Rice University logoGeorge R. Brown School of Engineering
 
Top blue bar imageLogin
 
Home > Graduate Program > Degree Requirements

Graduate Program Degree Requirements  

Requirements for the M.S. Degree

   Time period for completion: Full-time students seeking the M.S. degree are expected to complete all the requirements for the degree within two calendar years following entrance into the program. Continuation in the program beyond this time limit will require special approval of the department.

  • Courses: The minimum semester hours of course work (a course usually consists of 3 semester hours) required for the M.S. degree are tabulated below as a function of the degree held upon entrance into the program. In all cases, a student's specific course of study is formulated in consultation with the departmental advisor (thesis director) and must be approved by the department.   

Full-time students seeking the M.S. degree are expected to complete all the requirements for the degree within two calendar years following entrance into the program. Continuation in the program beyond this time limit will require special approval of the department.    

 Degree at entrance

 5-year  B.S.

 4-year B.S.

 4-year B.A.

 Minimum graduate level semester hours required (course work)

 12

 18

 24

  • Preliminary Candidacy Evaluation (PCE): All entering graduate students pursuing a thesis degree program will be subject to a preliminary evaluation of their candidacy for the highest degree program they intend to pursue. The evaluation will be conducted by the end of the second semester of enrollment in the graduate program in the MECH department. Students are responsible for working with their advisor in order to ensure that their PCE is conducted in a timely fashion. The evaluation will be based on a review of the academic performance up to the time of evaluation, including performance in course work and graduate research in the form of course grades, course ranking, GRE scores, and other relevant information. The reviewed material will be made available to the students. A panel of MECH faculty members selected by the research advisor and approved by the director of graduate studies will conduct the evaluation. The number of panel members will be 3 for the M.S. degree. The evaluation by the panel will normally result in one of the following four possible outcomes:
    • Approve preliminary candidacy
    • Approve preliminary candidacy conditionally, and specify conditions
    • Extend the period of evaluation, and re-do the evaluation latest by the end of the third semester of enrollment in the MECH graduate program
    • Disapprove candidacy
  • Research and Thesis
    • Each candidate for the M.S. degree must complete a thesis demonstrating ability in research of a fundamental nature (analytical or experimental). It is expected that the research will be of sufficient importance and quality that positive results would lead to publication. Instructions for preparation of theses can be obtained at the appropriate time through the office of graduate and postdoctoral studies
    • Candidates for the M.S. degree must register for Research and Thesis (MECH 800) during the year preceding the anticipated date of graduation
    • The student must select a thesis director during the first semester of study. Active research should begin by the end of the first semester
    • Candidates for the M.S. degree who are not on campus and who have completed all requirements except the thesis must register for Research and Thesis (MECH 800) every semester until graduation 
    • Language requirement: The MECH department does not have a foreign language requirement for its graduate degrees. It is recommended that every student understands at least one computer language
    • Final thesis defense: Upon completion of the thesis, a committee comprised of at least three members will examine each candidate for the M.S. degree. Two, including the committee chair, must be members of the department. The thesis must be made available to the members of the examining committee at least two weeks before the examination date. The oral examination will consist of questions concerning the candidate's grasp of the fundamental principles underlying his/her field of study. In connection with this review, the guidance of the thesis director should be sought. Should the candidate fail in this examination, he/she is allowed to repeat it once with the approval of the committee. A public notice of the MS oral examination must be given by posting an announcement on the departmental bulletin board at least one week prior to the examination.
    • Residency: The minimum residence requirement for the M.S. degree is one semester of full-time study at the university.
    • Thesis deadline: Students must observe the deadlines set by the office of graduate and postdoctoral studies for submission of the final thesis to receive their degree for either January or May conferral. Otherwise students have six months from the date of defense to submit their final thesis to the office of graduate and postdoctoral studies.   
    • Graduate Seminar: All graduate students (except professional master’s degree students [M.M.E.]) must attend at least 75% of the MECH seminars according to the following residence schedule:

                                      M.S. students: First 2 years
                                      Ph.D. students: First 3 years

      Students must register for MECH 606 in their required seminar attendance periods as stated above.
    • Instructional Assistance: All graduate students (except professional master's degree students [M.M.E.]) are required, as part of their research degree program and educational experience, to provide instructional assistance to the department. This instructional assistance, which could be in the form of grading, lecturing, assisting in labs or developing course material, will not exceed ten hours per week and will be based on the following schedule:
                                      
                                      M.S. Students: 3 semesters
                                      Ph.D. Students: 6 semesters

Requirements for the Ph.D. Degree

Courses: The minimum semester hours of course work (a course usually consist of 3 semester hours) required are tabulated below as a function of the degree held upon entrance into the program. In all cases, a student's course of study is formulated in consultation with the thesis director and must be approved by the department.

 Degree at entrance

 M.S.  

 5-year  B.S.

4-year B.S.

4-year B.A.

 Minimum graduate level semester hours required (course work)

 18

 30

 36

 42

  • Preliminary Candidacy Evaluation (PCE): All entering graduate students pursuing a thesis degree program will be subject to a preliminary evaluation of their candidacy for the highest degree program they intend to pursue. The evaluation will be conducted by the end of the second semester of enrollment in the graduate program in the MECH department. Students are responsible for working with their advisor in order to ensure that their PCE is conducted in a timely fashion. The evaluation will be based on a review of the academic performance up to the time of evaluation, including performance in course work and graduate research in the form of course grades, course ranking, GRE scores, and other relevant information. The reviewed material will be made available to the students. A panel of MECH faculty members selected by the research advisor and approved by the director of graduate studies will conduct the evaluation. The number of panel members will be 4 for the Ph.D. degree. The evaluation by the panel will normally result in one of the following four possible outcomes 
    • Approve preliminary candidacy   
    • Approve preliminary candidacy conditionally, and specify conditions   
    • Extend the period of evaluation, and receive candidacy approval no later than the end of the third semester of enrollment in the graduate program in the MECH graduate program 
    • Disapprove candidacy   
  • Oral Qualifying Examination: By the end of the third year of enrollment in the graduate program in the MECH department, the student must pass an oral qualifying examination. The purpose of this examination is to determine whether the student is qualified to conduct independent research at the technical level required for the Ph.D. thesis. The student's grasp of fundamental concepts in his/her field and related fields of interest will be examined. A committee consisting of at least three faculty members of the department and one member of another department will administer the examination. The result of this examination will be the principal factor in the department's decision as to the student's admission to candidacy for the Ph.D. program. Should the student fail in this examination, he/she may be allowed to repeat it once only with the recommendation of the examining committee.    
  • Language requirement: The MECH department does not have a foreign language requirement for its graduate degrees. It is recommended that every student understands at least one computer language 
  • Research and Thesis:
    • Each candidate for the Ph.D. must complete a thesis that constitutes an original contribution to scientific knowledge. The thesis will be bound in buckram and permanently preserved in the library. Instructions for preparation of theses can be obtained at the appropriate time through the office of graduate and postdoctoral studies. 
  • Final thesis defense: Upon completion of the thesis, each candidate for the Ph.D. degree must pass a final public oral examination. A committee consisting of at least four members will conduct the examination. Three, including the committee chair, must be members of the department. One member must be from another department within the university. The members of the committee will be announced early enough so that the candidate may discuss with them the nature of the thesis research and the contents of the thesis. The thesis must be made available to the members of the examining committee at least three weeks before the examination date. Although the examination will be concerned primarily with the candidate's thesis, the questioning may also cover other areas. The oral defense may be scheduled at any time except during official examination periods. Public announcements of the oral examinations for the doctoral degree must be made at least two weeks in advance. 
  • Thesis deadline: Students must observe the deadlines set by the office of graduate and postdoctoral studies for submission of the final thesis to receive their degree for either January or May conferral. Otherwise students have six months from the date of defense to submit their final thesis to the office of graduate and postdoctoral studies. 
  • Residency: Normally, three or more years of study past the Bachelor's degree are required for the Ph.D. degree. The minimum residence requirement for the Ph.D. degree is four semesters (fall/spring) of full-time study at the university. 
  • Graduate Seminar: All graduate students (except professional master’s degree students [M.M.E.]) must attend at least 75% of the MECH seminars according to the following residence schedule:

                                    M.S. students: First 2 years
                                    Ph.D. students: First 3 years

    Students must register for MECH 606 in their required seminar attendance periods as stated above.
  • Instructional Assistance: All graduate students (except professional master's degree students [M.M.E.]) are required, as part of their research degree program and educational experience, to provide instructional assistance to the department. This instructional assistance, which could be in the form of grading, lecturing, assisting in labs or developing course material, will not exceed ten hours per week and will be based on the following schedule:
                                    
                                    M.S. Students: 3 semesters
                                    Ph.D. Students: 6 semesters

Requirements for the Professional Master's Degree

Professional Degree Program The professional master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering (MME) is a non-thesis degree program intended for students who have completed a 4-year bachelor’s program in engineering and wish to join the workforce as practicing professionals, rather than pursuing a research oriented or academic career.  It offers preparation in advanced engineering topics in order to enhance an engineer’s technical qualifications and increases competitiveness in the job market.  The MME program is open to students who have shown academic excellence in their undergraduate studies.  Students who have a BS or BA degree in any field of engineering or related study may apply, although some may need to fulfill prerequisites or take remedial courses to earn the MME degree.  Students may enroll on a full or part-time basis. 

Requirements for the MME Degree Program

·      30 semester credit hours of approved coursework at 500 level or higher. Of these courses at least 24 must be taken at Rice. 

·      A minimum of 18 credit hours from the "MME Course Set" established by the department: 

       (MECH 501- Dynamics and Control of Mechanical Systems or MECH 508 - Nonlinear Systems)
       MECH 502 - Vibrations
       MECH 505 - Numerical Methods
       MECH 517 - Finite Element Analysis
       MECH 554 - Computational Fluid Mechanics
       MECH 575 - Introduction to Hydrodynamic Stability
       MECH 582 - Convective Heat Transfer
       (MECH 588 - Design of Mechatronic Systems or MECH 598 - Introduction to Robotics)
       MECH 594 - Introduction to Aeronautics

For each pair of courses listed as (MECH AAA or MECH BBB), only one can be taken to meet the MME Course Set requirement. 

·      The remaining credit hours will be elective 500+ level courses approved by the advisor and the department, some of which could be from outside the department. None of the remaining required 12 credit hours can be Independent-Study (MECH 611 or 612) or MME Research Project (MECH 621 or 622) classes.

Field Report Requirement:  
MME students are required to prepare a Field Report for one of the MME Course Set classes.  With approval of the course instructor, students must prepare a report and presentation on a mechanical engineering field or design related to that course. Topics must be decided before the mid-term break.  The written Field Report is due at 5 pm on the last day of classes for that semester.  
The oral presentation will be given at a time to be scheduled by the instructor.
 
The students are responsible for contacting the instructor of the class they want to write the field report for and confirming with them through email communication the topic of the field report. The student is also responsible for making sure that the Graduate Administrator (aliciac@rice.edu) is copied on the final email communication between the student and the faculty regarding the topic of the field report.

                  Please visit the Professional Master's Degree Page for details on the requirements.

                 For general university requirements, see Graduate Degrees.  Students must complete their degree within 5 years of beginning the program.  Most full time students complete the program in three semesters.