PhD in Engineering - Mechanical Engineering Concentration

Program Overview

The Doctor of Philosophy is a degree that is conferred on a student who has demonstrated proficiency in a broad area of learning, and who has proven that he or she has the capability to evaluate work in the field critically. In addition, the student must have demonstrated the ability to work independently and make original contributions to the field. The degree is conferred after the student has satisfied both a course work and dissertation requirement under the supervision of a committee.

Program Information

The PhD degree is awarded to students who have satisfied the requirements of the program, who have submitted an acceptable dissertation, and who have passed all prescribed examinations. Program requirements are:

  • Complete a minimum of 30 semester hours of course work. Up to 21 hours can be transferred into the program from a previous Master of Science subject to approval (or 24 hours with an approved waiver).
  • All course work must be numbered 5000 and above.
  • Complete a minimum of 30 semester hours of dissertation research.
  • For students admitted provisionally, provisional requirements must be completed prior to beginning Ph.D. course work.
  • An overall graduate GPA of at least 3.0 is required in order to graduate.
  • A minimum grade of B- is required in each course.
  • The student must pass the Qualifying Examination, the Comprehensive Examination, and the final oral Defense of the Dissertation.

Students entering the program with degree that is not in Mechanical or Aerospace Engineering may have additional coursework requirements beyond those described above. These requirements will be determined as a part of the student's plan of study in coordination with the student, advisor and MAE Graduate Affairs Committee.

Upcoming graduate courses are listed on the course offerings page. See the courses page for course descriptions.

Procedures & Requirements for Graduation

PhD Program of Study Form

Duration of Program

The completion of the Ph.D. degree must be accomplished in nine years.

Qualifying Exam

The qualifying exam is designed to ensure that students achieve a high level of expertise in the subject matter of their major area, preparing them for success in the PhD program and in their broader career endeavors. The exam will cover one of three topical areas chosen from:

  • Thermal and Fluid Systems
  • Solid Mechanics, Structures and Materials
  • Dynamics and Controls

by the student in consultation with his or her advisor. The exam consists of two parts; a written test followed by an oral test. The oral test will usually be given one week after the written test. The exam will emphasize mathematical concepts pertinent to the topical area. The qualifying exam will be taken at the first opportunity after the completion of one academic semester following admission into the program. For more information reference the Qualifying Exam.

Comprehensive Exam

The comprehensive exam consists of a public technical presentation given by the candidate to the dissertation committee that provides an overview of their dissertation research. The exam should be taken after a substantial portion of the dissertation research has been completed, and typically approximately one year prior to the final oral dissertation defense. The comprehensive exam is designed to allow the committee to evaluate whether the candidate's dissertation is original and creative work, to assess the candidate's overall progress, and to make recommendations prior to the final defense. It is also designed to test the candidate's general knowledge of their research area and the field in general.  

Dissertation Committee

  • Once the qualifying exam has been successfully completed, the dissertation committee will be formed.
  • The student will select a dissertation advisor from the MAE faculty.
  • The dissertation advisor will assume the role of the academic advisor and the advisor for dissertation research.
  • The dissertation committee will consist of 5 members. Three of the members must be from the MAE department with at least one member of the committee being from outside the MAE department.
  • A maximum of two members from outside the college of EAS may serve on the committee; they must be members of the graduate faculty.
  • The committee chair must be a member of the MAE graduate faculty.
  • The committee should reflect the focus area of the dissertation work and be able to support and evaluate the student’s work.
  • A student may change advisors by petitioning the graduate affairs committee.


The dissertation is a written, polished document reporting the results of the student’s investigation into an original area of research. At least 30 semester hours of dissertation credit are required. All Ph.D. dissertations must be written according to a departmentally approved format and enclosed in the department report cover. Each will be assigned a department report number.

Final Oral Defense of the Dissertation

The final oral defense of the dissertation occurs at the completion of the dissertation after the first and second readers have approved its contents. It is open to anyone who wishes to attend. A successful candidate must receive the affirmative vote of a majority of the members of the Dissertation Committee. The examination may be attempted at most twice.

Graduate School Application