Feb 29, 2024  
2023-2024 Academic Catalog 
2023-2024 Academic Catalog

Applied Sciences, with specializations in Biotechnology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Global Public Health and Nanotechnology (Ph.D.)

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Doctor of Philosophy in Applied Sciences

The Ph.D. in Applied Sciences is an interdisciplinary program that applies modern approaches from the experimental, natural and life sciences in conjunction with theoretical and computational methods from the disciplines of engineering, mathematics, and computer science to the solution of advanced problems of fundamental importance. The Ph.D. program in Applied Sciences emphasizes the application of research methods and procedures to advanced areas of importance in the sciences and technology. The program builds on the premise that advancing the applied sciences and technology must be based on fundamental comprehension of the various disciplines, while continually being responsive to the needs of new technologies, and the interdisciplinary nature of the modern scientific enterprise. This program is administered by a committee that has a representation of faculty from various graduate programs in the School of Sciences and Engineering.
This program offers a Ph.D. degree in Applied Sciences with specializations in:

Admission Requirements

  • M.Sc. in an Engineering or Science discipline
  • Demonstrated proficiency in the English language as determined by AUC graduate admissions

Program Objectives

The mission of the Ph.D. programs in Applied Sciences and Engineering is to provide in-depth training to students in the natural sciences, engineering, and computer science and in the conduct of original research leading to a doctoral dissertation. The programs cater to the demands of academic, industry, and research institutes and place a strong emphasis on originality, professional practice, and ethical behavior.

The programs’ primary goal is to provide students with an opportunity to contribute to the advancement of knowledge in the field of applied sciences. The Ph.D. graduates fulfill societal needs with consideration for ethical and environmental issues and an appreciation of lifelong learning. The program’s specific objectives are to enable graduates to:

1. Conduct independent research that extends the knowledge base of their field(s) of interest.

2. Work collaboratively in multidisciplinary or interdisciplinary teams locally and globally.

3. Pursue a leading position in academia or in their fields of research profession.

Program Outcomes

Upon completing the degree requirements for the Ph.D. Program in Applied Science, graduating students should be able to:

1. Identify relevant hypotheses that advance scientific knowledge of importance to the profession or the community.

2. Assess the different research methodologies and choose the best suited for their topic of research.

3. Apply quantitative and qualitative research methods pertaining to their field of study.

4. Communicate, orally and in writing, advanced theories, concepts, and ideas effectively with a range of audiences.

5. Create and disseminate scholarly work in recognized academic venues.

6. Adhere to ethical principles in research.

Doctoral of Philosophy Degree Requirements

Students going through this program are expected to successfully complete the following requirements:

  1. Pass the required course work with a GPA of 3.0 or higher: This ensures the breadth of knowledge of the Ph.D. student.
  2. Pass a Qualifying Examination: This signifies that course work is completed and that the student has sufficient background knowledge in her/his field of specialization.
  3. Present and defend a proposal of the intended research work: This demonstrates that the candidate has defined her/his research problem and is capable of identifying the research methodology that she/he will adopt.
  4. Submit a written Dissertation and defend it in a final Oral Defense: This marks the completion of the requirements for the Ph.D. degree.

Doctoral Coursework:

As part of the process of achieving candidacy, a doctoral student must complete a set of courses known as the doctoral candidacy coursework. It includes at least thirty-six (36) credit hours of relevant graduate coursework beyond the bachelor’s degree, of which at least eighteen (18) credit hours must be earned at AUC. Students who change their major specialization from that used for their master’s degree to a new specialization for their Ph.D. degree may have to take more than thirty-six (36) hours to fulfill the course requirements. Because of the interdisciplinary nature of the program and in order to ensure sufficient breadth of study, the program is designed to include required core coursework in areas outside one’s main specialization. In addition, the student must complete 3 credit hours of Seminar courses and register for thirty-three (33) credit hours of Dissertation research work. Courses for each specialization will be listed at the 5000 and 6000 levels in addition to remedial courses to be taken at the 4000 level whenever deemed necessary.

The Academic Advisor and the Research Advisory Committee:

The academic advisor is determined by the specialization of the student and is particularly important for assistance in the preliminary course planning of a student’s Ph.D. program. Each specialization has at least one faculty member advisor (usually the Graduate Program Director of the discipline). The academic advisor will be available to the student to help in her/his preliminary choice of the courses. As the student progresses in the program she/he chooses the members of the Research Advisory Committee, which consists of the Chair of the Committee (Dissertation supervisor) and at least two other members. This committee plays a greater role in finalizing the courses for the student’s Plan of Study and in advising her/his research work. It is the responsibility of the student to find an AUC faculty member willing to serve as the Chair of the Research Advisory Committee and to choose in consultation with her/him the other members.

Ph.D. Plan of Study for Qualification and Candidacy:

The Ph.D. Plan of Study is intended to help the student select courses and will ensure that she/he has an academic program that meets the Ph.D. coursework requirements. The Plan of Study will also allow the students to identify a sequence of courses that meets her/his professional objectives. A preliminary Plan of Study will be drafted in consultation with the student’s academic advisor and should be submitted before the student signs up to take the Ph.D. Qualifying Examination.

As the student advances in the program, she/he should choose the members of her/his Research Advisory Committee.The final plan of Study will be drafted in consultation with the Research Advisory Committee. A final up-to-date copy must be submitted before the student applies to take the qualifying exam.

The Plan of Study must contain a listing of the courses the student has taken or intends to take to satisfy the qualification coursework requirements and must constitute a coherent program within the scope of the chosen specialization. It is the student’s responsibility to make sure that all requirements are met. Any departure from the requirements must be requested by a written petition, which should normally flow starting from the supervisor, to the director of the specialization area, then the Associate Dean for Graduate Studies and Research for final approval.

Doctoral Qualifying Examination:

The purpose of the Ph.D. Qualifying Examination is to evaluate the student’s ability to analyze problems and to synthesize solutions. It should demonstrate the ability of the student to interrelate basic concepts and ideas in her/his field of study. At least twelve (12) weeks prior to the examination, the student must submit a request indicating her/his intention to take the examination. The Ph.D. Qualifying Examination will be administrated by an Examining Committee in each specialization.. Following the examination, the Examining Committee will submit an evaluation of the student’s performance to the Office of the Associate Dean for Graduate Studies and Research. The qualifying examination is typically taken in the semester immediately following the completion of the coursework credit hours, but no later than during the fourth semester since admission into the program. Any deviation from this schedule must be made by written petition and subsequent approval as indicated earlier.

The Proposal Defense:

Typically in the semester immediately after the successful completion of the qualifying examination, the student has to write a research proposal under the guidance of the Dissertation supervisor and will give a Proposal Presentation in front of the Research Advisory Committee. Upon the acceptance of the proposal by the Research Advisory Committee, the student makes an oral presentation of the research proposal, including relevant background material. During and after the presentation, the committee will explore the research project with the student in order to provide guidance and make an evaluation of its suitability. They will report their recommendation to the Office of the Associate Dean for Graduate Studies and Research. In case the student does not present an acceptable proposal, the student must take immediate steps to refine the proposal in consultation with the dissertation supervisor. The Proposal Presentation requirements are completed when the Research Advisory Committee chair reports a successful proposal presentation to the office of the associate dean for graduate studies and research at the School of Sciences and Engineering.

Following acceptance of the proposal, the Dissertation Defense Committee is finalized. This consists of the three members of the Research Advisory Committee in addition to two external examiners. The external examiners should be well-qualified and highly-established experts in the candidate’s field of study. The external examiners will be selected in consultation with the supervisor, the Research Advisory Committee and the director of the specialization area and approved by the PhD program director and the associate dean for graduate studies and research at the School of Sciences and Engineering.

Publications Requirement:

The candidate is expected to have at least two accepted peer-reviewed international research publications before the dissertation defense, one of which must be a journal publication. The publications should be originating from the PhD (not from a previous MSc).

The Dissertation and Its Defense — Final Oral Defense:

Upon completion, the dissertation will be sent to the external examiners for evaluation. The examiners will be contacted by the PhD program director two months before the final oral defense and will be asked to provide detailed written evaluations of the dissertation. The examiners’ recommendations will inform the decision of the PhD program director and the associate dean for graduate studies and research on whether the student proceeds to final oral defense or whether major revisions - including additional work - are needed. Copies of the external examiners’ reports will be shared with the student before the defense in order to have them addressed. The student will defend the dissertation in an open examination before the committee. The remote attendance of an international external examiner residing abroad in the final oral defense is permitted. Each member of the Dissertation Defense Committee will submit a written evaluation of the dissertation after the Oral Defense. Following the successful oral defense, the student must consult with the dissertation supervisor about any changes required by the committee, and must address these changes before the final submission of the dissertation to the school dean.

Course and Research Requirements

Minimum number of credit hours beyond the B.Sc. degree: 72

Dissertation hours   33 (BIOT 6980 , CHEM 6980 , CSCE 6980 , GHHE 6980 , NANO 6980 )

Seminar hours          3

Course hours          36 (See below)

The required number of semester credit hours of coursework to be taken for the Ph.D. degree is dependent upon the M.Sc. degree and is determined by the academic advisor or program director of the student at the time of admission. At least eighteen (18) credit hours of course work must be earned at AUC.

Case 1: M.Sc. from AUC

Case 1A: M.Sc. in the same Applied Sciences discipline from AUC.
              A candidate may receive up to 24 hours of credit to be counted towards the Ph.D. degree

Case 1B: M.Sc. in a different Applied Sciences or Engineering discipline from AUC.
              A candidate may receive up to 18 hours of credit to be counted towards the Ph.D. degree

Case 2: M.Sc. achieved outside of AUC

Case 2A: M.Sc. in the same Applied Sciences discipline, or an equivalent discipline, achieved outside AUC.
              A candidate may receive up to 18 hours of credit to be counted towards the Ph.D. degree

Case 2B: M.Sc. in a different Applied Sciences or Engineering discipline achieved outside AUC.
              A candidate may receive up to 12 hours of credit to be counted towards the Ph.D. degree

A plan of study will be developed under the guidance of the academic advisor of the student at the time of admission and may be modified later on by her/his Research Advisory Committee. Courses are to be selected from the following, noting that at least eighteen credit hours of course work must be earned at AUC as earlier indicated:

I- Core Courses

Core courses are selected from an area outside of the specialization of the student.

Admission Case 1A and 1B: at least 3 credit hours.
Admission Case 2A and 2B: at least 6 credit hours.

II- Specialization Courses

Dependent on the admission status, the student will take the following number of credit hours in their relevant area of specialization:

Admission case 1:

 Case 1A: at least 6 credit hours.

 Case 1B: at least 12 credit hours.

Admission case 2:

 Case 2A: at least 9 credit hours.

 Case 2B: at least 12 credit hours.

5000-level masters courses offered by the graduate programs of Biotechnology (BIOT), Chemistry (CHEM), Computer Science (CSCE), Nanotechnology (NANO) and Physics (PHYS) are considered specialization courses. At least one of the courses taken in the specialization must be a 6000-level course relevant to the student’s specialization from the following list:

III- Dissertation and Seminars (Minimum of 36 credit hours)

Dissertation work includes completion of:

  • Graduate Thesis Seminar 3cr.

Research Dissertation Guidance, a minimum of 33 cr. (BIOT 6980 , CHEM 6980 , CSCE 6980 , GHHE 6980  or NANO 6980 )

A student may register for up to 12 research dissertation guidance credits while conducting research at an entity outside AUC. Conducting research outside AUC is subject to recommendation from the dissertation supervisor of the student, and approval of the PhD program director, as per the latest PhD guidelines. The dissertation supervisor must be fully involved in any such research. Additionally, evidence of demonstrable collaboration between the dissertation supervisor and the entity outside AUC where this research is to be conducted, as well as the contribution of this external entity to this research, must be provided by the dissertation supervisor to the PhD program director prior to the proposal defense.

Students will not be allowed to register beyond 12 dissertation hours unless defending their PhD proposals. After completing 33 credit hours of dissertation, the course may be taken for one credit hour each semester until completion of the program requirements.

A PhD guidelines manual will detail advising, the qualifying examination, the proposal defense, and the dissertation defense.

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