Degree requirements

The Department of Mechanical Engineering offers graduate programs leading to the Master of Engineering (ME), Master of Science (MS) and the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degrees. These programs can involve both research and course work. Graduate students work closely with faculty members to arrange their study and tailor research to their individual preferences. Many PhD students in the Mechanical Engineering department receive financial support for the duration of their studies. This support may take the form of a fellowship, a teaching assistantship, a research assistantship, or a combination of these options.

To view the class requirements and needed dissertation hours for each program, see the link below:!degree-programs/c5dq

In addition to the requirements for classes listed in the above link, PhD students must satisfy certain benchmarks in their time as a graduate student as CU:

  •  1 st year development check-in
  •  Preliminary exams:
    • At the end of the first year, students take an advanced engineering analysis exam (unless an average 3.5 GPA was attained in the two Methods of engineering classes).
    • At the beginning of the second year, PhD students will take oral exams in two fundamental topics that they studied in their first year (Choice of Fluids, Heat Transfer, Materials, Mechanics, Thermo, Dynamics and Controls, BioM3). 
    • Within a year of passing the preliminary exams, students do a research proficiency exam which is composed of an oral presentation of research to a committee of three that must include two Mechanical Engineering faculty
  •  Comprehensive exam: Between your second and fourth year- Students demonstrate ability to complete a significant piece of research, frame the importance of that work in terms of what else has been done in the field and propose a rational plan to further their efforts to reach a larger research goal.
  •  Thesis defense
Course requirements

The course requirements to complete your PhD depend on the engineering track that you choose. See the following link for details on course requirements for your specialty area.!degree-programs/c5dq

Every first year student must take Methods of engineering analysis and two of the core classes offered in the mechanical engineering department (these core classes will be the topics of the first year preliminary exams). Ask your advisor for their input on which core classes you should aim to take.

First year expectations
  1. If provided funding, the first year it will be in the form of a TA appointment. This means that you should expect to spend 10-20 hours a week on your teaching assistant position.
  2. Unless arranged seperately, every PhD student will be taking a full course load (3 classes) along with an Intro to Research 1 credit class. In our PhD program, students get their masters degree along the way which means that the first couple of years students have a heavy class load. After achieving the Masters degree, the majority of your time is spent on research, not course work.
  3. The summer after your first year, you should plan to switch to a full time (40 hrs/wk) research position working in your lab