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School of Engineering Science Simon Fraser University Calendar | Spring 2019

Engineering Science

Doctor of Philosophy

The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in engineering science is a program intended for those who wish to develop advanced independent research skills. Candidates with strong aptitude for research and exceptional quantitative, analytical, and design skills pursue a research-intensive program leading to a substantial contribution to knowledge in engineering science.

Admission Requirements

Applicants must satisfy the University admission requirements as stated in Graduate General Regulations 1.3 in the SFU Calendar, and have the following:

  • A master's degree in electrical engineering, biomedical engineering, computer engineering, mechanical engineering, physics, computer science, or a related field; 
  • Submitted evidence of capability to undertake substantial original research; 
  • Identified a faculty member as a senior supervisor. 

Transfer from the Master's program to the PHD program

Proceeding to a PhD program without completing a master's degree is discouraged. However, a student may be admitted after at least 12 months in the Master of Applied Science (MASc) program if all non-thesis requirements have been completed with a 3.67 or better cumulative grade point average (CGPA), outstanding potential for research has been shown, and approval of the student's supervisory committee, graduate program committee and senate graduate studies committee has been given.

Program Requirements

This program consists of 18 units of course work, a qualifying examination, and a thesis. Additional courses may be required to correct deficiencies in the student's background. If the subject matter of a listed course has been previously completed with graduate credit, the course may not be completed again for credit.

Students must complete a minimum of 18 units of coursework beyond the MASc degree, including

six units of ENSC graduate courses (excluding ENSC 701, ENSC 702, ENSC 703, ENSC 803, ENSC 820, ENSC 891, ENSC 892, ENSC 896, ENSC 897, ENSC 898, ENSC 899)

and 12 units of additional courses subject to the following rules

  • At most six of these units can be for a senior ENSC undergraduate courses not previously taken for credit
  • At most six units can be for directed studies
  • ENSC 701 - Graduate Co-op Practicum I (3) can be used towards the degree requirement, in which case at most three units of directed studies can be taken
  • ENSC 803 cannot be used towards the degree requirement

and a qualifying exam

ENSC 880 - PhD Qualifying Examination (0)

Qualifying examination for admission to doctoral candidate standing in the School of Engineering Science. A written thesis proposal is to be submitted to the Supervisory Committee and presented orally no earlier than two weeks after submission. The proposal's defence will be judged according to the feasibility and scientific merits of the proposed research, and demonstration of a sophisticated understanding of general material in the student's major area of research. Graded on a satisfactory/unsatisfactory basis. Prerequisite: ENSC PhD student.

and a thesis

Course Work

Course alternatives can be substituted with the approval of the student's supervisory committee. If the subject matter or a required course has been previously completed for credit, the course may not be completed again for credit.

Qualifying Examination

The student will submit a brief written research proposal and defend it orally to his/her supervisory committee within the first 24 months of admission. The student should register for ENSC 880 - PhD Qualifying Exam (0) in the semester in which the research proposal is to be defended. The proposal’s defence will be judged according to the feasibility and scientific merits of the proposed research, and demonstration of a sophisticated understanding of general material in the student's major area of research. This level of understanding is associated with senior undergraduate and first year graduate course material.

The possible outcomes of the qualifying examination are “pass”, “marginal”, and “fail”. A student with “marginal” will be required to re-submit the research proposal and defend it for the second and final time within six months and/or to complete more courses. Failing the qualifying examination will trigger an unsatisfactory progress report which may require program withdrawal as per Graduate General Regulation 1.8.2.


Students define and undertake original research, the results of which are reported in a thesis. An examining committee is formed as defined in Graduate General Regulation 1.9.3. The Senior Supervisor will be an engineering science faculty member approved by the graduate program committee.

Annual Progress

The student’s progress will be reviewed every 12 months by a supervisory committee of two or more faculty members. At each annual review, the student presents a summary of his/her work to date, with the first review being the research proposal defence described in the section titled Qualifying Examination (see above). Students not making satisfactory progress in their research topics, or failing to demonstrate satisfactory knowledge and understanding of recent publications in their general area of research, or failing to have their revised research proposal approved by the supervisory committee within 20 months of admission, may be required to withdraw as per section 1.8.2 Review of Unsatisfactory Progress of the Graduate General Regulations.

Program Length

Students are expected to complete the program requirements in four years.

Academic Requirements within the Graduate General Regulations

All graduate students must satisfy the academic requirements that are specified in the Graduate General Regulations, as well as the specific requirements for the program in which they are enrolled.