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Graduate Program General Regulations

The following regulations concerning graduate study in the Department of Mechanical Engineering (MECH) are in addition to the regulations and deadlines described in the Rice University General Announcements. Students are responsible for meeting both the university and department requirements and deadlines.

Any questions concerning these regulations or their interpretation should be directed to the Director of Graduate Studies in the MECH Department, or the Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies.

General Requirements 

  • Degrees offered: The MECH Department offers a professional masters degree (M.M.E.), a Master of Science degree (M.S.), and a Ph.D. degree. An automatic master's degree is not offered to Ph.D. degree candidates in the department.
  • Progress review: Earning an advanced degree implies a high level of scholastic performance. In order to evaluate progress, the academic performance of each graduate student, including research progress, will be reviewed annually by a faculty committee including the thesis supervisor. The thesis supervisor may have these reviews more frequently than annual. Normally this committee will be the same as the student's PCE committee, which is explained in later sections of this document. The result of the evaluation will be communicated to the student in writing. When a student is judged not to be making adequate academic progress, he or she will be warned in writing of the possibility of dismissal and given clear information about what must be done within a specified time period to alleviate the problem.  If the student does not meet the stated requirements within the time frame specified, the graduate program will dismiss him or her.
  • Grades: The record of a graduate student who receives a failing grade in a course will be reviewed, and the Department will make specific recommendations regarding further study at the university. No credit toward an advanced degree will be given for a course in which a grade of D or F is received. In general, a graduate student will be expected to earn grades of B or better in at least 50% of all courses taken (including those in which a grade of D or F is received for the first attempt.)
  • Course level: Graduate credits are not given to mechanical engineering graduate students for courses that are required for a B.S. degree in mechanical engineering at Rice. 
  • Independent Study: For all MECH programs and degrees, during a student’s entire graduate studies in the MECH Department, for every 18 semester hours of required coursework, no more than 6 of those semester hours can be taken as independent study or as Special Topics courses conducted as independent study.
  • Non-coursework courses: Credit received for Graduate Seminar (MECH 606) or Research and Thesis (MECH 800) will not be counted toward course requirements. These courses will count toward the degree total credit requirements (Ph.D. 90 hrs. and Masters 30 hrs).
  • Credit transfer: If a student wishes to have graduate courses taken at another university counted for credit toward an advanced degree offered by the Department, he/she should petition the Department in writing, listing not only the grades earned but also describing the courses involved. Transfer credits are subject to the following restrictions:
    • Courses must be from a regionally accredited U.S. institution or an international institution officially recognized by that country’s Ministry of Education or equivalent.
    • The course must be recorded on an official transcript sent directly from the original institution to Rice or hand-delivered by the student in an official sealed envelope.
    • The minimum grade for transferred credits is a B or equivalent as determined by PCE evaluation.
    • Students seeking transfer credit must submit an approved Graduate Request for Transfer Credit form to the Office of the Registrar.
    • No more than 6 hrs of transfer credit can be used for the M.S. degree. 
    • For the Ph.D. degree, the number of transfer credit hours will be decided by the department on a case-by-case basis. Ph.D. candidates must complete a total of 90 semester hours of advanced study and four semesters of full-time study at the Rice 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

  • Building code: The Mechanical Engineering Building is a "No Smoking" building. Graduate students found smoking in the building or abusing the premises will lose their office space privilege.
  • Honor system: Rice University operates under the Rice Honor System. All students must read “Honor Code Student Handbook”, which can be found on the Rice Honor Council web site at honor.rice.edu. It is the obligation of every student and faculty member at Rice to understand and maintain the honor system at all times.