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Department of Mechanical Engineering

M.S. in Mechanical Engineering - Thesis Guidelines

Students may choose to pursue a thesis as part of their M.S. degree program, but only with the consent of a faculty advisor willing to supervise the thesis work. 

Preparation of a thesis representing an independent research work is a pivotal phase of this M.S. degree program. It provides the student with an opportunity to work on an open-ended problem, developing a particular solution that is not pre-determined and involving synthesis of knowledge and intellectual creativity. The thesis may involve an investigation that is fundamental in nature, or may be applied, incorporating theory, experimental testing and/or analytical modeling, and/or creative design. Through the thesis, candidates are expected to give evidence of competence in research and a sound understanding of the area of specialization involved. Students are also strongly encouraged to present their research at scientific conferences and publish the results of their thesis research in a peer-reviewed journal.

Students receive a grade of Y (incomplete) in these courses as long as the thesis in progress. Eventual thesis grades replace the incomplete grades upon formal completion of the thesis. In order to receive a grade of Y for ME 296, students must submit a thesis prospectus that outlines the area of work, thesis goals, proposed approach and a review of relevant past work in the literature before the end of the first semester in which the student enrolls in ME 296, typically the third semester of full-time study. An example of a recent M.S. thesis prospectus can be found in the Mechanical Engineering office.

The examining committee for M.S. candidates completing theses should be composed of three (3) members.

  • Thesis advisor (committee chair)
  • One technical expert outside of the ME department
  • A third member of the committee, often another faculty member in the ME department

The committee chair is normally a full-time, tenure-track faculty member. One committee member must be from outside the ME department. Thesis normally counts as 9 SHUs towards the M.S. degree requirements. However, a student, with the approval of his/her thesis advisor, has the option to complete a 6-SHU thesis by submitting a petition form to the Department. This petition must be signed by the student and the thesis advisor and will become part of the student's academic record. With a 6-SHU thesis, a student must complete an extra graduate-level course (for a total of 8 courses) to fulfill the 30-SHU requirement for graduation. This option is not typically available to those intending to pursue a Ph.D. degree. 

Thesis Completion

The M.S. thesis is completed upon:

  • A successful oral defense (open to the community)
  • Submittal of an approved thesis to the Office of Graduate Studies

The student should consult the Graduate Student Handbook for specific dates and deadlines for this process in the graduation semester.