PhD Degree Requirements

Degree Requirements

The Ph.D. program in Robotics Engineering strives to educate men and women to:

  • Have an advanced understanding of the Computer Science, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Mathematics, and Mechanical Engineering underlying robotic systems.
  • Apply tools and concepts from Management and Systems Engineering to realize robotics systems and exercise professional leadership.
  • Make significant research contributions in selected areas of robotics.

Admission Requirements

Students will be eligible for admission to the program if they have earned an undergraduate or graduate degree in Computer Engineering, Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Robotics Engineering, or a related field from an accredited university. Applicants must supply a Statement of Purpose, three Letters of Recommendation, and Graduate Record Examination scores. The GRE requirement may be waived for WPI students and alumni, or at the discretion of the Robotics Engineering Graduate Program Committee when supplied with additional supporting materials such as published papers or a record of work experience. Admission decisions will be made by the Robotics Engineering Graduate Program Committee based on all of the information presented in the application.

Degree Requirements

The Ph.D. program in Robotics Engineering requires 60 credit hours of work beyond the M.S. degree or 90 credit hours beyond the B.S degree. Coursework must include 3 credit hours of Management or Systems Engineering courses at the 500 level or above. This requirement may be satisfied as part of the M.S. in Robotics Engineering or other M.S. program. All entering students must submit a plan of study identifying the courses to be taken and a prospective research area before completing more than 9 graduate credits. The plan of study must be approved by the student’s academic advisor and submitted to the RBE Graduate Program Committee, and must include the following minimum requirements. For students entering with an M.S., the 60 credits shall be distributed as follows:

  1. Coursework, including Special Topics and Independent Study (12 credits). If not already included in the M.S. degree, the credits must include 3 credit hours of Management courses at the 500 level or above, or 3 credit hours of Systems Engineering courses at the 500 level or above.
  2. RBE 699 Dissertation Research (30 credits).
  3. Other. Additional coursework, Independent Study, RBE 598 Directed Research or RBE 699 Dissertation Research (18 credits).

For students entering with a B.S., the 90 credits shall be distributed as follows:

  1. RBE M.S. Degree Requirements (30 credits).
  2. Coursework, including Special Topics and Independent Study (12 credits).
  3. RBE 699 Dissertation Research (30 credits).
  4. Other. Additional coursework, Independent Study, RBE 598 Directed Research or RBE 699 Dissertation Research (18 credits).

Summary of Credit Requirements

Enter with M.S. Enter with B.S.
M.S. Degree Requirements 30
Coursework 12 12
Additional Courses/Research 18 18
Dissertation 30 30
Total 60 90

Doctoral Qualifiers

The Doctoral Qualifiers evaluate each student’s level of academic preparation.  The Doctoral Qualifiers consist of four topic qualifiers: Technical, Writing, Speaking, and Research. The requirements for each qualifier are described in the Graduate Regulations.  Doctoral students must successfully complete the Doctoral Qualifiers before 1) completing 30 credits towards the Ph.D. for students entering with M.S., or 60 credits towards the Ph.D. for students entering with B.S., and 2) before completing 18 credits of directed research.  Advancement of the student into PhD candidacy is contingent upon successful completion of the Doctoral Qualifiers.

Dissertation

Dissertation Committee

Within one semester after the successful completion of the Doctoral Qualifiers, the student, in consultation with the Research Advisor, assembles a Dissertation Committee. The committee consists of the Research Advisor and three additional members, at least one of whom must be from outside the WPI RBE Program. The Dissertation Committee is responsible for approving the Dissertation Proposal and the Dissertation.

Dissertation Proposal

The Dissertation Proposal describes the student’s proposed research. The Dissertation Proposal should be sufficiently detailed to convince the Dissertation Committee of the student’s understanding of the problem domain along with the significance of the proposed work.  

The Dissertation Proposal must be defended in a public presentation, immediately followed by private questioning from the Dissertation Committee. The Dissertation Committee then determines the outcome of the Proposal Defense. It may accept the proposal, reject the proposal and recommend pursuit of a different topic, or require the student do additional work before reconsidering the proposal. The time frame for the student to do additional work on the Dissertation Proposal is determined by the Dissertation Committee.

Dissertation

All Ph.D. students must complete and orally defend a Dissertation prepared under the supervision of the Research Advisor. The research described in the Dissertation must be original and constitute a contribution to knowledge in the major field of the candidate. The Dissertation must be defended in a public presentation, immediately followed by private questioning from the Dissertation Committee. The Dissertation Committee then determines the outcome of the Dissertation Defense, certifying the quality and originality of the research, and the satisfactory execution of the Dissertation. It may accept the Dissertation with or without revisions, reject the Dissertation, or require the student do additional work before reconsidering the Dissertation. The time frame for the student to complete additional work is determined by the Dissertation Committee.   

Admission

Students will be eligible for admission to the program if they have earned an undergraduate or graduate degree in Computer Engineering, Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Robotics Engineering, or a related field from an accredited university. Applicants must supply a Statement of Purpose, three Letters of Recommendation, and Graduate Record Examination scores. The GRE requirement may be waived for WPI students and alumni, or at the discretion of the Robotics Engineering Graduate Program Committee when supplied with additional supporting materials such as published papers or a record of work experience. Admission decisions will be made by the Robotics Engineering Graduate Program Committee based on all of the information presented in the application.

Faculty

This is a joint program administered by the Computer Science, Electrical & Computer Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering departments, comprising faculty members who are interested in robotics graduate education and research and who hold advanced degrees. The Robotics Engineering undergraduate and graduate programs share the Director and Associate Directors.

 
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