PhD Program

The PhD program prepares candidates for a career in engineering teaching, research, or consulting. The program offers opportunities for advanced research in the areas of Mechanical Engineering, Biological Engineering, Computer Engineering, Environmental Engineering, Engineering Systems and Computing, and Water Resources Engineering. The PhD program is available in full-time as well as part-time studies. The program provides advanced training in the engineering sciences and research methodology through a combination of course work, independent research, a qualifying examination, and the production and defence of a research dissertation.

Program Fees

Please refer to Student Financial Services for further information about Graduate Fees.

Degree Requirements

The prescribed program of study must consist of no fewer than 2.0 credits in addition to those taken as part of the MASc degree. At least 1.0 of the credits must be engineering graduate courses. Of the remaining 1.0 credits, 0.5 credits must be at the graduate level, and the other 0.5 credits may be graduate credits or senior undergraduate engineering credits. Depending on the student's background, the advisory committee may specify more than 2.0 credits, including undergraduate make-up courses. If make-up courses are deemed necessary, they will be considered additional courses.

PhD Qualifying Examination

The PhD Qualifying Examination should be no later than the student's fifth registered semester (full-time students).  The examination is held after the student has completed the required coursework. 

At that time the Advisory Committee will request the SOE Associate Director, Graduate Studies to schedule the examination by using the School of Engineering Qualifying Examination Request Form.  At the same time the Advisory Committee will submit an evaluation of the student’s coursework and of his/her potential as a researcher. The Associate Director, Graduate Studies will select the Examination Committee as outlined in the Graduate Calendar.

The examination includes written and oral components and is normally completed within a two-week period.  The written part consists of four examinations, each 90 minutes in length, and is to be completed within two consecutive days.  The oral examination will follow one week later and will not exceed 3 hours in length. 

PhD Final Examination

Candidates for the PhD Degree must submit a thesis on research of an approved topic. The thesis is expected to contribute significantly to knowledge in the field, and the candidate must explain this contribution. The thesis must demonstrate mature scholarship and critical judgement and be sufficiently meritorious to warrant publication in reputable scholarly journals in the field. The SOE Associate Director, Graduate Studies will arrange for an Examination Committee as outlined in the Graduate Calendar. The duration of the examination will not exceed 3.5 hours and will follow the format outlined in the School of Engineering Guidelines for Oral Examination of Thesis

Typical Program Timeline (Full-Time)

Typical Program Timeline for PhD Program    
Semester 1 - 3 Coursework

4 courses (minimum 2.0 credits)

  • 1.5 credits must be graduate level
  • 1.0 credits must be from engineering graduate courses
By Semester 5 Qualifying Exam  
Semester 5 + Research

Research for thesis

  • Successful completion and defense of a thesis based upon research of an approved topic


Collaborative International Development Studies (IDS) Designation

Students in the Environmental Engineering and Water Resources Engineering fields can choose to combine their PhD with an IDS designation (PhD.ENGG + IDEV). The collaborative IDS specialization provides an opportunity for advanced students to engage with interdisciplinary development theories and to conduct research on international development. Completion of the IDS program adds the designation "International Development Studies” to the PhD degree. This designation provides the necessary disciplinary qualifications for the academic job market as well as the interdisciplinary breadth required for development policy and practice.

Degree Requirements

Students complete requirements for the departmental degree as well as the IDS components which consist of two core courses:

  • IDEV*6800 [0.50] Theories and Debates in Development
  • IDEV*6850 [0.50] Development Research and Practice

Students must obtain a minimum final grade of 75% in each of the two IDS PhD core courses to remain in the IDS collaborative specialization.

Requirements from the School of Engineering:

  • Two graduate level Engineering courses (to be selected in consultation with Advisor)
  • Thesis