Earn a PhD in Aerospace Engineering

The aerospace engineering graduate program at Missouri S&T offers multiple opportunities for collaboration on research and study.  

You will get the benefit of working with the brightest minds in academia and industry. Doctoral students conduct groundbreaking research in our laboratories and research centers while being mentored by world-class faculty.

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Degree Information

It is important to secure your tentative graduate advisor, even before you formally apply. Check the department's faculty directory to review each faculty member's research areas and identify your potential Ph.D. advisor. Contact the faculty member by email with your portfolio (CV, transcript, publication, etc.) to request if he or she is willing to serve as your Ph.D. advisor.

You can specify your potential advisor in your statement of purpose to be part of your application package. The confirmation from the faculty member to serve as your advisor does not mean you will be automatically offered a financial assistantship. You will need to ask the potential advisor about the availability of any assistantship and fellowship.

You may apply formally for Ph.D. admission without this procedure of securing the advisor. The department will circulate your application materials to our faculty members to see if someone is interested in serving as your advisor.

Students with a qualifying master’s degree coming into the program: In order to obtain a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering, a student must complete the following at a minimum:

  • 42 total credit hours
  • 18 credit hours of lecture courses
  • 24 credit hours of AE 6099
  • 12 credit hours of coursework in the MAE department
  • 3 credit hours of mathematics, statistics, or computer science; AE/ME: 5830 Applied Computational Methods may be used to satisfy this requirement
  • 9 credit hours of 6xxx courses
  • Pass qualifying examination
  • Pass comprehensive examination
  • Meet residency requirements
  • Publish at least 3 journal articles
  • Complete dissertation
  • Pass final examination
  • Meet seminar requirements

In order to obtain a direct Ph.D. in aerospace engineering, a student must complete the following at a minimum:

  • 72 total credit hours
  • 36 credit hours of lecture courses
  • 36 credit hours of AE 6099
  • 21 credit hours of coursework in the MAE department, at least 3 credit hours of which is at the 6xxx level
  • 6 credit hours of mathematics, statistics, or computer science; AE/ME: 5830 Applied
  • Computational Methods may be used to satisfy 3 credit hours of this requirement
  • complete at least 15 credit hours of 6xxx courses
  • Pass qualifying examination
  • Pass comprehensive examination
  • Meet residency requirements
  • Publish at least 3 journal articles
  • Complete dissertation
  • Pass final examination
  • Meet seminar requirements

† No course below the 5xxx level may be applied to the degree requirements. A graduate student accumulating 10 or more credit hours of C and F grades shall no longer be a candidate for an advanced degree from Missouri S&T. In order to earn a graduate degree, all students must achieve a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher in all graduate work taken at Missouri S&T, as well as for all graduate courses listed on the program of study (Form 1 for master’s students and Form 5 for doctoral students).

Qualifying examination

The student is considered to have passed the qualifying examination if he/she has taken at least four courses and has a GPA ≥ 3.5 at the end of his/her fourth semester. At least two courses must be in the MAE department, one of which must be at the 6xxx level.

Comprehensive examination

The comprehensive examination is taken after the student has completed the required coursework for his/her doctoral program and at least six months before his/her dissertation defense. Before taking the comprehensive exam, the graduate advisor must submit the Request for Authorization of Comprehensive Exam to the associate chair for graduate affairs. The examination will be both written and oral, the specific content of which will be determined by the student’s graduate advisor in consultation with the student’s advisory committee. The student’s advisory committee will consist of at least five faculty members, including the graduate advisor. At least four of the members must belong to the graduate faculty and at least one of the members must be from outside of the MAE Department. The chair of the advisory committee is the student’s graduate advisor. If the student fails his/her comprehensive examination, a second comprehensive examination may be scheduled no sooner than twelve weeks after the student’s first comprehensive examination. If the student fails the comprehensive examination a second time, he/she will no longer be eligible to receive a degree from the graduate program. Further information regarding the comprehensive examination is available in the Graduate Catalog.

Dissertation requirements

The dissertation is a document embodying the results of the student’s original investigation under the guidance of his/her advisory committee. It is expected that this document will yield scholarly products, typically one or more articles worthy of publication in high-quality archival journals. The student’s advisory committee will examine the student’s dissertation closely for both scientific content and format and deem it worthy of acceptance by the Graduate Faculty as meeting the requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy degree. The dissertation must be formatted appropriately. Formatting specifications and further information regarding dissertations are available at http://grad.mst.edu/currentstudents/thesisdissertationinformation/formatting/.

Final examination requirements

The final examination is an oral defense of the student’s dissertation and may be attended by any interested person. It may not be scheduled sooner than six months after the completion of the comprehensive examination. Notice of the final examination shall be publicly announced by the Office of Graduate Education at least one week prior to the examination. A candidate will be considered to have passed the final examination if all, or all but one, of the advisory committee vote positively. If the candidate fails the final examination, the advisory committee will recommend suggested work to be completed or other remedial measures to be taken before another examination can be scheduled. Further information regarding the final examination is available in the Graduate Catalog.

The Ph.D. student will normally complete three years of residency, which is the equivalent of six semesters and a minimum of 72 credit hours of full–time academic work beyond the bachelor’s degree. At least half of those credit hours must be taken at Missouri S&T. For Ph.D. students holding a master’s degree, this three–year residency requirement can be met by completing the equivalent of two years (four semesters) of full–time academic work beyond the master’s degree, including at least two consecutive semesters in residence at Missouri S&T while enrolled in at least nine graduate credit hours per semester. At least fifteen hours of graduate coursework, exclusive of research (ME 6099), special problems, special investigations, and seminars, must be taken on the Missouri S&T campus. The Graduate Catalog contains further information regarding residency requirements and how to calculate residency. The Ph.D. student’s residency requirements are to be included on their Graduate Form 5. For distance Ph.D. students, residency requirements are calculated differently. The associate chair for graduate affairs should be consulted for further details.

A Ph.D. student in the MAE department is required to have at least three peer-reviewed journal articles from the Ph.D. work published or accepted as the first author at the time of the dissertation defense. Exceptions require approval from the advisory committee and the notification of the associate chair for graduate affairs.

GAANN Fellowship

Doctoral Research in Advanced Manufacturing

Mechanical and aerospace engineering is recruiting highly-motivated doctoral students in mechanical engineering! Students will join a research team focused on the latest science and technology in advanced manufacturing. Areas include additive manufacturing, battery fabrication, metrology for manufacturing, process-control, and composite manufacturing, to name a few.

University Fellowship

Kummer Innovation and Entrepreneurship Doctoral Fellows Program

This program is available for highly qualified domestic and international students pursuing doctoral degrees to strengthen applied research, technical innovation, and economic development in the region, state and nation. For more information, and to submit your application: https://kummerinstitute.mst.edu/fellowsprogram/

External Fellowships

There are several external graduate engineering fellowships available. Below is a list of some of the most popular.

Research in Aerospace Engineering

In our doctoral and master’s thesis programs, you will do research with our distinguished faculty in one of many areas, including advanced manufacturing, aerospace, energy, materials and structures, micro/nano systems, and robotics and vehicle systems. Almost all of our students conducting research receive financial support for their graduate education.

Explore Research Fields

Students construct a rocket at the Student Design Center

Your Career in Aerospace Engineering

As an aerospace engineer, you can choose from a wide variety of careers, including research, design and development, field service, marketing, software development and teaching. 

Most aerospace engineers work directly within the aerospace industry designing and developing flight-worthy aircraft.

Career Paths

  • Commercial aerospace engineers
  • Spacecraft designers
  • Inspectors and compliance officers
  • Mechanical engineers and drafters

Aerospace Engineers Work With:

  • Aircraft manufacturers
  • NASA centers and other federally-funded research and development centers
  • Engine manufacturers
  • Commercial space companies
  • Helicopter manufacturers
  • Government agencies and labs
  • Electricity generation in power plants
  • Airlines

Rocket launching with a plume of vapor beneath it

Information for Future Students