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Part-Time PhD in Mechanical Engineering

Part-time PhD in Mechanical Engineering programs are uncommon and allow students to take fewer courses each semester. Here we discuss the common coursework for these degree programs, common degree requirements, and how to apply.

How to Earn a Part-Time PhD in Mechanical Engineering

Part-time Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Mechanical Engineering programs are fairly rare, with most programs preferring or requiring students to complete the program on a full-time basis. However, some schools allow students to attend part-time, which may mean taking fewer than 12 credits per semester and completing the program in more than the typical 4 years, all while working to complete 90 credits beyond a bachelor's degree and a dissertation. Some programs may also allow PhD students to focus their studies in a particular area of concentration, such as biomechanics, energy, or mechanics, materials, and manufacturing, and coursework may vary based on these concentrations, but many programs include courses in the topics discussed in greater detail below.

Elasticity

Courses in elasticity explore topics in elastostatics and the analysis of stress and strain on objects. These courses may discuss 2D and 3D problems and may require prerequisite courses in mechanical engineering. Specific topics for these courses may include elastic stress-strain relationships, torsion, wedges, displacement potential method, and Eshelby's method.

Thermodynamics

Students in graduate programs in mechanical engineering usually take at least one course that reviews thermodynamic properties, quantities, and laws. Some of these courses may focus on the thermodynamics of solids and/or offer an introduction to the statistics involved in thermodynamics. Some courses may require students to have prior coursework in thermodynamics. These courses may discuss specific topics in systems, temperature, equations of state, free energy, and phase transformations.

Continuum Mechanics

Courses in continuum mechanics discuss the mechanics, like motion, energy, and stress for a continuum, or continuous media. Usually, students explore these topics for both fluid and solid mechanics and some courses may require prerequisites in areas like solid mechanics, differential equations, fluid mechanics, and/or linear algebra. Topics for these courses may include indicial notion and tensor analysis, the second law, viscous and inviscid fluids, and concepts of stress.

Vibrations

Some mechanical engineering programs may provide a broader course that explores topics in dynamics and vibrations, while other programs may provide more specific courses in the field, such as applied vibration analysis. Some of these courses may have prerequisites in mechanical engineering and may explore topics in structural dynamics and vibration analysis for continuous, linear, inelastic, single-degree, and/or multi-degree-of-freedom systems. Other topics for these courses may include dynamic response, structural design, Hamilton's principle, variational techniques, and Lagrange's equations.

Fracture Mechanics

Some courses in fracture mechanics may provide students with an introduction to the field, while other courses examine specific topics, such as fracture and adhesion. These courses generally explore current research in the field and/or utilize case studies to explore topics like fracture control and the analysis of stress fields. Other specific topics for courses in fracture mechanics may include failure analysis, microstructure, crack nucleation, fracture toughness, and crack initiation.

Admittance Requirements for PhD in Mechanical Engineering Programs

Admittance requirements for a part-time PhD in Mechanical Engineering are typically the same as the requirements for a full-time student. Some PhD programs in mechanical engineering may accept students who only have a bachelor's degree, but some programs may prefer students to have a master's degree. There are some PhD programs in mechanical engineering that also expect applicants to meet specific GPA requirements, such as a Master of Science (MS) GPA of 3.5 or higher, and most programs require applicants to take the GRE and submit their test scores when applying. Some programs may also have specific GRE test scores that they expect applicants to meet, such as a 150 on the verbal section, 155 on the quantitative section, and a 4.0 on the analytical writing section for English speaking students taking the new GRE. Outside of these test scores, applicants to PhD programs in mechanical engineering are generally required to include their transcripts, letters of recommendation, a personal statement, and/or a resume with their application.

Part-time PhD in Mechanical Engineering degree programs are not very common, as most programs prefer full-time attendance, but part-time programs are available at some schools for students to take additional time to complete 90 credits of coursework and a dissertation. Students in these programs take coursework in areas like dynamics and mechanics and may need to have high GPA and/or high GRE scores to be competitive.