needed for a successful defense. Upon successful completion of the Qualifying Exam, the committee members signify agreement by signing the appropriate graduate office form.

  1. Passed; candidacy form signed by all committee members.
  2. Passed, but additional work required (self study or formal course); form signed by all committee members. If the Qualifying Exam Committee recommends passing but with additional study or course work, the Committee Chairperson will ensure that the student meets these recommendations promptly.
  3. Failed, but to be offered a second complete exam after, in most cases, one semester of additional preparation; memo of record from advisor via the Department Chairperson to the Office of Graduate Studies. If unsuccessful a second time, the student will not be permitted a third attempt, and matriculation in the program will be ended. The form signed by all committee members
  4. Failed, no re-examination; form signed by all committee members and matriculation in the program will be ended.

Dissertation Defense

Upon completion of the dissertation, a final oral examination must be passed, consisting of a defense of the dissertation and a test of the candidate's mastery of the fields covered in the program. The final oral examination is open. It is conducted by the student's Doctoral Committee and chaired by the student's advisor. To permit adequate time for the committee to review the dissertation, all copies of the tentatively completed dissertation (subject to revisions required by the examining committee) must be deposited with the program director and the respective college offices at least two weeks before the date of the final oral examination. The advisor shall submit certification of a successful defense to the Office of Graduate Studies through the respective college deans.


All full-time graduate students are required to attend departmental or college seminars in their fields of study (CIEG865 or MAST882), registering as a "Listener" in subsequent semesters. Students will also make presentations at these seminars. Students are also encouraged to attend other University seminars that may be of interest to them.

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