Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

The objective of the PhD program is the accomplishment of independent and original research work leading to significant advancement of knowledge in the field of mechanical engineering.  All PhD students will be under the supervision of a member of the department’s graduate faculty.

Program requirements

In consultation with their supervisors, graduate students set up their programs by selecting their courses and thesis projects. All programs must be approved by the Mechanical Engineering Graduate Studies Committee.

Course Requirements

The program for a student with a master’s degree is a minimum of 37.5 units, normally with not less than 6.0 units of approved course work, a 1.5 unit seminar, a 3.0 unit candidacy examination and a dissertation (MECH 699). The approved course work must include MECH 501 or MECH 601(1.5 units) which must be taken before the candidacy exam.

A student transferring from a master’s program to the doctoral program is required to complete a program of at least 45.0 units. This program includes a minimum of 13.5 units of approved courses, (including MECH 501 or MECH 601), a 1.5 unit seminar, a 3.0 unit candidacy examination, and a 27.0 unit dissertation (MECH 699). For those students transferring from a master’s program, credit will normally be given for courses already completed.

Required course work is subject to the approval of the department.

Comprehensive Exams

Department of Mechanical Engineering does not normally require comprehensive examinations.


Within 16 months of registration and successful completion of MECH 501 or MECH 601, a PhD student must submit a written dissertation research proposal, defining the research topic, the goals of the research and the methodology to be used. The PhD student is required to pass an oral candidacy exam before their supervisory committee in camera. During the candidacy examination, the supervisory committee will question the candidate to determine whether the candidate has the appropriate background knowledge and skills to undertake the proposed dissertation project, and whether the project is likely to lead to results suitable for a PhD dissertation.

The PhD student must register in MECH 693 (3.0 units) from the beginning of the PhD program until the candidacy examination is successfully completed and a passing grade (B) is obtained in MECH 501 or MECH 601. MECH 501 or MECH 601 should be completed before the candidacy examination but may be taken during the same term. MECH 693 is a prerequisite for MECH 699.

Other Requirements

The program of study including all course selections is determined by the supervisory committee in consultation with the student. The supervisory committee may decide that additional course work is required. The supervisory committee must be set up within the first 12 months of a program and meets at least annually to review the student's progress.

The program allows for a maximum of one Directed Studies course (MECH 590) not directly related to the thesis topic, and one 400-level undergraduate course. With permission of the supervisor and Graduate Program Director, up to 4.5 units of relevant coursework may be taken from other departments.

All PhD students are required to give two seminars (MECH 695) on their thesis research within 16 months and 34 months of registration. Normally, students will register in MECH 695 until program completion. The seminars have a total unit value of 1.5. Students must attend a minimum of 6 of the seminars per term, for a total of 54 seminars over 3 years.


The dissertation (MECH 699) for the PhD program is typically equivalent to 27 units. The topic of the dissertation is subject to the approval of the department.

Oral Examination

PhD candidates will be required to defend their completed dissertation in a final oral examination which is open to the public.

Program Length

The program length is determined by the Faculty of Graduate Studies. Typically, the Department of Mechanical Engineering PhD students are expected to complete program requirements within 36 months. Normally, financial support will not be continued beyond this time limit.


The minimum requirement for admission to the doctoral program is a master's degree in science or engineering. In exceptional cases, a student registered for a master's degree in the Department of Mechanical Engineering may be allowed to transfer to the doctoral program without completing the master's program.  

Admission to the program is subject to the sponsorship of a supervisor. Students should contact potential supervisors before applying.

Learn how to apply for admission.