Doctoral Resources

Calendar by Year | Course of Study ResourcesPre-Candidacy Exam Resources | Proposal Resources |

Data Collection and Statistical Resources | Funding Resources | Conferences | Career Resources

Forms, Policies, and Petitions

Doctoral Program Guidance

This information is meant to be yet another resource as you work through your doctoral program.  Students are expected to complete the degree within five years of achieving candidacy, but no more than seven years from the date of the first enrollment in their Rackham doctoral program.  Our PhD Timeline is found in the beginning our PhD Handbook.  Rackham provides writing resources and other tips via the Rackham's Doctoral Steps


Community of SNRE Doctoral Students  View our doctoral students and their interests.  Do you want to change details on your listing?  Please contact the Director of Academic Programs for instructions.


NOTE: Rackham will institute continuous enrollment for doctoral students effective Fall 2010.  The following links provide further information for SNRE students.


You were admitted to SNRE with an Interim Guidance Committee (IGC) and at least one faculty member assigned to be your lead advisor, as noted in your SNRE offer letter.  These are the faculty who should initially help shape your course of study.  The doctoral curriculum is extremely flexible; the only required course is NRE 741 "Research Paradigms which is taught over three terms (1 credit each term). 

During your first year:

  • Think about your specific research interest - talk to as many people as possible
  • Think about a committee - think about classes in terms of who would be useful to have on your committee. You may want to have different prelim committee members than your IGC members as your research topic becomes more defined.
  • Think about what other departments and units on campus might do work related to yours - browse the relevant websites to find possible cognate members
  • Start a database of sources to use for papers in classes, such as Refworks or Endnote
  • Develop a filing system for hard copies of papers
  • Pick the brains of veteran students
  • Meet at least monthly with your lead advisor and regularly with your IGC.  It is your responsibility to initiate advice from your committee and advisor.
  • Establish a plan of study in the form of a Course of Study by the end 2nd term.  
  • Establish a Pre-Candidacy Exam committee.  Composition of the Pre-Candidacy Committee members must meet all of Rackham's dissertation committee guidelines. Refer to our PhD Handbook to review the goals/objectives of committee members.
  • Complete required course Research Paradigms NRE 741
  • Refer to PhD Handbook for more details
  • Create a CV and business cards.  Refer to the Career Services website for details.
  • Explore funding opportunities for summer and other future research. There are a variety of sources of support available at the University of Michigan and externally.  Consult with your advisor, other faculty and students for further information.
  • Create a login to erecruiter - increase your networking and awareness of job opportunities
  • Take advantage of Rackham's workshops (free!).  Topics range from time management to fine dining

During your second year:

  • Prepare for your Pre-Candidacy Exam.
  • Finalize your official course of study and continue the path - ideally finish your courses
  • Continue to explore grant funding opportunities
  • Apply for GSI positions - the hands-on teaching experience is valuable during the job hunt
  • Continue pre-candidacy exam prep while doing research - aim to take pre-candidacy exams by end of the 2nd year
  • Join or create a working group of faculty and students around U-M.  Working groups help develop thinking outside the classroom and outside your field of study
  • Attend grantsmanship class - in-house or not. 
  • Update your CV on erecruiter
  • After successfully passing the pre-candidacy exam, submit Report on the Pre-Candidacy Exam to OAP
  • Full funded doctoral students should reach candidacy by the end of their second year

During your third year:

  • Submit the Dissertation Committee and Dissertation Proposal (for approval of SNRE Associate Dean) to the SNRE Registrar
  • Apply for NSF 3rd year grants
  • Develop data collection process - how to organize, approach, and time it. 
  • Complete and submit the signed Dissertation Committee and Proposal Form by end of the 5th academic term

During years 4 through 7  (not to exceed 7 years after starting your doctoral program by Rackham's standards):

  • Write!
  • Ask your advisors what conferences you should be attending and where you should submit papers
  • Touch base with all of your committee members to make sure you are on the right track with your writing
  • Continue updating your cv on erecruiter each time you present and publish
  • Present your developing work on campus and at external venues (conferences, meetings, workshops, etc.)
  • Each year requires a signed Annual Report by May 31 to OAP


A clear sense of academic honesty and responsibility is fundamental to our scholarly community. To that end, the University of Michigan expects its students to demonstrate honesty and integrity in all their academic activities.  Three current SNRE doctoral students have given us permission to view their course of study (minus the reference list) and preliminary exam questions.

These sample documents are not intended for duplication or publication, but rather for reference only.  Any unauthorized review, use, disclosure or distribution of this information is prohibited, and may be punishable by law, as well as punishable by the University of Michigan as offenses against the standards of academic integrity.  Refer to the Rackham website to view Rackham Academic and Professional Integrity Policy.  

Course of Study Resources: All documents are stored in eRecruiter / Document Library. 

  • Student A (REM):  Document Title:  PhD course of study student A
  • Student B (RPB):  Document Title:  PhD course of study student B
  • Student C (RPB):  Document Title:  PhD course of study student C

Pre-Candidacy Exam Resources: All documents are stored in eRecruiter / Document Library

  • Student A (REM):  Document Title:  PhD Prelim Questions student A
  • Student B (RPB):  Document Title:  PhD Prelim Questions student B
  • Student C (RPB):  Document Title:  PhD Prelim Questions student C

As one doctoral student explains: Much of what goes into both the proposals and prelims does not come close to ending up in the final dissertation. However, the bulk of the content is related and is often used by the author in future years as part of future publications while he/she is trying to establish his/herself without any large research grants paving the way. 

Many professors will confess that much of their career has been established and built upon the ideas developed during their dissertation development and writing. It's really a brainstorming of possible avenues that each need to be looked at over a career. As part of the dissertation process we need to pick one that is doable in our time frame and budget constraints.

These proposals are unfinished and not published. The dissertation is an actual publication that proves you have specific ideas at a specific time. These other documents are not publications and are not finished products, rather part of the process of getting to a finished product. 

Keep this in mind as you read the examples of course of study and sample preliminary exam question.  Please note: the reference list for each course of study has been removed from the documents. 


Proposal Resources

  • Sweetland Writing Center  Sweetland faculty offer skillful, supportive advice to graduate students at all stages of their graduate careers, including the dissertation writing process. Each Winter term Sweetland Writing Center offers a one-credit course on writing tips for graduate work. Graduate students who are stalled in completing their dissertations may apply to the Dissertation Writing Institute, an eight-week fellowship; fellows are supplied with work space and computers. They are expected to participate in instructor-led group discussions in which they share their writing and receive feedback.
  • Rackham's Dissertation Resources

Data Collection Resources

Funding Resources


Career Resources