There are few schools that offer doctoral programs in general engineering; rather, most schools require students to focus on a particular subfield of engineering, such as electrical or civil engineering. In some cases, students may be permitted to focus their studies on multiple subfields. These programs usually take four years to complete, and students can expect to spend most of their time conducting independent research under a supervising professor. Students must submit a dissertation prior to graduation, and the majority of the final year of study is usually dedicated to preparing for the defense of this dissertation in front of a review committee.
Before applying, students must show the admissions committee that they have a professor willing to supervise their research, and they may be required to pass an entrance exam. They must also submit a preliminary research plan, GRE scores, and two to three letters of reference.
Doctorate Degree in Engineering
Although these programs are primarily research-focused, students must still complete breadth courses in the field of engineering. Core engineering classes include:
- Engineering systems and analysis
- Statistical analysis
- Computational types and designs
- Writing for engineers
- Experimental design and analysis
Popular Career Options
Most doctoral graduates pursue careers at universities and research institutions, though other opportunities exist at government agencies and private companies. Job opportunities generally depend on the student's research focus. Most available jobs involve either academic research or product development. Some common occupations include:
- Research associate
- Post-doctoral fellow
- Academic director
- Engineering professor
- Project director
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), engineering teachers at the college level earned an average of $95,060 per year as of May 2015. Employment openings for all postsecondary teachers in general were expected to increase 13% from 2014-2024, which is faster than the average for all occupations.
No matter your particular subfield of interest, a Ph.D. in engineering provides the advanced training you need for a research career in academia or industry.