Graduate students in mechanical engineering should have a strong background in math and science and expect to perform technical calculations as part of their coursework and research. During the program, students will have the opportunity to specialize in a number of fields, such as controls and dynamics, thermal fluids, product development, and microtechnology. Undergraduate education in a relevant field is required for admission.
A Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering program typically includes both a coursework and research component. Students will typically become familiar with scientific computing software, such as MATLAB, for performing complicated calculations, and simulations. Many mechanical engineering students also use design programs such as AutoCAD to draw models of mechanical devices they design. Students must complete a doctoral thesis prior to graduation.
Doctor of Philosophy in Mechanical Engineering
Ph.D. programs in mechanical engineering cover topics in math and science that give students a background knowledge of mechanics, thermodynamics, and scientific computing. Additional coursework varies depending on the student's field of specialization. Doctoral programs in mechanical engineering typically offer courses in the following:
- Continuum and fluid mechanics
- Material science
- Micro-electromechanical systems design and design optimization
- Heat and mass transfer
- Manufacturing processes
- Computational modeling and robotics
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects employment of mechanical engineers to increase 5% between 2014 and 2024 (www.bls.gov). Mechanical engineering students who focus on current software, such as Advanced Visualization Process, may have better career outlooks. According to data published by the BLS in 2015, the annual median salary of mechanical engineers was $83,590.
Mechanical engineers who hold doctoral degrees can also teach at colleges and universities. The BLS projected employment of all postsecondary teachers to increase 13% during the 2014-2024 decade. According to 2015 BLS data, the median yearly salary of engineering postsecondary teachers was $95,060.
Licensure requirements for engineers include completion of an engineering program with accreditation from the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), a minimum of four years of employment experience and completion of a number of state licensure exams. In general, mechanical engineers must pass two exams in order to become certified, the Fundamentals of Engineering and Principles and Practice of Engineering exams. Continuing education is a prerequisite for re-licensure in some states.
Mechanical engineering doctorate degrees teach students advanced engineering principles and techniques to apply to a number of careers. In order to earn licensure after graduation, students will need to pass exams, have four years of work experience, and earn state licensure, as well as enroll in continuing education courses in order to re-license as needed.