The Ph.D. degree is a research degree granted on the basis of broad knowledge of mechanical engineering and in-depth study in a specific area leading to a dissertation reflecting original work by the doctoral candidate.
Applicants seeking admission to the graduate program in the Department of Mechanical Engineering (ME) as regular students must have an awarded baccalaureate degree. Admission to the ME graduate programs normally requires a Bachelor’s degree in engineering (not necessarily in Mechanical Engineering) and a grade point average (GPA) of 3.0/4.0 or 70% on all graduate and undergraduate work, as well as Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores of at least 300 (new scoring system) for the combined Quantitative and Verbal sections (with at least 160 on the quantitative section) and 3.5 for the Analytical section. An undergraduate degree in Mathematics, Chemistry or Physics combined with a strong interest in engineering topics may be suitable preparation when certain required undergraduate courses are taken (see Appendix A for further details). Exceptions to these requirements may be made by the Director of Graduate Studies if other persuasive evidence of the student’s potential for success is available.
Students without an MS Degree
- 36 credit hours required for a PhD degree. Residency and research courses (including ME 790 ) do not count toward the required credit hours.
- At least 6 credit hours from courses with prefixes MA, STA, or from a pre-approved math course list, where at least 3 credit hours are from courses with prefixes MA or STA. See Appendix F for further information.
- At least 18 credit hours at the 600-level or greater (ME 790 is excluded, and only 3 credit hours of ME 780 may be included).
- At least 18 credit hours from courses with the prefix ME
Students with an MS Degree in Mechanical Engineering
- 18 credit hours required for a PhD degree. Residency and research courses (including ME 790 ) do not count toward the required credit hours.
- At least 3 credit hours from courses with prefixes MA, STA, or from a pre-approved math course list. See Appendix F for further information.
- At least 9 credit hours at the 600-level or greater (ME 790 is excluded, and only 3 credit hours of ME 780 may be included).
- At least 9 credit hours from courses with the prefix ME
Students with an MS Degree in another discipline
- Up to 18 credit hours may be waived for the PhD degree course degree requirement upon the approval of student’s advisor, DGS and graduate school. The student’s PhD committee determines the course requirements with the approval of the DGS
- The total number of credit hours the student must take for a PhD will be 36 minus the number of credit hours waived by the department. Residency and research courses (including ME 790 ) do not count toward the required credit hours.
- Math requirement:
- If at least 3 credit hours were waived for a student from an acceptable math course, the student must take at least an additional 3 credit hours from courses with prefixes MA, STA, or from a pre-approved math course list.
- If no math courses were waived for a student, the student must take at least 6 credit hours from courses with prefixes MA, STA, or from a pre-approved math course list, where at least 3 credit hours are from courses with prefixes MA or STA.
- At least 50% of the required credit hours must be at the 600-level or greater (ME 790 is excluded, and only 3 credit hours of ME 780 may be included).
- Independent work, taken as part of ME 780 , cannot be included in the required coursework when the course material is related to the student’s dissertation topic.
- At least 50% of the required credit hours must be from courses with the prefix ME.
Advisor & Advisory Committee
Each student’s program is guided by a major professor and an advisory committee throughout the student’s graduate career. Their functions are to provide continuity of direction and counsel and to instill intellectual stimulation throughout the entire doctoral program. PhD students are required to select an advisor within the first semester (or earlier). Students should also with the help of their advisor select their advisory committee during the second semester and no later than the completion of 18 credit hours of graduate work. The Advisory Committee provides advice to the student and sets specific program requirements (within applicable Department, Graduate School, and University regulations) which the student must satisfy. The Graduate School determines the regulations concerning the makeup of the advisory committee. The rules for the advisory committee are found in the Graduate School Bulletin.
Students are required to submit their advisory committee for DGS and Graduate School approval. This is required before any exams can be scheduled.
Residency & Post Residency Requirements
The Graduate School requires students fulfill residency requirement within the doctoral program in order to encourage students to experience contact with the academic community and the intellectual environment that characterizes a university. Students are required to complete the equivalent of two years of residency (36 credit hours) prior to the PhD Oral Qualifying examination and one year (2 semesters) of Post- qualifying residency. Please refer to the Graduate School Bulletin for Residency/Post Residency requirements. An awarded MS degree from the University of KY or another accredited school may satisfy 18 of this 36-hour pre-qualifying requirement. Such requests should be made by the Faculty advisor to the DGS and then to the Senior Associate Dean of the Graduate School.
Written Qualification Examination
PhD students are required to take and pass the PhD Written Qualification Examination which constitutes the written portion of the Qualifying Examination required by the Graduate School.
This written exam tests knowledge in specific required undergraduate topic areas, but exams will be sufficiently difficult to test mastery of these concepts.
Students have up to 2 seatings during which they must pass one written exam in mathematics and two additional exams in other topic areas. The two additional topic area exams must be selected from the seven listed in Appendix D. Seatings will occur twice a year: during the first full week in February (spring exams) and during the first full week after the Labor Day holiday (fall exams). Once a student passes an exam on a topic, they do not need to retake it. No student will be permitted to take exams in more than 2 seatings. Failure to pass the math exam and two additional exams by the end of the student’s second seating will result in the student’s dismissal from the ME doctoral program. Failure to complete the Written Qualification Exam within the specified time limit as outlined in Appendix D will result in the student’s dismissal from the ME doctoral program.
Exams and exam syllabi are prepared by the corresponding qualifying exam topic area committees; exams are graded by the same topic area committees. Detailed information on the written qualifying exam procedures can be found in Appendix D.
Oral Qualifying Examination
PhD students are required to take and pass the PhD Oral Qualifying Examination. This exam inspects the soundness of the students proposed doctoral dissertation research plan. A prospectus prepared by the student and submitted to the student’s Advisory Committee is required at least two (2) weeks in advance of the exam. Only those who have passed the written qualifying exam and have satisfied all ME course requirements may sit for this exam. The Graduate School provides the regulations for this exam.
PhD students are expected to have submitted at least three (3) papers to archival journals, with at least one (1) having been accepted before sitting in their final examination.
This exam is the dissertation defense and is mandated by the Graduate School and all Graduate School regulations regarding this exam must be met. Graduate School regulations concerning the final exam are included in the Graduate School bulletin.
Students planning on taking the PhD final examination are required to notify the Graduate School a minimum of eight (8) weeks prior to the intended date.
During that eight-week period, the Graduate School will appoint an Outside Examiner from an outside department on campus. Following the appointment of the Outside Examiner, students may set the final exam date at least two weeks prior to the examination.
Students are expected to provide delivery of the complete dissertation to the student’s advisor four (4) weeks prior, and to the committee a minimum of two weeks prior. The Graduate School will send announcements to of the examination to each advisory committee member and to the PhD candidate.
The final exam is open to the public and must take place while classes are in official session. They may not be scheduled between semesters or between the end of Summer Session II and the beginning of the Fall semester. Students may not sit for the final exam until all remaining “I” grades in credit bearing courses have been assigned letter grades. PhD students must be enrolled to sit for the exam.
The Graduate Student Coordinator, working with the DGS and the Graduate School, will provide the Final Exam card prior to the beginning of the Final Examination. If the examination card has not been received, the Committee Chair or DGS must call the Associate Dean of the Graduate School to determine whether the examination may proceed.
The Final Examination may not begin until all voting members of the Advisory Committee are present. The names of the voting members will be on the Final Examination card; names of non-voting members will not be on the card. All committee members must be present for the entire examination process. If a Committee member is in contact via electronic means, such as pre-approved telephone or interactive video (ITV) conference, and the connection is lost, the examination proves must stop until the connection is reestablished.
The Final Examination may be cancelled at any time prior to its official start for substantive reasons with no permanent consequences for the student. The student has not failed the examination in this case because the exam had never begun. Substantive reasons for an exam cancellation can include a missing advisory committee member, a sudden difficulty in the candidate’s personal life that may affect examination preparation and/or performance, or a late opinion on the part of the one or more committee members that the dissertation is not ready to defend. In such cases, the committee should discuss the issues at hand and reach a decision on whether to hold the examination. The candidate also has the right to cancel the Final Examination prior to its start. If the examination is cancelled, it must be formally rescheduled with the Graduate School with a minimum two-week interval.
The Final Examination must be completed once it has begun. The committee vote must be recorded on the Examination card, and scores entered on the score sheets, with the signatures of all voting members. There are only two possible outcomes: Pass or Fail, and these outcomes must be consistent with the score appearing on the score sheet for each voting member. The Examination may not be suspended to permit the candidate to correct deficiencies. The only suspensions that are permitted are short breaks to allow the candidate or committee to refresh themselves. No refreshments beyond bottled water will be permitted in the exam without pre-approval by the DGS.
Submission of the Dissertation
The final copy of the dissertation is prepared and submitted to the Graduate School after the Final Examination is passed and all committee requirements have been met. Instructions for the Preparation of Theses and Dissertations on the Graduate School website provides the requirements for dissertation preparation and submittal.
The dissertation must be received by the Graduate School within 60 days of the Final Examination. The candidate must be re-examined if this deadline is not met. The dissertation must be accepted by the Graduate School by the last class day of the semester in which the candidate will graduate. PhD candidates must fill out and submit an ETD form for their dissertation. Please follow the guidelines and find the form on the Graduate School’s website.