PhD in Theoretical and Applied Mechanics
The PhD in Theoretical and Applied Mechanics (TAM), in the Department of Mechanical Science and Engineering, is one of the only of its kind in the world, offering a rigorous curriculum with structured core and breadth required courses. These course requirements ensure all TAM graduate students develop a strong and broad foundation in mechanics as well as applied mathematics. The TAM PhD requires a research-based qualifying exam presentation; most students enter the program after completing a BS degree, and then earn a non-thesis MS degree after completing their required graduate courses. An outline of the steps toward completion of the TAM PhD is presented below.
STAGE 1: MS OR ITS EQUIVALENT
A student who has earned a Master of Science degree from another institution may be admitted directly to Stage 2 of the doctoral program. If any coursework is transferred, the transferred coursework cannot be used to reduce the Graduate College residency requirement of 64 hours for the doctorate.
STAGE 2: QUALIFYING EXAM, PHD COURSEWORK, PRELIMINARY EXAMINATION**
COURSEWORK AND QUALIFYING EXAM****
All core and breadth requirements must be satisfied before the Qualifying Examination is scheduled.***Students who have satisfied the prerequisites for the exam and wish to register should submit the PhD TAM Qualifying Exam Form.
The Director of Graduate Programs will send the request to the Associate Head for Theoretical and Applied Mechanics, who will review the request and the scholarly work to be presented for the exam. Once the material has been reviewed, the Graduate Programs Office will contact the student to schedule a meeting with the Associate Head to discuss the exam and the committee. A fourth member will also be appointed to the committee at this time. Once the committee is approved by the Associate Head, the student is allowed to begin contacting the committee to arrange the exam.
Students are responsible for picking a date and time that works for all committee members. Once a date and time are confirmed by all committee members, students must email Kathy Smith (firstname.lastname@example.org) the date and time of their exam with each member of the committee carbon copied (CCed) on the email.
MSE 492 Fundamentals of Laboratory Safety is required and students are expected to complete the course within their first academic year. Students who completed an MS at UIUC and took this course as part of the MS do not need to repeat it.
STAGE 3: THESIS AND FINAL EXAMINATION
Scheduled upon completion of Core and Breadth requirements (all 8 courses must be completed with grades officially entered). To schedule your exam, please go to the Graduate College website: https://grad.illinois.edu/thesis/submitting-doctoral-committee-requests.
You should submit your exam request to the Graduate College at least 3 weeks prior to the approximate exam date. Once you have submitted your Graduate College exam request, a notice is sent to the MechSE Graduate Programs Office to approve the request. Once the request is approved by the MechSE Graduate Programs Office, the Graduate College will send the student and the MechSE Graduate Programs Office notice that the exam has been approved.
After the Graduate College has approved your exam and you have been notified of the approval via email, the MechSE Graduate Programs Office will direct you to complete the Departmental Preliminary Exam Request Form. The form should be submitted online to the MechSE Graduate Programs Office at least one week prior to the exam.
Preliminary Examination proposals should be 20 pages in length including introductory pages, figures, etc. It should include statement of proposed research, its objectives and significance; a brief review of previous work on related research; and a short discussion of tentative methods of analysis and/or experimentation. There are no specific format requirements for the proposal.
Schedule within 2-3 semesters of completion of the Preliminary Exam. To initiate the scheduling of your exam, please go to the Graduate College website: grad.illinois.edu/thesis/submitting-doctoral-committee-requests.
You should submit your exam request to the Graduate College at least 3 weeks prior to the approximate exam date. Once you have submitted your Graduate College exam request, a notice is sent to the Graduate Programs Office to approve the request. Once the request is approved by the MechSE Graduate Programs Office, the Graduate College will send the student and the MechSE Graduate Programs Office notice that the exam has been approved.
After the Graduate College has approved your exam and you have been notified of the approval via email, the MechSE Graduate Programs Office will direct you to complete the Departmental Final Exam Request Form. The form should be submitted to the MechSE Graduate Programs Office at least one week prior to the exam.
Final Examination abstracts should be submitted as a double-spaced Microsoft Word document in Times New Roman, size 12 font. The research summary should be one paragraph long, submitted as a Microsoft word document in size 11, Calibri font.
Process for Reporting Exam Results:
The process for reporting Prelim and Final exam results is as follows:
The Committee Chair should email email@example.com, cc’d to the committee members. The email must include the following information:
- For Preliminary Exams: 1) Date of the exam, 2) Result of the exam, 3) Names of committee members
- For Final Exams: 1) Date of the exam, 2) Result of the exam, 3) Names of committee members, 4) How each committee member voted
- For Thesis/Dissertation Approval Forms: 1) Approval of the document, 2) Names of committee members
The Graduate Programs Office will attach the result confirmation email to the PER/FER form, which should include the signature of the EO or DGS at the bottom. This departmental signature confirms the accuracy of the result, which aligns with our standard practice.
Doctoral Examination Committee Requirements:
- Graduate College policy requires this committee shall have a minimum of 4 voting members, 3 of whom must be University of Illinois Graduate Faculty (i.e. they have an appointment with the Graduate College as teaching faculty who instruct a graduate course or courses. MechSE policy states at least 1 of the 4 voting members must not be from the department of the candidate. Committee members from outside the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign are welcome but would serve in addition to the 3 University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign committee members. If a member of the committee is non-UIUC faculty and will participate as a non-voting member, nothing additional is required. If you desire a non-UIUC faculty member to serve as a voting committee member, a letter/email of justification from the advisor, stating what qualifies the person to be a voting member on the committee along with the person’s CV, must be attached to the exam request at the time of submission.
- Three of the committee members must be listed as Graduate Faculty members and two must be tenured (Associate Professor or Professor). The committee should include faculty members from more than one area of specialization.
- The “Chair” must be a member of the Graduate Faculty from the candidate’s department and may also be the Director of Dissertation Research. The chair is responsible for convening the committee, conducting the examination, and submitting the Certificate of Result to the department in which the student is enrolled.
- A “Contingent Chair,” if designated, must be a member of the Graduate Faculty. The Contingent Chair serves if the original chair is unable to serve for any reason.
- The Director of Dissertation Research is responsible for guiding/advising the student in their thesis research as part of an ongoing research project. He/ she may also discuss a tentative course of study or recommend a sequence of courses the student can take reflecting the interest of the student.
- A Department Affiliate cannot serve as a “Chair” or a “Contingent Chair” of a Preliminary Examination or Final Examination Committee. Only faculty members of the Department of Mechanical Science and Engineering may serve in that capacity.
In addition to the courses, examinations, and other preparation cited above, every doctoral student must:
- Present a seminar
The subject is normally (but not necessarily) related to the doctoral thesis topic
Students may present through the "TAM Fluid Seminar" series. The date should be scheduled with the respective seminar coordinators as early as possible, but no later than 3 months before the semester in which the seminar is to be given. Students should present the completed TAM Seminar Presentation Request Form to the Graduate Programs Office as soon as a presentation has been scheduled.
The date is normally within a month or two of the Preliminary Examination, but can be earlier
- Complete a one-semester teaching appointment.
The appointment must be as a lecturer, discussion group leader, or laboratory assistant—grading assignments are not acceptable
The opportunities should be explored with the Student Affairs Coordinator
Residency requirement: The University of Illinois requires that 64 hours must be from courses meeting on the Urbana-Champaign campus or at other locations approved by the Graduate College for resident credit.
*A student entering with a MS degree is credited with 32 hours of coursework, leaving 64 hours to be completed at Illinois.
**Formal acceptance of a student into the doctoral program in TAM requires stage 2 status and a favorable faculty assessment based in part on the defense of a scholarly work, such as a MS thesis or research paper.
***A maximum of 4 hours of ME 597 Independent study may be applied toward the 500-level coursework requirement.
****Coursework applied toward the degree must be approved by the Associate Head for Graduate Programs.
Continuous registration in TAM 500 is required until completion of the final exam. Seminar credit cannot be counted toward coursework requirements. Students are required to attend a minimum of 4 seminars in the semester. The seminar schedule is e-mailed to students at the beginning of each semester.
Students enrolled in a course that conflicts with ME 590 or TAM 500 still need to register for ME 590/TAM 500 and are required to attend alternate seminars.
To complete seminar registration with a conflict:
- Request a registration override by contacting the Undergraduate Programs Office at firstname.lastname@example.org. Include your name, UIN, and the course you are enrolled in that is in conflict with the seminar.
- You will receive an email when the override is entered.
- You must register for TAM 500 after the override is entered.
To receive credit for alternate seminars:
Alternate seminars include TAM 539 Fluids Seminar Series (for students who are registered in TAM 539), any other MechSE seminars not listed as part of the MechSE Seminar Series, and other seminars in Engineering, Math, or Physics.