Apr 13, 2024  
2023-2024 Graduate Catalog 
2023-2024 Graduate Catalog

Doctor of Philosophy in Mechanical Engineering

The Department of Mechanical Engineering offers a program leading to the Ph.D. in mechanical engineering. A Ph.D. allows graduates to pursue professional careers at academic institutions, national research labs, federal and state agencies, and industry. Students enrolled in the program will develop the ability to identify and pursue important research questions pertaining to the field of mechanical engineering. Training focuses on the engineering process and critical thinking necessary to design and execute scientific and engineering research.

Learning Objectives/Outcomes

Graduates of the Ph.D. program in Mechanical Engineering will be able to demonstrate the following outcomes:

  1. Advanced knowledge. Master advanced concepts, methods and technologies in a core mechanical engineering thrust area.
  2. Analysis. Apply in depth qualitative analysis to relevant mechanical engineering questions, issues, and problems.
  3. Research. Conduct independent research that results in an original contribution to knowledge that meets all the standards for responsible conduct of research.
  4. Ethics. Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of ethical standards in executing research.
  5. Communication. Communicate research to both technical and general audiences in an effective manner through oral and written formats.

Admission Requirement

Students seeking admission to the Ph.D. program in Mechanical Engineering must meet all requirements for admission to the Graduate School and shall have satisfied the requirements (or equivalent) for the B.S. in Mechanical Engineering at NIU. Students with backgrounds in fields other than mechanical engineering are encouraged to apply, but may be required to take a sequence of core mechanical engineering courses as part of the doctoral program. Students seeking admission who possess a master’s degree will also be expected to have met the above requirements. In addition, the department asks for a personal statement along with three letters of recommendation. Admission to the Ph.D.  program is not automatic for students completing their M.S. degree in the department. Master’s students who desire to continue on to the Ph.D. must apply for admission. Nondegree applicants may be admitted for no more than 8 semester hours.

Course Requirements

The Graduate Studies Committee, in consultation with the faculty advisor and the chair of the department, is responsible for approving each student’s program to meet the course requirements specified below. Each student must complete at least 90 semester hours of graduate course work after the baccalaureate degree. Students with a master’s degree may be able to transfer up to 30 semester hours of graduate course work at the discretion of the Graduate Studies Committee. The Graduate Studies Committee, in consultation with the faculty advisor and the chair of the department, will assess all work completed at other institutions and will recommend acceptance of transfer credit for graduate work deemed appropriate, subject to the polices of an approval by the Graduate School. Two-thirds of a student’s coursework must be at the 600-level or above, with the exception of dissertation hours.

Core Courses (21)

All students are required to take 21 semester hours in mechanical engineering at or above the 600-level, excluding MEE 697, MEE 698, MEE 699, MEE 701, MEE 795, MEE 797, and MEE 799. It is recommended that students choose a focus area related to their research, but taking any combination of upper-level mechanical engineering courses, not explicitly excluded above, will qualify towards this requirement.

Distribution Requirement (15)

All students are required to take at least 15 semester hours of additional graduate course work pertaining to their research and field of study, excluding MEE 697, MEE 698, MEE 699, MEE 701, MEE 795, MEE 797, and MEE 799. At least three semester hours must be outside of the College of Engineering and Engineering Technology. At least three semester hours must be at the 600-level or above.

Department Seminar (3)

Students are required to register for and attend the department seminar, MEE 795, for three semesters total.

Elective Course Work (24)

Students must take an additional 24 semester hours of graduate course work. This may include additional hours of dissertation, MEE 799, beyond the 27 semester hour requirement. It may include MEE 701, Industry Residency, and MEE 797, Pre-candidacy Research. The courses chosen to meet this requirement are subject to the approval of the Graduate Studies Committee, in consultation with the faculty advisor and the chair of the department.

Dissertation (27)

Students must take a minimum of 27 semester hours in MEE 799, Doctoral Research and Dissertation.

Qualifying Exam

The purpose of the qualifying exam is to test a student’s research preparedness. At this stage, a Ph.D. student is expected to be familiar with a broad array of topics in Mechanical engineering while having gained significant familiarity in a particular research area. The examination is to be taken within one year after completion of the core courses.

Dissertation Committee

The dissertation committee for each student will be nominated by the chair of the department and appointed by the dean of the Graduate School. This committee will consist of three to five graduate faculty members and will be chaired by the dissertation advisor who has been appointed by the chair of the department.

Candidacy Exam

An oral examination of a proposal of a dissertation topic is required after the student has completed at least 45 semester hours of courses toward the Ph.D. The examination will be evaluated by the dissertation committee and must be found satisfactory before the candidate may continue their progress towards completion of the doctoral degree requirements.

Oral Dissertation Defense

An oral examination on the dissertation will be conducted by the dissertation committee according to Graduate School regulations.

Professional Track

There is an opportunity for those wanting to work in industry after obtaining a Ph.D. Students in the professional track work on research projects of interest to an industrial collaborator. Such students are required to take at least three semester hours of MEE 701, Industry Residency, as elective course work. Other elective courses may focus on business, finance, or other subjects relevant to the professional goals of the student, subject to approval by the advisor and Graduate Studies Committee.