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These policies pertain to the standard doctoral program in Project Management (PM). Students electing to pursue doctoral work in Civil Systems are subject to different policies. The PhD program is residential. UMD does not offer an online PhD program in Project Management.


1.1.  The full-time faculty of the PM program (hereafter, Faculty) will meet as a group to review applicants to the PhD program and vote by majority to accept or decline individuals.

1.2.  Successful applicants must have a master’s degree from the University of Maryland or a peer institution, having achieved at least a GPA of 3.5 on a 4 point scale in their Masters program, and having attained a score of at least 1200 on the combined verbal and quantitative parts of the Graduate Record Exam (GRE).

1.3.  Successful applicants must have a demonstrated capability for research work.


To qualify for the PhD degree, the student must accomplish the following:

2.1.  Complete a program of course work approved by the program faculty. This program must include a minimum of 18 units of graduate courses beyond the Masters Degree and beyond the required Project Management Program Core courses.

2.2.  Maintain a grade point average of at least 3.5.

2.3.  Pass the PhD qualifying examination.

2.4.  Submit and present a dissertation research proposal to the student’s Dissertation Committee of which the committee approves.

2.5.  Submit a dissertation for review by the student’s Dissertation Committee

2.6.  Pass an oral examination in defense of the dissertation.


3.1.  Upon enrolling in the program, the student along with his or her advisor shall develop a written study plan for the PhD degree.

3.2.  This plan must be approved by the Faculty during the first semester of the student’s enrollment.

3.3.  This plan shall comprise an educational objective, a set of courses to be satisfactorily completed, and a tentative schedule.

3.4.  Students entering this program without previously having completed the Project Management Master’s program are required to take a minimum of 18 credit hours of courses in the project management curriculum (which may include outside courses subject to approval) in addition to the Graduate School requirement of a minimum of 12 credit hours of dissertation research.

3.5.  Unless otherwise waived by the Faculty, the plan will include the six (6) core courses of the PhD program: program: (i) Introduction to PM, (ii) project cost accounting and finance, (iii) legal aspects of engineering design and construction, (iv) management of project teams, (v) project performance measurement, (vi) research methods seminar. These core courses must be completed or in progress before the student will be accepted to take the Qualifying Examination.

3.6.  The advisor will monitor progress against plan and call for adjustments to the plan as prudent.


4.1. To be accepted for candidacy, students must demonstrate a broad understanding that includes knowledge of proven and traditional practices that are widely applied in the profession of Project Management as well as knowledge of innovative and advanced practices with emphasis on their coursework. In addition to demonstrating command of the Project Management basics, the student must also demonstrate their research capability. Students wishing to sit for the qualifying exam must submit a copy of their transcript and examples of their writing ability to the chair of the committee (Examiner) at least 60 days in advance of the exam date. Permission to take the exam will be issued by the Examiner.

The PhD qualifying examination will test the student’s knowledge of curricular materials in the five (5) core subjects of the PhD program. To be eligible for the qualifying examination a student must have a cumulative GPA of 3.5 or higher for courses taken in the program.

4.2.  The PhD qualifying examination will be held under the officiation of an Examiner, who shall be a tenured or tenure-track member of the PM faculty. The Examiner will be appointed each year by the Faculty, and may change from year to year.

4.3.  The Examiner will appoint other instructors of any rank, and including all of the tenured or tenure faculty, from the PM program to comprise the examining committee. These other instructors, given their expertise in particular topics of Project Management, can include adjunct faculty who hold terminal degrees in their specialties but need not themselves hold PhD degrees in Civil Engineering

4.4.  Grading for the qualifying examination will be pass-fail and will take into account the student’s past coursework as appropriate. The decision to pass a student will be made my majority vote of the tenured and tenure-track Faculty.

4.5.  Students who are not successful will have one additional opportunity to pass the qualifying examination within one calendar year.

4.6.  The PhD qualifying examination will be held once a year, normally in January. It will consist of two parts, a written part and an oral part. The student must be physically present in College Park for the oral part of the examination.

4.7.  Upon successful completion of the PhD examination, the student will advance to Candidacy.


5.1.  Upon achieving candidacy, the student shall form a Dissertation Committee. This committee comprises a minimum of five (5) members conforming to the requirements of the Graduate School. The Chair of this committee is the student’s academic advisor and dissertation supervisor, and must be a tenure-track member of the Department faculty.

5.2.  The Dean of the Graduate School, in accordance with Graduate School Policies, appoints the Dissertation Committee. The application to form the Committee is processed through the Graduate Student Coordinator’s office.

5.3.  The Dissertation Committee must consist of a minimum of five members; additional members may be required by the department or invited to serve at the discretion of the program. All members of the Dissertation Committee must be members of the Graduate Faculty of UMCP with four members being from the department. One member must be appointed as a representative of the Dean and be from outside the department. The Chair of the Committee must be a Regular Member of the Graduate Faculty and be from the Department.

5.4.  At its first meeting, the Dissertation Committee will review the candidates Plan of Study and mandate changes, if any, as it sees fit.


6.1.  The selection of dissertation topic is the responsibility of the student in collaboration with his or her advisor. The research should involve the systematic investigation of a topic that is significant and timely and that contributes to the generation of new knowledge and to the solution of relevant project management problems. The student must choose a topic and select a professor to serve as advisor. The professor must approve the topic and agree to serve as advisor prior to the PhD qualifying examination.

6.2.  The purpose of the Dissertation Research Proposal is to determine the student’s capability to successfully complete a PhD dissertation on the proposed research topic. The written research proposal should be submitted to the Dissertation Committee at least two weeks before presentation to the committee. The objectives of the proposal are:

6.2.1.  To ensure that the student has a clearly defined, acceptable, and re-searchable topic

6.2.2.  To ensure that the student has an acceptable research plan

6.2.3.  To receive constructive criticism and suggestions from the members of the Dissertation Committee

6.2.4.  To sharpen the focus of the dissertation and minimize the time period for completion of the dissertation

6.3.  The Dissertation Research Proposal should contain at least the following sections, and be limited to 25 pages including references and figures:

6.3.1.  General introduction of the problem indicating the scope and depth of the research

6.3.2.  The need for, or reason for conducting, the research

6.3.3.  Objective of the research;

6.3.4.  Hypothesis to be tested and other questions to be considered;

6.3.5.  Methodology of the research;

6.3.6.  Sources of data;

6.3.7.  Anticipated problems with the research with suggestions on how to over-come them,

6.3.8.  Schedule for completion of the dissertation (project plan).

6.34. Approval by the Dissertation Committee of the research proposal is required before undertaking the bulk of the research in preparation of the dissertation.


6.5.  Work on the dissertation may begin at any time. However, all requirements and admission to Candidacy must be completed at least one semester prior to defense of the dissertation.

6.6.  It is expected that the candidate will meet with his or her committee at least yearly, or more often at the discretion of the advisor, to review progress.

6.7.  If at this time there is a large divergence among the committee, a major deviation from the approved research proposal, or there is a quality issue of substance, the student should be officially informed that they are not on track to graduate at their intended time.

6.8. Non-resident candidates shall be present to meet with the Dissertation Committee or Advisor at least once per academic year until completion.


7.1. The dissertation defense constitutes a public presentation to the Dissertation Committee and features invited guests, open questions, answers and discussion, and a closed-door meeting of the Dissertation Committee. The candidate will be notified of the decision of the Committee at the end of their consideration.

7.2.  The complete draft of the dissertation should be submitted at least one month in advance of the intended graduation date. This gives the committee time to provide substantive feedback.

7.3.  The final hardcopy of the draft dissertation is due to the Dissertation Committee at least two weeks prior to the defense. In the event this cannot be satisfied, the dissertation defense will be rescheduled

7.4.  External examiner

7.4.1.  The External Examiner should be an eminent scholar with knowledge of the area of research of the dissertation. The purpose of the External Examiner is to give an independent assessment of the correctness and significance of the dissertation.

7.4.2.  The External Examiner should be independent of the candidate, the supervisor, and the University. The External Ex aminer should not be a research collaborator of the candidate or the supervisor; he or she should not have an adjunct appointment at the University.

7.4.3.  The External Examiner should receive the dissertation for review at least one month prior to the scheduled defense.

7.5. Conduct of the oral defense

7.5.1. Oral Examination Requirement. Each thesis student must defend orally his or her thesis as a requirement in partial fulfillment of the degree.

7.5.2.  Attendance at the Examination. Oral examinations must be attended by all members of the student’s officially established Thesis Examining Committee as approved by the Dean of the Graduate School. All examinations must be open to members of University of Maryland Graduate Faculty, and may be open to a broader audience. Should a lastminute change in the constitution of the Thesis Examining Committee be required, the change must be approved by the Dean of the Graduate School in consultation with the program’s Graduate Director and the chair of the student’s Thesis Examining Committee.

7.5.3.  Remote Participation in Examinations. The Graduate School policy is that all members of a Thesis Examining Committee must be physically present in the examination room during the entire defense and during the committee’s private deliberations following the examination. Participation by telephone is not permitted. While re-affirming this policy, the Graduate Council approved a policy to permit remote participation by video teleconferencing under the following circumstances:

⇒ Permission to conduct a remote-participation defense must be obtained by the thesis chair from the graduate school in advance. In making this request, the chair must indicate in writing that he or she has read the rules for a remote defense listed below.

7.5.4.  A competent video technician must be present at both the university site and the remote location for the entire duration of the defense in the event that technical difficulties arise

⇒ Only one remote site may be used during the defense.

⇒ The candidate and the committee chair must both be present in the examination room. Neither may be at the remote site.

7.5.5. Location of the Examination. Oral examinations of theses must be held in University facilities that are readily accessible to all members of the Thesis Examining Committee and others attending the examination. The chair of the Thesis Examining Committee selects the time and place for the examination and notifies the other members of the committee and the candidate.

This article was last updated on October 5, 2016.