Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment

Graduate Advising Resources

Graduate Frequently Asked Questions

1. Who is my faculty advisor?

While SSEBE’s graduate advisor can help you with programmatic concerns (See above),course concerns should be directed to your faculty advisor. Every graduate student will have a faculty advisor who will recommend courses each semester and provide advice
on the graduate program.
Master’s students (M.S.) in Civil, Environmental and Sustainable Engineering (CESE) who enter the program without an advisor should first consult with the faculty coordinator for their specialty area. Students may later select a different faculty advisor.

Master’s students (M.S.E.) in Construction Engineering (CNE) who enter the program without a faculty advisor will be assigned a faculty advisor. Students may later select a different faculty advisor.
Master’s students in the Del E. Webb School of Construction programs who enter the program without a faculty advisor will be assigned a faculty advisor. Students may later select a different faculty advisor.

3. What is a Plan of Study (iPOS) and how do I file one?

The Plan of Study (iPOS) functions as a contract between a student, SSEBE and the Graduate College. The iPOS should be submitted when a student has completed some, but not more than 50%, of their coursework, typically after one semester. The iPOS link will appear when the student logs into My ASU. SSEBE encourages master’s students to submit an iPOS in the first semester of study and doctoral students to submit an iPOS in the second semester of study. For screenshots and a tutorial to complete your iPOS, please see How to Submit your Plan of Study (PDF).

BE SURE TO COMPLETE THE FOLLOWING STEPS for approval of your iPOS

  • M.S. and Ph.D. students need to obtain the signature of all committee members. If needed, the faculty chair can sign the paper form and the other two committee members can send an email to SSEBE’s graduate advisor. Non-thesis students must have their faculty chair sign the form. Go to the “Summary” tab in your iPOS and then “Print Course Page.”
  • Once you have obtained all signatures, submit this document to the graduate advisor’s office in CAVC 437 or via email (scan the document).

The graduate chair gives final approval on all SSEBE plans of study. Your iPOS will be routed to the Graduate College for final approval. You can check the status of your iPOS in My ASU.

5. I am thinking about taking a semester off. How will this affect my degree progress?

Refer to the Graduate College’s Continuous Enrollment policies.

Once admitted to a graduate degree program, master’s and doctoral students must be registered for a minimum of one credit hour (not audit) during all phases of their graduate education. This includes periods when they are engaged in research, taking comprehensive exams, and/or working on or defending theses or dissertations.

These credits must appear on the iPOS or must be an appropriate graduate-level course (e.g. 595 or 795, Continuing Registration). Courses with grades of “W” and “X” are not considered valid registration for continuous enrollment purposes; students completing work for a course in which they received an “I” must maintain continuous enrollment.

Graduate students planning to discontinue enrollment for a semester or more must request approval for a leave of absence. Students may petition SSEBE for a leave of absence for a maximum of two semesters during their entire program. The petition for a leave of absence, once endorsed by the members of the student’s supervisory committee and the SSEBE Graduate Chair, will then be forwarded to the Graduate College for approval by the Graduate College Vice Provost.

This request must be filed and approved before the anticipated absence. An approved leave of absence will enable students to re-enter their program without re-applying to the university. Students who do not enroll for a fall or spring semester without an approved leave of absence by the Graduate College are considered withdrawn from the university under the assumption that they have decided to discontinue their program. Students removed for this reason may reapply for admission to resume their degree program; the application will be considered along with all other new applications to the degree program.

7. I am planning to take the comprehensive or qualifying examination. How do I sign up?

Each specialty area has different requirements for the comprehensive examination (at both the master’s and doctoral levels).

Master’s level

If you are an M.S./M.S.E. student and plan to take the comprehensive exam and graduate in a particular semester, you should notify your faculty advisor and the graduate advisor. The faculty advisor will administer the comprehensive exam.

Construction M.S. students opting for the non-thesis option will have one sitting of the exam, administered by the construction faculty coordinator.

Comprehensive exams typically take place shortly before the end of the semester in which you plan on graduating.

Once you complete the comprehensive exam, you must obtain the signatures of your faculty chair and committee on the Report of Final Master’s Culminating Experience form. Once all signatures have been obtained, submit the form to the graduate advisor for the graduate chair’s signature. The results will then be entered into the iPOS.

Report of Final MSE Comprehensive Exam – Masters (DOC)

Doctoral level

An approved iPOS must be on file prior to completing a Ph.D. Comprehensive/qualifying exam. Ph.D. comprehensive/qualifying exams are taken prior to defending a dissertation proposal prospectus.

Ph.D. students should confer with their faculty advisor and supervisory committee regarding the comprehensive exam process.

Upon completion of the Ph.D. comprehensive exam, you must obtain the signatures of their faculty chair and committee on the Report of Doctoral Comprehensive Exams form. The form must then be submitted to the graduate advisor for the graduate chair’s signature. The results will then be entered into the iPOS.

Once you have taken the written and/or oral part of a comprehensive exam, you have a maximum of five years to complete the degree.

Report of Comprehensive Qualifying Exam – PhD (DOC)

9. I am ready to defend my Ph.D. proposal prospectus. What procedure should I follow?

You must have an approved iPOS on file with the Graduate College in order to defend your dissertation proposal prospectus.

The comprehensive examination and dissertation proposal are usually completed after you complete 30 credit hours of coursework beyond the master’s degree—sometimes two separate events. You should consult with your faculty advisor before the defense.

When you are ready to defend your dissertation proposal, you should contact the graduate advisor for the Prospectus Report form. The committee will sign the forms, signifying that you have successfully defended and passed your comprehensive exams. After the defense, both forms should be submitted to the graduate advisor for the graduate chair’s signature. The results will then be entered into the iPOS.

Once you have completed your comprehensive exams and proposal defense, you are advanced to candidacy.

Report of Dissertation Proposal/Prospectus (DOC)

11. I am planning on graduating. What procedure should I follow?

If you are planning on graduating, you should set-up a meeting with the graduate advisor to discuss procedures and pick up a graduation check sheet.

You should apply for graduation by the deadline listed on the ASU Academic Calendar.

You must complete all requirements for graduation—defense or comprehensive exam—by the deadlines listed by the Graduate College at 
https://graduate.asu.edu/completing-your-degree.

IMPORTANT! You MUST be registered for at least one credit during the semester you will graduate, including summer.

The Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering encourages all graduates to attend both our convocation (learn more about the ceremony) and the University’s commencement.

2. How do I register for courses each semester?

Once admitted to a graduate degree program or graduate certificate program, students must be registered for a minimum of one credit hour during all phases of their graduate education, including the term in which they graduate. Please see the ASU Graduate Policies and Procedures for details.

You should meet with your faculty advisor at least once per semester to select courses for the following semester.

Once a course schedule has been selected, if you require an override to register for a course please send an email to the graduate advisor and include your faculty advisor in the “cc” field. Please be sure to include your name, ten-digit ASU ID, course subject and number. Once the graduate advisor provides the override for the course, you will be able to register as long as open seats are available.

If the hold is for a class offered by another department, the student will need to contact that department’s advising office to see if they can be allowed in. Contact information can be found by searching the ASU website. Class schedules and pre-requisites are listed in the course catalog.

Students should pay close attention to the ASU Academic Calendar for information on course registration, including the online add/drop deadline, the single course withdrawal deadline, the complete withdrawal deadline and tuition payment deadlines.

4. I didn't do too well in my courses this semester. How will this affect my standing in the program?

Satisfactory Academic Progress
All graduate students are expected to make systematic progress towards completion of their degree. This progress includes meeting the conditions listed within this document and achieving the benchmarks and requirements set by the degree programs. If a student fails to meet the requirements of their degree program and/or the outlined requirements, they may be put on probation or withdrew from the program.

Probation
You will be placed on academic probation if one or more of the following apply:

  • Your overall GPA for all post baccalaureate courses taken at ASU falls below 3.00 in any one semester.
  • Your term GPA is below a 3.00.
  • Your iPOS GPA falls below 3.00 at any time.
  • You receive a “D” or “E” in a required deficiency course, or in a course at the 400 level or above.

You will be notified of probation status one-to-two weeks after the conclusion of each fall and spring semester (after all grades have posted).

You will be taken off of probation by bringing your GPA up to a 3.00 or higher by the time you complete the next nine credit hours of approved coursework.

Withdrawals
SSEBE will request the withdrawal of a student from one of the academic programs if:

  • A student on probation does not earn a GPA of 3.00 or higher by the time the next nine semester hours are completed (research, thesis, dissertation, and continuing registration hours do not count).
  • A student receives a “D” or lower grade while on academic probation.
  • A student fails to meet any other conditions imposed as a part of their probation.
  • A student fails to obtain at least a “B” grade in all courses cited as deficiencies upon admission to the program.
  • A student does not fulfill their provisional admission requirements.
6. How long do I have to complete my graduate degree?

All work toward a master’s degree must be completed within six consecutive years, beginning with the semester and year of admission to the program. Graduate courses taken prior to admission that are included on the iPOS must have been completed within three years of the semester and year of admission to the program.

In order to extend this time limit, you must submit a petition to SSEBE, the Engineering Dean’s Office and, ultimately, the Graduate College for approval.

Doctoral students must complete all program requirements within a ten-year period. The ten-year period starts with the semester and year of admission to the doctoral program. Graduate courses taken prior to admission that are included on the iPOS must have been completed within three years of the semester and year of admission to the program (previously awarded master’s degrees used on the iPOS are exempt).

In order to extend this time limit, you must submit a petition to SSEBE, the Engineering Dean’s Office and, ultimately, the Graduate College for approval.

In addition, Ph.D. students must defend the dissertation within five years after passing the comprehensive examinations. Therefore, the maximum time limit is the shortest of the following:

  • Time period since initial enrollment (10 year time limit)
  • Time after passing the comprehensive exams (5 year time limit)
8. I am ready to defend my thesis. What procedure should I follow?

Your defense date must fall before or within the timeframe to hold a defense for the semester you plan to graduate. You MUST be registered for at least one credit during the semester you defend.

Confirm that all members of the committee can attend the defense. The chair, or co-chairs, cannot be absent. Fifty percent of your committee must be physically present. If a member is unable to attend, follow the absent committee member policy.

You must have an approved iPOS on file with the Graduate College.

Prior to scheduling the defense, you should reserve the room for the appropriate date and time agreed upon by your committee.

You must schedule the defense through your myASU with Graduate College at least 10 working days in advance (according to the Graduate College calendar). When you schedule a defense, you will also submit your completed, formatted thesis for format review.

You should e-mail the graduate advisor and include the date, time and location and the title of the defense, as well as an abstract. This information will be used to post announcements on the SSEBE website and to e-mail faculty, students and staff.

The thesis defense is a public event. Both the Graduate College and SSEBE will announce the defense and invite the public to attend. The public can view the student’s presentation, but will be asked by the committee to exit the defense once the committee begins deliberations.

After the defense, the pass/fail form should be submitted to the graduate college with the graduate chair’s initial signature. If you need to complete revisions, you will want to keep the original form until the revisions are complete. The committee chair will sign off on final approval once all revisions are complete. The student should ensure that they are completing the revisions within the timeframe established by the Graduate College for that particular semester. It is the student’s responsibility to ensure the final pass/fail form is received by the Graduate College by the deadline established by the Graduate College for that particular semester.

10. I am ready to defend my dissertation. What procedure should I follow?

Ph.D. students cannot hold a dissertation defense unless they have achieved candidacy. Additionally, Ph.D. students must defend within five years of being advanced to candidacy.

Your defense date must take place before or within the timeframe to hold a defense for the semester you plan to graduate.

You should confirm that all members of the committee can attend the defense. The chair, or co-chairs, cannot be absent. Fifty percent of your committee must be physically present. If a member is unable to attend, you need to follow the absent committee member policy.

Prior to scheduling the defense, you should reserve the room for the appropriate date and time agreed upon by your committee.

You must schedule the defense through your myASU with Graduate College at least 10 working days in advance (according to the Graduate College calendar). When you schedule a defense, you will also submit your completed, formatted thesis for format review.

You should e-mail the graduate advisor and include the date, time and location and the title of the defense, as well as an abstract. This information will be used to post announcements on the SSEBE website and to e-mail faculty, students and staff.

The dissertation defense is a public event. The public can view a student’s presentation, but will be asked by the committee to exit the defense once the committee begins deliberations.