PhD Student Status and Requirements

PhD Student Status

Applicants for the PhD program must have a research advisor and financial support. Graduate students admitted to the PhD program with an MS from another institution, or to the PhD Direct program, automatically have PhD student status.

Graduate students with an MS degree (thesis or non-thesis) from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign must satisfy three requirements to be admitted to the PhD program and enrolled as a PhD student:

  1. a minimum graduate school GPA of 3.5,
  2. approval by their MS advisor (or the AE Director of Graduate Programs for a non-thesis degree),
  3. approval by their prospective PhD advisor

A Direct PhD program is available for highly qualified students who have earned a B.S. degree and intend to pursue the PhD.


The formal requirements for the doctoral degree consist of a minimum of 64 hours beyond the MS degree. The doctoral program, consisting primarily of research, generally includes three stages:

  • the completion of the MS degree or its equivalent and successful passing of the Departmental PhD Qualifying Examination (completion of these two requirements elevates a student’s status to that of a PhD Candidate);
  • the completion of a minimum of 24 additional hours of course work and any special course requirements (independent study with thesis advisor is not allowed) and successful passing of the Preliminary Examination; and
  • research with a minimum of 40 hours of thesis credit, preparation of a dissertation, and successful passing of the Final Examination.

The three stages can be completed in a minimum of three years of full-time study. The academic program for each doctoral candidate is planned on an individual basis.

Grade Point Average

All graduate students must maintain a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of at least 3.0 to continue in the AE Graduate Program. The cumulative GPA is computed on all courses taken for credit except thesis and seminar courses in which DFR (deferred), S (satisfactory), and U (unsatisfactory) grades are recorded.