Ph.D. Program Overview

Ph.D. in Technology, Policy, and Innovation (TPI) Students in the TPI Ph.D. program will work in one or more of three areas of faculty research strength: 1) energy and environmental systems; 2) educational technologies, and education in engineering and applied sciences; and, 3) technology management, engineering entrepreneurship, and science and technology policy. In addition to drawing on the expertise of faculty in the Department of Technology and Society, the new Ph.D. program is supported by more than 20 affiliated faculty members from throughout the Stony Brook campus. The TPI Ph.D. Program was developed with a four-part mission:

  • To develop a cadre of scholars who will be engines of national leadership in gauging the prospects and charting the future course of technologies;
  • To carry out policy and design/planning research in three interacting socio-technological areas: energy and environmental systems; educational technologies, and education in engineering and applied sciences; technology management, engineering entrepreneurship, and science and technology policy;
  • To establish a new model for twenty-first century doctoral education that promotes highly intensive collaborations and uses advanced educational technologies in a fertile, diverse, globally networked laboratory environment that transcends disciplinary boundaries; and,
  • To serve as an exemplary resource for regional and national industry and government, and for schools, colleges/universities, and other educational institutions in both implementing technological innovation and carrying out policy studies.

There are a limited number of similar doctoral programs in the world. The most successful ones include the Engineering and Public Policy Program (EPP) at Carnegie Mellon University, the Technology and Policy Program (Ph.D. in Technology, Management, and Policy) at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Management Science and Engineering at Stanford University, and Systems Engineering and Policy Analysis Program at the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands. There are also a number of programs that focus on a specific technology area. Examples include the Energy Resource Group at the University of California, Berkeley, and the Technology, Environment, and Society Program at the University of Delaware. Among the technology and policy programs, TPI is the only program that includes educational technology and education in engineering and applied sciences among the technology-policy areas. Students who are considering applying to the Ph.D. program should review the department’s general information on applying to graduate study: “Graduate Program (Overview/Admission)”. The deadline for submission of applications for the following Fall semester for prospective Ph.D. students is February

1. Requirements for the Ph.D. Program in Technology, Policy, and Innovation

A. Residence The student must complete two consecutive semesters of full-time graduate study. Full-time study is 12 credits per semester until 24 graduate credits have been earned. Students who have earned 24 graduate credits at another school may be assigned advanced status and are required to take only nine credits per semester for full-time status.

B. Qualifying Examination The qualifying examination must be taken by all students, regardless of whether they enter the program holding a master’s degree or a bachelor’s degree only. Students are expected to take the qualifying examination in the fourth semester, preferably after having completed 34 credits in the program. The qualifying exam has three parts to it.

Part A: The student conducts an original research project, starting in the first semester in the program, and presents the results to the department during the fourth semester. The purpose of this is to ascertain the student’s preparation to conduct independent original research in a TPI area.

Part B: The student solves a take-home problem designed by departmental faculty. The student is required to finish the analysis in a week and to prepare a report. The purpose of this is to evaluate the student’s ability to apply his or her knowledge of theory and analytical methods to a real-world TPI issue that is not necessarily in his/her own research area.

Part C: A proctored comprehensive examination, with a time limit, will be offered every spring semester. The purpose of this is to evaluate the student’s understanding of theory and analytical methods. This exam will be based on material covered in the three core courses described below.

Part C of the examination will be waived if a student’s GPA on core courses is 3.5 or higher. A student who fails one or more parts of the qualifying examination will be given one additional attempt on each failed part. If the student does not pass a failed part of the examination on the second attempt, he/she will be dismissed from the program. Having passed the qualifying examination, the student is advanced to candidacy. This status, called G5, is conferred by the Dean of the Graduate School upon recommendation of the Department. Note that unlike the change from G3 to G4, the change from G4 to G5 is not automatic—the student must request to be advanced to candidacy by notifying the Technology and Society Graduate Program Coordinator. Students must advance to candidacy at least one year before defending their dissertations. The Graduate School requires G5 students to register for nine credits, which can be research or other graduate courses relevant to their dissertation. Courses outside of the major require the approval of the dissertation advisor and Graduate Program Director. Failure to complete the qualifying examination within the specified timeframe and obtain the G5 status is considered evidence of unsatisfactory progress.

C. Course Requirements Our course requirement is designed to ensure TPI graduates have competency in two areas:

(1) a specific technological area, and

(2) policy research and analysis. Students are required to take 34 credits of course work beyond the B.S. degree level. These credits are comprised of the following:

  • 10 credits of core courses to provide students with a common core of knowledge and techniques essential to research and practice in TPI. Core courses consist of Technology, Policy, and Innovation in Theory and Practice (4 credits); Data Analysis and Experimental Methods (3 credits); and Decision Making in Socio-technological and Global Contexts (3 credits).
  • 15 credits of courses in a specific technological area (engineering, science, mathematics, statistics) that are relevant to his or her individual research
  • 9 credits in related social sciences (economics, political science, law, history, business management, psychology, sociology, education) to become proficient with social science methods of analysis

In addition, University policy requires that all doctoral students participate in an appropriately structured teaching practicum. This can be accomplished with a Practicum in Teaching course, in conjunction with T.A. responsibilities in the first year.

D. Thesis Proposal and Preliminary Examination Students who pass all three parts of the qualifying examination are expected to develop a thesis proposal within one semester for full-time students, and two semesters for part-time students. This thesis proposal must then be presented and defended in an oral preliminary examination. Failure to fulfill this requirement within 18 months of passing the qualifying examination, and without a formal extension, may be considered evidence of unsatisfactory progress toward the Ph.D. degree. The major requirements of the thesis proposal are as follows:

(1) the student must be thoroughly familiar with the background and current status of the intended research area;

(2) the student must have clear and well-defined plans for pursuing the research objectives; and

(3) the student must offer evidence of progress in achieving these objectives. The student will present the thesis proposal to the thesis committee in a seminar presentation. It is limited to members of the committee, invited Technology and Society faculty, and invited graduate students. The committee for the student’s preliminary examination, dissertation and defense will include at least one faculty member who does not have a primary or joint appointment in DTS. Students will be strongly encouraged to have at least one faculty member from another university on their committee. As part of the preliminary examination, faculty members are free to question the student on any topics they feel are in any way relevant to the student’s objectives and career preparation. Most questions, however, will be directed toward verifying the student’s grasp of the intended specialty in depth. The student will be expected to show complete familiarity with the current and past literature of this area. The findings of the committee will be communicated to the student as soon as possible and to the Graduate School within one week of the presentation of the proposal. A student who does not pass the preliminary examination on the first attempt will be given a second chance. If the preliminary is failed on the second attempt, the student will be dismissed from the program.

E. Dissertation An important requirement of the Ph.D. program is the completion of a dissertation which must be an original scholarly investigation. The dissertation shall represent a significant contribution to the scientific literature, and its quality shall be compatible with the publication standards of appropriate reputable scholarly journals.

F. Approval and Defense of Dissertation The dissertation must be orally defended before a dissertation examination committee, and the candidate must obtain approval of the dissertation from this committee. The oral defense of the dissertation is open to all interested faculty members and graduate students. The final draft of the dissertation must be submitted to the committee no later than three weeks prior to the date of the defense.

G. Satisfactory Progress and Time Limit Students are expected to finish all the requirements, including thesis research and defense, in four to five full-time-equivalent years. A student who does not meet the target dates for the Qualifying Examination, Thesis Proposal, and Preliminary Examination, or who does not make satisfactory progress toward completing thesis research, may lose financial support. The candidate must satisfy all requirements for the Ph.D. degree within seven years after completing 24 credit hours of graduate courses in the Department of Technology and Society at Stony Brook. In rare instances, the Dean of the Graduate School will entertain a petition to extend this time limit, provided it bears the endorsement of the Department’s Graduate Program Director. A petition for extension must be submitted before the time limit has been exceeded. The Dean or the Department may require evidence that the student is still properly prepared for the completion of work.

H. Part-Time Students Students admitted into the Ph.D. program for part-time study are bound by all the rules set out henceforth. In particular, part-time students should adhere to the schedule for the Qualifying Examination, Thesis Proposal, and Preliminary Examination unless a different schedule has been approved in writing by the Graduate Program Director.

I. Switching Between the M.S. and Ph.D. Programs A Ph.D. student who has passed the Qualifying Examination can complete the requirements for an M.S. degree by satisfying the proficiency requirements and completing 30 credits of coursework. Passing the Qualifying Examination is considered to have satisfied the proficiency requirements. (Another way to satisfy these requirements is, of course, to take the required courses and do the masters project.)