VCU Bulletins

Mechanical engineering track

Mossi, Dr. Karla
Director, Graduate Programs in Mechanical Engineering
(804) 827-5275

Admission requirements summary

Engineering, Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
Indicate specialization: mechanical engineering

of entry:



Jun 1
(Feb 1 for
Nov 15

Typical program of study - M.S. to Ph.D. in Engineering
Concentration component - EGRM course work, in addition to EGRM 512, taken as part of B.S. to M.S. program 6
Track electives – engineering or science course work 3
Directed research – EGRM 697 21
Total (minimum) 30

Students entering the doctoral program with a B.S. degree, but not the M.S., will require a minimum of 60 post-baccalaureate credits (30 for M.S. level and an additional 30 for Ph.D. level). All courses are expected to be of the 500 or 600 level. Additionally, all students must take EGRM 690 Mechanical Engineering Seminar each semester they are enrolled full time in the graduate program. The accumulated credits earned in the one-credit seminar do not count toward the total required to complete the graduate degree.

Typical program of study - B.S. to Ph.D. in Engineering
Concentration component - EGRM course work, including EGRM 512 18
Track electives – engineering or science course work 15
Directed research – EGRM 697 27
Total (minimum) 60

A minimum of three years of study, including research, is necessary to complete all requirements for the Ph.D. A period of residence of at least three consecutive semesters is required. Residency is defined as registration for at least nine credits per semester. A time limit of seven calendar years, beginning at the time of first registration, is placed on work to be credited toward the Ph.D.


There are three components of each Ph.D. in Engineering track.

Concentration (track-specific) component. This component allows the student to pursue a series of courses that focus on a specific field of engineering and serve as the student’s primary engineering discipline.

Track electives component. This component allows the student to take courses in either engineering or science with approval of the student’s adviser.

Directed research component. This component emphasizes research directed toward completion of degree requirements under the direction of an adviser and advisory committee.

Degree requirements

A minimum of 60 credit hours beyond the bachelor’s degree, including research credits, is generally required for the Ph.D. in Engineering. Students holding the master’s degree must complete a minimum of six semester credits in concentration course work, three credits in track elective course work and 21 semester credits in dissertation research. The student’s adviser must approve all course work. Ph.D. students must take a minimum of 30 semester credits (including research) beyond the master’s degree. No elective courses may be used for both M.S. and Ph.D. degrees. At least half of the credits required in the student’s program must be those designated as exclusively for graduate students, that is those at the 600 level or above.

Admission requirements

In addition to the general requirements for admission to graduate programs in the Graduate School and the School of Engineering, applicants to the mechanical engineering track must have a B.S. degree in mechanical engineering or a closely related discipline.

Acceptance of an applicant is based upon the recommendation of the Admissions Committee with approval of the program chair and the associate dean for graduate studies.


Students may begin a course of study in either the fall or spring semesters for the engineering graduate programs, although a start in the fall semester is preferred.

Comprehensive examinations

In order to advance to doctoral candidacy, the student must pass both written and oral comprehensive examinations. The written examination(s) focuses on the subject matter deemed critical as a foundation in the program. The examination(s) is largely based on material covered in required course work and its application to theoretical and practical problems. The oral examination, which follows successful completion of the written examination(s), is administered to assess the ability of the student to integrate information and display an appropriate mastery of problem-solving capabilities. Graduate students may not take the comprehensive exam if their overall GPA is less than 3.0. Students must also have a GPA of at least 3.0 for courses within the program in order to take the comprehensive exam. For further details, see the graduate program director or the program chair.

Admission to candidacy

Before admission to candidacy for the doctorate, students must have: (1) completed required course work, (2) successfully completed the comprehensive examinations and (3) fulfilled all additional departmental requirements. A student may seek admission to candidacy for the Doctor of Philosophy degree without first completing the research and thesis portion of the Master of Science degree.

Dissertation research

The student must conduct a substantial original investigation under the supervision of the permanent adviser and prepare a dissertation reporting the results of this research and analyzing its significance in relation to existing scientific knowledge.

When the dissertation has been completed, copies in accepted form and style are submitted to the members of the advisory committee. The committee members decide upon the acceptability of the candidate’s dissertation. A favorable unanimous vote is required to approve the dissertation and all examiners are required to vote.

If the advisory committee accepts the dissertation for defense, the candidate appears before them for a final oral examination. This examination is open to all members of the faculty. The final oral examination will be limited to the subject of the candidate’s dissertation and related matters. A favorable vote of the candidate’s advisory committee and no more than one negative vote shall be required for passing the final oral examination. All committee members must vote. There shall be an announcement of the candidate’s name, department and title of dissertation, together with the day, place and hour of the final oral examination at least 10 working days in advance.



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Last update: 8/9/2011

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