Jun 17, 2024  
2024-2025 Graduate Catalog 
2024-2025 Graduate Catalog

Mechanical Engineering, Ph.D.

College of Engineering  
Department: Mechanical Engineering 

The Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering provides an in-depth training opportunity with a focus on research requiring independent mastery of the field of study. Graduates are trained to solve complex problems and perform independent research investigations, which leads to career opportunities in research, academia, and advanced technical positions in a broad range of industries.  Applicants may enter the Ph.D. program following the completion of an M.S. or directly after the bachelor’s degree.  
Major Research Areas

Aerospace, Manufacturing, Robotics, Rehabilitation Engineering, AI/Machine Learning, Controls, Solid Mechanics and Mechanisms, Fluid Dynamics, Micro- and Nano- scale Materials, Biomedical Engineering, and Engineering Education.

Admission Information

Must meet University Admission and English Proficiency requirements as well as requirements for admission to the major, listed below.

  • B.S. or M.S. in Mechanical Engineering or a closely related field.
  • GRE required with minimum percentile rank of 60% on the quantitative portion and a minimum average percentile rank of 60% in verbal and quantitative.
  • A minimum grade point average (GPA) of 3.00/4.00 for the last two years of coursework from an ABET accredited engineering major for admission. Graduates of non-ABET accredited majors are evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
  • A minimum of three recommendation letters is required.
  • A one-page Statement of Purpose/Research Interest must also be included in the application package.
  • A one-page Resume provided at the time of application.

Curriculum Requirements

Total Minimum Hours:
72 credit hours (post-bacc)
42 credit hours (post-masters)

  • Core – 6 credit hours
  • Other required courses – 6 credit hours
  • Electives – 24 credit hours
  • Dissertation – 20 credit hours minimum
  • Additional coursework or dissertation – 16 credit hours

Core Requirements (6 Credit Hours)

Other Required Courses (6 Credit Hours)

Electives (24 Credit Hours Minimum)

Minimum of 24 hours of elective coursework at the 5000 level or above without counting Independent Study or Graduate Internship or Directed Research or Dissertation Hours Courses. 

Or other graduate course approved by the Graduate Director.

Qualifying Examination

Successful passage of the Doctoral Qualifying (or Comprehensive) Examination is a requirement for admission to candidacy. The purpose of the exam is to measure the aptitude and capability of the student for productive independent research in mechanical engineering, as well as to demonstrate the student’s in-depth knowledge of their chosen research domain. The exam consists of a written research paper comprising an annotated literature survey in the student’s chosen research area, a discussion and comparison of the prior art in this field, and identification of a promising research area and problem domain(s) of interest to the student and advisor. The research paper is presented in a meeting to a Dissertation Supervisory Committee.


No student will be allowed to take the examination if the cumulative GPA of all courses taken at USF is below 3.00, if they have not chosen a major professor and formed a supervisory committee, or if they hold conditional or provisional admission status in the major. Students will be given a maximum of two attempts to pass the qualifying examination. Failure in the second attempt will result in being dismissed from the doctoral program.

Dissertation (20 Credit Hours Minimum)

Additional Coursework or Dissertation (16 Credit Hours)

Students will select additional coursework or Dissertation hours to complete the remaining 16 credit hours.