Process for obtaining a dual PhD


The request must be submitted for approval within one semester of its development and within the first two years of the student's enrollment at Michigan State University.  The process to pursue a dual PhD in CMSE and a second discipline, regardless of whether CMSE is the primary or secondary degree, is as follows:

  1. Carefully read the CMSE dual PhD requirements and the PhD and dual PhD sections  (Sec. 3, 5) of the CMSE graduate handbook.  Find the graduate handbook for the second department and see if that department has requirements or recommendations for a dual PhD (many do). Appendix C of the CMSE graduate handbook has descriptions of prototype dual PhD programs between CMSE and several popular partner departments, which are intended to provide guidance to students and dissertation committees.
  2. Download and read the CMSE dual PhD application form, and make sure you understand how the information required is informed by the CMSE dual PhD requirements.  This form must be completed in its entirety, and signed by the appropriate faculty, before you can apply for the dual PhD.
  3.  Talk to your dissertation advisor(s) about doing a dual PhD, using your discussion to fill out the CMSE dual PhD form.  In particular, make sure to discuss the following:
    • Does your dissertation work actually satisfy the requirement that it includes significant research contributions to both CMSE and a second discipline?  (From the CMSE side, this typically implies algorithm development, the usage of existing algorithms to solve problems in a new field, or the extension of existing algorithms/software to include significantly greater computational or scientific capabilities).
    • What courses should you take in both departments to satisfy the dual PhD?  Typically one takes a subset of the required courses in both departments; see the requirements for CMSE linked above.
    • Who from the Department of CMSE and the second department should be on your dissertation committee?
  4. After doing the above, consult with the CMSE graduate director (currently Brian O'Shea) and the graduate director in your second department.  Make sure to share with them your draft of the CMSE dual PhD form.
  5. Get your dissertation committee to discuss the dual PhD (either at a committee meeting or in one-on-one discussions) and sign off on your plan.  Send the completed form (a scanned version is fine) to or drop it off in 1501 Engineering Building (c/o Heather Johnson).
  6. Start a Dual PhD Request in GradPlan.  This will require signoffs from your dissertation committee members, the graduate directors of both departments, and various deans.  You may wish to follow up with the members of your dissertation committee to ensure that they actually sign off!  (This has been a problem with committee members in the past.)