Mechanical Engineering, Doctor of Philosophy

Department of Mechanical Engineering

College of Engineering, Informatics, and Applied Sciences

The goal of this research-intensive degree is to educate future leaders in industry and academia in the field of Mechanical Engineering. This doctoral program allows students to work closely with faculty experts in the field studying topics such as adaptive systems and intelligent structures, nano-heat transfer, energy systems, robotics, advanced composite materials, and computational fluid mechanics. Student may also benefit from a broad range of collaborations and partnerships, including but not limited to: Center for Bioengineering Innovation, Center for Materials Interfaces in Research and Applications, Department of Physics and Astronomy, School of Earth Sciences and Environmental Sustainability, and local businesses such as W.L. Gore and Associates, Lowell Observatory, and the Navy Precision Optical Interferometer. In this program, each student chooses their own courses and completes an original research project. Research work makes use of state-of-the-art facilities and culminates in a dissertation and oral defense.

  • To receive a Doctor of Philosophy Degree (PhD) at Northern Arizona University, you must complete a planned group of courses, from one or more disciplines, ranging from at least 60 - 109 units of graduate-level courses. Most plans require research, a dissertation, and comprehensive exams. All plans have residency requirements regarding time spent on the Flagstaff campus engaged in full-time study.

    The full policy can be viewed here.

In addition to University Requirements:

  • Complete individual plan requirements.

Minimum Units for Completion 60
Additional Admission Requirements Required
Dissertation Dissertation is required.
Comprehensive Exam Comprehensive Exam is required.
Oral Defense Oral Defense is required.
Research Individualized research is required.

Purpose Statement

The Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering trains students to carry out research, to apply high-level content and research methods and tools to find solutions to complex mechanical and interdisciplinary engineering problems. The program will train students to tackle problems in advanced fluid mechanics, continuum mechanics, adaptive structures and intelligent systems, nano-heat transfer and energy systems, as well as in other emerging areas in which our faculty will continue to develop expertise. The program focuses on training students on the application of analytical, computational and experimental tools to solve engineering problems, in one or more of the areas listed above. The scope of the program is to provide students with technical agility in the research areas indicated above, as well as the ability to cross disciplinary boundaries, allowing them to solve increasingly interdisciplinary and complex engineering problems.
Students will also be trained to critically evaluate problems and identify the best tools, methods, approaches to be deployed for identifying optimal solutions for them. Training will occur through a combination of traditional lectures, research, and personalized mentoring by faculty advisors. Opportunities for employment of Mechanical Engineering Ph.D.’s are common in a broad range of industries, including but not limited to aerospace, automotive, manufacturing, biomedical, etc., as well as in national laboratories and academia. ME Ph.D.’s can take on positions in training, marketing, sales, software development, and technical support.
This program is designed for students with strong preparation in the engineering sciences, including a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering or in a related field, and research interests aligned with faculty in the program. Moreover, we aim to reach out to diverse students and we want to become the flagship program for recruiting and graduating native students from the broader South West region.

Student Learning Outcomes

  • Solve, analyze, evaluate, and interpret results to complex contemporary mechanical engineering problems using advanced mathematics, computational tools, and/or experimental, and state-of-the-art methods in mechanical engineering.
  • Analyze and critically evaluate information from the scientific literature on mechanical engineering, and synthesizing this information, and identifying and exploring the leading edges of their field in order to expand the understanding and applications within the discipline.
  • Design, plan and conduct mechanical engineering research, apply advanced mechanical engineering concepts and tools to research problems, and interpret results of mechanical engineering research.
  • Demonstrate the ability to communicate effectively complex mechanical engineering theories and methodologies and the results of a comprehensive research study.

Graduate Admission Information
  • The NAU graduate online application is required for all programs. Admission to many graduate programs is on a competitive basis, and programs may have higher standards than those established by the Graduate College.

    Admission requirements include the following:

    • Transcripts.
    • Undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited institution with a 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale ("A" = 4.0), or the equivalent.

    Visit the NAU Graduate Admissions website for additional information about graduate school application deadlines, eligibility for study, and admissions policies.

    Ready to apply? Begin your application now.

    International applicants have additional admission requirements. Please see the International Graduate Admissions Policy.

Additional Admission Requirements
  • Individual program admission requirements over and above admission to NAU are required.

    • A minimum of a BS degree in Mechanical Engineering or a closely related field.
    • GRE scores
    • Three references (submitted via a web interface)
    • A personal statement describing their professional goals and research interests
    • A resume or curriculum vitae

    Students will be required to identify an advisor within their first semester in the program. This allows students to begin research quickly. Students may elect to have two advisors, should they have interdisciplinary interests or a project that is collaborative.

Doctoral Requirements
  • This Doctoral degree requires 60 units distributed as follows:

    • Mechanical Engineering Courses: 21 units
    • Applied Mathematics: 3 units
    • Engineering Computations: 3 units
    • Electives: 15 units
    • Mechanical Engineering Seminar: 3 units
    • Dissertation: 15 units

    Take the following 60 units:

    Mechanical Engineering (21 units)

    Applied Mathematics (3 units) 
    Engineering Computations (3 units) 
    Electives (15 units)
    • In consultation with your faculty advisor, select additional ME, science, business, mathematics or other graduate coursework.  These may include up to 6 units of 400-level and up to 6 units of independent study  
    Up to 30 units of Graduate-level coursework from an MS degree may be applied toward the degree requirements with the approval of the dissertation committee.
    Mechanical Engineering Seminar (3 units)Dissertation (15 units)
  • In addition to course requirements, students will have a publication requirement for this degree.  In order to complete a PhD in ME at NAU, students must have at least one paper in which they are the lead author accepted for publication in a reviewer-blind peer-reviewed journal with an impact factor of at least 0.5.
    In accordance with standards across the U.S. for ME PhD programs, there are three major exams required for this degree:

    • Qualifying exam. This exam is to be taken once a student has completed (or is concurrently enrolled in) at least 30 units of coursework, including all of their ME, Mathematics, and Computation courses. The exam will be both written and oral and will test the student understanding of the fundamental principles related to their dissertation research topic.
    • Advance to Candidacy exam. This exam must be completed within one semester of a student passing the qualifying exam. This exam has both a written and oral component, and will be administered by a student’s dissertation committee.
    • Dissertation Defense. This exam is to be taken once a student has advanced to candidacy and has at least one reviewer-blind, peer-reviewed journal paper accepted for publication.
Additional Information
  • Be aware that some courses may have prerequisites that you must also successfully complete. For prerequisite information, click on the course or see your advisor.