Graduate Student Handbook (2007)
The faculty and staff of the Mechanical Engineering
Department would like to express our pleasure that
you are here. We sincerely hope that your stay
with us is pleasant and productive.
We have prepared this student handbook in order to assist you in progressing through your academic program. It contains answers to the most common questions we have been asked by students in the past and will provide some practical advice for all Mechanical Engineering M.S. and Ph.D. students. The material contained in this handbook does not cover all topics that may be of importance to you; it is intended to supplement University and Graduate School Rules and policies. You can also find this information in the University of Colorado Course Catalog.
Table of Contents:
- Degrees Offered
- Master of Engineering Degree
- Master of Science Degree
- One Year Master of Science Degree Program
- Doctor of Philosophy Degree
- General Requirements
- Financial Assistance
- Additional Information
You may receive the following graduate degrees and certificates in Mechanical Engineering:
- Concurrent BS/MS Degree.
- Master of Engineering (M.E.)
- Master of Science (M.S.) (Plan I or Plan II)
- M.S. degree in one calendar year
- Doctorate of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
To assist in planning a successful academic program, each incoming graduate student will be assigned an academic advisor from the graduate faculty of Mechanical Engineering. You and your advisor should review course selection and progress toward your degree on a regular basis. You are required to meet with your advisor at least once each semester, prior to registration for the following semester. If you are doing a Plan I M.S. or Ph.D. degree, you are required to work with a thesis advisor from the graduate faculty of Mechanical Engineering who is knowledgeable in the research area you are pursuing. Typically, your thesis advisor will also become your academic advisor. It is your responsibility to find a thesis advisor. Your academic advisor can help. We recommend that you do so as soon as possible after deciding to pursue a Plan I M.S. or Ph.D. We note that you are responsible for complying with all degree requirements. You can get a check list from the Graduate Coordinator. Any changes from the requirements given below must be approved beforehand by petition to the Mechanical Engineering Graduate Committee.
The Master of Engineering is a terminal degree
plan designed primarily for working professionals
or those who seek exceptional breadth in their
educational plan. The Master of Engineering Degree
requires 30 credit hours of course work as described
below. You have six years to complete these requirements.
A GPA of 3.0 must be maintained. Up to nine hours
of approved graduate level coursework from other
institutions may be transferred. As much as nine
hours of Center for Engineering and Technology
Education (CAETE) courses taken before application
may also be allowed. However, taking CAETE courses
does not guarantee admission into a Master of Engineering
18 credit hours of courses at the 5000 level or above must be taken in Mechanical Engineering subjects.
12 credit hours of courses may be taken in other engineering fields, science, business, etc. 6 of these hours may be at the 4000 level.
The Master of Science degree is designed to provide
students with a rigorous education at the next
level beyond the Baccalaureate Degree. It prepares
students for more advanced professional accomplishment
or for advanced graduate work and the Ph.D.
Master's Degree students have four years, from the date of acceptance into their respective programs and/or commencing course work, to complete all degree requirements. "All degree requirements" includes the filing of the thesis with the Graduate School if Plan I is followed.
Plan I - Thesis Option
Students following Plan I are required to take
a minimum of 24 semester credit hours of formal
coursework plus 6 credits of thesis hours. A maximum
of 9 credit hours (12 by petition) may be transferred
from another accredited institution and applied
toward a M.S. Degree if approved by the Department
and the Graduate School. Transfer credits must
not have been used to satisfy degree requirements
at another institution. Please see the course
requirements for more information.
M.S. Thesis - Students following Plan 1 must write a M.S. Thesis based on original research conducted under the supervision of a graduate faculty member. The M.S. Thesis must fulfill all Graduate School requirements.
Plan II - course work only option (non-Thesis)
Students following Plan II are required to take a minimum of 30 semester credit hours of formal course work. A maximum of 9 credit hours may be transferred from another accredited institution and applied toward a M.S. Degree if approved by the Department and the Graduate School. Transfer credits must not have been used to satisfy degree requirements at another institution. Please see the course requirements for more information.
The One Year M.S. Program is designed for the student who wishes to complete an M.S. degree relatively rapidly for professional or financial reasons. It offers an intensive educational experience designed to prepare the student for professional life or advanced graduate studies. The student will build a strong disciplinary background while also gaining experience in research or engineering design.
The program is designed to allow students to satisfy
the Plan I or Plan II M.S. requirements of the
Graduate School. It consists of 24 units of course
work taken in the Fall and Spring semesters, and
6 units of project work taken in the Spring and
Summer semesters. A maximum of 9 credit hours may
be transferred from another accredited institution
and applied toward an M.S. Degree if approved by
the Department and the Graduate School. Transfer
credits must not have been used to satisfy degree
requirements at another school.
Please see the course requirements for more information.
Thesis or Non-thesis:
- M.S. Thesis - Students following Plan I must write a M.S. Thesis based on original research conducted under the supervision of a graduate faculty member. The M.S. Thesis must fulfill all Graduate School requirements.
- M.S. Non-thesis - Students following Plan II
must complete the 30 hours of coursework. No
additional examinations are required. Please
note that the Mechanical Engineering department
does not offer courses during the summer. In
order to complete the MS degree in one year,
it may be necessary to take an independent study
or a graduate course in another engineering or
Completion of the degree in one calendar year is contingent upon maintaining Graduate School grade standards and satisfactory performance of the project.
The typical student will enter the program at the beginning of the fall semester. If a student is able to make a special arrangement with a faculty member, it is possible to start at the beginning of the preceding summer.
Sample Curriculum Plan for one-year MS:
(take 4 courses
(take 4 courses total)
(take 2 courses
The Doctor of Philosophy Degree (Ph.D.) is the most advanced degree offered by the Department. Designed to prepare students for careers in education, research or industry at the highest level, it is a demanding program that offers the opportunity to excel in a particular technical field, while becoming highly effective in research planning, oral and written communication, and other managerial skills. The degree typically takes from three to five years to complete, during which the student is expected to develop into an effective, self-directed researcher.
The PhD requirements are as follows:
A Masters Degree is not required for admission, however, students will either have to complete the department's MS requirements (see above) or have completed an accredited M.S. program elsewhere.
If MS in Mechanical Engineering is complete a PhD requires:
- 12 additional credit hours of coursework (typically 4 classes)
- Complete 30 dissertation hours
All PhD students are required to take MCEN 5020 (Methods of Engineering Analysis 1), MCEN 5040 (Methods of Engineering Analysis 2), and MCEN 5208 (Introduction to Research). If you intend on taking the Mathematics portion of the preliminary exam you will want to take MCEN 5020 and MCEN 5040 in the fall and spring semester of your first year unless you have already taken similar courses previously in order to prepare.
Doctoral students have six years from the commencement of course work to complete all requirements for the degree. "All degree requirements" includes the filing of the dissertation with the Graduate School. The student may write a petition endorsed by the advisor, and submit it to the Graduate School, requesting a maximum of a one-year extension to complete all degree requirements. The petition must give evidence of adequate progress and request that the student be allowed to continue in the program.
Doctoral students must pass three special oral examinations.
The first, called the Preliminary Examination, is offered at the end of the spring semester. Students with a declared interest in the Ph.D. degree are required to take the Ph.D. Preliminary Examination at its first offering, assuming they are admitted into the graduate program in the fall semester. The examination focuses on disciplinary knowledge and on the student’s progress in their Introduction to Research (MCEN 5208) course project. The purpose of the exam is to provide the department with an early assessment of the likelihood of success, and avoid having students who are unlikely to succeed spend excess time in the program. If the faculty determines that a student has failed either, all, or a portion of the examinations, they will normally expect the student to repeat all portions of the examination at its next offering. In some cases, the student may be required to take only a portion of the examination. Under very compelling circumstances, the student may not be allowed to take the examinations a second time. In no case, will a student be given a third opportunity to take the examinations.
The second is the Comprehensive Examination which is based on a detailed written proposal for thesis research and which may cover work done in formal courses. The examination is oral and is given by a committee of five or more graduate faculty members approved by the Graduate Dean. The thesis proposal will be available to committee members at least two weeks prior to the examination. It is intended that students take the Comprehensive Examination at approximately the same time as they finishing up their formal course work, leaving ample time ahead for the research. (Doctoral students cannot graduate in the same semester they pass the comprehensive exam.)
The third examination is the Thesis Defense and covers the Ph.D. Thesis and related topics. The examination is oral and will be conducted by a committee approved by the Dean of the Graduate School. The committee must consist of at least five members of the graduate faculty, one of who must be from outside the student's department. All committee members must have current graduate faculty appointments. Three of the five members must be Boulder campus resident faculty. The chair and outside member must have tenure and/or a regular appointment. The student must be registered during the semester they take the Ph.D. Final Examination.
Ph.D. Thesis (Doctoral Dissertation):
Students must write a Ph.D. Thesis based on original research conducted under the supervision of a graduate faculty member. The Ph.D. Thesis must fulfill all Graduate School requirements. The ability to perform significant and independent research is a prime requisite for the Ph.D. degree. It is the student's responsibility to choose a topic and find a faculty member who will act as Research Advisor. This is an important step and should be done early in the program to ensure the probability of timely completion.
Doctoral Dissertation Credit Hour Requirements:
To complete the requirements for the Ph.D. degree a student must register for a total of at least 30 dissertation credit hours. A student may not register for more than 10 dissertation credit hours in any one semester. Not more than 10 dissertation credit hours taken in semesters prior to passing the comprehensive examination will be counted in the 30 hours required for the degree. Up to 10 hours of dissertation credit taken during the semester in which the comprehensive examination is passed may be included in the 30 credit hours required for the degree. A student is required to register continuously fall and spring semesters of each year, beginning with the semester following the passing of the comprehensive examination and extending through the semester in which the dissertation is defended (final examination). The student must be registered as a regular degree student on the Boulder Campus for 5 to10 dissertation credit hours each semester after passing the comprehensive examination, regardless of whether he/she is in residence at the University.
A student not in residence at the University may petition the Associate Dean of the Graduate School for "off-campus status" to allow registration for 3 rather than 5 to 10 dissertation credit hours. The request is approved if the student is not using University facilities, including research, library facilities, family housing, the recreation center and if the student is in "good standing". A petition for "off campus" status must be submitted by the established deadline for petitioning and must be submitted each semester the student is not in residence.
A student who fails to register continuously for dissertation credit hours after passing the comprehensive examination must retake the examination and pass, in order to regain status as a student in "good standing" in the Graduate School.
A student must be registered as a regular degree student on the Boulder Campus for 5 to 10 dissertation hours during the semester (or summer session) in which the final examination (dissertation defense) is held.
Admission to Candidacy:
Admission to a graduate program does not imply admission to candidacy for a degree. After completion of a significant amount of course work, a student who wishes to become a candidate for a degree must file an application with the Graduate School. The following rules and procedures govern applications for candidacy:
- The form "Application for Admission to Candidacy for an Advance Degree" (provided by the department Graduate Coordinator), must be completed by the student and submitted to the Graduate Coordinator. A copy will be made for the department records and the original is sent to the Graduate School.
- The Graduate School must receive the candidacy application form no later than 10 weeks prior to the comprehensive/final examination for M.S. and M.E. students and 14 days before the comprehensive examination is taken for Ph.D. students.
- The student's degree plan, as included in the application, must be approved by the major advisor and designated departmental officer.
- Admission to candidacy is not approved by the Graduate School unless requirements related to academic quality of work, graduate level of course work, the minimum number of course work hours are met in the degree plan. The Graduate School will inform the student by letter when admission to candidacy has been approved.
For full residence, a student must be registered on the Boulder campus within the time designated at the beginning of a semester and must carry the equivalent of at least five credit hours of work in courses numbered 5000 and above, or eight credit hours of mixed undergraduate/graduate/thesis, or any number of thesis credit hours.
Doctoral candidates who have passed their comprehensive
exam must register for at least five dissertation
hours each semester. The minimum residence requirement
for doctoral students is six semesters of scholarly
work beyond the attainment of an acceptable bachelor's
degree. Two semesters of residence credit
may be allowed for a master's degree from another
institution of approved standing; however, at least
four semesters of residence credit, two of which
must be consecutive in one academic year, must
be earned for work taken at CU-Boulder.
Master's degree residence requirements can be met only by residence at the University of Colorado on the Boulder campus for at least two semesters or at least three summer sessions.
Master of Engineering students have no residency requirement.
Quality of Work:
A student is required to maintain at least a "B" (3.0) average for MS degree and "B+" (3.25) average for PhD degree in all work attempted while enrolled in the Graduate School. A student who receives a grade of "C", "D", or "F" in a course may repeat that course once, upon written recommendation to the dean by the chairman of the student's advisory committee, provided the course has not been previously applied toward a degree. The grade received in a repeated course will substitute for the original grade and will be used by the Graduate School in calculating the grade point average. However, all grades received will appear on the student's transcript and will be included in the University's calculation of the student's grade point average.
- Courses in which grades below "B-" (2.7) are received are not accepted for the Ph.D. program.
- Courses in which grades below "C" (2.0) are received are not accepted for the Master's degree program.
- Grades received in courses transferred from another institution and/or from Special Student course work are not included in calculation of the grade point average.
- A student whose grade point average falls below 3.0 (MS) or 3.25 (PhD) in any one semester is placed on academic probation.
- The Dean of the Graduate School, with the approval of the major department may suspend a student on academic probation that fails to obtain a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 (MS) or 3.25 (PhD) within two semesters of being placed on probation. It is suggested the students obtain a 3.0 (MS) or 3.25 (PhD) the first semester, or this may be a cause for suspension.
Transfer of Credit:
The maximum numbers of semester hours that may be transferred from another accredited institution and applied toward a Mechanical Engineering graduate degree at the University of Colorado are:
- M.S. and M. E. - 9
- Ph.D. - 21
Work already applied toward a Master's degree received at another institution cannot be transferred toward the Master's degree at the University of Colorado. Work applied toward a Master's degree may be applied toward a Doctoral degree and work applied toward a Doctoral degree may be applied toward a Master's degree.
Extension or correspondence work completed at
another institution cannot be transferred. Undergraduate
work cannot be transferred.
Credit will not be accepted for transfer until the student has established, in the Graduate School of this University, a satisfactory academic record of at least one semester in residence on the Boulder campus.
- Transfer of credit from another institution will not reduce the residence requirement of the University.
- A course in which a grade of "C" or lower was received will not be accepted for transfer.
- Grades received in courses transferred from another institution and/or from Special Student work are not included in calculation of grade point averages.
- Requests for transfer of credit must be made on the form specified for this purpose. This form is available from the Department Graduate Coordinator. Students should submit transfer requests to the Graduate School after attending the University one semester.
- Doctoral degree students must submit transfer requests to the Graduate School before making application for admission to candidacy.
- Graduate courses taken as an undergraduate at CU should be submitted on the Request for Transfer of Credit Form and the Dean of the student's school or college must certify that the credits were not applied toward a Bachelor's degree.
Time Out and Withdrawal:
Students may participate in the Time Out Program (details available from the Office of Registration in Regent). Any semester(s) on Time Out are included in the time limit to complete the degree. Students who are not on Time Out and do not register during a given Fall or Spring semester will be automatically withdrawn from the University and must fill out an application for re-admission in order to return. Students who withdraw from school permanently must do so formally with the Admissions Office.
Students who do not meet the requirements for
admission as regular degree students may be recommended
for provisional degree status by the department. With
the concurrence of the Dean of the Graduate School,
these students are admitted for a probationary
term of either one or two semesters of full-time
study or the equivalent for part-time students. At
the end of the specified probationary period, provisional
degree students must be either admitted to regular
degree status or dismissed from the graduate program
to which they were provisionally admitted. Provisional
students are subject to the same standards of performance
required of regular degree students, plus any other
requirements imposed by the department as conditions
of admission. Provisional students are not permitted
to hold a graduate student appointment.
Credit earned by persons in provisional degree status may count toward a degree at CU-Boulder. Standard terms of provisional admission shall be as follows: the student must complete 12 hours in two semesters (or the equivalent for part-time students) with a 3.0 (MS) or 3.25 (PhD) cumulative GPA. The department may recommend additional or alternative conditions.
Classes and Petitions (Student Petition):
Information on classes required for graduation are listed under the MS and PhD sections of this handbook. Classes outside of ME may be substituted for required ME courses through a simple petition process. For example, if you find the required math class MCEN 5020 too simple, you may petition a more difficult Applied Math class as a substitute.
The Department of Mechanical Engineering offers financial aid to incoming and continuing students based on qualifications and availability of funds. There are four types of assistance: Fellowships, Teaching Assistantships, Research Assistantships and Graduate Industry Internships. Addition financial aid such as loans and other scholarships may be available through the Office of Financial Aid at (303) 492-5091 or tuition classification through the Office of the Bursar.
There are one-year merit-based fellowships for entering students. They generally supplement other forms of financial aid such as Teaching and Research Assistantships and are awarded by a Graduate School committee on the basis of a University-wide competition. There are also fellowships from $1,000 to $5,000 for new and continuing students based on department nomination. Fellowship recipients are nominated by the Department and will be informed by mail by the Graduate School.
The Graduate Committee awards fellowships and Teaching Assistantships on a competitive basis. The top applicants will be considered for fellowships, which are financial aid awards that offer the most flexibility for the student because there is no required work involved. Only those who have been accepted as regular degree students and who maintain an acceptable performance level are eligible. The Industrial Advisory Council awards internships on a competitive basis to qualified applicants that have been recommended for admission by the Graduate Committee. Students may apply for Teaching/Research Assistantships and Graduate Industry Internships by completing the application form available from the Graduate Coordinator.
Research Assistantships are awarded by individual professors according to the preferences expressed by the student and his/her area of interest and qualifications and the needs of the professor. They are contingent upon available funding.
All students who are appointed as either a Research or Teaching Assistant must be enrolled on a full-time basis. Full-time status for Master Degree students is defined as being enrolled in either:
- Five hours of graduate level work or eight hours of mixed graduate and undergraduate level work;
- Registration for any number of Master's or Doctoral thesis hours, or registration for Master's Candidate for Degree.
Full-time status for Doctoral students who have not passed the comprehensive examination is defined as enrollment in either:
- Five hours of graduate level work or eight hours of mixed graduate and undergraduate level work or
- Registration for any number of Doctoral thesis hours.
Full-time status for Doctoral students who have passed the comprehensive examination is defined as registration for at least five credits of Doctoral thesis.
Written records concerning all important decisions involving the student's academic program shall be entered into the student's permanent file in the Mechanical Engineering Graduate Office.
The Graduate Student holds complete responsibility for his/her own program. Therefore, it is expected that before registration the student will become familiar with the contents of this guide as well as the general rules of the Graduate School and the University.
The Graduate Committee presides over all issues concerning the Graduate Program. Any questions you have or matters of concern should be addressed to either the Graduate Committee Chair, the Graduate Coordinator or the Graduate Student Liaison.
Our Graduate Chair and Graduate Committee members change annually. Currently, the Graduate Program Chair is Oleg Vasilyev. His office is ECME 126 and his e-mail address is Oleg.Vasilyev@Colorado.Edu. The other committee members are Virginia Ferguson, Michael Hannigan and Ronggui Yang
The Graduate Program Coordinator is here to help you through required paperwork that will lead to your graduation. Please do not hesitate to ask for help. Be sure and check with the Coordinator at the beginning of the semester in which you intend to graduate; you will be given the required forms and deadline schedule for the submission of these forms. Our Graduate Program Coordinator is Sharon Anderson. Her office is ECME 112B and her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
The current Graduate Student Liaison is Sara Olesiak. Her e-mail address is Sara.Olesiak@colorado.edu.