Aerospace Engineering Doctoral Degree Program

Aerospace Engineering

Objective and Description

The overall objective of the graduate program in Aerospace Engineering is to develop in a student the ability to define a technical problem, establish an appropriate mathematical or experimental model based on a firm understanding of the physical nature of the problem, analyze the problem by theoretical, numerical, or experimental techniques, and evaluate the results. Although this ability is developed in the context of aerospace problems, it is applicable to the engineering of any physical system.

The program is designed for a student with any of the following specific objectives:

  1. A sound foundation in advanced mathematics, science, and engineering which will equip the student well for research and development work or for further advanced study toward a doctoral degree in engineering.
  2. A program of advanced study which allows specialization in one of the following areas:
    • Fluid dynamics, aerodynamics and propulsion (theoretical and applied aerodynamics, gas dynamics, viscous fluid mechanics, turbulence, computational and experimental fluid dynamics, bio-fluidics, hypersonic flow theory, high-temperature gas dynamics, V/STOL and rotorcraft aerodynamics, air-breathing and rocket propulsion);
    • Structural mechanics and structures (solid mechanics, aerospace structures, structural dynamics, composite structures and material characterization, damage tolerance and durability, smart structures, structure optimization, sensor technology, high-temperature structures and materials, aeroelasticity);
    • Flight mechanics and controls (atmospheric and space flight mechanics, orbital mechanics, guidance, navigation and control);
    • Vehicle design (conceptual aircraft design, atmospheric flight vehicle design, spacecraft design, computer-aided engineering).
  3. A balanced but non-specialized program of advanced study in aerodynamics, astronautics, flight dynamics, structural analysis, propulsion, and fluid mechanics, with emphasis on experimental techniques and modern mathematical analysis.



  • The Ph.D. degree requires a minimum of 24 hours of graduate-level course work beyond the master's degree, and will include a scholarly dissertation that provides a significant original contribution to aerospace engineering.
  • The Ph.D. degree course requirement can be tailored to satisfy the individual student's aspirations in choice of the area of specialization. However, to meet the educational goals of a broad-based technical background in aerospace engineering, it is expected that each student will take sufficient course work to obtain in-depth knowledge in at least two core areas of aerospace engineering.
  • Students whose background is in a field other than aerospace engineering must satisfy the master's degree core requirements.
    There is no foreign language requirement for the Ph.D.
  • Diagnostic Exam: All students entering the Ph.D. program are required to take the Ph.D. Diagnostic Exam. Students admitted into Aerospace Engineering Ph.D. program with a Master of Science degree in aerospace engineering or equivalent must take the diagnostic exam at the end of the first semester. This exam is offered twice per year, during the week preceding the start of classes for the fall and spring semesters. Possible outcomes of this evaluation are: 1) continuation in the doctoral program, 2) approval to continue with certain specified remedial work, 3) failure with approval to retake, 4) termination from the program.
  • Comprehensive Exam: Students are eligible to take the comprehensive examination after satisfying all requirements stipulated by the Diagnostic Exam Committee and giving evidence to their doctoral committee of adequate academic achievement by having completed all or most coursework requirements. The comprehensive examination is used to determine if the student has the necessary background and specialization required for the dissertation research and if the student can organize and conduct the research. An applicant must pass this examination to be admitted to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree.
Admissions Requirements

B.S. - Ph.D. candidate:

  • In addition to the requirements listed above for the Ph.D. degree, a B.S.-Ph.D. Track student will be required to enroll in at least three hours of research each semester during the student's first two years, receiving a pass/fail grade (no R grade) in these hours.
  • A student may be exempted from enrolling in research hours in the student's initial semester.
  • A B.S.-Ph.D. Track student must have a faculty research (dissertation) advisor prior to the start of the student's second full semester.
  • Students in the B.S.-Ph.D. program must take the Ph.D diagnostic exam within the first year from the start of their Ph.D.


All applications for admission will also be considered for assistantships, fellowships, and scholarships. Some of the offers for financial aid are made well before the final deadline for application. Applicants are strongly urged to complete their applications early to take advantage of all the opportunities for financial aid available in the College of Engineering and the University.