PhD in Mechanical Engineering

The PhD program in Mechanical Engineering provides both post-bachelor’s and post-master’s applicants the opportunity for study in a broad range of areas, many of which overlap with other disciplines within the College and the University. ME 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

Course Requirements

Post-Bachelor’s Students

  • must complete all departmental requirements for the Master of Science degree
  • 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 ME 801 Teaching Practicum 1 and ME 802 Teaching Practicum 2. These courses cannot be used to meet the structured course requirements. Both 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

Mathematics Requirement

For post BS students:

Complete with grade B+ or better one of:

  • ENG EK 500 Probability with Statistical Applications
  • ENG EK 501 Mathematical Methods I: Linear Algebra and Complex Analysis
  • ENG EC 505 Stochastic Processes
  • CAS MA 511 Introduction to Analysis I
  • CAS MA 555 Numerical Analysis I
  • CAS MA 561 Methods of Applied Mathematics I
  • ENG ME 512 Engineering Analysis
  • ENG ME 542 Advanced Fluid Mechanics: Advanced Fluid Mechanics
  • ENG ME 566 Advanced Engineering Mathematics
  • CAS PY 501 Mathematical Physics

For post-MS students:

  • Post-BS requirement or
  • Submit evidence of successful completion B+ or better of equivalent course as determined by the ME Graduate Committee.

All PhD students are required to fulfill the math requirement no later than the end of their fourth academic semester. The list of courses will be reviewed periodically by the ME Graduate Committee.

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