Jul 18, 2024  
2023-2024 Graduate Catalog 
2023-2024 Graduate Catalog

Systems Engineering, Ph.D.

In addition to the five steps below, process details and other requirements for the Ph.D. degree may be found elsewhere in the SMU Lyle School of Engineering Graduate Catalog. The steps for completion of the doctoral program are

  1. Basic Coursework: Upon entry into the Ph.D. program, a student is assigned an academic adviser. The adviser will examine the student’s prior background and current state of knowledge and then recommend courses to be taken in preparation for Step 2.
  2. Preliminary Counseling Exam and Program of Study: To be eligible for advanced study, a student must demonstrate competence in systems engineering fundamentals by passing the preliminary counseling examination. This exam is oral and is administered by three faculty members. Particular emphasis will be given to the material covered in the following courses: OREM 7301 , OREM 7303 , OREM 7305  and OREM 7307 .
  3. Appointment of Supervisory Committee and Advanced Coursework: Upon completion of the preliminary counseling exam, the student develops a proposed program of study that meets the degree requirements in Section II and includes the planned advanced coursework. Based upon the proposed program of study, a supervisory committee is formed. The supervisory committee makes any needed adjustments to the program of study. Changes in the program of study are subject to approval by the supervisory committee. Step 3 requires completion of the forms Recommendation and Certification of Appointment of Supervisory Committee and Doctoral Degree Plan. (All forms are available for downloading at www.smu.edu/Lyle/Departments/OREM.)
  4. Qualifying Examination: At or near the completion of the coursework, the supervisory committee conducts the qualifying examination. This exam ordinarily involves a series of take-home exams, but the format is left to the discretion of the supervisory committee. The qualifying examination is concluded by an oral exam at which time the student is expected to present a proposal for the dissertation. A written proposal must be given to the supervisory committee prior to the oral exam. Upon passing this exam, the student is admitted to doctoral candidacy. Step 4 requires completion of the form Admission to Candidacy.
  5. Dissertation Defense: The most distinguishing characteristic of a program leading to the Ph.D. degree is the requirement that the candidate write a dissertation embodying the results of a significant and original investigation. The dissertation must make a significant contribution to the systems engineering discipline, and it is expected to be a mature and competent piece of writing. The defense, which is conducted orally, must enable the supervisory committee to satisfy itself that the dissertation is an original piece of research work that it has been carried out in keeping with the highest standards of investigation and reporting and that it makes a contribution to knowledge that is of value to the scientific community. Satisfactory performance on this defense constitutes the last academic requirement to be met for the Ph.D. degree. Step 5 requires completion of the form Report on Thesis or Dissertation and/or Final Examination.

Admission Requirements

Applicants must satisfy these requirements:

  1. A master’s degree in systems engineering or a related field including aerospace engineering, computer science, electrical engineering, engineering management, environmental engineering, civil engineering, industrial engineering, mechanical engineering, mathematics, operations research, statistics or physics from a U.S. college or university accredited by a regional accrediting association or completion of an international degree that is equivalent to a U.S. master’s degree from a college or university of recognized standing.
  2. Excellent academic performance in all completed coursework, with a minimum GPA of 3.400 on a 4.000 scale.
  3. A completed application, including a statement of research intent, official transcripts for all previous undergraduate and graduate studies and payment of the application fee.
  4. Official GRE graduate school admission test results with a minimum 80th-percentile quantitative score.
  5. A minimum of two years of college-level mathematics, including at least one year of calculus.
  6. A minimum of three years of engineering experience in industry and/or government.
  7. Three letters of recommendation from individuals who can judge the applicant’s potential success as a doctoral student.
  8. Graduates from foreign countries are required to submit a notarized financial certification form. All international students whose native language is not English and who have not graduated from an American university must submit a minimum TOEFL English language proficiency score before being considered for admission as follows:
    • 550 – paper-based examination.
    • 213 – computer-based examination.
    • 80 – Internet-based examination.

Degree Requirements

In addition to meeting the Lyle School of Engineering requirements for the Ph.D. degree, candidates are required to satisfy the following minimum credit requirements:

  1. Thirty credit hours of core systems engineering courses. These credit hours must come from required graduate-level courses in systems, as specified in this section.
  2. Fifteen credit hours in an approved major that is related to a specific systems engineering focus area and consistent with anticipated doctoral research. No more than six credit hours can be independent study.
  3. Nine credit hours in an approved minor supporting the chosen research area. These credit hours can come from graduate-level courses in OREM or other departments. The minor requirement may also be satisfied by transfer credit subject to SMU’s Transfer of Credit Policy.
  4. Twenty-four credit hours for the dissertation. These credit hours must be taken in residence. The student enrolls for these credit hours in the course of writing the dissertation.

In addition, at least 18 credit hours of the 54 credit hour coursework minimum must be at the 8000 level. There must be a minimum of 24 credit hours of graduate coursework and a minimum of 24 credit hours of dissertation work, none of which have been nor can be applied to any other degree.

Focus Areas