Carnegie Mellon University

PhD Non-Traditional Students

Part Time PhD Students

Part-time PhD enrollment is an option available for students in special circumstances, such as students who desire to pursue a PhD part-time while maintaining external employment.  However, all PhD students must fulfill the minimum full-time residency requirement. International students may have requirements due to visa restrictions.

All part-time PhD candidates must complete one academic year (two full semesters) in residence on campus after beginning studies in the PhD program.  The two full-time semesters in residence do not have to be continuous, however at least one full-time semester should be completed prior to the semester in which the student takes the PhD candidacy exam. The purpose of the residency requirement is to ensure that all PhD graduates have spent time interacting closely with CEE faculty members and graduate students as part of their PhD experience. The time in residence also ensures an adequate opportunity to prepare for and complete the PhD qualifying examinations at the beginning of graduate study. Consequently, students intending to become PhD candidates must consult their faculty advisors concerning the appropriate format and timing of their qualifying examinations and residency before or upon initiation of PhD studies. Special situations may warrant modifications of the residency requirement, e.g., pursuit of a Ph.D. degree by a Carnegie Mellon staff member.  Petitions for modification of the residency requirement must be approved by the Department Head and the CIT Associate Dean for Graduate and Faculty Affairs.

Part-time PhD students in CEE are required to be registered for a minimum of five (5) units each semester prior to the proposal exam. After completion of the proposal exam, students are moved to ABD status and eligible to petition for reduced units.

Intern PhD Students

The Intern PhD program is a part-time program designed for students interested in interacting closely with professional practice in industry, consulting or government during their PhD studies. 

Program Requirements

  • One year of full-time residence at Carnegie Mellon
  • Intern PhD students may register for part-time status for the semesters not in residency.  During these semesters, part-time students in CEE must register for a minimum of five units each semester prior to the proposal exam.  After completion of the proposal exam, students are moved to ABD status and eligible to petition for reduced units.
  • Satisfactory completion of a two-part examination (candidacy examination and thesis proposal examination)
  • A formal arrangement with an industrial sponsor that includes regular release time for work on campus when not full-time, a co-advisor for the thesis and a commitment to provide support to complete the PhD research work.
  • Completion and public defense of a thesis.
Every Intern PhD program will be different and tailored to the individual student and industrial sponsor. A program, including a formalized schedule, is based on agreements among the student, the industrial sponsor and the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department. The thesis research should be defined in an area where the industrial sponsor has, or is planning to have, activity of a sufficient level and complexity to be the basis of a PhD research thesis.