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Doctorate (PhD) - Mechanical Engineering

The Ph.D. program in Mechanical Engineering aims to educate technical experts and researchers to fill key leadership roles in industry, research and education. The program culminates in a written dissertation representing an original contribution to knowledge in the field.

*Students applying to the PhD program must enter into the program having already earned a Masters degree.

Specialty Areas Include:

  • Building Science & Energy Systems
  • Controls and Dynamics
  • Fluid Mechanics
  • Heat Transfer
  • Materials Science
  • Mechanical Design

Degree Requirements

A Ph.D. student must complete the following departmental requirements:

  • Pass the Comprehensive Examination.
  • Complete an approved program of study, which includes a minimum of 27 hours of approved coursework, with at least 16 credits in MME/MSE 600-level courses. (Up to 3 credits of ME 607 seminar may count toward this total.)
  • Present and pass a Prospectus Defense for advancement to candidacy.
  • Complete 27 credit hours of dissertation credit (ME 603) leading to the completion of a doctoral dissertation.
  • Present and pass a public final oral Dissertation Defense.
  • Submit the written dissertation in compliance with University guidelines and deadlines.
  • Remain in good standing and make continuous satisfactory progress while in the program.

Residency and Registration Requirement

Please view residency requirements though the Office of Graduate Studies website, found here.

Steps to the Ph.D. Degree

  1. Major Research Advisor
  2. At the time of admission, the student will identify a primary research advisor. Together with this advisor the student will identify a suitable course of study and research agenda.

  3. Comprehensive Exam (see Comprehensive Exam Document for detailed description)
    • Early each spring quarter the Comprehensive Exam schedule is posted.
    • Students should take the qualifying exam within their first year in the PhD program. Students have 2 chances to pass the Comprehensive Exam. If not taken and passed in the first year of the PhD Program, students must take and pass the exam during their second year or they will be removed from the program.
    • Students select 3 areas and notify the Exam Committee of their intent to take the exam at least 2 weeks prior to the exam date. At least one exam must be outside the student's area of interest.
    • Written exams in each area are 2 hours in length.
    • Approximately 1 to 2 weeks after the written exam students undergo an oral examination focused on the topics within their written exams.
  4. Dissertation Prospectus Defense
    • After the Qualifying Exam has been passed, the student will work with his/her advisor to choose a Dissertation Committee.
    • The advisor will submit the "Appointment of Final Oral Examination Committee" form (GO-16D) to the Office of Graduate Studies (OGS).
    • The student will submit the written Dissertation Prospectus to the Dissertation Committee for discussion, evaluation, modification and final approval.
    • An oral defense of the prospectus will be scheduled with the student and dissertation committee.
    • The dissertation committee may pass the candidate, pass with qualifications, or fail the candidate. If the dissertation committee passes the candidate, it will recommend the student to OGS for advancement to candidacy. If the dissertation committee fails the student, the student may present an alternative prospectus in the subsequent term with the agreement of the Dissertation Committee.
    • When the student has been advanced to candidacy by OGS, he/she can proceed with his/her proposed Ph.D. research plan.
  5. Final Dissertation Defense
    • The candidate files an "Application for the Degree" during the first week of the anticipated term of graduation.
    • At least two weeks prior to the final oral dissertation defense, the chair of the Dissertation Committee submits copies of the final draft dissertation to each committee member.
    • The Final Dissertation Defense is scheduled, and publicly announced.
    • The dissertation committee can pass, pass with qualifications, or fail the student.
    • If the candidate passes, the Department will complete a "Recommendation for the Degree" form (GO-17D) and forward if to OGS no later than last week of the term of graduation.
  6. Other degree requirements
    • The dissertation must be prepared in accordance with the University's "Information Regarding Dissertation Approval."
    • 3 copies of dissertation and 4 copies of abstract in final approved form must be submitted to OGS no later than three weeks before graduation.
    • Candidates must be continuously enrolled.
    • The final oral exam must be passed, degree requirements met, and student graduated no later than five calendar years after advancement to candidacy.
    • Microfilming of dissertation is mandatory for doctoral candidates. See PSU Bulletin for details.
    • The National Research Council Survey of Earned Doctorates must be completed by student and returned to OGS.
    • Incomplete or In Progress grades must be removed no later than two weeks before graduation.

Note: Students should thoroughly read the PSU Bulletin's Graduate Admissions Requirements and other information. See especially the "General Requirements for Doctoral Degrees" and "Summary of Procedures for Doctoral Degrees." Note the applicable "Graduate Candidate Deadlines" available in the Graduate Office or on their web page at