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PhD in Mechanical Engineering

Learn about Ph.D. programs in mechanical engineering through courses that are common within these programs as well as standard admission requirements.

Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering Program Information

Ph.D. programs generally have a strong research focus, and this specific program is no exception. Successful graduates of this type of Ph.D. program should typically have a bachelor's or master's degree in the field of mechanical engineering with strong proficiencies in research and a high level of academic competency. These programs can take four or five years.

Product Development

Courses such as these will focus on the basics of product design and development from a mechanical engineering standpoint. Students will also learn how to implement their design and development strategies for real-world release of the products. Students might also learn about topics such as business plans, standard and alternative methods of raising capital, and intellectual property strategy.

Finite Element Analysis in Mechanical Design

Students in these courses will learn about the basic concepts of finite element analysis and how they relate to the principles of mechanical design. Students will learn about different approaches to finite element analysis, such as dynamic and nonlinear approaches, Eulerian and Lagrangian grids, and explicit and implicit schemes. The course will also focus on solution methods and commercial codes, as well as modeling techniques and basic problem definition.

Solid Mechanics

Solid mechanics courses focus on the mathematical concepts that govern mechanics including stress, strain, and elasticity. Students will learn about the solution methods for common solid mechanics problems, and how to use solid mechanics to evaluate systems from an engineering standpoint. This course will build on the students' physics and math skills as well.

Fluid Dynamics

Students in this course have the chance to learn about concepts such as flow models, flow quantification, flow instability, and transition to turbulence. Topics like governing equations, discretization techniques, and Reynolds averaging are typically covered. Students might also delve into computational fluid dynamics.


Students will gain an understanding of equilibrium, combustion, and time-dependent energy relationships. Students will analyze these concepts in practical application areas such as jet propulsion, refrigeration, and large-scale systems such as industrial interactions, celestial bodies, and solar systems. Solid and liquid propellants, turbine operation and compressor functions might also be explored.


Students will gain an understanding of industrial manufacturing techniques as well as the physical concepts involved in understanding and implementing these techniques in practical scenarios. Physical concepts include conceptual design, prototyping, metal forming, composite materials, additive manufacturing, and public presentation. Joining processes, casting and integrated design are often delved into also.

Heat Transfer

Courses in heat transfer will instruct students on the physical properties and actions involved in the processes of conduction, convection, and radiation. Students may also dive into the physics and mathematics involved in using analytical and numerical methods to analyze steady-state and transient solutions, theories for forced convection and natural convection, radiative exchange, and the properties of different heat exchangers. Students might also learn about extended surfaces, boundary layers, and the turbulent effects of free convection.

Graduate Teaching Experience

Students in these Ph.D. programs will often be required to fulfill a graduate teaching requirement. This teaching experience will earn you credit as if it were a typical course, but instead, you will be teaching typically a lower-level course to undergraduate students. This course is designed to give Ph.D. candidates an opportunity to gain first-hand experience in educating students and effectively communicating the core concepts in this field.

Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering Admission Prerequisites

Aspiring students will typically need to have completed a bachelor's degree or master's degree in a field related to mechanical engineering, such as engineering or physics. Students will also need to have maintained an acceptable GPA which, for most schools, is around 3.0. Students will often need to provide official transcripts to their prospective university's admissions department. Two or three letters of recommendation are also a common requirement. In addition, students can expect to see a statement of purpose or personal essay as a requirement for these programs, wherein students can articulate for themselves their accomplishments and goals.

In short, the typical courses in a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering program cover topics such as solid mechanics, fluid dynamics, and thermodynamics. Common admissions requirements include having completed an undergraduate or master's degree, having maintained an acceptable GPA, and having letters of recommendation.