Doctoral Program

Program Description

The Department of Mechanical Engineering offers two doctoral degrees: Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) and Doctor of Engineering Science (Eng.Sc.D.). Ph.D. degrees are conferred by the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS)and Eng.Sc.D. degrees are conferred by Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science.

All applications to the doctoral program in mechanical engineering are administered by the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science. Click here to apply. Students who matriculate into the doctoral program without a masters degree earn a Master of Science degree while pursuing their doctoral degree.

Every doctoral candidate is expected to attain a level of mastery in an area of mechanical engineering, and must therefore choose a field and take the most advanced courses offered in that field. Candidates are assigned a faculty adviser whose task is to help choose a program of courses, provide general advice on academic matters, and monitor academic performance. Candidates also choose a faculty member in the pertinent area of specialization to serve as their research adviser. This adviser helps select a research problem and supervises the research, writing, and defense of the dissertation.

Program Requirements

  • 30 credits beyond master’s degree (can be from research course credits)
  • GPA of 3.2 or better in graduate courses
  • 4 semesters of graduate seminar MECE E9500
  • Completion of all milestones




Typical Time of Completion

Qualifying Exam

The exam consists of a written exam covering a number of areas of Mechanical Engineering. A candidate who fails the examination may be permitted to repeat it once in the following year.

Two semesters after matriculation.  Exam given in May.

Master of Science (M.S.)

Students who enter the doctoral program without a Master's degree, must complete the MS stage of their program within 12 consecutive months of matriculation  (i.e. two semesters plus a summer).

Two to three semesters after matriculation

Master of Philosophy (M.Phil.)

Doctoral students should apply for the M.Phil. after accumulating six residence units (see registration information below) and 30 credits beyond the M.S., and after completing all other requirements for the doctoral degree except the proposal, defense and deposit.

Four semesters after M.S.

Research Proposal

Doctoral students present a research proposal which identifies a specific problem to investigate to a three-person faculty committee. The committee considers whether the proposed problem is suitable for doctoral research, whether the plan of attack is well formulated and appropriate to the problem, and whether the student is adequately prepared.

No later than six months after M.Phil.

Defense and Deposit of Dissertation

Doctoral students prepare and defend a dissertation to a five-person faculty committee consisting of at least three members from the Department of Mechanical Engineering and at least one member whose primary appointment is outside the department.

Five to six years, on average

Registration Information for PhD Students with Advanced Standing

Doctoral candidates are granted advanced standing for holding a master’s degree. GSAS credits candidates with two (2) “residence units” (RU) for advanced standing. Candidates should register for one (1) RU every fall and spring semester (but not during summer session). A total of six (6) RUs is required for the Ph.D. Hence, candidates should register for a residence unit exactly four (4) times, consecutively during the first four (4) semesters after being granted advanced standing. GSAS requires continuous registration every fall and spring semester (but not summers) unless a formal leave of absence is granted.

After completing six (6) RUs (including the two (2) granted for advanced standing), doctoral candidates should stop registering for RUs. Registration after that depends on funding and progress towards completion of degree requirements. There are two options: "Extended Residence" and "Matriculation and Facilities." GSAS requires continuous registration every fall and spring semester (but not summers) unless a formal leave of absence is granted.

Doctoral candidates appointed as a "student officers" must register for an "extended residence" (ER) unit every fall and spring semester. Some external fellowships and scholarships may also require ER registration.  In addition, regardless of funding, candidates taking any classes or completing any other degree requirement (with the exceptions of the dissertation distribution, defense or deposit) during the semester, must register for an ER unit.

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