The Robotics PhD program of study comprises a minimum of 108 credits, including at least 48 credits of coursework and 36 credits of Thesis (ROB 603). The balance may either constitute additional coursework and/or thesis credits or come from other sources such as research, reading and conference, etc. At least 50% of the course credits should represent stand-alone graduate courses (500 level or above). The remaining credits may include the 500 component of 400/500-level courses. Of the coursework credits, 16 must come from approved “core” courses.

Robotics Core

The intent of the Robotics core is to ensure each program of study both specializes in robotics, and contains sufficient breadth. To that end, the four-course core comprises one introductory course, one hands-on robotics course, one autonomy course, and one fundamental control/dynamics course:

  1. ROB 514: Introduction to Robotics
  2. ROB 521: Applied Robotics
  3. ROB 537: Learning-Based Control -OR- ROB 534: Sequential Decision Making in Robotics
  4. ME 531: Linear Multivariate Control Systems I -OR-  ME 533: Nonlinear Dynamic Analysis

Timeline of a PhD in Robotics

The major milestones in completing a PhD in robotics at Oregon State are listed below. For more information about these milestones, please contact the graduate advisor (Lynn Paul).
Selecting a major professor

Your major professor will serve as your primary advisor throughout your graduate program. While we assign all incoming MIME graduate students an interim advisor, it is your responsibility to select your major professor and assemble your committee as soon as possible. Your PhD program of study, which must be filed with the Graduate School prior to the sixth term of enrollment, requires your committee's approval.
Qualifying examination

The purpose of the PhD qualifying exam is to assess students’ research skills (their ability to analyze, interpret, and communicate fundamental scientific, mathematical, and engineering concepts) for the purpose of determining their aptitude for the PhD program. The examination also includes a diagnostic function to highlight potential weaknesses in the students’ background that can be addressed through additional coursework or independent study.
Qualifying exam format

The qualifying exam consists of:

  • A written research paper on a topic selected by the committee. This will generally consist of literature review with a discussion highlighting the interesting research directions in that topic. The committee will specify the format and length of the paper, which will be due one week prior to the scheduled oral examination.
  • A 30 minute oral presentation on the topic of the research paper.
  • A 30 minute examination session on:
    • topics presented in the research paper
    • topics identified by the committee as a result of evaluating the research paper
    • material from two graduate courses (selected by the student from the robotics core)

Qualifying exam timeline

The qualifying exam is conducted every Winter term. Students entering the program with an MS degree must take the qualifying exam in their second year in graduate school. Students entering the program with a BS degree must take the qualifying exam in their third year in graduate school.
Program of Study meeting

After passing the qualifying examination and establishing a PhD committee, students must convene a program meeting at which all committee members (including the Graduate Council Representative) are present. The purpose of this meeting is for you to present your program of study. At this meeting you will also present an approximate timeline for PhD requirement completion (coursework completion, preliminary exam, and final oral exam).
Preliminary exam

The preliminary examination evaluates a PhD candidate's research methodology, experimental plan, and interpretation of preliminary results (if appropriate). The purpose of the exam is to allow the committee to aid the candidate in planning and implementing the highest quality thesis.
Preliminary exam format

The preliminary exam consists of:

  • A 15 page (NSF style) proposal. Conceptually, this is the proposal that would have led to the work conducted by the student. Having performed part of the research, the student is in a position to formulate this proposal and is expected to demonstrate an understanding of the impact of the performed research.
  • A presentation of the proposal to the committee
  • An oral examination on the proposal’s content

Preliminary exam timeline

The preliminary exam must be scheduled through the Graduate School using their Exam Scheduling Form, and exam takers must be formally enrolled (for a minimum of 3 credits) during the term in which the exam takes place.
Final Oral Examination

After completing all required coursework and thesis credits and submitting the pretext pages of your thesis to the Graduate School, you must schedule your final oral examination through the Graduate School using their Exam Scheduling Form. Also, you must be formally enrolled (for a minimum of 3 credits) during the term in which the exam takes place.

For the most recent university guidelines and requirements, please consult the Graduate School.