The goal of the Ph.D. program is to prepare students for a successful research career whether it be in an academic or industrial environment. This is achieved primarily through the pursuit of an independent research project within the laboratory of a faculty adviser. To ensure that students graduating from the program are of high quality and consistent with the philosophy that students should make a meaningful contribution to their field, it is expected that, by the time of the dissertation defense, the student will have published first-authored, experimentally based manuscripts in peer-reviewed journals.

The Dissertation Committee is comprised of at least 4 members:
1 MPTT GPC member
2 PEMM faculty
1 external faculty (outside of PEMM)

Meetings to assess the progress of students should take place at least once a year.