Student Information for Graduates

Options Manager

Holly Golcher
golcherSymbolatcaltech.edu

Department Administrator

Lynn Seymour
lynnbSymbolatcaltech.edu

Option Representatives

Professor Nadia Lapusta (AM/CE/ME)
lapustaSymbolatcaltech.edu

The purpose of this page is to provide you with information regarding student requirements, policies, and other information.

Student Information

Candidacy Exam (Quals.)

Graduate Requirements

  • Master of Science Degree (AM, CE, ME)
  • Degree of Doctor of Philosophy (AM, CE, ME)

Forms, Calendars and Student Guides

Final Examination and Thesis Forms

Department Forms and Petitions

Graduate Office Resources, Forms and Petitions

Calendars and Timelines

Incoming Students

Domestic Students

  1. Check the Graduate Studies Office Incoming Students page for details and plan on attending the Graduate Studies Office orientation.
  2. Please inform Holly Golcher, golcherSymbolatcaltech.edu, of your estimated arrival date by August 1.
  3. A temporary advisor will be assigned to you before arrival.
  4. Please plan on attending the MCE Department orientation in late September. There are several activities scheduled where you will have an opportunity to meet with faculty, students and staff.

International Students

  1. Report to the International Student Programs office, 414 S. Hollistron Ave., 2nd Floor, Room 250 (Building 86).
  2. Please plan on attending the International Student pre-orientation. It is a mandatory event that will address immigration and other important issues, as well as provide an opportunity for social activities. The International Offices will send you details.
  3. Check the Graduate Studies Office Incoming Students page for details and plan on attending the Graduate Studies Office orientation.
  4. Please inform Holly Golcher, golcherSymbolatcaltech.edu, of your estimated arrival date by August 1.
  5. A temporary advisor will be assigned to you before arrival.
  6. Please plan on attending the MCE Department orientation in late September. There are several activities scheduled where you will have an opportunity to meet with faculty, students and staff.

Ph.D. students obtaining a Masters

  1. For Ph.D. students obtaining a M.S. degree along the way to the Ph.D., the application deadline is Add Day of the Spring term.
  2. Students should log on to the Graduate Degree Progress application within REGIS and click on the M.S. Candidacy tab and follow instructions for developing a plan of study and fulfilling requirements.
  3. In March, you can confirm the status of the application with the Options Manager.

First-Year Students

Upon Arrival

  1. Complete the New Graduate Student checklist.
  2. Check in with Holly Golcher, Options Manager, Room 262 Gates-Thomas.
  3. Check in with Lynn Seymour, Department Administrator, Room 238 Gates-Thomas.
  4. Arrange to meet with your interim advisor to discuss your coursework plan.

During Your First Year

  1. Select a permanent Advisor and a 3 member Dissertation Supervisory Committee. Obtain a copy of Agreement to Serve as Academic and Research Advisor and Committee Member, fill it out and obtain approval of the committee. This should be done sometime between March and May 15.

    Selecting an Advisor and Thesis Supervision Committee

    An interim advisor is appointed for each student upon admission. The interim advisor will serve as your primary mentor until you find a research advisor.

    It is your responsibility to find an academic and research advisor within three terms of graduate residence at Caltech. In consultation with your advisor, you must form a Ph.D. dissertation supervision committee within one year of graduate residence at Caltech. This committee shall consist of at least three members of the Caltech professorial faculty, with at least two members from the faculty in Mechanical and Civil Engineering. The advisor shall serve as chair of this committee and the committee shall meet as requested by the student. Further, this committee shall meet annually to review progress and, if needed, to approve your registration beyond the fifth year of graduate residence at Caltech.

    The advisor and the thesis supervision committee will provide the majority of mentoring to you. The option representative and other members of the faculty are always available to provide advice and mentoring on any aspect of research, progress toward the Ph.D., future careers, and other aspects of life in graduate school and as a professional scientist.

During the Summer of Your First Year

  1. You will receive a memo outlining the two-part Ph.D. Candidacy Exams that will be taken in year two, and a memo detailing the coursework component of the Ph.D Candidacy Exam. You will need to fill out the Exam Preference memo specifying your coursework exam preferences and return it to the Options Manager in July.

Second Year Students

  1. The subject portion of the Ph.D. Candidacy Exams are held during the Fall Term.
  2. The research portion of the Ph.D. Candidacy Exams are to be completed by June 7. You will need to schedule a time with your Dissertation Supervision Committee for your research exam, arrange the location of the exam, and inform the Options Manager by April 1, of the same year.
  3. You need to obtain your original Candidacy Form for Ph.D. from the Options Manager, finish filling it out, obtain signatures, and return it to the Options Manager for further processing.

Third and Fourth Year Students

You are encouraged to meet with your Dissertation Supervision Committee each year. These meetings are an opportunity for you and your faculty to discuss your work and your progress.

Fifth Year and Beyond Students

If you plan to register beyond the 20th term, you will need to obtain a Petition to Dean for Extended Registration, and a Petition to the Advisory Committee for Extended Registration, fill them out, obtain approvals, and return them to the Options Manager for further processing. You must meet with your committee annually and obtain their approval.

Graduating Ph.D. Students

The thesis examination will be given after the thesis has been formally completed. This examination will be a defense of the doctoral thesis and a test of the candidate's knowledge in the specialized field of research. The format of the examination can be chosen by the student, in consultation with their research adviser, from the following two options: (i) a public seminar presented by the candidate, with an open question period, followed by a private examination by the examining committee or (ii) a private presentation to the examining committee followed by the examination, with a public seminar on another date. The examining committee shall consist of a minimum of four voting members, at least three of whom must be Caltech faculty, and at least two of whom must be faculty in mechanical and civil engineering. The thesis defense committee shall be chaired by a committee member who is not the student’s advisor.

  1. Visit the Graduate Studies Office page on Degree Tracking and Degree Completion.
  2. Read the Thesis Instructions to learn more about thesis regulations for format and presentation of graduate thesis.
  3. When you have your thesis title and your exam date set, students should log on to the Graduate Degree Progress application within REGIS to schedule the final exam and select an approved committee for the defense. An approved committee consists of four total voting members, three of whom must be current Caltech faculty. The chair of the committee must hold the rank of Professor, not including emeriti. Your thesis exam must be at least three weeks before the June graduation date.
  4. Once your thesis is in final form, you will need to submit your thesis electronically and have it approved by your Dissertation Supervision Committee.
  5. Before departing Caltech, check out with the Options Manager and the Department Administrator to inform them of your new status, office vacancy, forwarding address, and to turn in your keys. You will need to fill out a Building/Laboratory Checkout and Departure form with this information.
Department of Mechanical and Civil Engineering