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Engineering Management & Systems Engineering:Doctoral Programs

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Outside view of Engineering Systems Building.

ODU's EMSE department offers two exciting doctoral degrees: the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Engineering Management and Systems Engineering and the Doctor of Engineering (D.Eng.) in Engineering Management and Systems Engineering. Both of these doctoral degrees are designed to let students develop world-class expertise in their chosen fields of study.

The Ph.D. maximizes the research experience that should be expected in a high-quality doctoral research program. Each student is advised and mentored to evolve into extraordinary, multidisciplinary scholars and researchers.

The D.Eng. is designed to develop world-class professional systems engineers and engineering managers. This is achieved by combining the highest-level education and practical business experience. We do this by integrating EMSE departmental capabilities with the relevant problems and environment of a sponsoring company. This ensures that each student advances theoretical knowledge in a practical context.

Our Ph.D. and D.Eng. degrees have been built to leverage the research and know-how of the faculty. We purposefully chose to build the programs on the unique relationship that exists between a faculty advisor and the doctoral student, and work to build a collaborative environment.

  • For a Ph.D. student, collaboration means that we seek to work together on highly focused problems that are defined by the faculty's research agenda and objectives. The real benefit to the student lies in being advised by a subject matter expert in a field, and the interaction that comes from having an advisor that has a vested interest in the dissertation research.
  • For a D.Eng. student, collaboration lies in the transfer of know-how, and in some cases technology, that a faculty member has developed as part of his or her research, to companies as part of the link that a student forms between the EMSE department and the student's sponsoring company. The benefit to the advisee lies in the support that they will be provided from faculty expertise, which will be augmented by the practical know-how of an advisor from within the organization sponsoring the doctoral project.

Our admission process, curriculum, and mentoring activities are all developed to support this focus.

We train doctoral student to successfully be able to take on the challenges encountered working in highly specialized fields in industry, government, and academia. A good part of this success lies in being able to obtain one of these coveted jobs.

Luckily, very few individuals with doctoral degrees in engineering will ever find themselves unemployed. Deceptively, however, just getting started in a desired field can take quite some doing. Recent graduates are often surprised to find that the degree that they have obtained, the highest level in a field, provides little in the way of a competitive advantage. Doctoral degrees are a minimum entry requirement for jobs that demand doctoral level studies. Desirable jobs are competitively awarded, and the competition is fierce. Completing a Ph.D. or D.Eng. is generally not enough. Successful graduates will have treated their years as doctoral students as a career development phase. Students must have a holistic, well-developed "curriculum vitae" on graduation. They must be able to substantiate their claims of scholarly expertise, research skill, pedagogic prowess, and the ability to obtain funding and other support for all of these activities.

A lot is demanded of the individual, not only as a student, but also as professionals. The student will leverage their own actions by establishing a support network, advising, and mentoring. To ensure that these leveraging activities are effective, it is necessary that the student finds or works within a tightly bound field of study defined by the expertise of the faculty in the department.

To be successful requires high levels of self-reliance to define uncharted paths and lines of inquiry, self-motivation to keep progressing, and the willingness and determination to commit extensive hours to study and development. In the end, even this may not be enough when faced with the prospect of reading hundreds of journal articles and books. There is a glue that keeps the student going, that makes looking for another relevant paper exciting. It is a trait that all successful doctoral students share: passion for their field of study.

Finally, the student that starts on a broad path of career development from an early point in their doctoral studies will essentially make the greatest gains. This means that the most successful doctoral students start their studies knowing what they are passionate about.


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