Doctor of Philosophy

The Doctor of Philosophy in Mechanical Engineering is for the student wanting to develop the skills needed to create and discover new knowledge, direct and lead a research group, and otherwise serve as a leader in the process of discovery. The ability to function as a knowledge discovery leader is useful in industry, research labs, and academia. 

The Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree requires a minimum of 96 semester credit hours beyond a baccalaureate degree, and a minimum of 64 semester credit hours for a student who has completed a master’s degree.  A student in this program must pass the Qualifying Exams in two of nine areas, according to the Ph.D qualifying examination guidelines found below. A student in this program is expected to pursue a Ph.D. degree, not another degree, in Mechanical Engineering.

96 Hour Ph.D.

Direct 96 Ph.D. (Direct Ph.D. program) Credit Hour Requirements.

The Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree requires a minimum of 96 semester credit hours beyond a baccalaureate degree. Direct Ph.D. students shall take a minimum of 33 hours and a maximum of 42 hours of graded coursework. Direct Ph.D. students shall take 3 hours of MEEN 681 (seminar). Direct Ph.D. students shall take a minimum of 51 credit hours of MEEN 691 (research credits). In summary, Graded Courses + Seminar + Research credit hours = 96 credit hours.  For example, a typical Direct Ph.D. plan of study would include a 33 hours of coursework at the 6## level, 3 hours of MEEN 681 (seminar), and 60 hours of MEEN 691 (research).

Within the graded coursework requirement, Direct Ph.D. students must take a minimum of 33 hours of 6## level courses, a maximum of 3 hours of 685, a maximum of 6 hours of 4## coursework, satisfy the Direct Ph.D. math requirement, and satisfy the core course requirement.

Direct Ph.D. Math Requirement

Direct Ph.D. students will take a minimum of 6 hours of 6## level math courses selecting from MEEN 602 - Modeling and Analysis of Mechanical Systems, Math 601– Methods of Applied Mathematics I, Math 603 – Methods of Applied Mathematics II, STAT 601 – Statistical Analysis, or another graduate Mathematics or Statistics course with the approval of the student’s dissertation committee chair.

Core Course Requirement

Two courses from the Core Course list must be taken. 

64 Hour Ph.D. (For those already having a Masters degree)

CoursesNumber of CoursesSemester Credit Hours
A Graduate-Level  MATH or STAT course 1 1 3
Other Courses 1, 2 5 15
MEEN 681 – Seminar 2 2
MEEN 691 – Research 44
Total Minimum Semester Credit Hours64
(beyond M.S. degree)

1 With the approval of student’s dissertation advisor

2 These courses may not include undergraduate courses or two core courses that are required for a master’s degree.  A student in this program who does not have a master’s degree needs eight additional courses and another seminar course, as required for the M.S. degree.

Program Required Portfolio:

Students will prepare a portfolio for assessment. The portfolio will be compiled over the student’s course of study at Texas A&M University. In general, the portfolio will consist of graded materials from classes or research activity that can be evaluated and assessed against the five educational outcomes. The portfolio should be contained in a 3 ring binder or similar.

Educational Outcomes

The assessed educational goals of TAMU MEEN Graduate Program are

A. Graduates will have the ability to apply knowledge of mathematics, science, and engineering,

B. Graduates will have the ability to identify, formulate, and solve engineering problems,

C. Graduates will have the ability to communicate effectively,

D. Graduates will have knowledge of contemporary issues and recognition of the need for lifelong learning, and

E. Graduates will have the ability to use the techniques, skills, and modern engineering tools necessary for engineering practice

It is strongly recommended that students producing a thesis or dissertation as part of their degree requirements use elements of that work or related research papers as the items used for assessment. Students orally defending their thesis/dissertation are encouraged to use that presentation as the assessment media for Educational Outcome C. Also, the Conclusions and Future Work (or similar) section of their thesis/dissertation is likely example work for assessing Educational Outcome D. M. Eng. students will need to build the portfolio over their course of study as appropriate work samples are produced in various classes.  


Ph.D. Qualifying Examinations

The purpose of the Ph.D. Qualifying Exams is to ensure that students pursuing a doctoral degree in Mechanical Engineering have a required background in at least two fundamental areas of mechanical engineering.  In addition, the Qualifying Exams serve as a quality-control instrument.

The Department of Mechanical Engineering offers Qualifying Exams in eight (8) areas — controls, design, fluid mechanics, heat transfer, metals/ceramics/polymers, solid mechanics, thermo-dynamics and vibrations. A graduate student is required to pass the exams in any two areas to become eligible for Ph.D. candidacy.

A student whose highest conferred degree is a master’s or equivalent is allowed a maximum of two attempts to pass each of the two exams. A student whose highest conferred degree is a bachelor’s or equivalent is allowed a maximum of three attempts to pass each of the two exams. Doctoral students are required to make their first attempt to pass the qualifying exams before they have completed 27 semester credit hours, including MEEN 691. In other words, doctoral students are required to make their first attempt to pass the exams in two areas before completing their third long semester of study (not including summer sessions). Doctoral students are encouraged to take the qualifier earlier in their course of study if they are prepared.

If a student fails an exam or exams, they must attempt to pass the exam or exams the next time the qualifying exams are offered. On a repeated attempt, a student does not have to take the exam in the same technical area as the previously failed exam. A student who does not pass two qualifying exams in the allowed number of attempts fails the Ph.D. Qualifying Exam and will not be admitted to Ph.D. candidacy. A doctoral student who fails the Ph.D. Qualifying Exam may (a) switch to a master’s program in Mechanical Engineering (provided that they do not have a master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from Texas A&M University), (b) pursue a Ph.D. degree in another department at Texas A&M University or another institution, (c) withdraw from the Ph.D. program, or (d) appeal to the departmental Graduate Studies Committee. The Graduate Studies Committee will consider appeals only under extraordinary circumstances, and not as a matter of routine. If the appeal is declined, the student must pursue option (a), (b), or (c) as is allowable and appropriate for that student.

The Ph.D. Qualifying Exams are administered during the third full week of the fall and spring semesters every year, but not during the summer sessions. Students may register for these exams by completing a “Ph.D. Qualifying Exam Request” form and submitting it to Mrs. Sandra Havens, Graduate Program Coordinator, in Room 211-MEOB. To prepare for an exam, students may obtain a syllabus for the exam and a copy of the three previous exams in the area from Mrs. Havens at shavens@tamu.edu.

A two-member committee prepares the questions/problems for the exam in each area. The Mechanical Engineering faculty is encouraged to submit problems along with their solutions for any of the exams to the committee that is responsible for the exam.  The two-member committee may choose to include these problems in the exam. All exams are closed-book, but formula sheets, charts, and tables may be provided. The chair of each committee will ensure that the exam is reasonable and is consistent with previous exams.

To pass an exam, a student must score 70% or higher. A student scoring between 50% and 70% may be asked to take a follow-up oral exam. A student scoring 50% or lower fails the exam. An exam committee may choose to give a student a conditional pass for which the student must satisfy certain requirements by the end of a given period after the exam, specified by the committee. A doctoral student who fails to pass an exam on his/her second attempt will be given an oral exam in which the student will have a final attempt to pass the exam.

A student must write a registration number that he/she is assigned on his/her exam paper.  Nowhere on the exam is a student allowed to write his/her name or student identification number.  In addition, students will not be given the names of the members of the committees responsible for the exams before the exams are over.

The Qualifying Exams will be administered on a Monday. The exam committee will complete the grading of the written exams and any follow-up oral exams, and will report the results of the exams to the Graduate Program Director in an e-mail by Friday of that week. However, under extenuating circumstances, such as conflicts in scheduling of oral exams, the exam committee may report the results of the exams by the following Friday. The graduate program office will inform students of the results of the exams in writing.