Program Overview

The Department's doctoral program is a research-focused degree program with the objective of preparing students for a life of scholarship in their field of interest. Central to the program is original thesis research, which substantially advances the state-of-the-art in the field. Coursework to strengthen the command of the chosen discipline and enhance mathematical skills is also required. Thesis research is directed by the thesis advisor, with input from a small committee of faculty, which is selected for their expertise in the chosen field of study. Students will have the opportunity to work on cutting-edge research and contribute to our effort to advance basic and applied sciences. We welcome students with outstanding records who will also have the motivation and drive to become leaders in their chosen field of study.

Doctor of Philosophy in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (Ph.D.)


  • Credit hours (for those without a master's degree): 36 credit hours of coursework + 18 credit hours of research
  • Credit hours (for those with a master's degree): 12 credit hours of coursework + 18 credit hours of research
  • Duration: 4-6 years
  • Requirements:
    • Qualifying examinations
    • Dissertation


Doctoral Degree Program Requirements

There are three distinct phases in the program of doctoral study in MAE. These are:

  1. the period of preparation for the qualifying examination;
  2. the qualifying examination; and
  3. the period after admission to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree during which the student performs research leading to the doctoral dissertation.

Overall, direct-to-Ph.D. students should complete a minimum of 36 credit hours of coursework and 18 credit hours of research. Students who enter the program with an M.S. degree should complete a minimum of 12 credit hours of coursework and 18 credit hours of research.

Areas of Focus

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Design & Manufacturing of Mechanical and Aerospace Systems
  • Fluid Mechanics, Thermal Sciences, and Energy
  • Solid Mechanics, Materials Science, and Tissue Engineering
  • Robotics, Mechatronics & Controls

Ph.D. Admissions Requirements

Applicants must submit the following materials in order to be considered for admission into a master's program at SEAS. All materials except test scores must be uploaded to the online application form:

Online Application


  • Scanned copies of unofficial transcripts are required from all colleges and universities attended, whether or not credit was earned; the program was not completed, or the credit appears as transfer credit on another transcript.
  • Please ensure that all transcripts are properly scanned and attached to the online application form. Otherwise, applicants will receive notifications requesting legible transcripts, which may delay review of their application.
  • Please do not mail official transcripts unless you are instructed to do so by a SEAS admissions officer. Admissions decisions are based on unofficial transcripts.
  • For international applicants, please see additional requirements for attaching foreign transcripts to the online application.

GRE scores

  • The Graduate Records Examination (GRE) is required of all applicants, except for those applying for a Combined Five-Year Program.
  • GRE scores must be sent to institution code 5246 through the Educational Testing Service (ETS).
  • There is no minimum score required on the GRE for admission. However, applicants are encouraged to score within the 90th percentile of the Quantitative section of the exam in order to be considered competitive. To see average GRE scores from the most recent incoming class, visit the Graduate Student Profile.

English proficiency exam scores (international applicants)

  • International applicants who did not receive a degree from an institution situated in the United States or English-speaking country must also submit scores from the TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE Academic exams.
  • Please view the International Admissions section for information on English language exam score requirements and sending scores to GW.

Letters of Recommendation

  • A minimum of three (3) letters of recommendation is required to be submitted with the online application form.
  • At least one recommendation should be from an advisor and/or faculty member(s) at the institution from which you earned your highest degree.

Statement of Purpose

  • Applicants must include an essay of 400-600 words that clearly states their purpose in undertaking graduate study at the George Washington University; explains their academic objectives, research interests, and career plans; and discusses related qualifications including collegiate, professional, and community activities, as well as any other substantial accomplishments not already mentioned.
  • It is strongly encouraged that essays stay within the 600-word limit. While applicants are not penalized for submitting longer essays, concise essays are more effective in demonstrating an applicant's motivation.
  • The Statement of Purpose must be written by the applicant. Any essay found to have been written by anyone other than the applicant, or plagiarized from other published materials, will be withdrawn from consideration.


  • A current résumé or curriculum vitae (CV) should be uploaded to the online application form.
  • If you have published articles in peer-reviewed publications, please include them as a hyperlink.

Ph.D. applicants must also demonstrate the following requirements in order to be considered for admission:

  • A bachelor’s or master’s degree in an appropriate area from an accredited institution
    • If an applicant has obtained a master’s degree, a minimum grade point average of 3.4 (on a scale of 4.0) is required.
    • If an applicant has only obtained a bachelor’s degree, the minimum grade point average must be a 3.3 (on a scale of 4.0).
  • Demonstrated proficiency in a programming language
Program taught in:
The George Washington University - School of Engineering & Applied Science

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Last updated November 13, 2018
This course is Campus based
Start Date
Sep 2019
Feb 2020
4 - 6 years
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Graduate Student Research: Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at GW