PhD Programme

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The ISTD PhD programme is a 4-year programme with course requirements and strong research components with one of the ISTD faculty members. As part of the PhD degree requirements, the following examinations must be passed: an oral qualifying examination (QE), an oral preliminary examination (PE) and the thesis oral defence (OD). Are you interested? Find out about our application requirements here.

Course Requirement

  • A student is required to take a minimum of four graded technical courses. The student can choose any graduate courses offered by ISTD. For graduate courses offered by other pillars and clusters, the student would need to seek advice from the advisor.
  • A student with a Master’s degree may apply for waiver of specific course requirements by submitting the request form. The graduate committee shall decide on the application based on the graduate courses taken by the student. The approval will be on a case-by-case basis. Approval of exemption would allow the student to add the course being exempted to the transcript, the student must still fulfill the course requirements by taking a minimum of four other graded technical courses.

All students are recommended to complete the required coursework prior to the end of the first year of PhD study.

Other Requirements

  • To be eligible for a PhD degree, a student must pass an oral QE (before the end of the second year of candidature) and an oral PE (before the end of the third year of candidature) and the thesis oral defence (OD).
  • All students must complete the necessary teaching assistantship assignment(s).

Qualifying Examination (QE) and Preliminary Examination (PE)

A student must pass an oral QE and an oral PE. The examinations will be conducted by a faculty committee. The examinations are to assess a student’s understanding of the research topic; progress towards solving the research problem; and plan to achieve the goal of the thesis research. The student will propose at least two faculty members, in addition to the advisor(s), to be approved by the ISTD graduate committee chair or pillar head to examine the student. The student’s advisor will be a member of the committee. At least half of the chosen committee members should be research ISTD faculty. The graduate committee chair or pillar head will appoint the Chair to the committee. At the end of a student’s oral examination the committee could make one of the following three recommendations: Pass, Fail with one additional chance, and Fail. In the event a second chance is available, the student must re-appear for the examination before the end of the following term. A student failing the oral examinations may not continue the PhD programme.

Thesis Oral Defence (OD)

The student will propose a Thesis Examination Committee (TEC) consisting of at least two faculty members, in addition to the advisor(s), to be approved by the ISTD graduate committee chair or pillar head to examine the thesis. At least half of the chosen committee members should be research ISTD faculty. The graduate committee chair or pillar head will appoint the Chair to the TEC. The main advisor MUST propose 3 external names (outside of SUTD) for the graduate committee to select ONE External TEC member to examine the thesis. The main advisor may propose 3 additional names for each additional External TEC member.  The student will be required to defend her/his work in an oral examination. A student must have met SUTD’s PhD requirements, completed the course requirements with a minimum overall GPA of 3.5 out of 5.0, passed the QE and PE, and the oral defence to be able to quality for the PhD degree.

Major Milestones

Complete all course requirements Before end of Year 1
Pass QE Before end of Year 2
Complete all teaching assistantship assignments Before end of Year 3
Pass PE Before end of Year 3
Pass Oral Defence Before end of Year 4