MAE PhD Plan of Study


  • Students must pass a qualifying examination, except those meeting the exemption requirement, to be formally accepted into the PhD program.
  • The PhD candidate plans a program of study and research under the immediate supervision of a Major Advisor and in close cooperation with the student’s Doctoral Program Committee.
  • A comprehensive examination is given after essentially all coursework requirements have been satisfied.
  • Upon completion of the program of study and research, a final examination, normally a defense of the dissertation, is administered.


Qualifying Examination

All students who wish to pursue a PhD in MAE, except those meeting the exemption requirement, must pass the qualifying examination. The results of the exam will influence both the student’s continuance in the doctoral program and the student’s Plan of Study. Therefore students are encouraged to seriously prepare for the exam and to take the exam at the first opportunity.

  • Exemptions
    • Students with an MS from MU or other accredited program can be exempt if MS GPA (4.0 basis) and total GRE scores satisfy the exemption rule, which is: (MS GPA -3.75) / 4 +[ 1200*(GRE Verbal+GRE Quantitative)/308+800*GRE Analytical/6 – 1800]/2400. Must be equal to or greater than 0.
  • Examination Schedule
    • Offered twice per year:
      • January for fall entrance
      • June for spring entrance
    • Cannot be taken more than 2 times
      • Failure to take the exam counts as a forfeit of that first opportunity
      • Under exceptional circumstances, the student may petition the graduate committee for extension of the time limit
    • Examination Dates
      • Announced the first month of the spring and fall semester
  • Examination Areas
    • The exam will cover 3 areas:
      • Mathematics
      • Core MAE Area #1
      • Core MAE Area #2
    • The student and advisor will select 2 Core MAE areas from the following:
      • Mechanics & Materials
      • Dynamics & Vibration
      • System & Controls
      • Thermodynamics & Heat Transfer
      • Design & Manufacturing
      • Fluid Mechanics
    • MAE graduate office can provide past exams as study aids.
    • It is recommended that students contact professors giving exam for study materials.
    • If the student does not have a major advisor the MAE Director of Graduate Studies will advise the student in the selection of examination areas.
  • Examination Format
    • 2 hr written exam for each area
    • MAE Graduate Director will assign exam committee for each area
      • Committee will formulate and score the exams with a pass/fail decision
    • Exam format will be determined by exam committee
  • Results of the Qualifying Examination
    • MAE Director of Graduate Studies will report results to graduate committee.
    • The committee will render a final decision on the score
    • If there are deficiencies the committee may require the student to take one or more courses and/or repeat a portion or all of the exam.
    • If student receives negative decision after 2 opportunities, the student will be dismissed from the MAE PhD program.
    • Students and major advisor will be informed of score by email from the MAE Director of Graduate Studies
      • Any requirements or recommendations will be included in the email.
    • Once a pass score has been reported to the student, the student is required to submit a D-1 Qualifying Examination Form.

Publication Requirement for PhD candidates

  • candidates must submit at least two papers for publication based on their Ph.D. research and co-authored with their advisers, one being accepted for publication prior to graduation

Plan of Study

Since the PhD is a research degree, the Program of Study should be designed to support the student’s research efforts. Requirements relative to elimination of any deficiencies identified during the Qualifying Examination should be incorporated in the Plan of Study.

  • Doctoral Program Committee:
    • Should be chosen by the student and his/her advisor.
    • Must be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies and appointed by the Graduate Dean. Whenever possible, faculty should be chosen who have some knowledge in the student’s research area and who will be helpful to the student during the research.
    • Consists of at least 5 faculty:
      • at least 3 members must be from the major department and
      • at least one  member must be from an MU department or program area other than that awarding the degree.
      • Under certain circumstances, an “outside expert” may serve on the committee. Contact the Graduate School for more information.
    • All members will be intimately involved and will actively participate in the activities of the doctoral student at all the stages of the student’s career at MU, except the qualifying examination.
    • The committee also may participate in the assessment of a student’s background and potential for success in the department’s doctoral program.
    • Committee members may call a meeting of the full committee at any time to discuss the student’s progress.
  • Doctoral Program Committee Meetings
    • Doctoral Program Committee meetings should take place annually, following the formation of the committee no later than the end of the second semester.
    • A course update and research progress should be presented by the student at the annual meetings.
    • A progress report including any committee actions and recommendations should be submitted to the Director of Graduate Studies by the Major Advisor.
    • The progress report will be filed in the student’s folder.
    • The Comprehensive Examination may replace one of the annual meetings.


Following the selection of a Major Advisor and the formulation of a research project, the student and his/her Major Advisor should define a Program of Study and select a Doctoral Program Committee.

  • Credit Hour Requirement
    • A minimum of 72 hours are required including the credit hours taken during the MS program.
    • Students who received the MS degree from other than MU may transfer a maximum of 30 hours from their MS coursework.
    • The 72 hours must include at least 18 hours of coursework at the 8000 level excluding problems and research hours (can be MAE or outside MAE).
    • All research credits on the Plan of Study form must be designated as MAE 9990 – Research.
    • A doctoral student must satisfy a special requirement, 9 hours of coursework at the 7000 or 8000 level in one area other than MAE. The student can choose
      • proficiency in foreign languages or
      • collateral field
    • MU requires a minimum of 72 hours beyond the baccalaureate degree for the PhD.
    • The student’s Doctoral Program Committee must approve all coursework used to satisfy the credit hour requirements.
    • The Doctoral Program Committee may recommend that a specific number of hours in a master’s degree be credited toward this requirement and that hours be credited for additional graduate work at MU or elsewhere.
    • See more information in the Plan of Study section.
  • Grade Point Average (GPA) requirement
    The GPA in the Graduate School is based on the student’s entire graduate record of courses taken at MU. To remain in good standing and to graduate, a graduate student must maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better in all graduate courses taken at MU.
  • Continuous enrollment
    Enrollment for at least 2 hours in each Fall and Winter semester and at least one hour each Summer semester is mandatory for all doctoral students who have passed their comprehensive examination.
  • Residency requirement
    In order to satisfy the residency requirement, a student must complete at least 2, 9-hour semesters or 3, 6-hour semesters in an 18-month period at MU. All courses taken to satisfy the residency requirement must be MU courses approved for graduate credit and approved by the student’s Doctoral Program Committee.
  • Seminar requirement
    PhD students must take one hour of MAE 8087 (Seminar). The MAE 8087 grade is given by S/U. MAE 8087 may be taken any semester and an incomplete grade will be recorded until the semester of graduation at which time the S/U grade will be assigned. The satisfactory completion of MAE 8087 requires (a) seminar attendance each semester the student is enrolled in the MAE graduate program and (b) presentation of at least one seminar during the course of study. Waiver of the seminar attendance requirement for a give n semester may be considered on an individual basis by the Director of Graduate Studies.
  • Time limit
    A reasonable rate of progress toward the degree is required each semester. Excluding work toward the master’s degree or its equivalent, the program for the doctoral degree must be completed within 8 years after the first enrollment and within 5 years after passing the comprehensive examination according to the Graduate School regulations. The MAE regulations also require a doctoral student to pass the comprehensive examination within 3 years after the first enrollment.


  • The dissertation must:
    • Be written on a subject approved by the candidate’s Doctoral Program Committee
    • Embody the results of original and significant investigation
    • Be the candidate’s own work
  • Graduate School Dissertation Guidelines
  • Dissertation Defense
    • The dissertation defense is used to determine if the PhD degree should be awarded on the basis of the research that is presented.
    • This is an oral examination that is administered by the Doctoral Program Committee.
    • Note that incomplete grades must be cleared for past MAE 8085 and 8990 hours at the time of the dissertation defense.
    • For the dissertation to be successfully defended, the student’s doctoral committee must vote to pass the student on the defense with no more than one dissenting or abstaining vote.
    • If failure is reported, the committee will provide written recommendations to the student and work with the student to establish a time line for a second and final defense.
    • Failure to successfully defend a dissertation after the second attempt will terminate a student’s doctoral degree program
  • A copy must be submitted to the MAE Department for binding upon graduation

Completing the PhD

Following successful completion of the dissertation defense, the student must fulfill certain Graduate School and MAE departmental requirements. The Graduate School will not authorize degree completion until it receives notification that all departmental requirements have been met.

Graduate School Requirements

  1. D-4 Form (”Report of the Dissertation Defense”) must be signed by all approved members of the Doctoral Program Committee, the Major Advisor, and the Director of Graduate Studies, and submitted to the Graduate School.
  2. The approval page, signed by the Doctoral Program Committee members, must be submitted to the Graduate School along with a copy of the file on CD-ROM as a PDF with the required supplemental materials

MAE Departmental Requirements

  1. A bound copy of the dissertation is to be presented to the Graduate Program Office.
  2. All departmental keys and equipment are to be returned.
  3. A forwarding address must be left with the Graduate Program Secretary.

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