PhD Program

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PhD Program2020-09-08T17:16:34+00:00

PhD Overview

The Science, Mathematics and Technology (SMT) graduate students explore, excel and collaborate in a friendly, rigorous learning environment. While excellent candidates are drawn to SUTD for its excellent reputation, many cite the powerful sense of warmth, enthusiasm and intellectual excitement on campus are the deciding factor in their choice to enrol.

Many of our admitted students have an undergraduate background in Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Mathematics, Technology and any other relevant fields. Due to the interdisciplinary nature of the cluster, our graduates are encouraged to pursue diverse research areas that align with their ambitions and expand their knowledge.

Overview of the PhD Programme

PhD Intake Qualifying Examination (QE) 4-year scholarship
(Non-MOE funded: A*STAR SINGA, EDB-IPP, SMART)
5-year scholarship
(MOE funded)
Oral Defence before TEC-approved Thesis*
Submission to OGS before
Oral Defence before TEC-approved Thesis*
Submission to OGS before
Sep End of Year 2 End of Aug
Year 4
1 semester beyond
Year 4
End of Feb
Year 5
End of Aug
Year 5
Jan End of Year 2 End of Dec
Year 4
1 semester beyond
Year 4
End of Jun
Year 5
End of Dec
Year 5

*The PhD final thesis must be approved by the Thesis Examination Committee (TEC).

Overall Requirements

In addition to the general requirement of submitting a research thesis and passing an oral defence, a student working towards a PhD degree in the SMT cluster is required to:

  1. Fulfil 4 or 5 regular graduate level courses^,
  2. Complete 1 term of research project course,
  3. Participate in 2 terms of research seminars,
  4. Teaching duties (required for students under scholarships. The exact terms and conditions will be provided when the scholarship is offered)

^ A student with a Bachelor’s degree is required to take five courses. A student with a Master’s degree is required to take four courses.

PhD Programme Details

The PhD programme at SMT cluster provides interesting courses and research components with one of the SMT-faculty members. As part of the PhD degree requirements, the following requirements must be fulfilled.

Course Requirement

I. Course Work

Course work consists of three components: Graduate level course, research seminar, and research project.

1) Graduate Level Course

  • A student working towards a PhD degree is required to take four or five graduate courses. A student with a Bachelor’s degree is required to take five courses, while a student with a Master’s degree is required to take four courses.
  • Courses can be chosen from the available graduate level courses at SUTD, related to the research area of the student, and in consultation with the PhD advisor.
  • All students are recommended to complete the required course work before their PhD Qualifying Examination (QE) and Thesis Proposal.

2) Research Seminar

  • All students must attend the Research Seminars offered by the SMT cluster for at least 2 terms during their course of study. A minimum attendance of 75% of all scheduled seminars is required.
  • The Research Seminars consist of a series of talks related to the research areas of the students and the students are required to submit a short write-up/report after attending each seminar.
  • All students are recommended to complete their Research Seminars before their PhD QE and Thesis Proposal.

3) Research Project

  • All students must take at least one research project during their course of study. The research project can be chosen from those provided by the SMT cluster, the EPD/ESD/ISTD pillars, or external projects (e.g. industry projects or research projects with A*STAR Research Institutes (RIs)), and in consultation with the PhD advisor.
  • For each external project, the advisors must consist of at least one faculty member in SMT cluster and at least one collaborator in the company or RI.

II. Other Requirements

  • Some scholarships have a requirement on teaching experience. For these scholarships, students must complete (teaching assistant or equivalent) a minimum number of teaching hours during the programme, typically two courses.
  • All students are recommended to complete their teaching assignments 6 months before their thesis examination.

III. Qualifying Examination (QE)

  • Students must take a PhD Qualifying Examination (QE) to assess whether they possess the attributes of a successful PhD candidate. It should be taken after the first year and by the end of the second year of PhD study.
  • It consists of: (1) a written report and (2) a 45 minutes oral presentation.
    The QE is to assess a student’s understanding of the following aspects of their PhD study:

    • The general field of PhD study and the specific focus
    • A comprehensive literature review
    • Development of a rational research plan
    • Preliminary results
    • Expected final outcome
  • The QE will be assessed by a faculty committee (Qualifying Examination Committee (QEC)) appointed by the Head of SMT cluster or Graduate Committee Chair of SMT cluster.  The committee must be comprised of a Chair (tenured faculty from SMT), the PhD advisor, and at least two or three other faculty members of SUTD (from any related pillars/clusters).  The student, together with his/her advisor, would propose the QEC members, with their agreement, subject to the approval by the Head of SMT or Graduate Committee Chair of SMT. The QEC may include an optional additional external member not within SUTD. The same QEC may serve as the Thesis Examination Committee (TEC).
  • Maximum allowable attempt for QE: Two.
    If a student fails the 2nd attempt, his/her research scholarship and candidature will be terminated.
  • Please click here for information about requirements, format, committee, time frames, results form, etc.

IV. Thesis Examination

The final written thesis must be submitted to the PhD Thesis Examination Committee (TEC) and the student will be required to defend his/her work in an oral presentation. The committee can be the same as the QEC.

V. Students must also meet up other general requirements of PhD programme of SUTD

More information on the general requirements can be found here.

Download PhD Programme Brochure