Engineering Mechanics: PhD Degree

EM prospective students: Master’s | PhD | Prospective Students | FAQs

The department offers areas of study in mechanics of solids, mechanics of fluids, dynamics and vibrations, and applied mathematics. Normally, each graduate student selects a major area of interest and designs a program of study in consultation with a graduate committee. Minors may be taken in other engineering fields, mathematics, physics, and other physical sciences.

Outline of PhD Requirements

Students must earn a minimum of 90 credit hours beyond the bachelor’s degree. A Master’s degree is not required for admission the program.

Core Courses

  • ESM 5014: Intro to Continuum Mechanics (3 credits)
  • ESM 5314: Intermediate Dynamics (3 credits)
  • ESM 5024: Intro to Solid Mechanics (3 credits)
  • ESM 5054: Intro to Fluid Mechanics (3 credits)
  • ESM 5004: Scientific Communication in Engineering Mechanics (2 credits)

Math Courses

  • MATH 5000-6000 level courses (See Graduate Manual for approved courses) (3 credits)

ESM Courses

  • Additional ESM coursework, ESM 5000-6000 level courses (See Graduate Manual for approved courses) (6 credits)

Additional Coursework

  • 5000-6000 level courses Courses supporting area of PhD research (12 hours)


  • ESM 5944 (Minimum of 4, one-credit hour seminars) (4 credits)

Program-specific credits from above: 39 hours

Additional Coursework

  • Agreed upon by student and advisory committee: 21 hours

Dissertation Research

  • ESM 7994 (Research/Thesis) (30 hours)

Minimum Total Credits: 90


  • No more than 3 credits of 4xxx-level coursework can be counted toward the required minimum 34 credits of coursework.
  • No more than 3 credits of Independent Study (5974 or 6974) can be counted toward the required minimum 34 credits of coursework.
  • A maximum of 15 credits of transfer coursework can be counted toward the required minimum 34 credits of coursework.

Additional Requirements

  • Attend orientation in August. Information will be shared upon your admission the program.
  • Satisfy the Scholarly Ethics and Integrity requirement
  • Submit the Plan of Study
  • Pass Qualifying Exam
  • Pass Preliminary Exam
  • Pass Final Defense

Financial support

The department is pleased to offer assistantships to selected PhD graduate students. Fully enrolled graduate students may be appointed to a Graduate Research Assistantship (GRA) or a Graduate Teaching Assistantship (GTA). The responsibilities of an assistantship are to serve the teaching, research, and public service functions of the department and university. All students appointed on an assistantship are provided a monthly stipend, as well as a tuition scholarship.

For information about the funding opportunities available outside the department, check out Graduate School Funding Opportunities.

Applicants and current students are encouraged and expected to apply for all non-Virginia Tech scholarships for which they are eligible, especially those offered by the National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program and National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship (NDSEG).

Graduate Regulations Manual

This document is a guide for students who are planning their graduate studies in Engineering Mechanics. Admission and degree requirements as well as information on required courses, examinations, and grades are included. This guide is intended to supplement, not to replace, the Graduate School Catalog and the Graduate Manual published by the Virginia Tech Graduate School.

Ready to apply?

If you are ready to apply, be sure to:


Jessica Grimes
Graduate Coordinator, Engineering Mechanics