Degree Requirements

MS Program

When applying to the MS program, students must specify their intention to pursue either the thesis or non-thesis MS option. Both the thesis and non-thesis options require the completion of 30 graduate credit hours. Students in the thesis option must complete 12 credits of thesis research (ME 599), whereas students in the non-thesis option may complete up to 9 credits of directed research (ME 598). The result of the research credits (ME 599) in the thesis option must be a completed master’s thesis. The number of directed research credits (ME 598) completed in the non-thesis option can range from 0 to 9.

In the thesis option, the distribution of credits is as follows:

  • 9 graduate credits in mechanical engineering
  • 12 credits of thesis research (ME 599)
  • 3 graduate credits in mathematics
  • 6 graduate credits of electives within or outside of mechanical engineering

In the non-thesis option, the distribution of credits is as follows:

  • 18 graduate credits in mechanical engineering (includes a maximum of 9 credits of directed research—ME 598)
  • 3 graduate credits in mathematics
  • 9 graduate credits of electives within or outside of mechanical engineering

In either option, all full-time students are required to register for the graduate seminar (ME591) every semester.

PhD Program

The course of study leading to the PhD degree in mechanical engineering requires the completion of 90 credits beyond the bachelor’s degree, or 60 credits beyond the master’s degree. For students proceeding directly from BS degree to PhD degree, the 90 credits should be distributed as follows:

Coursework:
Courses in ME (incl. Special Topics and ISP) 15 credits
Courses in or outside of ME 15 credits
Dissertation Research (ME 699) 30 credits
Other:
 Additional coursework
 Additional Dissertation Research (ME 699)
 Supplemental Research (ME 598, ME 698)
 30 credits
TOTAL  90 credits

For students proceeding from MS to PhD, the 60 credits should be distributed as follows: 

Coursework:
(incl. Special Topics and ISP)  12 credits
Dissertation Research (ME 699) 30 credits
Other:
additional coursework
Additional Dissertation Research (ME 699)
Supplemental Research (ME 598, ME 698)
 18 credits
TOTAL 60 credits

In either case, the result of the dissertation research must be a completed doctoral dissertation. Only after admission to candidacy may a student receive credit toward dissertation research under ME 699. Prior to admission to candidacy, a student may receive up to 18 credits of pre-dissertation research under ME 698. All full-time students are required to register for the graduate seminar (ME 591) every semester.

Admission to Candidacy

This will be granted when the student has satisfactorily passed a written exam intended to measure fundamental ability in three of the following five curriculum areas: fluids engineering, dynamics and controls, structures and materials, design and manufacturing, and biomechanical engineering. The three areas are selected by the student. The exam is given in January. For students who enter the program with a bachelor’s degree, the exam must be taken after three semesters if they began their studies in the fall, and after two semesters if they began in the spring. For students who enter the program with a master’s degree, the exam must be taken after one semester if they began in the fall, and after two semesters if they began in the spring. Students in the MS program who plan to apply for fall admission to the PhD program are strongly advised to take the candidacy exam in January before that fall. The details of the examination procedure can be obtained from the mechanical engineering graduate committee.

Combined BS/MS Program

The Mechanical Engineering Department offers a BS/MS program for currently enrolled WPI undergraduates. Students in the BS/MS program may choose either the thesis or non-thesis MS option. The department’s rules for these programs vary somewhat from the Institute’s rules.

For students in the BS/MS program, a minimum of six credits and a maximum of twelve credits may be counted toward both the undergraduate and graduate degrees. At least six must be from graduate course credits (including graduate-level independent study and special topics courses), and none may be from courses lower than the 4000-level. No extra work is required in the 4000-level courses. A grade of B or better is required for any course to be counted toward both degrees.

Students in the BS/MS program who choose the thesis MS option are encouraged to pick a thesis area of research that is closely related to the subject of their major qualifying project. Those students in the BS/MS program who complete their BS degrees in May and choose the thesis option are encouraged to begin their thesis research during the summer immediately following graduation.

 
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