Doctor of Engineering in Aerospace Engineering

The Doctor of Engineering emphasizes systems design and management skills, often in applied rather than theoretical research and requires 66 credit hours beyond the B.S degree. These 66 hours must be distributed as follows:

  • Core courses of at least 9 credit hours of graduate mathematics beyond the B.S. are required. The 9 credit hours must include a minimum of 6 credit hours of graduate-level courses from the Mathematics Department.
    • Graduate mathematics courses are those taken that are 600 level and higher, plus MATH 590, Linear Algebra.
    • Only AE 712, Techniques of Engineering Evaluation, is a mathematics-intensive engineering course and the only non-MATH course that meets the Core requirement.
  • Depth and breadth technical courses comprising at least 21 credit hours of technical courses (beyond 600 level) which must be distributed in the areas of:
    • structures and materials
    • aerodynamics
    • design
    • dynamics and controls
    • propulsion
    • astronautics
  • Depth management courses of at least 12 credit hours (beyond 600 level) must be taken in Engineering Management courses
  • At least 24 credit hours of DE Project

Students must also take at least .5 hours of AE 690, Professional Development for Graduate Students.

No more than two courses below the 700 level may be used to satisfy degree requirements, in addition to the required AE 690 course.  All AE courses other than AE 690 must be 700 level and above.

Credit hours earned by completing a master’s degree can satisfy a portion of these requirements when appropriate. Unique situations can be accommodated with the approval of the graduate advisor and the major professor.

It is required that the doctoral qualifying exam (DQE) be taken within the first year for students with a master's degree, and within the second year for students without a master's degree.  In order to be eligible for the DQE, students must have a minimum KU cumulative GPA of 3.5.  If the student fails to meet the 3.5 GPA requirement, they will work with their major advisor to develop an alternate plan of study. 

The DQE tests the breadth of knowledge and determines the student’s ability to formulate mathematical representations of real physical situations. The examination covers mathematics and 2 of these 5 areas:

  • Aerodynamics
  • Astronautics
  • Dynamics and controls
  • Propulsion
  • Structures and materials

A student is allowed only 2 attempts to pass this examination.  If a student has completed AE 712 with a grade of B or higher, the mathematics section of the qualifying exam is waived.

The aspirant forms a project committee and completes a Plan of Study after the first semester and before the end of the second semester. The project committee must have at least 5 members, including 3 tenured or tenure-track faculty from aerospace engineering and at least 1 member from engineering management. The committee approves the aspirant’s program and administers the comprehensive examination and the formal oral defense and project.

When the aspirant has completed most of the course work and satisfied the research skills, responsible scholarship, and residency requirements, they must take the comprehensive examination.  The comprehensive exam cannot be taken until research skills, responsible scholarship, and residency requirements have been met.

  • The research skill requirement provides the aspirant with a research skill distinct from, but strongly supportive of, the dissertation research. One research skill is required. Possible research skills include computer science, mathematics, statistics, specific laboratory skills, and specific skills in the physical or biological sciences. The selected research skill must be listed on the Plan of Study.
  • The responsible scholarship requirement serves to ensure that students are trained in responsible research practices. Aspirants can satisfy the responsible scholarship requirement by enrolling in 2 semesters of AE 690, Professional Development for Graduate Students. This course covers ethical behavior for graduate students, intellectual property, and technical writing.
  • The residency requirement is met by completing 2 semesters, which may include 1 summer session, in resident study, and enrollment in 6 credit hours or more. During the period of residence, the student must be involved in full time academic pursuits, which may include up to half-time teaching or research.

The comprehensive exam is made up of two parts. The first part must consist of a written project proposal outlining in some detail the work to be done for the project. The second part is an oral examination in which they must defend the project plans and demonstrate competence in their particular and related areas. Upon passing the comprehensive examination, the aspirant becomes a candidate for the D.E. The project committee directs the preparation of the approved project topic. A formal oral and public defense of the project is required before the committee, any other interested members of the graduate faculty, and the general public. Candidates for the D.E. must satisfy the university’s general requirements for the degree.

To be awarded the D.E. degree in Aerospace Engineering all the following requirements must be satisfied:

1. Complete all D.E. course requirements in accordance with an approved plan of study
2. Pass the Doctoral Qualifying Examination (DQE)
3. Complete the Research Skills and Responsible Scholarship requirement
4. Satisfy the residency requirements
5. Pass a comprehensive oral exam
6. Prepare and defend an approved D.E. dissertation which must contain an original contribution to the field by the candidate.

Maximum Tenure

The dissertation must be completed within eight years after being admitted to the D.E. program in AE. In cases that require more than eight years, the dissertation committee may grant an appeal for an extension of this period.


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