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Ph.D. Program

The Ph.D. program in Mechanical Engineering focuses on performing fundamental research in Mechanical Engineering, culminating with a Ph.D. dissertation.  The program aims to train engineering scientists who will devote their professional careers to the development of fundamental knowledge and technology from which applications will emerge.

Minimum Program Requirements

The minimum requirements for the Ph.D. degree are the completion of 42 course credit hours beyond the Bachelors degree, a minimum of 18 credit hours of Doctoral Dissertation Research, passing Qualifying and Candidacy Examinations, and publicly defending the dissertation.  Students entering with a Masters degree may count up to 24 graduate course credits from their Masters degree program toward this requirement. [1]

Core curriculum – 12 credits

Supplementary courses – minimum of 24 credits
(15 credits or more at 600 level or above)

Mathematics – 6 credits (beyond the core curriculum) [2]

Doctoral Dissertation Research (ENME899) – 18 credits minimum

Qualifying Examination

Proposal Defense (Candidacy Examination)


Thesis defense

Course Work

All full-time[3] graduate students pursuing the Ph.D. degree in Mechanical Engineering at UMBC are required to successfully complete the designated Core Curriculum within their first year of study.

Supplementary courses are intended to round out a student’s overall program of study and can be used to define a secondary area of study, to pursue a useful but un-focused study, and/or to gain credit for further mathematics courses.  Supplementary courses should be primarily from one of the thematic areas within the Mechanical Engineering Department.  However, courses from other departments in the College of Engineering and from other branches of the physical, mathematical, or biological sciences may also be included to round out a student’s overall program of study.  All courses from outside the Mechanical Engineering Department must have prior approval of the student’s academic advisor and the Graduate Program Director.

Course work plans must be prepared in consultation with the student’s academic advisor and should be submitted to the Graduate Program Director (GPD) for approval during the first or second semester of study.  Changes in the plan are permitted, but must be approved prior to implementation.

The course offerings at the nearby University of Maryland College Park (UMCP) and the University of Maryland at Baltimore (UMAB) are also available for credit at UMBC.

Course Equivalency and Transfer of Credits

Incoming Ph.D. students who have already completed an M.S. or equivalent degree (at UMBC or elsewhere) may request an exemption from no more than two of the required graduate core courses.  A thorough review establishing course equivalency to courses offered at UMBC is required for each course “transfer” request.  While the general course equivalency review may be completed after the passing the Qualifying Examination, the equivalency review for core courses should be conducted by the Department upon the student’s entry to the graduate program.

GPA Requirements

Ph.D. students must maintain a minimum GPA of 3.0. No more than two (2) courses with a grade of C may be counted.  If a student falls below a 3.0 GPA, he/she must raise the GPA to a 3.0 by the end of the following semester or risk termination of his/her program. Graduate students may repeat only two courses (once each course) for the purpose of raising their grades.  No financial aid tuition credits may be used to repeat a course (i.e., the student must pay for a repeat of a course).


Qualifying Examination

Full-time Ph.D. students should sit for their Qualifying Examination by the end of their third semester at UMBC.  The exam is usually given at the end of the Fall and Spring semesters (January and June).

Candidacy Examination

All full-time Ph.D. students must take their Candidacy Examination within 1 year following successful completion of the Qualifying Examination.  The purpose of the Candidacy Examination (also known as the Proposal Defense) is to have the student clearly define his/her research topic and methods of investigation that will be employed. The examination consists of a written proposal plus an oral examination.  The student is advanced to doctoral candidacy after successful completion of this examination.

Dissertation Defense

After the student has completed the research proposed in the Candidacy Examination, he/she must prepare and defend his/her dissertation in public and stand for an oral examination by a committee.  Requirements for the committee can be found here.

[1] Note that the applied credits do not transfer from the previous institution to UMBC; the Department of Mechanical Engineering internally applies those credits toward the degree.

[2] Specific Mechanical Engineering courses may be used to satisfy this requirement.  Consult with your advisor and the Graduate Program Director.

[3] Graduate students receiving any departmental financial support are considered full-time students.  Self-supported part-time students will be given additional time for completion of the core course requirements.