William B. Burnsed Jr. Department of Mechanical Engineering Graduate Program

Mechanical Engineering students working on planes


Photo of Graduate CoordinatorHave questions about our Department’s graduate program or about applying for admission? E-mail the Department’s Graduate Coordinator, Dr. Kuang-Ting Hsiao, at kthsiao@southalabama.edu or telephone (251) 460-7889.

Accelerated Bachelor’s to Master’s (ABM) program

The ABM program allows full-time undergraduate students in Junior or Senior year at USA, who have both an engineering and institutional GPA of 3.4 or better at USA, to earn their MSME degrees at an accelerated pace. Students registered for the ABM program may use up to six credit hours of graduate course work towards both the BSME and MSME degrees. This means that after earning the BSME degree the course load for the MSME degree is reduced by six credit hours. More information is available here.

Master of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering (MSME)

A Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering is increasingly required for advanced-level employment opportunities with higher-profile national and international employers. Students who want to separate themselves from the pack in the employment race should seriously consider taking a Master’s degree either through the ABM program (see above) or as a stand-alone qualification. The programs of study provide knowledge of modern engineering concepts and practices, and build upon the knowledge and skills expected of a holder of a typical Bachelor’s degree to the point where a Master’s graduate can make high-level contributions to contemporary engineering designs. A Master’s degree is also an ideal preparation for further study towards the doctoral degree if desired.

▼   Additional Information, Master of Science degree (MSME)

Three study plans are available. The thesis option requires a total of 30 credit hours including writing a medium-length technical report. This thesis is generally a contribution to original engineering research on a topic of great relevance to current state-of-art in Mechanical Engineering. The alternative project option requires a total of 33 credit hours including writing a shorter technical project report, usually heavily oriented toward Mechanical Engineering applications. Finally, the Course option includes no project work but requires a total of 33 credit hours of coursework. More information is available here.

▼   Admission Requirements
  • Possession of an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering, or closely related disciplines.
  • A minimum GPA of 3.0, on a 4.0 scale (students with a lower GPA may be considered for provisional admission).
  • Minimum verbal and quantitative GRE scores of 138 and 151, respectively.
  • For international applicants:
  • a minimum TOEFL score of 550 (paper-based) or 213 (computer-based) or 79 (internet-based); or
  • a minimum IELTS band score of 6.5; or
  • a minimum Pearsons (PTE Academic) score of 59.

Provisional Admission

Students under provisional admission can apply for the regular status after having a GPA of 3.0 or better on their first 9 graduate credit hours. Otherwise, they must have a minimum GPA of 3.0 on the first 15 graduate credit hours or will be dismissed from the program.

Course Deficiencies for Non-BSME Applicants

Applicants with a non-BSME undergraduate background may be admitted as a non-degree student and are required to complete all of the following deficiency (or equivalent) courses before being considered for graduate admission**:

  • EG 220: Electrical Circuits
  • EG 283: Statics
  • EG 284: Dynamics
  • EG 315: Mechanics of Materials
  • EG 360: Fluid Mechanics
  • ME 328: ME Analysis
  • ME 317: Heat Transfer
  • ME 312: ME Thermodynamics
  • ME 316: Instrumentation and Experimental Methods
  • ME 319: Instrumentation Lab
  • ME 326: Materials Science
  • ME 336: Materials Science Lab

**Some of the above courses may be waived or additional mathematic and science courses may be required de-pending on individual background.

University Graduate admissions deadlines are given here.

▼   Program Requirements

There are three options for the degree of Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering (MSME):

Thesis Option: 30 credit hours

  • 15 to 18 credit hours of course work in engineering
  • Up to 3 credit hours of course work in supporting areas
  • 6 credit hours of thesis
  • 6 credit hours of MA 507 and MA 508

Project Option: 33 credit hours

  • 18 to 24 credit hours of course work in engineering
  • Up to 6 credit hours of course work in supporting areas
  • 3 credit hours of project
  • 6 credit hours of MA 507 and MA 508

Course Option: 33 credit hours

  • 21 to 27 credit hours of course work in engineering
  • Up to 6 credit hours of course work in supporting areas
  • 6 credit hours of MA 507 and MA 508

Thesis- and Project-Option students are required to receive Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) training from CITI PROGRAM. A RCR certificate issued by this program must be presented at the time the thesis/project prospectus is submitted.

A maximum of six credit hours of directed independent study (ME 592) may be counted toward the degree.

Supporting areas include mathematics, natural sciences, basic medical sciences, computer sciences, statistics, business, as well as engineering. The following graduate courses are pre-approved as courses in supporting areas:

  • CIS 506: Information Systems in Organizations
  • MGT 540: Survey of quantitative Methods
  • ISC 545: Management Information Systems
  • MA 567: Operations Research
  • ST 540: Statistics in Research I

Thesis or Project option candidates must present a satisfactory oral defense of the written report. Should the student present an unsatisfactory defense, a second attempt will be allowed not sooner than 12 weeks after the first attempt. A second unsatisfactory defense will result in dismissal from the program.

Course and Project option candidates must satisfactorily complete a written comprehensive examination. More details of this comprehensive examination are given here. (For Thesis option candidates, a successful defense of a thesis will be deemed to satisfy the comprehensive examination requirement. No written comprehensive examination is required of Thesis option MSME students.)

▼   Core Requirements

MSME students must complete at least one course from each of the three core areas below. ME 575 can count toward the requirements as either a solid-mechanics or a fluid-mechanics course, but not both. A student in the Course Work option or in the Project option must take a fourth core course which may be selected from any of the three core areas.

Solid Mechanics:

  • ME 538: Finite Element Analysis
  • ME 571: Advanced Engineering Dynamics
  • ME 573: Vibrations of Continuous Systems
  • ME 575: Continuum Mechanics
  • ME 583: Applied Elasticity

Fluid Mechanics:

  • ME 520: Advanced Fluid Mechanics
  • ME 560: Compressible Fluid Flow
  • ME 575: Continuum Mechanics

Thermal Sciences:

  • ME 540: Advanced Heat Transfer
  • ME 551: Classical Thermodynamics

Satisfactory Progress Requirement

During the first two semesters (excluding the summer semester) in the MSME program,

  • a full-time student must complete the following courses: MA 507, MA 508 and at least two core courses (see list above);
  • a part-time student must at least complete MA 507 and either MA 508 or a core course.

A maximum of two grades of "C" may be applied to meet this requirement. Students who fail to fulfill the satisfactory progress requirement will not be allowed to continue in the program.

We encourage applications from qualified candidates.  Several graduate assistantships (GAs) are available for highly qualified applicants.  GA application will only be considered for those who have been admitted to our MSME program.


There are no deadlines for graduate study applications in Engineering, but you are recommended to apply in good time to allow evaluation of your application and to make arrangements to relocate here if admitted.

Doctor of Philosophy degree (PhD)

The PhD is the highest degree available in most disciplines. PhD programs are designed to prepare students for leadership positions in applied research, to meet the needs of industry and the engineering community for highly-qualified technical experts, and to capitalize on opportunities for interaction between a research university and industry. Graduate faculty members of the William B. Burnsed Jr. Department of Mechanical Engineering are able to advise and supervise students who wish to earn a Doctoral degree (PhD) in Systems Engineering or in Biomedical Engineering (the latter offered in conjunction with the USA College of Medicine).

▼   Additional Information, Doctor of Philosophy degree (PhD)
Study for the PhD degree centers upon extended interdisciplinary research in engineering of complex systems, requiring at least 67 credit hours after the Bachelor’s degree, including at least 19 credit hours of dissertation research over several years. A typical PhD dissertation might cover improving an engineering process, using systems engineering principles in a new engineering application, designing a new device, improving reliability, or other advanced topics at the cutting-edge of current engineering practice.
▼   Further Information, Systems Engineering PhD

The Ph.D. in systems engineering offers the students a holistic approach to the design and understanding of complex systems. NASA defines systems engineering as “a holistic, integrative discipline, wherein the contributions of structural engineers, electrical engineers, mechanism designers, power engineers, human factors engineers, and many more disciplines are evaluated and balanced, one against another, to produce a coherent whole that is not dominated by the perspective of a single discipline.” The main objectives of the Ph.D. program are to 1) provide our graduates with the ability to approach all systems (engineered, environmental, coastal, etc.) with the ability to understand the entire system lifecycle in a manner that meets the needs of industry, and 2) prepare our graduates for leadership positions requiring applied research and critical thinking.

This program is appropriate for students who want to pursue research-based careers in industry, government, or academia. The program requires a combination of systems engineering coursework along with specific, validated systems research resulting in a publicly defended doctoral dissertation. 

More information about Systems Engineering

Admissions Requirements for the Systems Engineering PhD

Systems Engineering PhD program Curriculum

▼   Further Information, Biomedical Engineering PhD

Students may pursue a doctorate in Biomedical Engineering through the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Basic Medical Sciences. This program is offered under a collaboration between faculty of the USA College of Engineering and faculty of the USA College of Medicine. The program combines an interdisciplinary core curriculum with advanced coursework and research in biomedical engineering. Students must meet requirements established for the Basic Medical Sciences graduate program in the College of Medicine.

Photo of  Director of Biomedical Engineering Graduate ProgramProspective students are encouraged first to contact Dr. Silas Leavesley (leavesley@southalabama.edu), Director, Biomedical Engineering Graduate Program, to discuss the program that best fits their intended career path.

PDF summarizing Biomedical Engineering track of PhD in Basic Medical Sciences

Overview of Biomedical Engineering track of PhD in Basic Medical Sciences

Details of Biomedical Engineering track of PhD in Basic Medical Sciences