College of Engineering, University of Arizona  Follow

Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering PhD & MS Degrees, University of Arizona, USA

Publish Date: Apr 26, 2016

Deadline: Jun 01, 2016

AME Grad Program Guidelines

The UA Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering offers MS and PhD degrees in aerospace engineering and in mechanical engineering.

Strong Industry and Defense Ties

Aerospace research and graduate programs focus on breakthroughs in flight technology: active flow control systems for more efficient aircraft, task-specific micro and other unmanned aerial vehicles, computational fluid dynamics to predict aircraft performance at subsonic and supersonic speeds, and composite materials for flight vehicles.

Mechanical engineering centers on advancing technologies in areas ranging from micromechanical systems to biomorphic tissues to renewable energies.

Our graduates pursue careers as engineers, inventors, astronauts, professors and industry leaders working at top universities, NASA, and with companies such as Boeing, Honeywell, Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, GE, Northrop Grumman, B/E Aerospace, and Sargent Aerospace and Defense.


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Research Focus Areas

  • Aerospace Technology
  • Biomechanics
  • Computational Mechanics
  • Fluid Mechanics
  • Micro- and Nano- Technology
  • Renewable Energy
  • Solid Mechanics

See more on UA aerospace & mechanical engineering research >


Please apply to the aerospace and mechanical engineering graduate program online through the UA Graduate College.

A decision cannot be entered until all of the following are submitted with your application:

  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Transcripts from all universities previously attended
    • Electronic or scanned copies may be submitted online. However, the Graduate College requires original transcripts when admission is granted.
    • A Bachelor of Science degree from an aerospace, mechanical or nuclear engineering curriculum of a recognized institution of higher education is required.
    • A grade average of B+ or better is expected, particularly for coursework in advanced mathematics and engineering.
  • GRE general test scores; top 25 percentile expected on the Quantitative and Analytical parts
  • For international applicants, TOEFL or IELTS scores, dated no more than two years prior to the term of application, that meet English proficiency requirements
    • A minimum score of 79 is required for the internet-based TOEFL, or Test of English as a Foreign Language.
    • A minimum composite score of 7, with no subject area score falling below a 6, is required on the IELTS, or International English Language Testing System.

Important Deadlines

  • Domestic students must submit online applications by June 1 for fall admission and October 1 for spring admission.
  • International students must submit online applications for fall by December 1 and for spring by June 1 of the previous year.
  • All students who wish to be considered for departmental funding must submit applications by December 1 for fall admission and June 1 for spring admission.

MS Tracks/Coursework

Compulsory Coursework

  • Total units – 32
  • Advanced Engineering Analysis (AME 500A and 500B) -- six units
  • Graduate seminar (AME 696G) – two units
  • Core area – nine units (three courses)
  • Non-AME courses – six-unit maximum
  • Thesis (AME 910) – three units; or Master’s Report (AME 909) – six units (not required for Non-Thesis/Coursework only track)

Thesis Option

  • 26 units of coursework plus six units of Thesis (AME 910)
  • No independent study units or AME 900 research units

Report Option

  • 29 units of coursework plus thee units of Master’s Report (AME 909)
  • No independent study units

Non-Thesis/Coursework Only Option (Not available to students receiving teaching or research assistantships or fellowships.)

  • 32 units of coursework
  • Three-unit maximum for independent study (AME 599)
  • Three units of research (AME 900) allowed

MS Thesis/Report

  • MS Thesis Option - Students must complete a thesis and pass a final oral examination. The examination lasts from one to two hours and includes a defense of the research results. 
  • Master’s Report Option - Students must complete a report and pass a final oral examination, a 30-minute presentation by the student followed by 15 minutes of questioning. The presentation is open to the public; the question period is closed. The exam should not exceed 1 hour. 

Master's thesis/report committees must consist of three members, of which at least two must be tenure or tenure-track UA faculty members from AME. The thesis/report advisor serves as the chair of the committee.

PhD Coursework

UA AME MS to PhD (MS in AME or closely related discipline)

  • Total units – 57
  • Three units (semesters) of graduate seminar (AME 696G)
  • 12-unit maximum in major
  • Six-unit maximum for individual study (AME 599, 699, 799) or research (AME 900) or case study (AME 908)
  • Nine to 12 units in minor, depending on minor department
  • 24-30 units transferrable from AME MS degree

Non-UA/Not Recent MS to PhD

  • Total units – 57
  • Three units (semesters) of graduate seminar (AME 696G)
  • 36-unit maximum for individual study (AME 599, 699, 799) or research (AME 900) or case study (AME 908)
  • Nine to 12 units in minor, depending on minor department
  • 30 units of transfer coursework, subject to advisor approval

BS to PhD

  • Total units – 59
  • Five units (semesters) of graduate seminar (AME 696G)
  • 36-unit-maximum in major
  • Six-unit maximum for individual study (AME 599, 699, 799) or research (AME 900) or case study (AME 908)
  • Nine to 12 units in minor, depending on minor department

PhD Requirements

Qualifying Exam
All PhD students must pass the Qualifying Examination on the following timeline before registering for dissertation units (AME 920):

  • UA AME MS to PhD: no later than second semester in residence for PhD (second semester of first year)
  • Non-UA/Not Recent MS to PhD: no later than third semester (first semester of second year)
  • BS to PhD: no later than fifth semester (first semester of their third year)

Test material is at the Master’s level, and no more than two attempts to pass are permitted. Each student must choose Engineering Mathematics and one other exam area from among the following subjects:

  • Fluid Mechanics
  • Kinematics and Dynamics
  • Solid Mechanics
  • Thermal Sciences

Qualifying Examinations are given Monday-Friday the second week of classes in the fall and spring semesters.

Seminar Presentation
During the final year of study as early as possible in the semester, each PhD student should schedule a class date for the roughly 45-minute AME 696G seminar presentation.

Written and Oral Comprehensive Exam
Passing the Written and Oral Comprehensive Exam is required for admission to candidacy for a PhD. The exam should be taken approximately one year after the Qualifying Examination, normally during the fifth semester when the student has completed most of the Doctoral Plan of Study coursework and made a substantial start toward dissertation. 

Written Portion
The written portion of the exam for the major consists only of the dissertation proposal, a technical document that describes the proposed PhD research, unless the committee determines a student has not demonstrated sufficient knowledge in all areas of the Doctoral Plan of Study. In this case, the student will also be required to pass a written examination, formulated by the committee, addressing identified deficiencies. Students should check with the appropriate minor department for further requirements.

Students will have two weeks to revise and resubmit proposals deemed unsatisfactory for minor reasons. Students with substandard proposals rejected outright will have six months to reformulate and rewrite their proposals. Only one revision is permitted. When the proposal is deemed satisfactory, and if necessary, the written comprehensive examination passed, a student can schedule the oral portion of the exam.

Oral Portion
The oral examination must be held between two weeks and six months after the written examinations. 

The PhD comprehensive examination committee consists of three faculty members from the major department and one from the minor.  If the minor department waives participation, a fourth member from AME must be approved by the minor department to participate and cover material related to the minor area. The fourth member may be tenured or tenure-track, or a special member. 

The examining committee awards a grade of pass or fail based on the student’s combined performance in the written and oral portions. The Graduate College advances passing students to candidacy. A student who fails must take the entire examination over at a later date, if so recommended by the examining committee. No more than two attempts at this examination are permitted within AME, even if the student transfers between aerospace engineering and mechanical engineering.

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