Doing a PhD in Mechanical Engineering

What does a PhD in Mechanical Engineering Involve?

As a Mechanical Engineering PhD student you’re likely to be performing a wide range of activities, be it lab research in fluid mechanics and thermodynamics, collaboration with academic staff and graduate students at another university or learning new techniques at conferences.

How long does it take to get a PhD in Mechanical Engineering?

As a full-time doctoral student in the UK, it should take you 3 years to earn a PhD Mechanical Engineering. If you’re studying for a part-time PhD, expect to need about 6 years to complete your research thesis. As is the norm in postgraduate research, you’re likely to register first as an MPhil student, with an upgrade viva at the half-way point leading you to fully enrolling as a PhD student.

A PhD programme is designed on the basis of independent learning and development. As a doctoral student, it’s ultimately your responsibility to maintain a focus on time management (with the support of your university supervisor) to ensure that you complete your postgraduate research in good time.

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What are the typical entry requirements for a PhD in Mechanical Engineering?

In the UK, you should expect most universities to ask for a minimum of a 2:1 undergraduate degree or the equivalent grade from an institution outside of the UK. The degree will need to have been in a field that’s relevant to Mechanical Engineering.
You may still be eligible to apply if you have a grade lower than a 2:1, if you also hold a Master’s degree.

If English is not your first language, then the University will ask for evidence of your English language proficiency. Usually, this is a minimum IELTS test score of 6.5 for research programmes however this may be higher from one university to another.

How much does a Mechanical Engineering PhD cost?

In a UK university, UK based postgraduate research students should expect to incur annual tuition fees in the region of £4,500/year. With a full-time PhD lasting 3 years, this equates to £13,500 in fees. This is on the basis that you’re studying full time; part-time students should expect to pay lower fees, with some variability between institutions about how this is calculated.

For international students (including now EU students), the annual tuition fee costs around £23,500/year, equating to £70,500 over the span of 3 years.

As with all PhDs, potential students will need to consider living costs and any bench fees that may be expected by their particular project or graduate school.

What can you do with a PhD in Mechanical Engineering?

Having a PhD in Mechanical Engineering can give you many opportunities for career development both within academia and in private companies. Many Mechanical Engineering PhDs choose to stay within the university setting, pursuing postgraduate research that builds on the work of their thesis. The decision as to whether or not to stay within the same school of engineering or to focus their work at another university often is made on the basis of the availability of funding opportunities, facilities and resources.

A PhD programme is designed to develop many transferable skills within a doctoral student which are very attractive to industrial companies and other sectors such as finance and banking. The financial sector has traditionally placed a high value on academics with analysis backgrounds; a Mechanical Engineering PhD thesis provides a good deal of evidence of candidates with a clear understanding of how to develop solutions and findings to complex analytical problems.


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