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

Click here for information on getting your MS degree in ME & or TAM.*

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.***

Scheduling the TAM PhD Qualifying Examination

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.

PRELIMINARY 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.  Once you have submitted your exam request, a notice is sent to the Graduate Programs Office to approve the request.  Once the request is approved, Grad College will send the student a notice.   Once the exam date and time is set, please complete the “Prelim/Final Exam Schedule Confirmation Form”. Students should submit the exam request to the graduate college at least 3 weeks prior to the approximate exam date.   The Prelim/Final Exam Schedule Confirmation Form, along with an electronic copy of the proposal should be submitted to the MechSE Graduate Office at least one week prior to the exam. Exams may be done online, (Zoom is preferred), or in person. This is decided by committee preference. If the exam will be held on zoom, you will also need to submit the zoom link and password and meeting ID. The process to report Prelim and Final exam results is as follows:

The Committee Chair should email mechse-grad@illinois.edu, cc’d to the committee members.  The e-mail 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 e-mail 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:

  • This committee shall have a minimum of four faculty members from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with at least one member not from the department of the candidate.  Committee members from outside the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are welcome, but would serve in addition to the four University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign committee members.
  • 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 candidates 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.

STAGE 3: THESIS AND FINAL EXAMINATION

THESIS FOCUS

32 hours (minimum) of TAM 599 Thesis Reseach will count toward degree requirements.

DOCTORAL DISSERTATION DEFENSE

Scheduled approximately one year after the preliminary exam.

FINAL EXAMINATION

Schedule within 2-3 semesters of completion of the Preliminary exam.  To schedule your exam,  please go to the Graduate College website: https://grad.illinois.edu/thesis/submitting-doctoral-committee-requests.  Once you have submitted your exam request, a notice is sent to the Graduate Programs Office to approve the request.  Once the request is approved, Grad College will send the student a notice.   Once the exam date and time is set, please complete the “Prelim/Final Exam Schedule Confirmation Form”. Students should submit the exam request to the graduate college at least 3 weeks prior to the approximate exam date.   The Prelim/Final Exam Schedule Confirmation Form, along with an electronic copy of the Abstract (in pdf form) and the 1 paragraph “Research Summary (in word format) should be submitted to the MechSE Graduate Office at least one week prior to the exam. Exams may be done online, (Zoom is preferred) or in person. This is decided by committee preference. If the exam will be held on zoom, you will also need to submit the zoom link and password and meeting ID. The process to report Prelim and Final exam results is as follows:

The Committee Chair should email mechse-grad@illinois.edu, cc’d to the committee members.  The e-mail 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 e-mail 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.

OTHER REQUIREMENTS

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.

SEMINAR REQUIREMENT

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:

  1. Request a registration override by contacting the Undergraduate Programs Office at mechse-ug-advise@illinois.edu. Include your name, UIN, and the course you are enrolled in that is in conflict with the seminar.
  2. You will receive an email when the override is entered.
  3. You must register for TAM 500 after the override is entered.

To receive credit for alternate seminars:

  1. Alternate seminars include ME 591 MIG, ME 591 BIG, TAM 539, and other seminars in Engineering, Math, or Physics.
  2. Download the Attendance Verification Form and have it signed by the seminar host (not the speaker), and return it to GPO no later than 5 business days after the date of the seminar. If an attendance verification form is not received, you will not receive credit for attending.