Requirements for the Ph.D. Degree
The minimum semester hours of course work (one course usually consists of three semester hours) required of Ph.D. students is tabulated as a function of the degree held upon entrance into the program. Students with an M.S. need 18 hours of coursework. Students with a five-year B.S., 30 hours; with a four-year B.S., 36 hours; and with a 4-year B.A., 42 hours. In all cases, a student's course of study is formulated in consultation with the thesis director and must be approved by the department.
Qualifying Examination (QE)
By the end of the third semester of study in the MECH graduate program, all PhD students must successfully complete a Qualifying Exam (QE). The QE is a two-part exam covering mechanical engineering topical knowledge (via oral exam) and research aptitude (via research evaluation). 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 three faculty members of the department will administer the examination. The outcome of the QE will be either “pass,” in which case the student continues in the program, or “fail,” in which case the student is eligible for a retake of the part(s) of the exam (oral exam and/or research aptitude) deemed unsatisfactory. This retake must occur no later than the end of the semester following the original examination. Only one re-take of the qualifying exam will be permitted. If the student is not successful at the retake, they will not be approved to move forward in the PhD program.
Candidacy Evaluation (CE)
All PhD students are required to conduct a Candidacy Evaluation. The Candidacy Evaluation (CE) involves evaluation of a written document and an oral presentation, prepared and delivered by the student. The Candidacy Evaluation provides an assessment of the student’s research progress and feasibility of any additional proposed research that the student intends to complete for his/her PhD thesis. The evaluation is administered by the student’s PhD Thesis Committee. The Candidacy Evaluation should be scheduled when all coursework and department requirements are completed (typically after six semesters), but no later than the ninth semester of study. The Candidacy Evaluation will usually take place one year before the intended PhD defense date.
The Department of Mechanical Engineering does not have a foreign language requirement for its graduate degrees. It is recommended that every student is proficient in 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 digitally 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.
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.
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.
All Ph.D. students must attend at least 75 percent of the MECH seminars for their first three years in the department and must register for MECH 606 each semester during that time.
All Ph.D. students 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 for six semesters.