Texas A&M University-Kingsville

College of Engineering

Ph.D. in Engineering

Contact Information

Dr. Mahesh Hosur, Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Affairs

Director of PhD Program




The Ph.D. program in Engineering offered by Frank H. Dotterweich College of Engineering is designed to ensure that students have a good understanding of fundamental areas within their chosen specialization, while providing them with in-depth knowledge in at least one area of their chosen specialization, and teaching students the entire research process, such that they are capable of performing independent research. A graduate of the Ph.D. in Engineering program is perfectly poised to pursue a career in academia, a national lab, or industry, working in research and development.

Following specialties are offered in the program: 

  1. Chemical Engineering
  2. Civil Engineering
  3. Electrical Engineering
  4. Mechanical Engineering
  5. Sustainable Energy Engineering

Admission Requirements

Admission is highly competitive and decisions are based on the evaluation of multiple factors, including the need, capacity, and resources of the program. The general admission for the Ph.D. program in Engineering requires that applicants:

  • Must have earned a  master’s or bachelor’s degree in engineering or science
  • Must submit complete curriculum vitae, copies of transcripts from each institution of higher education attended, a statement of purpose describing their research interests, three letters of recommendation from their academic or professional contacts
  • Complete application along with payment of a nonrefundable application fee
  • Submit copies of the GRE scores, and TOEFL score for applicants whose native language is not English.

 Specific requirements for Direct BS to Ph.D. Route (only in exceptional cases)

  • Must have a BS degree in specific discipline; students with BS in related discipline (e.g., physics) should first obtain an MS degree before being admitted into the Ph.D. program
  • Must have faculty willing to advise them; otherwise admit them into MS program
  • No minimum GPA or GRE (GRE is required for non-TAMUK students); if a faculty agrees to supervise and fund a student, that student should be admitted
  • A direct admit Ph.D. student (i.e., has a B.S. but not an M.S. degree) who has received any form of support from TAMUK (e.g., TA, RA, fellowship, etc.) is NOT allowed to switch to an M.S. degree without receiving written approval from his/her major advisor and Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Affairs
  • A direct admit PhD student is required to take 93 total credits, including at least 42 credits of didactic coursework

 Coursework Requirements (for those with MS degree)

  • A total of 63 credits to meet the graduation requirements
  • A total of 6 credits of required didactic courses: 1) Advanced Engineering Math, 2) Seminar and Research Integrity, which are 3 credits each
  • A minimum of 18 credits of didactic 6xxx coursework, which includes the above 6 credits
  • A minimum of 30 credits of dissertation
  • Remaining 15 credits can be a combination of additional coursework, dissertation or summer internships
  • 5xxx courses can be taken for additional coursework
  • Summer internship earned at 1 credit/internship are limited to 3 credits

A full-time status course load is nine-semester credit hour during the fall or spring semesters and three-semester credit hour during each summer session. For students at the dissertation stage, enrollment in Research/Dissertation Writing courses constitutes a full load.

Transfer Credits

The student’s Advisory Committee may recommend the transfer of up to a maximum of 12 credits for graduate courses taken by the student at any other institution. Transfer credits may be recommended under both core and elective categories. These courses must not be a part of the requirements of a prior degree earned and have a grade of B and above.

Initial Degree Plan

The student must file an initial degree plan with the Program Director within one semester of being admitted to the Ph.D. program in Engineering.

Advisory Committee

During the first year of his/her study in the Ph.D. program, the student and his/her Major Professor must recommend to the Director of the program the student’s Advisory Committee consisting of a minimum of five members including the Major Professor. The Advisory Committee shall also serve as the Examination Committee.

Course Longevity

A student must complete all requirements for the doctoral degree, including the dissertation, within ten consecutive years of initial registration. Graduate credits older than ten years are not applicable toward a doctoral degree without the written permission of the Graduate Dean.

All doctoral coursework (including the dissertation) will be satisfactorily completed by the doctoral student in a maximum of 99 semester credit hours. If the Graduate Dean approves in writing that a student may proceed beyond the 99 credit hour limit, the student will be assessed out-of-state tuition.

Qualifying Examination

The purpose of the qualifying exam (QE) is to ensure that the Ph.D. student has sufficient knowledge in 4 fundamental courses in the specific discipline (see the list below). The Ph.D. qualifying exam consists of 2-hour written exams covering fundamental discipline-specific material in 4 courses selected by the student with approval from his/her major advisor. The QE will be coordinated by the Program Director in consultation with the department chair and the student's major advisor.  

The written QE is generally offered once a year in the middle of the Fall semester (normally late September or October) or whenever student passes the core courses. 

To pass, the student must achieve a minimum score of 70% on each of the 4 chosen courses. If a student does not pass one or more exam(s), the student has an option to retake the QE one more time, in which he/she must pass or take the corresponding undergraduate class(es) the next time offered and pass the course(s) with a grade of B or higher. Failure to pass the Ph.D. QE will result in dismissal of the student from the Ph.D. program.

Note that undergraduate courses may not be covered by a student’s tuition waiver; therefore, the student may be required to pay to take an undergraduate course him/herself. 

Chemical Engineering Specialization

  • Biochemical Engineering
  • Chemical Process Design
  • Chemical Reactor Engineering
  • Conservation Principles
  • Fluid Transport Phenomena
  • Heat transport Phenomena
  • Mass Transport Phenomena
  • Natural Gas Process
  • Process Dynamics and Control
  • Process Simulation
  • Statics and Dynamics
  • Thermodynamics
  • Unit Operations

 Civil Engineering Specialization

  • Construction Materials
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Geotechnical Engineering
  • Hydraulics and Fluid Mechanics
  • Hydrology
  • Mechanics of Composites
  • Reinforced Concrete Design
  • Statics and Dynamics
  • Strength of Materials
  • Structural Analysis
  • Structural Steel Design
  • Surveying
  • Transportation Engineering

Electrical Engineering Specialization

  • Applied Electromagnetics
  • Circuits I
  • Computer Networks
  • Data Structures and Algorithms
  • Digital Design
  • Electric Drives
  • Electronics I
  • Embedded Systems: non-processor specific assembly and C language programming
  • Operating Systems
  • Random Signals
  • Signals & Systems
  • Software Engineering I

Mechanical Engineering Specialization

  • Aerodynamics
  • Aerospace Structures
  • Engineering Design and Simulation
  • Engineering Vibrations
  • Fluid Mechanics
  • Heat Transfer
  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • IC engines
  • Machine Design
  • Materials Science
  • Mechanics of Composites
  • Nuclear Engineering
  • Operations Research
  • Polymer Science and Engineering
  • Robotics
  • Statics and Dynamics
  • Strength of Materials
  • Supply Chain Management
  • Thermodynamics

Sustainable Energy Engineering Specialization

Select any combination of 4 of the above specialization areas. 


A student pursuing the Ph.D. in Engineering degree is required to present at least one seminar each year during his/her course of study. The final seminar shall be his/her Final Oral Examination for the degree. The student is required to attend all seminars scheduled by the program.

Admission to Candidacy

The student must apply for candidacy in the Ph.D. in Engineering program within 45 credit hours of completion applicable to the Ph.D. degree as defined in their initial degree plan. Admission to candidacy requires:

  • Selection of a Research Adviser
  • Selection of an Advisory Committee
  • Successful completion of the qualifying exam
  • Submission and successful defense of a dissertation proposal
  • Filing of a final degree plan

Candidacy Examination

The purpose of the candidacy exam is to ensure that the student has a sufficient understanding of the technical literature in his/her field, and has formulated a research topic and plan that is sufficient for earning the Engineering Ph.D. degree. The candidacy exam consists of a written and oral (approximately 45 minutes plus questions) proposal for his/her Ph.D. research, which is evaluated by his/her advisory committee. This research proposal should include:

  • Objective of the student’s work or the hypothesis he/she wishes to investigate
  • Explanation of why this topic is significant
  • Explanation of what others have done in the area
  • Explanation of how the student proposes to attack this problem
  • Preliminary results, and submitted, accepted, and published papers, if any
  • Expected results and implications

The written proposal must be given to the advisory committee at least 7 days before the oral exam. A student must pass the qualifying exam before taking the candidacy exam. The candidacy exam is typically taken after most all courses have been completed. It is strongly suggested that the student take the candidacy examination at least one year prior to the dissertation defense.

Permission to schedule the oral examination must be requested of the Graduate School by the student’s major adviser using the Request to Schedule Examination form. The request to schedule must be received by the Graduate School at least two (2) weeks prior to the examination. Notification by the Graduate School will confirm the scheduled examination. After passing both the qualifying exam and candidacy exam (together referred to as the comprehensive/preliminary exam by the graduate school), the student advances to Ph.D. candidacy.


All candidates will be required to conduct an original scientific or engineering investigation that will become the basis for the Ph.D. dissertation. The student’s graduate committee and the graduate dean must approve the dissertation.

Dissertation Defense

  • The candidate must pass a final oral examination before being awarded the Ph.D. degree. The advisory committee shall serve as the examining committee of which the major adviser serves as chair. Any substitutions must be approved by the Dean of Graduate Studies.
  • The final examination shall cover the dissertation and knowledge fundamental thereto. Permission to schedule the final examination must be requested of the Office of the Graduate Studies by the student’s major adviser using the Request to Schedule Examination form. The Office of the Graduate Studies must receive the request to schedule at least two (2) weeks prior to the examination. Notification by the Office of the Graduate Studies will confirm the scheduled examination.
  • The dissertation in a near final form must be given to the committee members no fewer than seven (7) days prior to the examination. If this seven (7) day stipulation cannot be met, the student must either secure the concurrence of all committee members or reschedule the examination. At the conclusion of the examination, the examining committee shall record, in writing, approval or disapproval. The Report of Final Exam must be filed with the Office of the Graduate Studies within seven (7) days of the exam.
  • Continuous enrollment is required until all degree requirements are completed, including submitting final copies of the dissertation.

Publication Requirement

It is strongly recommended that all doctoral students have at least one paper accepted for publication in a peer reviewed journal prior to receiving their Ph.D. degree. Choice of acceptable journals is up to the student’s major advisor and advisory committee.


The degree “Doctor of Philosophy” will be conferred on those students who:

  • Complete required course work.
  • Are admitted to candidacy.
  • Maintain (for all courses identified on their final degree plan as being applicable and non-foundation or leveling, to the Ph.D. degree) a minimum grade of “C” in each course and a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or better on a scale of 4.0.
  • Successfully defend the dissertation in the presence of the Research Adviser, Advisory Committee and the Graduate College Representative.

Submission Requirements

Student and the major advisors are responsible for getting the necessary signatures and submission of the all the forms and documents needed to the Office of Graduate Studies at all stages of the student’s tenure at TAMUK. These include, but not limited to:

  • Qualifying examination report form
  • Dissertation proposal submission form
  • Signature page
  • Dissertation status report form documenting dissertation defense
  • Copyright form
  • Plagiarism check report (e.g., TurnItIn report)
  • Dissertation submission file upload form

For the latest requirements, refer to the Graduate Studies Home page.