PhD Degree

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Mechanical Engineering

The doctoral degree is the highest degree offered and recognizes scholarly contributions and impact of the candidate to their chosen field of study. The degree culminates with the successful defense of a dissertation. A minimum of 72 graduate credits must be earned for the Ph.D. degree with the following requirements.

Learning Outcomes

Graduates with a PhD in Mechanical Engineering will be able to

  1. Demonstrate a broad knowledge in the field of Mechanical Engineering.
  2. Demonstrate a deep understanding and expertise in one or more focus areas of Mechanical Engineering.
  3. Develop and demonstrate a strong theoretical and/or experimental and/or computational background through their research projects.
  4. Discuss and apply an understanding of the current literature in mechanical engineering and related disciplines.
  5. Identify fundamental research problems and propose innovative solutions to these problems.
  6. Plan and execute an original research project, analyze the relevant findings, and organize their results into a coherent argument.
  7. Organize research findings into a coherent thesis and will produce scholarship (articles and/or books and/or conference paper) that appear in peer-reviewed venues.
  8. Present and defend their research findings effectively through oral and written presentations and through the development of supporting materials.
  9. Effectively communicate in written, verbal, and nonverbal methods to a broad range of audiences, including the ability to describe complex and technical materials or concepts.
  10. Demonstrate an understanding of current societal issues, particularly related to the mechanical engineering field.
  11. Demonstrate a commitment to the thoughtful consideration of fundamental principles of ethical professional conduct.
  12. Demonstrate a commitment to the thoughtful consideration of fundamental principles of ethical professional conduct.

Degree Requirements

GR ST 565: Responsible Conduct of Research in Science and Engineering 1
Mechanical Engineering Core
Any 500 or above level ME course as well as specific non-ME courses approved by the graduate committee.
Any 300-level or higher Math or Statistics class (EXCEPT Math 307 and Math 317) will count towards this requirement. Non-Math/Stat courses with strong math or statistics content that are approved by the graduate education committee may also count towards this requirement.
Choose any courses that you feel would round out your education; these can be from Mechanical Engineering or outside the major.
Total 40 credits
Research credits
ME 699
Total 72 credits

See the Mechanical Engineering Graduate Student Handbook for approved courses and additional degree requirement details. To help you decide what courses to take, many courses have been grouped by disciplinary area emphasis.

Course descriptions can be found on the Iowa State Course Catalog. Availability of courses will be on the Schedule of Classes. Students should review the ME Grad Student Handbook and Graduate College Handbook for guidelines on courses, such as independent study, transferring courses and minimum needed at Iowa State, undergraduate courses, and credits earned during non-degree-seeking status.

Grad Admissions Timeline

Submission Deadlines
*free, fast unofficial decision
Spring Admission: August 1
Fall Admission: December 15

Full Official Application
Spring Admissions: September 1
Fall Admissions: January 15

For full consideration, all materials must be submitted and part of your application file by the deadline.

Application Review

We will return a decision about your pre-application within 10 business days of your application submission date. This decision is unofficial and gives you an indication of whether you meet our admission requirements. If you pass the pre-application, you must submit a full application for formal consideration of admission.

Full Official Application
Review of official applications begin after the application deadline. We do not review applications before that date.


Most admission decisions are made before the end of prior semester (December for spring admission and May for fall admission). However, students may still be offered admission later.

Individual faculty cannot comment on an applicant’s chances for admission, so we ask that you do not contact faculty directly regarding your admission status.

If you are not admitted, your completed application may be reconsidered for the following semester after your original application semester (for example, if you applied in fall, you can be reconsidered in spring). Your application is valid only for one year.

Contact Information

Samantha Hirschman
Program Assistant
ME Graduate Program