Ph.D. Degree Requirements
The Ph.D. program requires 60 credit hours beyond the B.S. These 60 credit hours consists of 36 credit hours of course work and at least 24 credit hours of dissertation. Breadth courses of at least 12 credit hours must be distributed outside the area of specialization in aerodynamics, structures and materials, dynamics and controls, design, propulsion and astronautics. Depth courses of at least 15 credit hours of technical courses (600 and above) in the area of specialization is required.
Core courses of at least 9 credit hours of graduate mathematics beyond the B.S. are required. The 9 credit hours must include a minimum of 6 credit hours of graduate-level mathematics courses. AE 712 is considered a mathematics-intensive engineering course. Graduate mathematics courses include MATH 590 or any math course 600 level or above.
Credit hours earned in completing a master’s degree can be used to satisfy a portion of these requirements when appropriate. Unique situations can be accommodated with the approval of the graduate advisor and the candidate’s major professor.
In addition to general rules and regulations, a student must meet departmental Ph.D. requirements. After 2 semesters following the completion of M.S. requirements (or at a comparable level for non-M.S. students), the student is evaluated. To be allowed to continue for the Ph.D., the student must
- Have a minimum grade-point average of 3.5 in M.S. course work,
- Pass a qualifying examination, and
- Submit a Plan of Study.
The qualifying examination tests breadth of knowledge and determines the student’s ability to formulate mathematical representations of real physical situations. The examination covers mathematics and 3 of these 5 areas:
- Structures and materials
- Dynamics and controls, and
A student is allowed only 2 attempts to pass this examination.
The aspirant forms a dissertation committee and completes a Plan of Study after the first semester and before the end of the second semester. The dissertation committee must have 5 members, including 3 tenured or tenure-track faculty from aerospace engineering and at least 1 member from a department other than aerospace engineering. The committee approves the aspirant’s program and administers the comprehensive examination and the formal oral defense and dissertation.
When the aspirant has completed most of the course work and satisfied the research skills, responsible scholarship and residency requirements, he or she must take the comprehensive examination. The research skill requirement provides the aspirant with a research skill distinct from, but strongly supportive of, the dissertation research. One research skill is required. Possible research skills include computer science, mathematics, statistics, specific laboratory skills, and specific skills in the physical or biological sciences. The selected research skill must be listed on the Plan of Study form. A separate statement attached to the Plan of Study must list the work to be completed to obtain the research skill. The responsible scholarship requirement serves to ensure that students are trained in responsible research practices. Aspirants can satisfy the responsible scholarship requirement by enrolling in 2 semesters of AE 690, Professional Development for Graduate Students. This course covers ethical behavior for graduate students, intellectual property, and technical writing. The residency requirement is met by completing 2 semesters, which may include 1 summer session, in resident study and enrollment in 6 credit hours or more. During the period of residence the student must be involved full time in academic pursuits, which may include up to half-time teaching or research.
The comprehensive examination is made up of two parts. The first part must consist of a written research proposal outlining in some detail the work to be done for the dissertation. The second part is an oral examination in which she or he must defend the research plans and demonstrate competence in her or his particular and related areas. Upon passing the comprehensive examination, the aspirant becomes a candidate for the Ph.D. The dissertation committee directs preparation of the approved dissertation topic and research. A formal oral and public defense of the dissertation is required before the candidate’s committee, any other interested members of the Graduate Faculty, and the general public. Candidates for the Ph.D. must also satisfy the university’s general requirements for the degree.
Some examples of experimental and computational courses are
- AE 705 Structural Vibrations and Modal Testing
- AE 730 Advanced Experimental Fluid Dynamics
- AE 732 Introduction to Flight Test Engineering
- CE 721 Experimental Stress Analysis