PhD in Mechanical Engineering

The PhD in Mechanical Engineering program is interdisciplinary by design and provides both post-bachelor’s and post-master’s applicants the opportunity for study in a broad range of areas within mechanical engineering as well as within the College of Engineering. The mechanical engineering faculty members boast international reputations and provide students with opportunities for research in:

  • Acoustics and Vibrations
  • Biomechanics
  • Computational Science and Engineering
  • Dynamics, Robotics, Systems, and Controls
  • Thermofluid Sciences, Energy, and Sustainability
  • Materials
  • MEMS and Nanotechnology

Learning Outcomes

Students who complete the PhD in Mechanical Engineering program will be able to:

  1. Make an original and substantial contribution to the discipline of mechanical engineering as demonstrated by the completion of a PhD thesis.
  2. Demonstrate the ability to conduct advanced independent research by mastering research methodologies and techniques, synthesizing existing knowledge, analyzing and evaluating their findings, and communicating the results to other researchers.

Course Requirements

Post-Bachelor’s Students

  • Must complete all departmental requirements for the Master of Science.
  • Are required to complete a minimum of 64 credits applicable to their degree (a minimum of 24 credits must be structured courses and a minimum of 16 credits of research/dissertation is required).

Post-Master’s Students

  • Develop a curriculum in consultation with their faculty advisor
  • Are required to complete 32 credits applicable to their degree, all of which must be at the 500 level or higher
  • Are required to complete a minimum of 8 credits of research/dissertation coursework.

Residency Requirement

Each student must satisfy a residency requirement of a minimum of two consecutive regular semesters of full-time graduate study at Boston University. Full-time study in this context means full-time commitment to the discipline as determined by the associate dean for research and graduate programs.

Teaching Requirement

Students must also take ENG ME 801 Teaching Practicum 1 and ME 802 Teaching Practicum 2. These courses cannot be used to meet the structured course requirements. Both ENG ME 801 and 802 come with practical teaching experience. Practical teaching experience includes some combination of running discussion sections, managing laboratory sections, providing some lectures, preparing homework and solution sets, exams, and grading. Attend lectures/seminars on best teaching practices. Total time commitment: up to 20 hours/week for one semester for each course.

Qualifying Examination

  • Students must pass a comprehensive examination covering basic knowledge in mechanical engineering
  • Limited to two attempts
  • ME Qualifying Examination

Responsible Conduct of Research Requirement

All College of Engineering PhD students are required to complete the Advanced Responsible Conduct of Research program prior to completing the prospectus. The Advanced RCR program includes an online module and four live discussion workshops.

Dissertation Prospectus Defense

  • Within one year of becoming a candidate, the student is expected to present an oral dissertation proposal to the prospective Dissertation Committee and obtain approval for the written dissertation prospectus.


  • A PhD candidate is expected to prepare and carry out an independent and original research project in partial fulfillment of the dissertation requirement.
  • The Dissertation Committee must consist of College of Engineering (tenured or tenure-earning) faculty.

Final Oral Examination

  • Students shall present themselves for a final oral examination in which they must defend their dissertation as a worthy contribution to knowledge in their field and demonstrate mastery of their field of specialization as related to the dissertation.
  • The Examining Committee is composed of at least five members, of which two must be (tenured or tenure-earning) faculty from the student’s academic department/division.

Time Limit

  • Both the post-bachelor’s and post-master’s programs must be completed within five years of the individual’s acceptance into PhD candidacy.


  • Candidates for the PhD are required to have a member of the graduate faculty in the department/division of their major field as an advisor.