Jun 20, 2024  
Graduate Catalog 
Graduate Catalog

Engineering, Mechanical Engineering Track, Ph.D.

Doctor of Philosophy in Engineering

The Engineering Science and doctoral program leading to the Ph.D. degree is housed in the Donaghey College of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. Faculty, curriculum, and resources for this program are contributed by five departments:  Computer Science, Information Science, Engineering Technology, Earth Science, Construction Management, and Civil and Construction Engineering. The program is designed to provide a collaborative, interdisciplinary framework of graduate studies and research in engineering with exposure to the systems approach that is increasingly the hallmark of current research and development in the global engineering community. Students enrolled Ph.D. program in Engineering can select one of the two tracks:

  • Electrical and Computer Engineering

The Electrical and Computer Engineering track focuses on embedded systems, robotics, measurement techniques, design of analog and digital electronics and circuits, power systems, digital systems, coding, software systems, and operating systems.

  • Mechanical Engineering

The Mechanical and Materials Engineering track focuses on advanced solid and fluid mechanics, MEMS and microsystems, vibration analysis, applied numerical and finite element methods, and smart materials.

Admission Requirements

In addition to the UA Little Rock Graduate School admission requirements, the applicants for the Ph.D. program in Engineering Science and Systems must also meet the following criteria:

  • Education: Applicants must have at least one degree (bachelor’s or master’s) in engineering. Applicants with only a bachelor’s degree must have an overall undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or 3.3 on the last 60 credit hours. Alternatively, applicants with a master’s degree in engineering should have a master’s GPA of 3.3 or better.
  • Standardized test scores: Applicants are required to take the GRE test. Applicants must have the following minimum scores on the following tests:
    • GRE test: The combined score of the verbal and quantitative reasoning sections should be 301 or above (on a 340 scale) with a minimum score of 155 in the quantitative reasoning section. Applicants should also have a score of 3.0 in the analytical writing section. GRE can be waived for applicants who graduate from UA Little Rock with a bachelor’s or master’s degree with a 3.5 GPA or higher. GRE requirements can be waived if it is not offered in the country of the applicant.
    • English language requirement: International students must satisfy the Graduate School TOEFL or IELTS test requirements.
  • Statement of purpose: Applicants are required to submit a personal statement that should include their background and qualifications for doctoral studies, and emphasize the educational and research interests they intend to pursue at UA Little Rock.
  • Letters of recommendation: Applicants should make arrangements to for have three letters of recommendation submitted to UA Little Rock, on their behalf, by individuals familiar with their academic background and educational interests.

The student may choose a track at the time of admission according to the student’s academic background. The availability of advisors will also be evaluated for each application.

The deadline for applications for summer and fall admission is April 15, and for spring admission is November 15.

Conditional Admission

Applicants who do not meet all the admission requirements may be recommended for conditional admission by the Engineering Science and Systems Governance Committee. The conditionally admitted students must fulfill the requirements specified by the UA Little Rock Graduate School and the Engineering Science and Systems Governance Committee. The requirements will be explained in an admission letter.

Graduate Assistantships

A limited number of graduate assistantships that support teaching and research opportunities are available to qualified full-time students with regular admissions. Tuition is paid for nine credits per semester, and a stipend is provided for living expenses. Students must pay registration fees, buy textbooks, and purchase any necessary support materials. For more information about graduate assistantships, the online application process, and other financial assistance opportunities, visit the Engineering Science and Systems doctoral program website. A student supported by a graduate assistantship must be a registered full-time student taking at least nine credit hours during the fall and spring semesters.

Transfer of Credit

The student can request up to 15 credit hours of graduate-level courses to be transferred. Only courses within five years of their completion can be accepted for transfer. Only courses with a grade of B or above are qualified to be transferred. All transferred courses should get the approval of the student’s advisor, the instructors of comparable UA Little Rock courses, and the track coordinator.

Program Requirements

In addition to the Graduate School requirements,

a.  A student entering the Ph.D. program with a Bachelor’s degree will be required to complete a minimum of 30 hours of graded coursework at 5000 level or above, including 18 hours at 7000 level.

b. A student entering the Ph.D. program with a Masters’s degree will be required to complete a minimum of 15 hours of graded coursework at 7000 level

c. All doctorial students will be required to complete at least 32 doctorial research credit hours 

d. In addition, students enrolled in the Ph.D. program must

  • Take courses recommended by the supervisor
  • Maintain acceptable academic performance
  • Pass candidacy examinations;
  • Pass proposal defense;
  • Publish and present at least one paper at a peer-reviewed national/international conference;
  • Have at least one paper accepted for publication in an internationally reputed journal with the student as the first author; and
  • Pass dissertation defense.

Engineering Curriculum

The student’s plan of study must be developed in conjunction with his/her Doctoral Dissertation Committee and filed with the appropriate track coordinator, as well as, the Engineering graduate coordinator.

Program Core

Engineering mathematical foundations component – Six credit hours

As advised by student’s resarch advisor or track coordinator.

Track core courses: 12 credit hours.(required of students entering PhD program with Bachelors degree)

Program Electives: 12 credit hours

A list of the core courses for each of the four program tracks and examples of elective courses are presented below. Students must choose three of the four listed core courses under their chosen track, and four elective courses, usually from the ones listed under their chosen track. Student may, with their advisors’ permission, choose elective courses from other tracks as necessary to further their research.

Dissertation Research:

29 credit hours for students entereing the program with a Bachelor degree, and 41 credits for student’s entering the program with a Masters degree. 

Total hours required for the program:72 hours for students entering the PhD program with a Bachelors degree and 48 hours for student entering the PhD program with a Masters degree

Candidacy Exams

The program is designed so that the student is exposed to a breadth of knowledge through the program core and a depth of knowledge through the track core. Before a student begins formally dissertation research, he/she is required to pass the candidacy exam. The only exception is that the candidacy exams can be waived when the student is awarded a Master’s degree with thesis option in Engineering at UA Little Rock with a GPA of 3.5 or above and continues the Ph.D. program in Engineering Science and Systems with the same advisor. The candidacy exam will have a written and an oral component. The written component will test the student on the fundamental knowledge at the advanced undergraduate level, whereas the oral component will test the student’s ability to conduct research in his/her area of interest. A candidacy exam committee will be formed including three faculty members preparing the problems for the written exam. The candidacy exam structure is followed:

  1. The student can take the candidacy exam as soon as possible. The student can take the exam no later than the 3rd semester he/she is in the program. The students who do not take the exams by the 3rd semester will be treated as having failed in their first attempt.
  2. The student will have to officially declare his/her intention to take the candidacy exam at the begining of the semester in which he/she will take the exams for the first time.
  3. The student will have to attempt both components in the same semester, and will need to pass each of the components separately. If the student fails to pass one or more components in the first attempt, he/she will have to retake those components in the next  semester. Failure to pass the exam in two attempts will result in dismissal from the program, pending review of the Engineering Science and Systems Governance Committee. This review will be completed and a decision conveyed to the student by the end of the academic year when he/she has taken the exam.
  4. The students may contact the faculty members who prepare the problems for the written exam for necessary information such as syllabi and problem styles.
  5. Decisions of the Track Candidacy Exam Committee will be supported by all the committee members present and will be any one of the following:
    1. Pass
    2. Pass with remedial course work
    3. Fail; in this case, the student will retake the oral component in the next semester on the same research topic; a new report will have to be submitted by the student prior to retaking the oral exam.

Written Component:

The written exam for each track will be one three hour exam. Each written exam should include three different subject areas. The problems should be prepared by three different faculty members including the advisor. The subject areas should be proposed by the advisor and approved by the track coordinator. The instructors may provide the syllabi and examples of problems for the selected topics.

Passed the exam requires an overall grade of 70% or above with at least 60% in each subject area.

Oral Component:

The student will be given a research topic on which to submit a written report. The student should submit a report within one month after the written exam.


Based on the report, the student will be orally tested by the Track Candidacy Exam Committee. The oral exam will be scheduled no sooner than two weeks after the student has submitted the report.  The advisor in coordination with track coordinator will organize the oral exam.


The oral exam will be of one-hour duration.

Proposal Defense

A candidate must present his/her research proposal to their Doctoral Dissertation Committee within two semesters after passing the candidacy exam or the first 9 hours taken for Doctoral Research Dissertation, whichever comes first.  At the completion of the proposal defense, the Doctoral Dissertation Committee will vote to either pass or fail the student. A students who fails the proposal defense will have to repeat the defense within a semester of their first attempt. If the student fails the proposal defense for a second time, s/he will be dismissed from the program, pending review of the Engineering Science and Systems Governance Committee.

Dissertation Defense

In order to complete the requirements for the doctoral degree, students will prepare and successfully defend a written dissertation in accordance with the format and procedures dictated by the Graduate School. Students must orally defend their completed doctoral research to their Doctoral Dissertation Committee. At the completion of the dissertation defense, the Doctoral Dissertation Committee will vote to either pass or fail the student. A majority vote is required to pass. If a student fails the exam, s/he may be dismissed from the program, pending review by the Engineering Science and Systems Governance Committee.

Students must submit the written dissertation and published papers to the Doctoral Dissertation Committee before the dissertation defense.

Doctoral Dissertation Advisor

A student admitted to the doctoral program must declare an advisor, with advisor’s approval, no later than the second semester that he/she is in the program. The advisor must be Engineering Science and Systems program faculty.

Doctoral Dissertation Committee

The Doctoral Dissertation Committee can be constituted once the student has declared his/her doctoral dissertation advisor, and no later than the second semester that the student has been in the program. The committee will include a minimum of five members and a maximum of seven members. At least four members have to be Engineering Science and Systems program faculty. The committee can have one or more external members who are not Engineering Science and Systems program faculty. The dissertation committee will primarily consist of faculty in the track specialty and include one member outside the track.  Any exceptions(s) will be subject to the approval of track coordinator and graduate coordinator.  If the dissertation advisor and the doctoral student are affiliated with different tracks, it is required that at least one Engineering Science and Systems program faculty in the committee belong to the student’s track.

Residency Requirement

After entering the ENSS program, a candidate must complete 18 hours on campus within four consecutive semesters, with optional summer semesters. Of these 18 hours, at least six are to be research credits.

Courses in the Engineering Science and Systems Doctoral Program

The catalog description of the program core, track core and elective courses, and the dissertation research courses that are part of the Engineering Science and Systems Doctoral Program, is provided in the “Systems Engineering,” “Computer Science,” “Information Science,” and “Information Quality” sections of this catalog. Other courses may be approved in consultation between the student and his/her Doctoral Dissertation Committee.

Up to fifteen credit hours may be granted to the student for completing equivalent graduate coursework at other institutions. Such credit must be exclusive of thesis or other exit project credits, be no more than 5 years old at the time of transfer, and must have a letter grade of B or better. In some cases students may be required to balance their transfer credit with a corresponding increase in research hours. Students interested in requesting a credit transfer should discuss the request with their doctoral dissertation advisor and appropriate track coordinator. The request must also be approved by the Engineering Science and Systems graduate coordinator and the dean of the Graduate School before the transfer of credit can be granted.

For a student with a M.S. Programs from UA Little Rock, all lecture credit hours earned in the M.S. program with a grade of B or above count towards the ENSS Ph.D.’s program.



Mechanical and Materials Engineering Track

Dissertation Research Courses:

Students are required to complete at least 38 credit hours of doctoral dissertation research courses during their doctoral studies, using one of the below designations:

CPSC/IFSC/SYEN 9100 - 9900 Doctoral Research Dissertation