PhD Degree

PhD Degree Requirements

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:

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. These courses are grouped according to disciplinary area emphasis to help student decide which courses to take based on interest.
Mathematics/Statisticssuperscript a
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. See approved courses.
Electivessuperscript a
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
  • superscript aAs per the graduate council guidelines, the POS may include up to 9 credits at the undergraduate level (300 and 400 level only), with a limit of 3 credits at the 300 level. If a 300-level class is used, it must be from outside of ME.
  • Up to 12 credits of Independent Study (M E 590/690) may be included in the Program of Study. These 12 credits will by default count towards the elective requirements.
  • As part of meeting their electives, students are encouraged to take at least one course that addresses skill sets aimed at professional development (e.g. teaching/research program building, project management, globalization, engineering law, communication etc.) for academia and/or industrial positions.
  • Students must also meet ME 600 (Seminar) requirements in addition to the above
  • As per the Graduate Council guidelines, for all Ph.D. programs at Iowa State, at least 36 graduate credits must be earned at Iowa State.


There are five major milestones for your Ph.D. degree completion. Click the links below for information and resources for these milestones.

Program of Study and Committee (POSC)

Qualifying Exam

Preliminary Exam

Final Oral Exam