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PhD Program

I. Requirements

  • Students who receive full financial support from the University during their first year of study endeavor to identify a PhD advisor by the end of the first semester. Students funded from other sources must ensure that they have obtained the consent of a faculty member to serve as a PhD advisor prior to coming to Lehigh Otherwise, an incoming student pursues the Master of Engineering degree until a PhD advisor is identified. Please be advised that our faculty have many commitments, and the availability of faculty for research supervision depends upon the specialty within the area of mechanical engineering and the ongoing advisory commitments of the faculty member.

  • The PhD degree requires a minimum of 72 credit hours taken at Lehigh, or 48 credit hours, if a Master's degree is acquired at another institution. The student's advisor, in conjunction with the student’s Doctoral Committee, provides oversight of the student's overall program of study.

  • Upon entry into the program, a student demonstrates competency in selected core courses (see Section II.1 below); completion of these core courses represents the first stage of candidacy at the Department level. The student must also pass the General Exam (see Section II.2 below). The core courses are to be completed within the first three semesters of enrollment in the PhD program.

  • Upon completion of the core courses, a student forms a Doctoral Committee. The Doctoral Committee is responsible for oversight of the student's program of study and administration of the General Exam and Dissertation Defense.

  • The General Exam must be completed no later than the second semester after the minimum core course GPA is attained; this requirement represents the second stage of candidacy at the Department level.

  • The PhD proposal is presented to the PhD Committee no later than the end of the semester following the semester in which the General Exam was passed. The PhD proposal outlines a research plan and additional coursework. The student presents the proposal in both written and oral form to his/her Doctoral Committee for approval. Upon Committee approval, the proposal is submitted to the Associate Dean of Graduate Studies of the P. C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science (RCEAS). Approval of the proposal by the Associate Dean admits the student to candidacy for the PhD in the P.C. Rossin CEAS. Following admission to candidacy at the College level, it is expected that the student will complete his/her program nominally within two years. During this period, the candidate will report on his/her research progress to his/her Committee every six months.

  • The final phase of the PhD program is preparation of a dissertation describing the results and conclusions of the research program. A written dissertation draft must be approved by the Chair of the Doctoral Committee (usually the student’s advisor) and one additional member of the Committee and submitted to the Dean’s Office by a designated date prior to graduation. The completed dissertation is then submitted to the Doctoral Committee, followed by a public defense of the dissertation. A satisfactory defense of the dissertation and acceptance of the written dissertation by the Doctoral Committee completes the Departmental requirements for the doctoral degree. The foregoing process must conform to the timing and guidelines of the P. C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science and the University, as described in the RCEAS Graduate Student Handbook.

II. Path to Candidacy

II.1 The initial qualifying criterion for pursuit of a PhD degree, corresponding to the first stage of candidacy at the Department level, is demonstration of minimum competency by achieving a 3.35/4.0 GPA in five core courses, selected as follows:

Required Core Courses in Mathematics (total of 2 courses)

  • Required: ME 452 Mathematical Methods in Engineering I
  • Choice of one of the following: ME 453 Mathematical Methods in Engineering II OR ME 413 Numerical Methods in Mechanical Engineering

Required Core Courses in Mechanical Engineering: (total of 3 courses selected from the following list):

  • ME 401 Integrated Product Development OR   ME 402 Advanced Manufacturing Science
  • ME 423 Heat and Mass Transfer
  • ME 430 Advanced Fluid Mechanics
  • Mech 406 Fundamentals of Solid Mechanics
  • Mech 425 Analytical Methods in Dynamics and Vibrations

Note: All five core courses must be taken during the first three semesters of graduate study.

These five courses may be taken as part of a student's program for a Lehigh Master's degree or upon entry directly into the PhD program.

Additional Course Requirement

All students must take ME 453, Mathematical Methods in Engineering II, prior to graduation.

II.2 General Exam

In the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics, the General Exam is administered by the student's Doctoral Committee, and is to be taken no later than the end of the second semester after the minimum core courses gpa is attained. Students must achieve the required 3.35/4.0 GPA, as described in the foregoing, prior to taking the General Exam. Students will generally be given two opportunities to pass the General Exam. The General Exam will consist of a detailed review, assessment, and proposed extension of a technical journal article selected by the Doctoral Committee. The student will have two weeks to prepare and present to the Committee a written document of not more than 20 pages. The student will then schedule and present an oral defense of the document to the Committee, followed by questions. Satisfactory completion of the General Exam will be based upon both the written document and the oral defense, including the proposed extension of the knowledge base.

For further information, please access the Grad Degree Program Guidelines.