Feb 28, 2024  
Graduate Catalog | 2023-2024 
Graduate Catalog | 2023-2024

Mechanical Engineering, Ph.D.

The Department of Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Science offers multi-disciplinary programs leading to a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering degree in the areas of automotive engineering, biomedical engineering, computational modeling and simulation, materials science, manufacturing, and precision engineering.  In addition, the Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering program offers an Advanced Standing Option for students who have already earned a Master’s degree in selected disciplines.  

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.

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 Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test score.
  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.

GRE Waiver

The GRE requirement will be waived for the following applicants:

  • Current UNC Charlotte undergraduate students who have earned a minimum 3.2 cumulative GPA and completed at least 75 earned credit hours
  • Applicants who have earned a bachelor’s degree with a minimum cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.2 from an ABET-accredited program in a U.S. institution
  • Applicants who have passed the FE exam and/or earned the PE license
  • Applicants who have completed a master’s degree in engineering or related fields, and earned a minimum graduate GPA of 3.5 from an ABET-accredited program in a U.S. institution

Application Deadline

Application deadlines are in accordance with UNC Charlotte Graduate School deadlines. However, to ensure full consideration for financial support, applications must be received by September 15 for Spring admission and February 15 for Fall admission.

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. Formation of a Dissertation Committee, 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, consisting of the Ph.D. advisor, Associate Chair for Graduate Programs, and academic advisor.  In conjunction with 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 dissertation research.  All doctoral students must register for 8000-level courses when they are available. 5000-, 6000-, or 7000-level courses that do not have 8000-level counterparts may also be counted towards the doctoral degree if approved by the advisory committee.  For students who do not possess appropriate bachelor’s and/or master’s degrees in engineering, additional coursework is expected. The specific course requirements are set by the student’s advisory committee but must include:  at least 6 credit hours of graduate mathematics (e.g., MEGR 8172 , MEGR 8174 , or MEGR 8175 ) 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 8201 , GRAD 8202 , GRAD 8210 , or GRAD 8212 .  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.  All coursework must be completed within nine years from admission to the program. 

Research Seminar

All Ph.D. students are required to register for MEGR 8000  each semester through completion of proposal defense. This 1 credit hour course is graded on a pass/unsatisfactory basis, and does not count toward the required 72 degree hours.

Responsible Conduct of Research and Academic Integrity Courses

All Ph.D. students are required to complete GRAD 8990  in the first semester, and GRAD 8302  in the first or second semester.  GRAD 8990  is a no credit and non-graded course. GRAD 8302  is a 2 credit hour course, graded on a pass/unsatisfactory basis, and does not count toward the required 72 degree hours.

Degree Total = 72 Credit Hours

Grade Requirements

A student is expected to achieve grades of A or B in all coursework taken for graduate credit and must have a minimum GPA of 3.0 in order to graduate. 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.

The dissertation research is graded on a SP (satisfactory progress) or UP (unsatisfactory progress) basis and, therefore, will not be included in the cumulative average. The second time in which a grade of UP is earned will trigger a discussion between the student and Ph.D. advisor about lack of progress in the program. This discussion will include all possible recommendations from the Ph.D. advisor, such as pursuing a new topic, moving to a new advisor or even termination from the program. The advisor will discuss any recommendation to terminate a student for lack of progress with the Associate Chair for Graduate Programs prior to forwarding such a request to the Graduate School for consideration.

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.

Residence Requirement

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 18 credit hours are earned.

Qualifying Examinations

After completing two semesters in the Ph.D. program, students take qualifying exams in math and two topical areas, selected by the student and their Ph.D. advisor.  The mathematics examination is based on content from the course, Engineering Analysis (this course is currently offered as MEGR 8174 ).  Students must obtain 70% or above on the mathematics exam to pass.

The student and the Ph.D. advisor select the two areas for the topical exams.  70% or above is the passing grade in each of the two topic areas.

For each of the three exams, two outcomes are possible: Pass (70% or more) or Fail (69% or less).  If the student fails any or all of the exams in the first attempt, they are either 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.


Dissertation Committee

After passing the qualifying exam, students should set up a Dissertation Committee 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 their Ph.D. advisor, and the other member is appointed as the Graduate Faculty Representative by the Graduate School.  The Ph.D. advisor serves as chair of the committee, must be a member of the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Science (MEES) graduate faculty, and ensures that the composition of the committee is appropriate.  Committee members from outside the University must be appointed Associate Graduate Faculty members at UNC Charlotte. The Dissertation Committee must be approved by the Associate Chair for Graduate Programs.  If there is need to change committee members later, a revised Committee form must be approved and submitted to the Graduate School.

Proposal Defense

Each student must present and defend a Ph.D. dissertation proposal after passing the qualifying exam, following the technical guidelines established by the department. The proposal defense is conducted by the student’s Dissertation Committee and is open to MEES faculty and students. The student shall provide copies of the written proposal to the Committee members at least two weeks before the scheduled defense.

It is expected that the student make the proposal defense in the semester after the Qualifying Exam is passed; exceptions will be made at the discretion of the student’s advisor with approval of the Associate Chair for Graduate Programs.

Ph.D. Candidacy

A doctoral student advances to Ph.D. candidacy after the dissertation proposal has been successfully defended.

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

Dissertation Defense

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 makes a public defense of the dissertation at which time the dissertation, as well as the student’s knowledge of the field, is appropriate matter for examination by the student’s advisory committee. The date of the defense must be publicly announced at least two weeks prior to the defense.  Although questions may be asked by the general audience, evaluation of the dissertation defense is the sole responsibility of the advisory committee.  The dissertation defense is graded on a Pass/Fail basis.

Progress Report and Evaluation

In January of every year, each student is required to submit a written progress report for the previous year, and the advisor(s) is required to submit a written evaluation of the student to the Associate Chair for Graduate Programs.  A rubric is used for evaluation of progress.  Failure to make satisfactory progress may result in discontinuation of the student’s graduate assistantship and suspension from the program.


Advanced Standing Option

Admission Requirements

To be admitted into the Advanced Standing Option for the Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering program, students must meet all the admission requirements of the Ph.D. above AND must have earned a master’s degree in engineering or closely related fields (e.g., physics, computational mechanics).  Only students who have earned a master’s degree in these areas will be considered, no exceptions will be made.  All other students should apply to the Ph.D. program above (without the Advanced Standing Option). 

Additionally, students with a cumulative GPA less than 3.2 in their master’s degree or more than 2 grades of C in their master’s degree courses are not eligible for Advanced Standing Option.  In this case, students have the option of requesting transfer of credit hours for individual courses with grades of B or above.

Degree Requirements

The degree requirements for the Advanced Standing Option are similar to the Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering above except that students complete only 42 credit hours.  No transfer credits are allowed under this program.  The degree requirement is as follows:

  • 21 credit hours minimum graduate coursework, of which at least 12 credit hours must be MEGR courses
  • Students who have not satisfied the mathematics requirement (6 credit hours minimum) as part of their master’s degree must complete that requirement as part of the coursework at UNC Charlotte (e.g., MEGR 8172 , MEGR 8174 , or MEGR 8175 )
  • MEGR 8999 - Doctoral Dissertation Research  (21 credit hours minimum)
  • All Ph.D. students are required to register for MEGR 8000  each semester through completion of proposal defense/eligibility to enroll in GRAD 9800  (a non-graded course but can satisfy the full-time enrollment requirement)
  • All students are required to complete GRAD 8990  in the first semester, and GRAD 8302  in the first or second semester

A minimum of 42 credit hours are required to complete the degree under the Advanced Standing Option.  Once the minimums stated above are satisfied, the remaining hours, if any, can be satisfied via elective coursework or research credit hours (MEGR 8999 ).  Any courses outside the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Science requires departmental approval.

Qualifying Examination

Students who enter the Ph.D. program under the Advanced Standing Option must take the qualifying examination before the end of their third semester in the doctoral program.