Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Engineering

The University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Engineering

Program Objectives

For more than a decade, research-focused centers at UAB and elsewhere have brought together expertise from many disciplines to solve problems. This same problem-solving approach is now finding its way into academic programs through the implementation of interdisciplinary graduate education. It is the premise of these interdisciplinary programs that students must be educated in more than one area to remain competitive and have successful careers whether they choose to stay in academia or work in industry. Industries are particularly interested in graduate education that emphasizes breadth of knowledge as well as depth in a particular field. Today’s professional must be able to change, focus, and move between disciplines in order to keep up with rapid market shifts and technological advances.

The Ph.D. program in Interdisciplinary Engineering takes advantage of unique resources and strengths at UAB. This program fosters interdisciplinary interactions between the School of Engineering and medical and biomedical units and the Schools of Business and Public Health and the College of Arts and Sciences. Students in Interdisciplinary Engineering will have the opportunity to develop a plan of study and research topic which incorporates course work and faculty expertise from two or more of these disciplines.

The students enrolled in the Interdisciplinary Engineering Ph.D. program will gain the skills needed to succeed as independent and productive investigators in multidisciplinary analysis and design, with applications over a wide spectrum of science, engineering, health, and medical fields. The interdisciplinary program will:

  • provide a rigorous academic curriculum including course work in two or more disciplines,
  • provide collaborative interactions with students and faculty from a variety of disciplines,
  • provide unique opportunities for interdisciplinary research, and
  • facilitate continued development of high quality research programs supported by external funding.

Two tracks are available in the Interdisciplinary Engineering Ph.D. program – Computational Engineering and Environmental Health and Safety Engineering.

Degree Requirements

The Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Engineering promotes a research-based curriculum. A minimum number of core courses will be required of all students in the program, with additional course work directed by the student’s graduate research committee based on the student’s area of interest. Committee members must be selected from at least two different disciplines, and the planned curriculum must result in cross-training in two or more disciplines. A list of graduate faculty participating in this program is found here.

Students entering the Ph.D. program with a baccalaureate degree must, in keeping with UAB Graduate School Policies, complete at least 48 hours of course work prior to admission to candidacy. Up to 16 credits of the 48 can be as non-dissertation research credits, and up to 10 credits can be as lab rotations, seminars or directed study credits. Students entering the Ph.D. program with a Master’s degree in a related field, M.D., DMD, etc., must complete at least 27 credit hours of course work prior to candidacy. Up to 6 credits of the 27 can be non-dissertation research credits, and up to 6 credits can be as lab rotations, seminars, or directed study credits.

The UAB Graduate School also requires that students complete at least two semesters as a full time student in candidacy, or accumulate at least 24 credits in research hours or course work in candidacy prior to granting of degree. At least 24 hours of dissertation research will be required for Ph.D. program graduates in Interdisciplinary Engineering.

All students in the IE program must complete the following core courses:

  • EGR 710 Introduction to Interdisciplinary Engineering (3 credit hours)
  • EGR 711 Methodology for Interdisciplinary Research (3 credit hours)
  • EGR 796 Interdisciplinary Engineering Journal Club (1 credit hour; 4 enrollments)

A Comprehensive Exam is required of all doctoral candidates. The exam may include both written and oral components and will include presentation of the student’s dissertation proposal. The exam will be administered by the student’s graduate research committee. Upon successful completion of the Qualifying Exam and completion of at least 48 hours of course work (in keeping with Graduate School requirements), a student is admitted into doctoral candidacy.

A dissertation showing ability to conduct independent research, organizational, and presentation skills must be prepared on a topic in the research field of interest. Dissertation results are expected to be submitted for refereed scholarly publication. The dissertation must comply with UAB dissertation preparation guidelines. When the dissertation has been completed, doctoral candidates will present and defend their work before their graduate research committee and the public. This defense will constitute the candidate’s final exam. The results of the examination must be reported to the Graduate School at least six weeks before the commencement at which the degree is to be conferred.


Admission Requirements

Students applying to the Interdisciplinary Engineering Ph.D. program must have completed an undergraduate degree in a supporting field and must submit official transcripts and Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores with their application. In general, a minimum undergraduate grade point average of 3 on a 4 point scale is required for admission. Applicants should present with a minimum GRE percentile rank of 50% in both Quantitative Reasoning and Verbal Reasoning sections.  Students for whom English is a second language should have a TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) score no less than 100 (IBT). The Interdisciplinary Engineering Admissions Committee reviews all applications completed and submitted and will make all admission decisions.

Additional Information 

Deadline for Entry Term(s):

Fall: July 1
Spring: November 1
Summer: April 1

Deadline for All Application Materials to be in the Graduate School Office:

Six weeks before term begins

Number of Evaluation Forms Required:

Three

Entrance Tests:

GRE General Test (TOEFL is also required for international applicants whose native language is not English.)


Contact

Dr. David Littlefield
Graduate Program Director
Chairman and Professor of Mechanical Engineering
littlefield@uab.edu
(205) 934-8460