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How do I Earn an Industrial Engineering PhD?

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  • Written By: Elva K.
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 03 November 2016
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Industrial engineering involves optimizing systems. It involves optimizing work teams, improving knowledge or information systems, and improving the function of equipment, processes, and materials. The design of product prototypes might also be involved. To become an industrial engineer, it is generally necessary to get a college degree specializing in industrial engineering and then a graduate degree.

Pursuit of the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree in industrial engineering can be challenging. Granted, the challenge can be worthwhile because the PhD makes it more likely you will find work. The doctorate indicates to prospective employers that you are knowledgeable, good at doing research, able to solve problems, able to learn fast, and intellectually flexible enough to be a good industrial engineer.

Getting an industrial engineering PhD is the culmination of a nine-year process. For instance, the industrial engineering bachelor's degree typically takes at least four years. Then you would typically seek an industrial engineering job for two or three years to gain experience. After that, you would pursue a doctoral program in industrial engineering, which takes five years.

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Of course, the process could take even longer if you decide to pursue a master of science (MS) degree before pursuing the doctoral degree. For example, some individuals complete the bachelor's degree, work for a few years, and then pursue the master's degree in industrial engineering before pursuing the industrial engineering PhD. Doing the master's degree first before you pursue the PhD can be a good option if you are not 100 percent certain you want the PhD.

If you elect to pursue the doctoral program, the application process will involve getting references from former employers and former professors and will involve taking the Graduate Record Exam (GRE). Also required will be an application essay which describes why you seek to become an industrial engineering PhD. In addition, you will have to fill out the application for the particular school or schools you are interested in attending.

After being accepted to the industrial engineering PhD program, you will have to maintain an adequate grade point average (GPA) while completing the academic work the department requires. Doctoral industrial engineering programs will most likely require courses such as stochastic models, optimization, statistics, logistics, and supply chain management. These courses involve a lot of math. Thus, if you want to get an industrial engineering PhD, it can be helpful to have excellent math skills.

In addition to classes you take, you will also be required to complete a pre-dissertation research project. Also, you will have to complete a formal dissertation under the supervision of a dissertation chairperson. If you do these things successfully, you can become an industrial engineering PhD.

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