The Department of Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics offers a Doctor of Philosophy degree on campus and through alternative residency (distance learning). A research-based degree, students are required to propose, complete and defend an approved dissertation on a research topic that contributes to the field of aerospace engineering and/or engineering science and mechanics. Students have nine years to complete the program.

Official program requirements are documented in the graduate catalog. A summary is presented here.

PH.D. PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS CHECKLIST

CREDIT HOURS

A total of 60 semester credit hours is required for a Ph.D. degree for those graduating December 2023 or after, 66 semester credit hours for those graduating before December 2023. These credit hours consist of:

  • 6 hours of Core coursework
  • 6 hours of Mathematics coursework
  • 30 hours of Elective coursework (36 hours for those graduating before December 2023)
  • 18 hours minimum of AEM 699 Dissertation Research

Elective coursework must be approved by the student’s advisor. Of the coursework credit hours, at least 50% must have an AEM designation

CORE COURSE REQUIREMENTS

All students must complete a minimum of one (1) class from the Aerospace Core listing of classes and one (1) class from the Mechanics Core listing of classes.

Aerospace Core

  • AEM 569 Orbital Mechanics
  • AEM 582 Space Systems
  • AEM 614 Airfoil and Wing Theory
  • AEM 668 Advanced Dynamics of Flight

Mechanics Core

  • AEM 500 Intermediate Fluid Mechanics
  • AEM 530 Continuum Mechanics
  • AEM 562 Intermediate Dynamics
  • AEM 637 Theory of Elasticity

For more information about when courses are offered, see the 2022-2026 Course Rotation.

MATHEMATICS REQUIREMENT

A total of six credit hours of mathematics is required. Consult with your advisor regarding approved math courses.

ELECTIVE COURSEWORK REQUIREMENT

A student must complete at least 36 hours of elective coursework. These courses are typically AEM courses, but other approved courses are acceptable. The specific courses must be approved by the student’s advisor, in consultation with student’s graduate advisory committee.

PH.D. QUALIFYING EXAMINATIONS

Students in the Ph.D. program are required to successfully complete the qualifying examination based on the student’s core coursework. The qualifying examination may only be taken twice. A student should take the qualifying examination after completing their AEM core courses and at least 50% of the required coursework. Passing the qualifying exam is required for formal Ph.D. candidacy. The written examination is offered twice a year, usually in early October and early March. The Graduate Program Coordinator coordinates the Ph.D. qualifying examinations.

DISSERTATION RESEARCH HOURS

A minimum of 18 dissertation research hours is required to complete the program. The completion of the dissertation can require more than 18 dissertation hours. Dissertation research is not considered complete until the dissertation is approved by the student’s dissertation committee (written document and oral defense).

Students may start enrolling in 699 hours once either of the two options have been completed:

  • the student has completed 75% of their coursework and passed the qualifying exam, or
  • the student has passed the qualifying exam and successfully defended their dissertation proposal.

Once enrolled in 699, students must be continuously enrolled in 699 at a minimum of three hours in the fall and three hours in the spring until 18 hours is completed. After the completion of 18 hours, students must maintain a minimum enrollment of 1 hour each fall and each spring. If graduating in the summer, then the minimum semester enrollment of 699 is required. See the Graduate School calendar for deadlines.

TRANSFER CREDIT

With approval of the UA Graduate School, a maximum of 50% of graduate credit for coursework completed may be applied toward the coursework requirement for the Ph.D. degree. This maximum transfer limit applies to credit transferred from another institution or MS coursework completed at UA prior to being admitted to the PhD program. For students that participated in UA’s Accelerated Masters Program while earning their MS degree, no course dual-credited towards their BS and MS degree can be transferred to the PhD degree. Up to six hours of credit can be transferred from Test Pilot School, if applicable. Transferred courses must be relevant to the program. A grade of B or higher is required. Note that transfer credit must have been completed within six years of admission to the UA Graduate School. If beyond six years, then a Field-Related Employment waiver is required.

Students who have an earned a master’s of science degree are encouraged to explore transfer credit opportunities. For additional information, view the transfer credit policy at the UA Graduate School website.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

For additional graduate program information, contact Dr. James P. Hubner.

Research Areas Associated with this Degree Program