En Route to an Imaging Science PhD at RIT: Key Events and Milestones

The following table summarizes key events and milestones in the career of an Imaging Science PhD student at RIT. Click on a link to learn more about an event or milestone, and to understand who takes the lead to ensure the requirements are met or action is taken. 



Year 1
Matriculate into program; financial support established
Admissions Committee
July/Aug Register for classes Student, Academic Coordinator, Graduate Program Coordinator
Labor Day TA duties assigned Center Associate Director, Admissions Committee
Fall term Advisor selection; Submit request for consideration of transfer credit (if any) Student (Graduate Program Coordinator acts as advisor until selection is made)
Nov 1 Submission of Preliminary Study Plan Student, Graduate Advisor
Mid-June Written Qualifying Exam administered Exam Committee
June 30 Qualifying Exam pass/fail decision Exam Committee, Graduate Faculty, Center Director
July 31 Decision on acceptance of transfer credit Graduate Program Coordinator
Aug 31 Submit revised Study Plan (if nec.) Student, Advisor
YEAR 2 Formulate Dissertation Proposal Student, Advisor
Spring term Research & Candidacy Exam Committee Appointed Student, Advisor, Graduate Program Coordinator (Dean of Graduate Studies approval)
June 1 Submit updated Study Plan (if nec.) Student, Advisor
YEARS 2+ Periodic Research Committee Briefings Student
4 weeks prior to candidacy exam Circulate Dissertation Proposal Student
At least 6 months prior to PhD defense Proposal Defense & Candidacy Exam and Advancement to Candidacy Research/Exam Committee
At least 6 months prior to PhD defense Submit final Study Plan Student
At least 6 months prior to PhD defense PhD requirements review and Final Study Plan approval Advisor, Graduate Program Coordinator
FINAL YEAR Quarterly Research Committee Briefings Student
At least 4 weeks prior to defense Announce Dissertation Defense Date/Time/Location Student, Advisor
At least 4 weeks prior to defense Circulate Dissertation to committee Student, Advisor
By mid-term Dissertation Defense Student, Research Committee (A defense can occur at anytime during the year. Mid-spring semester is the latest a student should plan a defense if they wish to participate in Commencement that May.)
May 1 for spring graduation Dissertation submitted to the library and UMI/ProQuest and proof of submission delivered to the Graduate Program Director. Student (May 1: deadline to participate in commencement)
End of term PhD Requirements Certification Graduate Program Coordinator (degree certification occurs only at the end of a term)



Early registration

Students are responsible for course registration each quarter. On-line registration takes place during each preceding quarter (except Fall quarter registration, which opens during the preceding Spring quarter). Entering students typically have the opportunity to register by July or early August of the summer prior to their first year; an email will be sent to entering students with instructions as to registration procedures and with specific course requirement reminders, etc. It is the responsibility of students to make appointments with their faculty advisor (or, for incoming students, the Academic Coordinator and/or Graduate Program Director) at the time of early registration to facilitate course substitutions, elective requests and possible transfer credit requests.

Credit Limitations

Students may enroll in no more than 18 credit hours per semester; overloads require the approval of the Graduate Program Coordinator.  Students are charged per credit hour for each credit exceeding 18 hours.  The Graduate Program Coordinator may propose to limit the total number of credit hours a student may take per quarter in the event of continued probationary academic standing.  Teaching and research assistants cannot register for more than 16 course credits plus one research credit without prior approval of the Graduate Program Coordinator.

Schedule verification and changes

Following early registration, students will receive a Schedule Verification Form from the Registrar's Office.  The schedule indicated includes all courses for which the student is registered as of the date of issue.

A student may change their schedule at any time up to the end of the first six days of class, following the procedure outlined by the RIT Registrar. Students are strongly encouraged to consult with the Academic Coordinator and/or Graduate Program Coordinator before adding or dropping classes. Changes in a course schedule through this process are not reflected on a student's quarterly grade report or permanent record.


If a student wishes to stop participating in a class following the six-day add/drop period, the student must officially withdraw from a course and will receive a grade of W.  This grade will be reflected on a grade report and permanent record.  Withdrawal from a course during the first year  which causes a student to carry less than 9 academic credits (or causes loss of full-time status) may result in withdrawal of the student's funding.

Course Withdrawal forms are available from the records office.  In addition to the student's signature, the form requires the signature of the faculty member teaching the course and that of the Graduate Program Coordinator.  A course withdrawal resulting in a W grade may be obtained through the end of the tweflth week of the semester only.  Following that date, withdrawal forms must be signed by the Director of the Center and accompanied by a rationale that indicates circumstances beyond the student's control.

Schedule of record

Official notification of a student's final course schedule for a current semester is issued by the Office of the Registrar approximately three weeks following the first day of class.  Check this information carefully.  Inaccurate information must be reported to the Academic Coordinator for a correction to be made.  It is the student's responsibility to check the accuracy of this information and to pursue the necessary corrections. Official registration for a course that a student does not attend could result in course overload, F grades, and loss of funding.  Lack of registration for a course will result in a student receiving no credit for the course.

Degree Requirements


It is the student's responsibility to understand the requirements of the Imaging Science degree program.  Progress toward achievement of a degree is maintained by  the department records office.  Access to that information is available to each student upon request to either his or her faculty advisor or to the Academic Coordinator.  All degree requirements are published yearly in the RIT catalog.  A copy of the graduate curriculum is included in this publication to be used as a reference.  Alterations in an individual student's requirements (course substitutions, transfer credit, requirement waivers, credit by examination) must receive prior approval in writing as previously outlined.  Questions regarding changes made in the curriculum during a student's program of study with the Center for Imaging Science should be directed to the Graduate Program Coordinator.

Time limitations: the "seven year rule"

All candidates for the doctoral degree must maintain continuous enrollment during the research phase of the program. Such enrollment is not limited by the maximum number of research credits that apply to the degree. For the doctoral degree, the initiation of the seven year time period occurs when the student has passed the qualifying exam. Normally, full-time students complete the course of study for the doctorate in approximately three to five years.

For the M.S. degree, successful completion of all course work and thesis is required within seven years of the time of the first course taken used to meet the requirements for the degree.  

In rare cases, extensions of the seven-year rule may be granted.  Petition for an extension is made to the Dean of Graduate Studies, and is initiated via written request  to the Graduate Program Coordinator.

Advancement to Ph.D. candidacy

Advancement to Ph.D. candidacy proceeds through the following steps.

  • Advisor selection
  • Submission and approval of preliminary study plan
  • Passing a written comprehensive exam
  • Study plan revision based on outcome of comprehensive exam and adviser recommendation
  • Appointment of Research Committee
  • Passing a candidacy exam based on thesis proposal
Having achieved Ph.D. candidacy, a student is expected to proceed toward completion of their thesis research in timely fashion, under the supervision of their advisor and Research Committee. This novel research work culminates in a successful doctoral dissertation and oral Ph.D. thesis defense.

If the faculty decision, following the qualifying exam, is not to permit the candidate to continue in the doctoral track, the advisor and graduate coordinator will counsel the student about options, including pursuit of an MS degree. If the faculty decision is to permit the candidate to continue in the doctoral track then the program continues with study plan revision, research committee appointment, candidacy/proposal exam, and, finally, dissertation defense.

Ph.D. Comprehensive Exam

A summary of the Center's Ph.D. comprehensive exam policy can be found here; examples of recent exam questions can be found here.

Research proposal: Ph.D.

The student and the research adviser select a research topic for the dissertation. The proposed research must be original and publishable. Although the topic may deal with any aspect of imaging, the research is usually concentrated in an area of current interest within the Center.

The research proposal must be in written form and must also be presented to the research committee in oral form, during the candidacy exam. In constructing the dissertation proposal document, the student is strongly advised to follow as many  guidelines as possible (concerning document formatting, citation style, figure preparation, etc.) governing the final doctoral dissertation itself (see examples in Appendix). 

Final examination of the dissertation (Ph.D. thesis defense)

The Research Advisor, on behalf of the student and the student's Research Committee must notify the Graduate Coordinator of the scheduling of the final examination of the dissertation by forwarding to the Graduate Coordinator the title and abstract of the dissertation and the scheduled date, time, and location of the examination. The final examination of the dissertation may not be scheduled within six months of the date on which the student passed the candidacy exam (at which the thesis proposal was presented and approved).

Barring exceptional circumstances (requiring permission from the Graduate Coordinator), the examination may not be scheduled sooner than four weeks after formal announcement (i.e. Center-wide hallway postings and email broadcast) has been made concerning the dissertation title and abstract and the defense date, time, and location.

The final examination of the dissertation is open to the public and is primarily a defense of the dissertation research. The examination consists of an oral presentation by the student, followed by questions from the audience. The Research Committee may also elect to privately question the candidate following the presentation. The Research Committee will immediately notify the candidate and the Graduate Coordinator of the examination result.


All students in the program must spend at least two consecutive semesters (summer term excluded) as resident full-time students to be eligible to receive the doctoral degree. A full-time academic workload is defined as a minimum of nine academic credits per semester or an equivalent amount of research, as certified by the graduate coordinator.

Exceptions to residency requirement and time limitations

If circumstances warrant, the residency requirement may be waived via petition to the graduate coordinator, who will decide on the student's petition in consultation with the adviser and graduate faculty. The request must be submitted at least nine months prior to the thesis defense. The time limitation may only be waived via petition to the Dean of Graduate Studies, following notification of the Graduate Coordinator of the intent to petition for such an extension.

Miscellaneous requirements for certification of degrees

Certification of any graduate degree requires that the student has achieved a minimum program cumulative grade point average of 3.00 (a B average).

Full payment or satisfactory adjustment of all financial obligations is required.


Graduate Faculty

The term "Graduate Faculty" as used in this document includes: faculty members with direct appointments to the Center for Imaging Science within the RIT College of Science; Faculty members from other departments and colleges at RIT who have been appointed to the Graduate Faculty in the Center; and the Center's research faculty. 

Graduate Faculty Advisor

Graduate Faculty advisors are assigned to all Imaging Science students. Typically, the student selects a Graduate Faculty research advisor who then also acts as an academic advisor. Advisors are prepared to assist students with issues regarding curriculum requirements, elective choices, transfer options, RIT support facilities, and concerns of a more personal nature (such as managing your time effectively, making the adjustment to college life or coping with the unexpected). We strongly urge you to establish a firm relationship with a faculty advisor soon after you begin your program of study in Imaging Science.

Research Committee: Ph.D. program

Once the student has passed the Ph.D. qualifying exam and is well along in the process of formulating a dissertation research proposal (i.e., typically during the second or perhaps third year of study), the student, in consultation with his/her Graduate Faculty advisor, must present a request to the Graduate Coordinator for the appointment of a Research Committee. The committee must include a minimum of four people including the advisor, one other member of the Graduate Faculty, a person competent in the field of research (this committee member may also be a member of the Graduate Faculty), and the Provost's Representative ("external chair"). The external chair must be a tenured member of the RIT faculty who holds a Ph.D. and is not a faculty member or Graduate Faculty member of the Center. Further, if the advisor is a member of the Graduate Faculty with a home department other than the Center, then the external chair cannot have the same home department as the advisor. The external chair is appointed by the Provost, via a request initiated by the Graduate Coordinator through the Dean of Graduate Studies. The research committee will supervise the student's research, including review of the research proposal (typically as part of the PhD candidacy exam), meeting with the student during the course of the research, and conducting the dissertation defense. All Ph.D. research committees must include at least one faculty member with a direct appointment to the Center.

Research Committee: M.S. program

The M.S. thesis Research Committee is composed of a minimum of three people: the student's Graduate Faculty research adviser and two additional members who hold at least an MS in a field relevant to the student's research. At least two of these three committee members must be from the Graduate Faculty of the Center. All M.S. research committees must include at least one faculty member with a direct appointment to the Center.



All RIT policies and regulations as they appear in RIT publications apply in full to the Center for Imaging Science.  There are, however, a few additional policies and practices that apply only to Imaging Science.  For your guidance, this publication contains an outline of this information.

Student records

Student records are housed in the Academic Student Services Office, College of Science and in the Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science.  Administrative support is available to students through these offices in areas of registration, course selection, scheduling, records, and program advisement.  Answers to questions are often available on a walk-in basis.  Students who wish a consultation should make an appointment with the Academic Coordinator, or the Coordinators of the relevant graduate program.

In accordance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (commonly known as the Buckley Amendment), RIT students have the right to inspect, review and challenge the accuracy of official educational records. RIT policy ensures that only proper use is made of such records.  With the exception of copies made for internal use (provided by the registrar for advising purposes), copies of a student's permanent record (transcript) or non-public information from student records will not be released without the student's written consent.  Official written requests from students must be made for transcript release.

Directory information may be released at any time to persons or agencies indicating a legitimate interest.  Directory Information includes the following: a student's name, mailing address and telephone number, date and place of birth, major field of study, participation records in official RIT activities and sports, weight and height if a member of an athletic team, dates of attendance at RIT, degrees and awards received.

Course Work Policies

A.    Repeating Courses

Graduate courses cannot be repeated to improve a grade.

B.    Credit by Examination

With the approval of the Graduate Coordinator, students with undergraduate degrees in Imaging Science (or related fields) from RIT can request credit by examination for certain graduate courses offered by the Center, provided there is substantial curriculum overlap with the corresponding undergraduate course.  Credit for graduate courses also may occasionally be granted by examination in the event that the student petitions an instructor to administer the exam.  A Credit by Examination form must be completed and filed with the bursar (with $50 per credit hour fee) prior to taking the exam.  The exam is pass/fail.  The notation on a student's permanent record is (examination) credit only and does not affect the RIT grade point average.

C.    Course Exemption

An instructor may recommend approval of a course requirement exemption based upon previous experience or course work.  However, this exemption does not alter the total credit requirement for the degree program.   Requests for course exemption must be initiated by the student, in writing, to the Graduate Coordinator.  Approval of the request is subject to graduate faculty consensus.

D.    Course Substitution and Non-Imaging Science Electives

To substitute alternative courses for required (core) curriculum courses, or to count electives courses from other departments (e.g., Business, Liberal Arts) that appear to fall outside the field of imaging science, permission must be granted by the Graduate Coordinator (possibly subject to the consensus of the Center's Graduate Faculty).  To initiate a request of this nature, the student must provide his or her faculty advisor with a description of the desired course.  A written rationale which describes the importance of a desired non-imaging science elective in terms of career goals and curriculum specializations may be necessary.   This justification is expected to take place in the context of the student's full study plan (indicating all courses to be taken to satisfy the degree requirements).  Approvals for substitutions for required courses are normally subject to graduate faculty consensus.  Note that, for the M.S. program, a maximum of 8 credits may be taken outside the Center.

E.  Class  Attendance

No record of attendance is kept by the Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science administrative offices.  Reports of absences are not required.  However, a record of absences  may be kept by any faculty member and may be used by that faculty member to determine a grade.  Non-attendance does not constitute withdrawing from a class.

F.    Expulsion of Students from Class

A faculty member may, with good cause, expel a student from class for not more than one class session.  If the faculty member wishes to exclude the student for a longer period, a recommendation must be made in writing, with documentation, to the Director of CIS.  The student may appeal this decision to the Academic Grievance Committee of the Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science.  Final appeals are made to the Institute Hearing and Appeals Board.

  MS Imaging Science (Research) Study Plan Form
MS Imaging Science (Project) Study Plan Form
PhD Imaging Science Study Plan Form
Extra Credit Registration Form
Quarterly Report Evaluation
Quarterly Thesis Reports
M.S. Graduation Certification Form
Ph.D. Graduation Form
Wallace Library Thesis Binding Instructions
LaTeX style sheet
LaTeX Thesis Template Manual

Note: These files are in Adobe Acrobat PDF format.  You can download Adobe Acrobat Reader free.

Last Modified: 5:10pm 30 Jul 14