WPI Launches Experiential PhD

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Graphic illustration of a person climbing a staircase of books to a graduate cap and diploma

New Model Allows for Enhanced Collaboration with Industry Partners to Support Students who are Also Full-time Employees

Drawing on WPI’s long history of industry partnerships and project-based learning to address real-world problems, the University is announcing the launch of a new Experiential PhD. This model provides a logistical framework to allow students with full time jobs to pursue their PhD, while being fully supported by their employer, WPI, and their faculty advisor.

“The Experiential PhD is not a program, instead it’s like scaffolding during the construction of a building – it provides a structure for full time employees while they work towards obtaining their PhDs. We want their employers to be fully on board and involved, in a true partnership with WPI,” said Alex Wyglinski, Associate Dean of Graduate Studies.

It also gives students the framework to have a higher level of balance in their lives while pursuing their doctorate by fully embracing their status as non-traditional PhD students. “Students who pursue their doctorates while also working full time can often feel like they are pulled in many different directions, but the Experiential PhD gives them the opportunity to determine a schedule that allows them to have dedicated time for both their work and research,” said Wyglinski. Adding to that flexibility, an Experiential PhD student can also complete their doctorate remotely, and potentially use their employer’s facilities for their research and lab work.

The Experiential PhD can also help support and facilitate the professional growth and development of the next generation of leaders in the tech industry.

This program creates a win-win scenario – our experiential PhD students gain access to WPI’s first-class education while sharing their real-world knowledge with our traditional PhD students” said Danielle Cote, Assistant Professor of Mechanical & Materials Engineering.

This new model of obtaining a PhD could be employed in any academic departments at WPI. Applications are being accepted on a rolling basis. Please contact Associate Dean of Graduate Studies Alex Wyglinski for more information and to discuss how WPI can set up an Experiential PhD collaboration that benefits your organization.

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