Feb 27, 2024  
Graduate Catalog | 2017-2018 
Graduate Catalog | 2017-2018 Previous Edition

Mechanical Engineering, Ph.D.

The Department of Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Science offers multi-disciplinary programs leading to a Ph.D. degree in mechanical engineering in the areas of automotive engineering, biomedical engineering (BME), computational modeling and simulation (CMS), and precision engineering and manufacturing (PE).

The objectives of the Ph.D. program are:

  • To provide students with the opportunity to develop a breadth of knowledge in mechanical engineering so that they can adapt to the changing requirements of the technological workplace.
  • To develop engineering researchers who can contribute to the development of new knowledge and the dissemination of best practices in academic, industrial, and government environments.
  • To prepare graduates for personal and professional success, both as individuals and in team environments.

Additional Admission Requirements

In addition to the general requirements for admission to the Graduate School, the following are required for study toward the Ph.D. program in Mechanical Engineering:

  1. A master’s degree in engineering or a closely allied field with a GPA of at least 3.5. Exceptional students with only a baccalaureate degree may also be considered for admission to the Ph.D. program.
  2. The applicant must receive a satisfactory score on the verbal and quantitative sections of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test.
  3. Three letters of reference, at least two of which must be from faculty members. All three must be from professionals working in the applicant’s field of interest.

Acceptability for admission is based upon the applicant’s record and background as determined by the department.

Degree Requirements

  1. Appointment of a Ph.D. advisor and formation of an advisory committee.
  2. Development of a Ph.D. Plan of Study detailing all course and examination requirements.
  3. Successful completion of the written qualifying examination.
  4. Presentation of a proposal for Ph.D. research and admission to candidacy.
  5. Successful defense of the Ph.D. Dissertation.

Within the first semester of being admitted into a Ph.D. program, the student should choose a Ph.D. advisor and form an advisory committee. In conjunction with the Ph.D. advisor and the advisory committee, the student will develop a Plan of Study to meet the Ph.D. program requirements of coursework and examinations and prepare to undertake original research leading to a dissertation of a quality that would be acceptable for publication of articles in peer-refereed professional journals.

Plan of Study

The Plan of Study must show at least 72 credit hours beyond the baccalaureate degree, including at least 45 credit hours of graduate coursework (6000-level or above), and 21 credit hours of research/dissertation.  For students who do not possess appropriate bachelor’s and/or master’s degrees in engineering, additional coursework will be expected. The specific course requirements will be set by the student’s advisory committee but must include:  at least 6 credit hours of graduate mathematics (e.g., MATH 6103 , MATH 6171 , MATH 6172 , and MEGR 7172 ) and at least 18 credit hours of MEGR courses.  Graduate courses from outside the department may be taken, but must be approved by the Associate Chair for Graduate Programs as part of the student’s Plan of Study.  Students are pre-approved to choose one of the following Graduate School courses: GRAD 8001 , GRAD 8010 , or GRAD 8011 .  The Plan of Study must be submitted to the department for review and approval no later than the second semester after admission to the Ph.D. program.


A student may satisfy the residency requirement for the program by completing 18 credit hours, either coursework or research credits, by study-in-residence during the academic year and during the summer terms, as long as the study is continuous. Study-in-residence is deemed to be continuous if the student is enrolled in one or more courses (including research/dissertation credit) in successive semesters until eighteen hours of credit are earned.


A student is expected to achieve A’s or B’s in all coursework taken for graduate credit and must have a GPA of at least a 3.0 in order to graduate. The dissertation is graded on a Pass/Unsatisfactory basis and, therefore, will not be included in the cumulative average. An accumulation of more than two marginal C grades will result in termination of the student’s enrollment in the graduate program. If a student makes a grade of U in any course, enrollment will be terminated. A graduate student whose enrollment has been terminated because of grades is ineligible to attend any semester or summer session unless properly readmitted to the graduate program. Readmission to the program requires approval of the Dean of the Graduate School upon the recommendation of the student’s major department and the Engineering Doctoral Graduate Committee of the College of Engineering.

Qualifying Examination

After completing two semesters in the PhD program, every student will take qualifying exams in math and two topical areas, selected by the student and his/her dissertation committee. The student and committee will select 4 out of the 9 subjects in the math syllabus for the math qualifying exam. The student will be tested on these 4 subjects. The student must answer all the questions in these 4 subjects and obtain 70% or above to pass.

The student and the committee will select the two areas for the topical exams. 70% or above is the passing grade in the two topic areas.

For each of the three exams, two outcomes are possible: Pass (70% or above) or Fail (<70%). If the student passes all three of the exams, the student must present his thesis topic proposal to his/her dissertation committee in the semester following the semester in which the qualifying exam is taken. If the student fails any or all of the exams in the first attempt, then he/she will either be allowed to retake the failed exam(s) or terminated from the program. If the student fails any exam for the second time, this is sufficient grounds for termination from the program.

Admission to Candidacy

The single requirement for admission to candidacy is the appointment of an advisory committee. This committee will consist of at least four graduate faculty members. Two of these four members shall be from a department other than the student’s major. One of these external members shall be chosen by the student in consultation of his graduate advisor and the other member is appointed by the graduate school. The graduate advisor serves as chair of the committee. The committee is recommended by the department after appropriate consultation between the advisor and student.

Dissertation Proposal and Admission to Candidacy

Because the Ph.D. program is heavily based on independent research, each student must write a proposal describing his/her proposed dissertation research following the technical guidelines established by the department.  Upon approval of the student’s dissertation proposal, the advisory committee will recommend the student’s admission to candidacy.  This is subject to the approval of the Dean of the Graduate School.

Once the student has been admitted to candidacy, a tentative date for the dissertation defense should be agreed upon by the candidate and chair and indicated on this application.  The date should be realistic and allow ample time for completion and review of the dissertation.

Application for Degree

Students preparing to graduate must submit an online Application for Degree by the filing data specified in the University Academic Calendar.  If a student does not graduate in the semester identified on the Application for Degree, then the student must update his/her Admission to Candidacy and submit a new Application for Degree for graduation in a subsequent semester.


Evidence of a high degree of competence in scholarship, written exposition, independent inquiry and the ability to organize and apply knowledge must be demonstrated by the student in the dissertation. The student will make a public defense of the dissertation at which time the dissertation, as well as the student’s knowledge of the field, will be appropriate matter for examination by the student’s advisory committee. Although questions may be asked by the general audience, evaluation of the dissertation defense is the sole responsibility of the advisory committee. The dissertation will be graded on a Pass/Unsatisfactory basis.


Teaching and Research Assistantships (TAs and RAs, respectively) are available on a competitive basis.

Time Limit

Students are allowed a maximum of eight (8) calendar years from formal admission to the Ph.D. program to complete the program successfully.