Ph.D. in Scientific Computing

This program is intended for University of Michigan Ph.D. students who will make extensive use of large-scale computation, computational methods, or algorithms for advanced computer architectures in their doctoral studies. A firm knowledge of the scientific discipline is essential.

Overview

This is not a stand-alone degree; it is a joint degree program. Students must be accepted into the Ph.D. program of a home department at the University of Michigan. The actual degree name will have “…and Scientific Computing” appended to the the normal title, e.g., “Ph.D. Degree in Aerospace Engineering and Scientific Computing.”

Students in the Scientific Computing degree program come from many different disciplines. Our current enrollment exemplifies the breadth of departments, schools, and colleges represented by our Ph.D. students.

Students may enroll in the program after having completed one term in their home Ph.D. department. We recommend applying prior to being promoted to candidacy status, but can often accommodate students later in their degree progress.

Please contact MICDE at micde-phd@umich.edu if you have any questions about the Ph.D. in Scientific Computing.

Academic Requirements

Students must complete the normal doctoral requirements of their home departments, as well as additional requirements in scientific computing. The specific requirements are:

Coursework

Non-exhaustive examples of course selections for various departments can be seen on our Example Course Choices page.

Group I Courses

Twenty-four (24) credit hours of coursework toward your home degree. You must complete your home degree requirements in order to receive the Ph.D. in Scientific Computing. It cannot be earned on its own. Group I may overlap with groups II or III. 

Group II Courses

Nine (9) credit hours of approved courses in scientific computing methodologies.

Group III Courses

Nine (9) credit hours of approved courses in computational science and applications in scientific computing outside the home department (this typically includes courses in computer science, parallel algorithms, advanced computer architectures, computational fluid dynamics, or other courses in scientific computation not offered by a student’s home department).

Committee Composition

An emphasis on scientific computing reflected in doctoral thesis and doctoral committee composition. At least one faculty member on your committee should be an expert in scientific computing, affiliated with MICDE or MIDAS.

Demonstration of Understanding

Preliminary/Qualifying Exam Question: You must answer at least one question related to scientific computing during your department’s preliminary or qualifying examination.  If you join the program after having completed your qual/prelim, you can still use this option if you were asked a question related to computational methods or applications during your qual/prelim.  The student’s advisor or a MICDE or MIDAS-affiliated member of the committee must then email MICDE to confirm that this requirement is complete.

If the format of your PhD program’s preliminary/qualifying examination cannot accommodate this requirement, or if you are beyond this stage at the point of joining the program and were not asked a question on your prelim/qual, you have the following option to complete the Demonstration of Understanding requirement:

Literature Review: A 3-5 page critical assessment of previous research that has been done in your research area, specifically the scientific computing/computational aspect of your research problem.  This must be submitted to micde-phd@umich.edu for review 2-4 semesters before your dissertation defense.

If you have any questions about fulfilling the Demonstration of Understanding requirement, please email micde-phd@umich.edu.

For Faculty:

Please send an email to micde-phd@umich.edu describing the scientific computing-related question that was asked during the examination and acknowledging that the student answered the question satisfactorily.

Ph.D. Seminar

If you enrolled in the Ph.D. in Scientific Computing in or after January 2022, you are required to present at least once before graduation in the Ph.D. Student Seminar Series. Before presenting, you are strongly encouraged to attend as many sessions of the the Ph.D. Seminar Series as you can, from students in your department and outside it. The Ph.D. Student Seminar Series is an opportunity to learn how to simplify your explanation of your research problems and methods in order to talk about them to colleagues outside of your lab or your home department, which will help you prepare for future job searches.

Sign up to present in 2023-2024 on the MICDE Ph.D. Student Seminar Sign-Up form.

Students are expected to work closely with their academic advisors and with MICDE to develop a plan to meet these requirements.

Application Procedures

  1. Talk to your academic advisor about your interest in the Ph.D. in Scientific Computing. Your department must approve your enrollment in the program.
  2. Submit the Course Audit form. You don’t have to have a full plan in place before filling out the Course Audit form, but please spend some time considering each of the questions and put your answers in the formats requested.
  3. After the MICDE program administrator checks your Audit Form and transcript, they will contact you to schedule an advising session with an MICDE Management & Education Committee faculty member. During the session, you, the faculty member, and the MICDE program administrator will finalize your plan to meet the requirements of the Ph.D. in Scientific Computing.
  4. After your advising session, you can apply to the Ph.D. in Scientific Computing. In order to apply, you must complete the Rackham Application Form, have it signed by your department, and submit it to micde-phd@umich.edu. You are not enrolled in the program unless you have completed this step.

Questions? Contact the Program Administrator at micde-phd@umich.edu.

Z

Eligibility

This is not a stand-alone degree; it is a joint degree program. Students must be accepted into the Ph.D. program of a home department at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.

Enrollment Deadlines

Students are enrolled on a rolling basis as they apply.

Students may enroll in the program after having completed one term in their home Ph.D. department. We recommend applying prior to being promoted to candidacy status, but can often accommodate students later in their degree progress.

Information for Current Students

Please contact the program administrator (micde-phd@umich.edu) for all questions related to the Ph.D. in Scientific Computing.

Tracking Progress

We track students’ progress through the Ph.D. in Scientific Computing Web Progress Form. Your Web Progress Form is created after the advising session, and is accessible by prospective students as well as those who are enrolled. Every summer we will reach out to students to update their Web Progress Form with anything that has changed since the previous summer.

Updating the Web Progress Form

Web Progress Form ButtonThe 2022-2023 Web Progress Form will be opened for editing in summer 2023. We will review your form and make any requested changes once you hit the “Submit form” button. However, you will be able to make changes until August 31, when each year’s submission window will close. A new form will be released each summer, with the previous year’s information loaded.

Please plan to update your Web Progress Form each summer with new information, including:

  • If you answered questions about scientific computing in your quals/prelims and your Web Progress Form does not reflect this, please describe the questions in the Candidacy Status section.
  • If you have formed your doctoral committee, please list the members in the Committee Information section.
  • If you have made any changes to the courses you took or plan to take to fulfill requirements for the Ph.D. in Scientific Computing (including changing courses from “planned” to “completed” once you’ve taken them) please update the Course requirements section.
  • If you have made progress in your research that is not yet reflected on your WPF (awards, fellowships, conference presentations, publications, etc.) please update the Research Progress section.
  • Please make sure that your current estimated graduation term is listed in the Future Plans section. This is not set in stone, but helps us to understand where you are in your degree process.

Enrollment Status

Note that each student has one of the following 5 statuses on the Web Progress Form. If you believe the enrollment status listed on your Web Progress Form is incorrect, please email micde-phd@umich.edu.

  1. Enrolled (had an advising session, turned in their application form to MICDE and Rackham has processed the application)
  2. Prospective (had an advising session, but has not yet enrolled)
    Please let us know if you are still interested in enrolling in the program so we can finish your enrollment. You can log in to the Web Progress Form to see what courses were discussed in your original advising appointment.
  3. Leave of Absence (you are enrolled in the program, and currently in a leave of absence from your home program)
    Please let us know when you return from a leave of absence.
  4. Graduated (you graduated from the program in 2015 or later)
  5. Discontinued (you discontinued the Ph.D. in Scientific Computing and/or your home program)

    You can view your Web Progress Form at any time. If you want to make any changes to your Web Progress Form outside of the summer window, or if you have any problems with accessing the form, please email micde-phd@umich.edu.

    Graduation

    1. Confirm that your transcript shows you are enrolled in the PhD in Scientific Computing.  If your transcript doesn’t show your enrollment in the program, please contact the program administrator (micde-phd@umich.edu) to find out your status within the program.
    2. If your transcript shows your enrollment in the Scientific Computing program, please review all the information we have on file for you on the Web Progress Form. In particular, check the Graduation requirements summary section at the top. If any of the boxes are blank or incomplete, please ask the program administrator (micde-phd@umich.edu) to review your requirements and confirm that they are complete.
    3. During the term you want to graduate, please contact the program administrator (micde-phd@umich.edu) to let them know so they can process your information.

    Don’t forget to add the PhD in Scientific Computing program to the title page of your dissertation! For example: (Physics and Scientific Computing)

    FAQ

    Q1: Do you have examples of courses that students in my department have used for the program?

    A1: Please see this list for examples. Note that they are only samples of what other students have done, but they are not the only choices. This degree is extremely individualized, so please email the program administrator (micde-phd@umich.edu) for more course information.

    Q2: I met with the program director, but I get an error when I try to access the Web Progress Form. What can I do?

    A2: Please contact the program administrator (micde-phd@umich.edu) to inquire about your status.

    Q3: Can I change the courses listed on my form?

    A3: Yes, but note that any course changes must be approved by MICDE. Email the program administrator (micde-phd@umich.edu) if you have any questions.

    Q4: How often are students required to complete the Web Progress Form

    A4: We ask students to fill out the form annually, by the end of summer each year.

    Q5: What if I want to know if a course is approved before the Annual Form is due?

    A5: Please contact the program administrator (micde-phd@umich.edu) to initiate the approval process. Once approved, they will record it in your form.

    Q6: The form lists my status as “PROSPECTIVE” but I think I should be enrolled. What should I do?

    A6: Please contact the program administrator (micde-phd@umich.edu).

    Current Enrollment

    This bar graph represents the numbers of students from different departments at U-M enrolled in the program. Students come from the College of Engineering, School of Kinesiology, College of LSA, Michigan Medicine, College of Pharmacy, Ross Business School, School for Environment and Sustainability, School of Information and the School of Public Health.

    Departments include: Aerospace Engineering, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Industrial & Operations Engineering, Macromolecular Science & Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Materials Science & Engineering, Naval Architecture & Marine Engineering, Nuclear Engineering & Radiological Sciences, Applied Physics, Chemistry, Chemical Biology, Earth and Environmental Sciences, Linguistics, Mathematics, Physics, Political Science, Psychology, Biostatistics, Environmental Health Sciences, Epidemiology, Health Behavior & Health Education, Kinesiology, Health Infrastructures & Learning Systems, Neuroscience, Pharmaceutical Sciences, Business and School for Environment and Sustainability.

    This list is not exhaustive, and continues to grow.

    35+

    Ph.D. in Scientific Computing years in existence

    140+

    Current Ph.D. in Scientific Computing students

    200+

    Alumni since 1992

    History of the Ph.D. in Scientific Computing

    Faculty Leadership

    For all questions about the Ph.D. in Scientific Computing, please email micde-phd@umich.edu.

    Eric Johnsen

    2024 – present

    Ken Powell

    Karthik Duraisamy

    2022 – 2024

    Karthik Duraisamy

    Ken Powell

    2004 – 2022

    Ken Powell

    Bill Martin

    1988 – 2004

    Bill Martin