Mechanical Engineering Doctoral Degree Program

Mechanical Engineeering Department

Objective and Description

This program provides opportunities for professional development: instructional courses enhance technical competence in areas of mechanical engineering practice; training through a variety of experiences in design, development, research, experimentation, and/or analysis in joint efforts with faculty and peers; specialized courses of study required for entry into career fields allied to the mechanical engineering discipline; guided individual study under faculty supervision; and supportive coursework for programs leading to careers that require interdisciplinary competence.

A student with aid from a faculty advisor plans a program that will be consistent with his or her technical interests and the available facilities and course offerings. Typically, programs are classified as:

  • Thermal Science

  • Fluid Science

  • Mechanical Design and Manufacturing

  • Solid Mechanics and Structures

  • Controls and Systems

Requirements and Courses

There is no foreign language requirement for the Ph.D. degree.

M.S.-Ph.D. Track Students

To meet the educational goal of a broad-based technical background in mechanical engineering, it is expected that each student will take sufficient graduate coursework to obtain in-depth knowledge in at least two areas of mechanical engineering. Students whose background is in a field other than mechanical engineering must satisfy the Master of Science core requirements. Note that registration in elective courses outside the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department requires prior approval of the mechanical engineering graduate advisor and the student's committee chair. Otherwise, they will not count toward graduation requirements. The doctoral degree program consists of a minimum of 24 credit hours of coursework beyond the master's degree plus 9 hours of dissertation and 2 hours of seminar, and requires the successful completion of the following requirements:

  1. Three core courses (9 credit hours) from at least two different areas, as listed below:
    • Thermal Science: ME 5316 Thermal Conduction, ME 5317 Convection Heat Transfer, ME 5318 Radiative Heat Transfer, ME 5321 Advanced Classical Thermodynamics
    • Fluid Science: ME 5313 Fluid Dynamics, ME 5342 Advanced Gas Dynamics I, ME 5344 Viscous Flows
    • Design, Mechanics and Manufacturing: ME 5310 Finite Element Methods, ME 5337 Introduction to Robotics, ME 5339 Structural Aspects of Design
    • Controls and Systems: ME 5303 Classical Methods of Control Systems Analysis and Synthesis, ME 5305 Dynamic Systems Modeling, ME 5341 Control Systems Components.
  2. One additional course (3 credit hours) at the graduate level in one of the broad areas of mechanical engineering outside the student's major area of specialization. A core course is also acceptable for meeting this requirement.
  3. Three additional courses (9 credit hours) in the student's major area of research
  4. One course (3 credit hours) of engineering analysis (ME 5331, 5332, or other approved mathematics courses).
  5. Two credit hours of seminar
  6. Nine credit hours (ME 6999) for dissertation.

Final course requirements are determined by the student's supervising committee. In addition, a student must pass three examinations before being awarded the Ph.D. degree: the Diagnostic Exam, the Comprehensive Exam, and the Final Exam (or Dissertation Examination).

A qualifying examination for M.S. to Ph.D. track students will be administered before the start of students' second long semester. The diagnostic examination tests fundamental knowledge in two technical areas of mechanical engineering. The student and the student's research advisor jointly choose the technical areas from the following five: (1) thermal science, (2) fluid science, (3) mechanical design and manufacturing, (4) solid mechanics and structures, and (5) controls and systems. The exam topics for the technical areas are given in the mechanical engineering Ph.D. diagnostic exam handout. The diagnostic examination is normally offered twice a year the week prior to the beginning of the fall and/or spring semesters. A student who is planning to take the diagnostic examination should inform the mechanical engineering graduate advisor in advance and no later than the middle of the long semester prior to the planned time of taking the exam, and consult with the mechanical engineering graduate advisor for the time and place of the diagnostic examination.

A comprehensive examination will be administered to the student after the successful completion of all phases of the diagnostic examination and before the student's research work for the dissertation. 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.

The student must enroll in at least three hours of dissertation courses (ME 6399-6999) or research courses (ME 6397-6999) every semester in which the student is actively involved in dissertation preparation or research, except that the student must enroll in ME 6999 in the semester of graduation.

The student must submit the Application for Candidacy and Final Program of Work to the Mechanical Engineering Committee on Graduate Studies immediately after completion of the comprehensive examination. Coursework taken for the master's degree at this institution may be used to meet these requirements; however, courses listed for the master's degree or any other degree cannot be listed as the actual course requirement on the Final Program of Work. Transfer work is not accepted in doctoral programs; however, such courses may provide a basis for waiving some course requirements.

The student must file the Request for Dissertation Defense form with the Graduate School at least two weeks prior to the defense. At the same time, the student must also announce the exam to the members of the university community by posting fliers on the departmental bulletin boards and by providing an electronic statement to the mechanical engineering graduate advisor to be posted on the departmental web page indicating details (title, abstract, advisor, time and place) of the exam. Approval of the dissertation by the members of the Dissertation Committee is required.

Please see the section entitled General Graduate School Regulations and Information in the University Catalog for further details.

The grade of R (research in progress) is a permanent grade; completing course requirements in a later semester cannot change it. To receive credit for an R-graded course, the student must continue to enroll in the course until a passing grade is received.

An incomplete grade (the grade of I) cannot be given in a course that is graded R, nor can the grade of R be given in a course that is graded I. To receive credit for a course in which the student earned an I, the student must complete the course requirements. Enrolling again in the course in which an I was earned cannot change a grade of I. At the discretion of the instructor, a final grade can be assigned through a change of grade form.

Three-hour thesis courses and three- and six-hour dissertation courses are graded R/F/W only. The grade of P (required for degree completion for students enrolled in thesis or dissertation programs) can be earned only in six-hour thesis or nine-hour dissertation courses. In the course listings below, R-graded courses are designated either "Graded P/F/R" or "Graded R." Occasionally, the valid grades for a course change. Students should consult the appropriate graduate advisor or instructor for valid grade information for particular courses. 

B.S. to Ph.D. Track

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 B.S.-Ph.D. student must have a faculty research (dissertation) advisor prior to the start of the student's second full semester. A B.S. to Ph.D. student must take the Ph.D. Qualifying Examination before the start of his/her second long semester.


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.

The Doctoral Program

Admission Requirements