The Mechanical Engineering Program course curriculum is modern and rigorous. The courses in the program provide a solid foundation in subjects such as mechanical behavior of engineering materials, continuum mechanics, thermodynamics, experimental and numerical combustion, computational fluid dynamics and control theory. Our graduates are technically well trained to be productive members of the modern world society at large and specifically suited for research careers in academia, industry and government research laboratories.
​We place a strong emphasis on class learning coupled with innovative research in a variety of areas. ​


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Master's Assessment Test

  • Students are admitted to KAUST from a wide variety of programs and backgrounds. In order to facilitate the design of an appropriate study plan for each individual student, all MS and MS/PhD incoming students will be required to take an assessment during orientation week. There is no grade for the assessment. The purpose of the assessment is to determine whether students have mastered the prerequisites for undertaking graduate level courses taught in the program. The Advisor uses the results of the assessments to design, if necessary, a remedial study plan with a list of courses aimed at addressing content areas that may impede a student from successful completion of the degree requirements. 

    Students are encouraged to prepare for the assessment by refreshing the general knowledge gained from their undergraduate education before arriving at KAUST.

    Mechanical Engineering Assessment Test Subjects

    Mechanical Engineering students will be tested in the following subjects:

    • Basic Principles of Mechanics
    • Basic Principles of Thermodynamics
    • Engineering Mathematics
    • Linear Algebra
    • Ordinary Differential Equations 

    1. Basic Principles of Mechanics

    Topics included in the Principles of Mechanics assessment test:
    • Solid Mechanics
    • Fundamental Concepts: Units, Scalar & Vector
    • Adding/resolving forces, moments, types of load/support
    • Equilibrium of rigid bodies. Free body diagrams. Static determinacy
    • Trusses: static determinacy, method of joints and method of sections
    • Stress, strain, elastic constants, Hooke's law
    • Beams: shear force and bending moment diagrams
    • Engineer's Bending Theory. First and second moments of area
    • Beam deflection due to bending, moment-curvature relationship
    • Differential equation of the deflection curve. Solution by integration
    • Shear stress in beams. Shear formula
    • Torsion of circular section shafts, polar second moment of area
    • Buckling of elastic struts. Concept of instability. Euler formula
    • Stress, strain, elastic constants, thermal strain, Hooke's law (2D/3D)
    • Stresses in thin-walled cylinders subject to internal pressure
    • Two-dimensional analysis of stress
    • Stress transformation using Mohr circles
    • Principle stresses and strains
    • Friction
    • Stress-strain relationships of common structural materials
    • Materials in Engineering: Metals, ceramics, polymers and composites
    • Basic concepts of fluid Mechanics including but not limited to: Bernoulli principle, Pascal's Law, Boundary Layers, Laminar and turbulent flow in pipes, Momentum of incompressible fluids,  Drag force and drag coefficients of common geometries.
    Recommended References:

    Sample questions from previous tests.

    2. Basic Principles of Thermodynamics

    Topics included in the Principles of Thermodynamics assessment test:

    • First law of thermodynamics
    • Energy balance
    • Energy analysis of cycles
    • Energy storage
    • Open systems
    • Closed systems
    • Control volume analysis (turbines, compressors, pumps, heat exchagners)
    • Evaluation of thermodynamics properties
    • Ideal gas mixtures
    • Reacting mixtures
    • Second law of thermodynamics (reversible and irreversible processes)
    • Carnot cycle
    • Entropy and exergy, entropy balance, isentropic processes, exergy balance
    • Energy transfer by heat (Conduction, convection and radiation heat transfer)

    Recommended References:

    Sample question s from previous tests.

    3. Engineering Mathematics and Basic Calculus

    Topics included in the Engineering Mathematics assessment test:
    • Functions and Models (including graphical representation of functions)
    • Limits
    • Derivatives (including graphical and physical interpretation of derivatives)
    • Anti-derivatives and definite integrals.
    • The classes of functions used to develop these concepts are: polynomial, rational, trigonometric exponential and logarithmic.
    • Integration (by parts, substitutions, partial fractions, approximation of integrals and improper integrals)
    • Infinite sequences and series
    • Convergence tests
    • Power series
    • Taylor polynomials and series
    • Taylor's Remainder Theorem
    • Vector Calculus: Vector Fields, Divergence and Curl.

    Recommended References:
    • Banner, Adrian. The Calculus Lifesaver: All the Tools You Need to Excel at Calculus. Princeton, NJ, USA: Princeton University Press, 2009, ISBN-13: 978-0691130880
    • Strang, Gilbert. Calculus. Wellesley, MA: Wellesley-Cambridge Press, 2010, ISBN 978-09802327-4-5
    • Zill, Dennis G., and Warren S. Wright. Advanced Engineering Mathematics. Burlington, Ma: Jones and Bartlett Learning, 2018, ISBN-13: 978-1284105902
    • Stewart, James. Essential Calculus: Early Transcendentals. Australia: Brooks/Cole, 2013, ISBN-13: 978-1133112280

    Online Recommended References:

    Calculus: Early Transcendentals by James Stewart

    Sample questions from previous tests.

    4. Linear Algebra

    Topics included in the Linear Algebra assessment test:
    • Vector spaces and linear mappings between such spaces 
    • Introduction to vector spaces 
    • Basis and dimension 
    • Rank of a matrix
    • Determinants
    • Inverse of a matrix 
    • Eigenvalues and diagonalization
    • Similarity
    • Positive definite matrices
    • Orthogonal and unitary matrices and transformations 
    • Orthogonal projections
    • Gram-Schmidt procedure 
    • Solving systems of linear equations
    • Applications of linear systems
    • Cramer's rule
    • Linear transformations
    • Isomorphism
    • Parallelepipeds

    Recommended References:
    • Linear Algebra and Its Applications, David C. Lay, Addison-Wesley/Pearson, ISBN: 978-0321385178.
    • Linear Algebra: Concepts and Methods, Martin Anthony & Michele Harvey, Cambridge University Press, ISBN:978-0-521-27948-2.

    Online Recommended References:

    A First Course in Linear Algebra, by Robert A. Beezer

    Introduction to Linear Algebra, by Gilbert Strang

    Sample questions from previous tests.

    5. Vector Analysis and Ordinary Differential Equations

    Topics included in the ODE assessment test:
    • Direction Fields (visualize the solution(s) of an ordinary differential equation without actually solving the equation.)
    • Solving simple ordinary differential equations
    • Classification by order
    • Linearity and homogeneity
    • Autonomous differential equations
    • Asymptotic behavior
    • Equilibrium points and stability
    • Solutions by numerical schemes
    • Euler's method

    Recommended References:
    • J. Robinson, An Introduction to Ordinary Differential Equations, Cambridge University Press, ISBN: 978-0521533911.
    • J. Polking, A. Boggess, D. Arnold, Differential Equations with Boundary Value Problems, Pearson, ISBN: 978-0131862364.
    • M. Tenenbaum, H. Pollard, Ordinary Differential Equations, Dover Publications, ISBN:  978-0486649405.
    • J. Robinson, Differential Equations, Cambridge University Press, ISBN: 978-0521533911.

    Online Recommended References:

    Elementary Differential Equations with Boundary Values Problems, by William F. Trench

Master's Non-Thesis

  • Students wishing to pursue the non-thesis option must complete a minimum of six credits of Directed Research (299). Summer internship credits may be used to fulfill the research requirements provided that the Summer internship is research-based. Summer internships are subject to approval by the student's academic advisor.

    Students must complete the remaining credits through one or a combination of the options listed below: 

    Broadening Experience Courses: Courses that broaden a student's M.S. experience.

    Internship: Research-based Summer Internship (295). Students are only allowed to take one internship.

    PhD Courses : Courses numbered at the 300 level.

    It should be noted that a student may also combine courses to satisfy the six credit requirement. For example, a student could take one Ph.D.-level course and one graduate-level course in another program. A student may not enroll in two Summer internships.​

Masters with Thesis

  • ​It is the sole responsibility of the student to plan her/his graduate program in consultation with her/his advisor. Students are required to meet all deadlines. Students should be aware that most core courses are offered only once per year.

    The Master's Degree (M.S.) is awarded upon successful completion of a minimum of 36 credit hours. A minimum GPA of 3.0 must be achieved to graduate. Individual courses require a minimum of a B-for course credit. Students are expected to complete the M.S. degree in three semesters and one Summer Session. ​

    M.S. Thesis Defense Requirements:

    An oral defense of the M.S. Thesis is required, although it may be waived by the Dean's Office under exceptional circumstances. A requirement of a public presentation and all other details are left to the discretion of the thesis committee. A written thesis is required. It is advisable that the student submits a final copy of the thesis to the Thesis Committee Members at least two weeks prior to the defense date. 

    • Students are required to comply with the university formatting guidelines provided by the library CLICK HERE​
    • Students are responsible for scheduling the thesis defense date with his/her thesis committee
    • A pass is achieved when the committee agrees with no more than one dissenting vote, otherwise the student fails. The final approval must be submitted at the latest two weeks before the end of the semester.

    M.S. Thesis Defense Committee

    The M.S. Thesis Defense Committee, which must be approved by the student's Dean, must consist of at least three members and typically includes no more than four members. At least two of the required members must be KAUST Faculty. The Chair plus one additional Faculty Member must be affiliated with the student's program. This membership can be summarized as:​

    ​1​Chair​Within Program
    ​2​Faculty​Within Program
    ​3​Faculty or Approved Research Scientist​Outside Program
    ​4​Additional Faculty​Inside or Outside KAUST​​


    • ​Members 1 – 3 are required. Member 4 is optional.
    • Co-chairs may serve as Member 2, 3 or 4, but may not be a Research Scientist.
    • Adjunct Professors and Professor Emeriti may retain their roles on current committees, but may not serve as chair on any new committees
    • Professors of Practice and Research Professors may serve as Members 2, 3 or 4 depending upon their affiliation with the student's program. They may also serve as co-chairs.
    • Visiting Professors may serve as Member 4.

    View a list of faculty and their affiliations: HERE​

    Submitting the Thesis 

    The division recommends that the student submit the Thesis to the examining committee no later than two weeks prior to the defense. However, the committee chair sets the final requirement for the submission timeline.  ​

    Thesis Defense Date

    The deadline to defend the Thesis is no later than two weeks before the last day of the semester. The student must set the date of the Thesis Defense inline with the committee member’s schedules. At the time the student submits the Thesis Committee Formation form, the defense has to be scheduled. 

    Booking a Venue of the Thesis Defense

    It is the student’s responsibility to book a room and make the necessary IT arrangements for the Thesis Defense. Room booking is done thru the student portal under Service Request Management. 

    Thesis Defense Announcement

    The student must submit to their GPC the title and abstract of his/her Thesis a week before defense date. The GPC will announce the Thesis defense to program members. The time and location of the defense must be included in the email.  The student is required to check their program guides for further instructions related to their defense format. 

    An oral defense is required however the Dean can waive this requirement. The requirement of a public or private defense is left to the discretion of the committee.
    ​As a general guideline the defense is expected to be a 45-minute presentation followed by 15 minutes of general Q&A then a closed-door Q&A session with the committee. 

    Thesis Defense Evaluation

    A pass is achieved when the committee agrees with no more than one dissenting vote otherwise the student fails. The final approval must be submitted no more than three days after the defense.
    After examination/defense, you will receive one of the following outcomes:

    • Pass: The student will be given one week to apply any corrections required by the committee members. During the following week, the student is required to upload the final draft of Thesis document to Blackboard for format check and to start the submission process
    • ​Fail: The student must notify the program GPC immediately of the committee decision.  The student is required to submit MS Thesis Approval form within two days after the Thesis defense regardless of the outcome.

    Thesis Submission

    Once the post-examination corrections are made, the student must do the following:

    • ​Upload the final draft of the Thesis document to Turnitin through Blackboard under the course titled (“Year”_”Semester”_THES) available on the list of Courses: Quick View.
    • Inform your GPC when this has been done.
    • Submit the M.S. Thesis Final Approval form to GPC.
    • Submit the Copyright form available on KAUST Library website to GPC.

    The GPC will check for format errors and plagiarism

    • A Turnitin Plagiarism report will be sent to the Thesis Supervisor to confirm the authenticity of the Thesis document. If citation corrections need to be made, the supervisor will let you know and you must re-upload the Thesis after corrections are made.
    • The GPC will inform the student of any format corrections required in accordance with KAUST Thesis and Dissertation Guidelines.
    • If there are no formatting or plagiarism errors, the GPC will submit the final draft of the Thesis, the M.S. Final Approval form, and the Copyright form to the Library Archive.
    • The library will send the tracking number of the Thesis document to GPC.
    • GPC will add the tracking number to the M.S. Thesis Final Approval form.
    • GPC will send the M.S. Thesis Final Approval form to officially notify the Registrar Office and confirm the completion of the M.S. Thesis degree requirements. A copy of the email will be sent to the student.
    • ​The registrar office will start the graduation and exit processes at this stage.​ ​​​​​

Program Courses and Descriptions

  • ​ME 100 - Basic Principles of Mechanics 
    Prerequisite: None.
    SOLID MECHANICS: Equilibrium conditions and determination of forces on structures, Determination of internal force systems in structures, Definitions of stress and strain, Mechanical properties of solid materials, Structural components under axial loads, torsional loads, bending, and combined loads, beam theory.
    FLUID MECHANICS: Fluid properties, fluid forces, fluid statics and kinematics, Conservation of mass, momentum and energy in fixed, deforming, and moving control volumes, boundary layer concept, lift and drag, pressure and friction drag, streamlining and drag reduction. DYNAMICS & VIBRATIONS: Kinematics of particles, Kinetics of a particles, Work and energy methods for particles, Vibrations of particles, Planar kinematics of rigid bodies, Planar kinetics of rigid bodies, Work and energy methods for rigid bodies, Vibrations of rigid bodies

    ME 101 - Basic Principles of Thermodynamics
    Prerequisite: None.
    Pressure, temperature and general properties, work and heat transfer in processes, power, conservation principle for mass and energy, reversible processes, the 2nd law of thermodynamics, steady state devices, transient processes, heat engines, power producing cycles, refrigerator and heat pumps, basic constrained optimization based on Lagrange multipliers (needed for chemical equilibrium), basic differentiation skills and understanding of homogeneous functions (for mathematical thermodynamics)

    ME 200 a, b - Fluid Mechanics; first, second terms
    Prerequisite: Undergraduate fluid mechanics, ME 100, AMCS 201 (for ME200a) and AMCS 202 (for ME 200b) or equivalent (may be taken concurrently); ME 200b requires ME 200a.
    Fundamentals of fluid mechanics. Microscopic and macroscopic properties of liquids and gases; the continuum hypothesis; review of thermodynamics; general equations of motion; kinematics; stresses; constitutive relations; vorticity, circulation; Bernoulli's equation; potential flow; thin-airfoil theory; surface gravity waves; buoyancy-driven flows; rotating flows; viscous creeping flow; viscous boundary layers; introduction to stability and turbulence; quasi one-dimensional compressible flow; shock waves; unsteady compressible flow; acoustics.

    ME 211 a, b - Mechanics of Structures and Solids (3-0-3); first, second terms
    Prerequisite: ME 100. Undergraduate strength of materials and stress analysis, ME 100a, ME 211b requires ME211a.
    Static stress analysis. Basic concepts of continuum mechanics. Variational theorems and approximate solutions. Introduction to fracture mechanics, damage mechanics and theory of plasticity. A variety of special topics will be discussed in the second term such as, but not limited to: homogenization strategies, anisotropic damage theory, micromechanics of cracking in laminated media and micromechanics based damage models, identification of parameters of models of materials by Digital Image Correlation

    ME 212 a, b - Continuum Mechanics; first, second terms
    Prerequisite: ME 100, AMCS 101 and ME 212b. Requires ME 211a and ME 212a.
    Elements of Cartesian tensors. Configurations and motions of a body. Kinematics—study of deformations, rotations and stretches, polar decomposition. Lagrangian and Eulerian strain velocity and spin tensor fields. Irrotational motions, rigid motions. Kinetics—balance laws. Linear and angular momentum, force, traction stress. Cauchy's theorem, properties of Cauchy's stress. Equations of motion, equilibrium equations. Power theorem, nominal (Piola- Kirchoff) stress. Thermodynamics of bodies. Internal energy, heat flux, heat supply. Laws of thermodynamics, notions of entropy, absolute temperature. Entropy inequality (Clausius- Duhem). Examples of special classes of constitutive laws for materials without memory. Objective rates, corotational, convected rates. Principles of materials frame indifference. Examples: the isotropic Navier-Stokes fluid, the isotropic thermoelastic solid. Basics of finite differences, finite elements, boundary integral methods and their applications to continuum mechanics problems illustrating a variety of classes of constitutive laws

    ME 214 - Experimental Methods
    Prerequisite: AMCS 201 and AMCS 202 or equivalent (may be taken concurrently), ME 200 a,b or ME 211 a, b or equivalent (may be taken concurrently).
    Lectures on experiment design and implementation. Measurement methods, transducer fundamentals, instrumentation, optical systems, signal processing, noise theory, analog and digital electronic fundamentals, with data acquisition and processing systems.

    ME 221 a, b - Control Theory
    Prerequisite: Undergraduate Calculus of One and Several Variables, Linear Algebra, Differential Equations, Probability and Statistics or equivalents; AMCS 201 and AMCS 202 or equivalent may be taken concurrently. AMCS 101, 131, 151 ME 221b. Requires ME 221a.
    An introduction to analysis and design of feedback control systems, including classical control theory in the time and frequency domain. Modeling of physical, biological, and information systems using linear and nonlinear differential equations. Linear vs. nonlinear models, and local vs. global behavior, Input/ output response, modeling and model reduction, Stability and perfor¬mance of interconnected systems, including use of block diagrams, Bode plots, the Nyquist criterion, and Lyapunov functions. Robustness and uncertainty management in feedback systems through stochastic and deterministic methods. Basic principles of feedback and its use as a tool for altering the dynamics of systems and managing uncertainty methods. Introductory random processes, Kalman filtering, norms of signals and systems. Topics in 221B: The aim of this course is to introduce the student to the area of nonlinear control systems with a focus on systems' analysis and control design. Nonlinear phenomena including multiple equilibria, limit cycles and bifurcations will be presented. Lyaponuv and input/output stability will be discussed. Examples of control design will be studied such as feedback linearization and sliding mode control.

    ME 222 a, b - Mechatronics and Intelligent Systems
    Prerequisite: ME 222b requires ME22a.
    Introduction to Mechatronics principles, MEMS and Microsystems, Data Acquisition, Operational Amplifiers, Microcontrollers and Microprocessors, Signal Processing, FFT, Vibrating MEMS, Gyroscopes, Accelerometers, Band-Pass Filters, Sensing and Actuation, Electrothermal, Piezoelectri, Electromagnetic, Peizoresistive, Electrostatic, Elements of Lumped- Parameter Modeling, Stiffness Elements, Spring-Mass Models, Damping in MEMS, Introduction to Nonlinear Modeling, Fixed Points and Linearization, Bifurcations of Fixed Points, Phase Portraits, Nonlinear Oscillations, Case Studies: Capacitive RF Switches, AFM, Torsional Actuators and Micromirrors. Basic electronic devices, embedded microprocessor systems and control, power transfer components and mechanism design. Hardware-in-the-loop simulation and rapid prototyping of real- time closed-loop computer control of electromechanical systems; robotic manipulation.

    ME 224 - System Identification and Estimation
    Prerequisite: ME 221 a,b (ME 221 b can be taken concurrently).
    Deterministic state estimation, recursive observers, estimation for uncertain process dynamics; SISO and MIMO least-squares parameter estimation, linear system subspace identification. Random variables and random processes: linear systems forced by random processes, power-spectral density. Bayesian filtering including Kalman filter. Jump- Markov estimation and fault diagnosis. Nonlinear estimation, particle filters, unscented Kalman filter. Introduction to estimation for hybrid systems.

    ME 226 - Fuzzy Sets in Engineering
    Prerequisite: AMCS 201 and AMCS 202, working knowledge of the C computer programming language.
    The relatively new mathematics of fuzzy sets has recently been used to represent and manipulate vague and imprecise information in engineering. This course will present the basics of fuzzy sets and fuzzy mathematics and explore applications in the areas of data representation; function representation; filters and triggers; engineering design and optimization, including (fuzzy) set-based concurrent engineering.

    ME 231 - Introductory Concepts for Dynamical Systems
    Prerequisite: Undergraduate Calculus of One and Several Variables, Linear Algebra, Differential Equations, Probability and Statistics or equivalents.
    Nonlinear system dynamics. Initial-and boundary-value problems, ordinary and partial differential equations. Hybrid system models; modeling/simulation environments such as Dymola, Modelica, Ptolemy, Simulink and StateFlow. Networked system models. System analysis: elementary discretization methods, initial value, ordinary differential equation theory; linearization; convolution, statespace and frequency domain representations; stability, input/output operator norms, least squares and inverse problems; model reduction.

    ME 232 a, b - Advanced Dynamics; first, second terms
    Prerequisite: AMCS 201 and AMCS 202 or equivalents (may be taken concurrently); ME 232 b requires ME 232a.
    Linear Dynamics: Planar Kinetics and Kinematics of Rigid Bodies, 3D Rotation, Angular Velocity, Time Derivative of a Vector, Five-Term Acceleration Equation, Coriolis Acceleration, Phase Portrait, Virtual Work, D'A Lembert Principle, Lagrange Equations of Particles, Conservative Forces, Linearization, Free Vibration, Hamiltonian's Principle, Lagrange Equations of Rigid Bodies, 15 Cyclic Variables, Hamiltonian, Lagrange Multiplier, Hamilton Canonical Equations, Ruth Equations, Moment of Inertia, Principals Directions, Euler Angles, Euler Equations. Nonlinear Dynamics: phase space, phase portraits, linear oscillators, equilibrium solutions (continuous systems and maps), stability concepts, linearization and stability analysis, bifurcation types, periodic solutions, Floquet theory, shooting technique, Poincare sections, quasi-periodic solutions, nonlinear oscillations, multiple scales, Duffing, secondary resonances, self-excitation, parametric excitation, chaos, crises escape from potential well, tangling.

    ME 234 a, b - Introduction to Kinematics and Robotics; first, second terms
    Prerequisite: AMCS 201 and AMCS 202 or equivalent (may be taken concurrently); ME 234b requires ME 234a.
    Introduction to the study of planar, rotational and spatial motions with applications to robotics, computers, computer graphics, and mechanics. Topics in kinematic analysis will include screw theory, rotational representations, matrix groups and Lie algebras. Applications include robot kinematics, mobility in mechanisms and kinematics of open and closed chain mechanisms. Additional topics in robotics include path planning for robot manipulators, dynamics and control and assembly. Course work will include laboratory demonstrations using simple robot manipulators.

    ME 241 - Thermodynamics
    Prerequisite: Undergraduate thermodynamics, AMCS 201 and AMCS 202 (may be taken concurrently) or equivalent. And ME 100 and ME 101.
    Fundamentals of classical and statistical thermodynamics. Basic postulates, thermodynamic potentials, chemical and phase equilibrium, phase transitions, and thermodynamic properties of solids, liquids and gases.

    ME 242 - Heat and Mass Transfer
    Prerequisite: Undergraduate thermodynamics, AMCS 201 (may be taken concurrently). Transport properties, conservation equations, conduction heat transfer, forced and natural convective heat and momentum transfer in laminar and turbulent flows, thermal radiation and mass diffusion.

    ME 243 - Statistical Mechanics
    Prerequisite: AMCS 201 or equivalent (may be taken concurrently), ME 241 or equivalent. This is a course on Statistical mechanics that is divided into four (4) parts of assorted topics. It starts from an overview of some basic concepts in thermodynamics and exposes the formal structure of equilibrium statistical mechanics with applications to ideal non-interacting and interacting systems. The course then dwells on more advanced topics such as the liquid state, critical phenomena, Ising model and the renormalization group. In the third part, Kinetic theory is presented through a thorough discussion of the Boltzmann equation and the derivations of the continuum equations. Transport processes are then discussed and transport coefficients are calculated. The theory of Brownian motion is also described as another approach to describe non-equilibrium processes. In the last section, Monte Carlo methods are applied to calculate various macroscopic properties for some lattice models.

    ME 244 - Combustion
    Prerequisite: ME 241 or equivalent.
    Basic principles including chemical equilibrium, Arrhenius law, and Rankine-Hugoniot relations will be first discussed. Multi-component conservation equations with chemical reaction will be introduced. Various characteristics of premixed and diffusion flames will be studied which covers flame structure, flame stability, flame stabilization, flammability limit, quenching distance and thermal explosion. Combustion phenomena in gas turbines, gasoline engines, diesel engines and power plants will be discussed. A matched asymptotic expansion technique will be introduced and applied in analyzing flame structures. 

    ME 250 - Energy
    Prerequisite: ME 241 or equivalent.
    Review of first and second laws of thermodynamics. Principles of energy conversion: vapor power cycles, combustion, combined cycle and fuel cells. Modeling and forecasting. Heating, transportation, and electricity demand. Fossil-fuel supplies: oil, natural gas, coal, oil sands and oil shale. Alternative energy sources: hydroelectric, nuclear fission and fusion, wind, biomass, geothermal, biofuels, waves, ocean thermal, solar photovoltaic and solar thermal. Transportation systems: internal combustion engines, gas turbines and electric vehicles. Energy systems: pipelines, rail and water transport, shipping, carbon capture and sequestration, transmission lines and electricity distribution networks. 

    ME 252 - Sustainable Energy Engineering
    Prerequisite: Undergraduate Thermodynamics, AMCS 201 and AMCS 202 (may be taken concurrently), ME 250.
    An in-depth examination of engineering systems to convert, store, transport, and use energy, with emphasis on technologies that reduce or eliminate dependence on fossil fuels and/or emission of greenhouse gases. Topics include thermodynamics of energy conversion, energy resources, stationary power generation (vapor power cycles, combined cycles, solar thermal systems, nuclear fission and fusion, solar photovoltaics, fuel cells, wind, geothermal), carbon sequestration, alternative fuels (hydrogen, biofuels), and transportation systems (internal combustion engines, gas turbines, fuel cell and electric vehicles). The course will emphasize using quantitative methods to assess and compare different technologies. 

    ME 254 - Theory and Methods in Product Design
    Prerequisite: Graduate standing in mechanical engineering or consent of instructor.
    Engineering design process and conceptual design of products. This course provides an experience in preliminary project planning of complex and realistic mechanical engineering systems. Design concepts and techniques are introduced and the student's design ability is developed in a design or feasibility study chosen to emphasize innovation and ingenuity and provide wide coverage of engineering topics. Design optimization and social, economic and political implications are included. Emphasis on hands-on creative components, teamwork and effective communication. Special emphasis on management of innovation processes for sustainable products, from product definition to sustainable manufacturing and financial models. The patent process. Both individual and group oral presentations are made and participation in conferences is required.

    ME 256 - Computer-Aided Engineering Design
    Prerequisite: AMCS 201 and AMCS 202, working knowledge of the C computer programming language.
    Methods and algorithms for design of engineering systems using computer techniques. Topics include the design process; interactive computer graphics; curves and surfaces (including cubic and B-splines); solid modeling (including constructive solid geometry and boundary models); kinematic and dynamic mechanism simulation; single and multivariable optimization; optimal design and symbolic manipulation. Assessment of CAD as an aid to the design process. 

    ME 261 - Application of Atmospheric Pressure Plasma
    Prerequisite: None.
    Introduction to plasma sources in atmospheric pressure condition: dielectric barrier discharge, pulsed corona, arc, elongated arc and microwave plasma. Application fields for mechanical engineers. Energy: fuel reforming and combustion. Environment: after-treatment of hazardous gases. Manufacturing: surface treatment of materials. Plasma devices for bio-medical application.

    ME 295 - Internship (6 credits)
    Prerequisite: Approval of Academic Advisor.
    Master's-level summer internship.

    ME 297 - Thesis Research (variable credits)
    Prerequisite: Approval of Thesis Advisor.
    Master's-level thesis research.

    ME 298 - Graduate Seminar
    All students are required to register and receive a Satisfactory (S) grades for three (3) semesters to meet degree requirements.

    ME 299 - Directed Research (variable credits)
    Prerequisite: M.S. status and consent of instructor.
    Course may be repeated for credit and must be taken on a satisfactory/unsatisfactory basis.

    ME 300 - Advanced Fluid Mechanics
    Prerequisite: ME 200 a, b or equivalent; AMCS 201 and AMCS 202 (may be taken concurrently).
    A more rigorous mathematical introduction to fluid mechanics. Derivation of Navier-Stokes; physical properties of real gases; the equations of motion of viscous and inviscid dynamics; the dynamical significance of vorticity; vortex dynamics; Kelvin circulation theorem and consequences; Biot-Savart Law, exact solutions in vortex dynamics; motion at high Reynolds numbers; hydrodynamic stability; boundary layers; flow past bodies; compressible flow; subsonic, transonic, and supersonic flow; Lax theory of shock waves.

    ME 302 - Multi-Phase Flows 
    Prerequisite: ME 241, AMCS 201 and AMCS 202, ME 200 a, b, ME 211 a, b or equivalents.
    Selected topics in engineering two-phase flows with emphasis on practical problems in modern hydrosystems. Fundamental fluid mechanics and heat, mass and energy transport in multiphase flows. Liquid/ vapor/gas (LVG) flows, nucleation, bubble dynamics, cavitating and boiling flows, models of LVG flows; instabilities, dynamics and wave propagation; fluid/structure interactions. Discussion of two-phase flow problems in conventional, nuclear and geothermal power plants, marine hydrofoils, and other hydraulic systems.

    ME 304 - Experimental Methods in Fluid Mechanics
    Prerequisite: ME 200 a, b or equivalent; AMCS 201 and AMCS 202 (may be taken concurrently).
    Basic sampling theory. Spectral decomposition, aliasing, Nyquist criterion and dynamic range. Basic optics, lasers, diffraction limit. Particle tracking and streak photography. Point measurements of velocity, pitot static tube, hot wires, and laser-doppler velocimetry. Measurements of velocity fields in planes and volumes, using particle image velocimetry. Micro-PIV. Measurement of scalar fields. Holographic PIV. High-speed video technology. This course has a significant laboratory component.

    ME 305 a, b - Computational Fluid Dynamics; first, second terms.
    Prerequisite: ME 200 a, b or equivalent; AMCS 201 and AMCS 202 or equivalent; ME 305b requires ME 305a.
    Introduction to floating point arithmetic. Introduction to numerical methods for Euler and Navier-Stokes equations with emphasis on error analysis, consistency, accuracy and stability. Modified equation analysis (dispersion vs. dissipation) and Von Neumann stability analysis. Finite difference methods, finite volume and spectral element methods. Explicit vs. implicit time stepping methods. Solution of systems of linear algebraic systems. Higher-order vs. higher resolution methods. Computation of turbulent flows. Compressible flows with high-resolution shock-capturing methods (e.g. PPM, MUSCL, and WENO). Theory of Riemann problems and weak solutions for hyperbolic equations.

    ME 306 - Hydrodynamic Stability
    Prerequisite: ME 200 a, b or equivalent; AMCS 201 and AMCS 202 (may be taken concurrently).
    Laminar-stability theory as a guide to laminar-turbulent transition. Rayleigh equation, instability criteria and response to small inviscid disturbances. Discussion of Kelvin-Helmholtz, Rayleigh-Taylor, Richtmyer Meshkov and other instabilities, for example, in geophysical flows. The Orr-Sommerfeld equation, the dual role of viscosity, and boundary-layer stability. Modern concepts such as pseudo-momentum conservation laws and nonlinear stability theorems for 2-D and geophysical flows. 

    ME 307 - Turbulence
    Prerequisite: ME 200 a, b; AMCS 201 and AMCS 202.
    Introduction to turbulence. Fundamental equations of turbulent flow. Statistical description of turbulence. Experimental methods for turbulence. Reynolds equations. Kolmogorov's theory. Scales of turbulence. Homogeneous turbulence. Free-shear flows. Bounded flows. Boundary layers. Simulating turbulent flows. Reynolds Average Navier-Stokes approach. Introduction to Large Eddy. 

    ME 308 - Introduction to Plasma Physics and Magneto-hydrodynamics
    Prerequisite: ME 200 ab; AMCS 201 and AMCS 202.
    Motion of charged particles; Statistical behavior of plasmas. Vlasov and Fokker-Planck equations and derivation of fluid models for plasmas; closure problem and models. Dispersive waves in plasmas. Ideal and non-ideal magneto-hydrodynamics. Exact solutions. Alfvén and shock waves in MHD. MHD instabilities. 

    ME 310 - Mechanics and Materials Aspects of Fracture
    Prerequisite: ME 211 a, b (concurrently) or equivalent.
    Analytical and experimental techniques in the study of fracture in metallic and nonmetallic solids. Mechanics of brittle and ductile fracture; connections between the continuum descriptions of fracture and micromechanisms. Discussion of elastic-plastic fracture analysis and fracture criteria. Special topics include fracture by cleavage, void growth, rate sensitivity, crack deflection and toughening mechanisms, as well as fracture of nontraditional materials. Fatigue crack growth and life prediction techniques will also be discussed. In addition, "dynamic" stress wave dominated, failure initiation growth and arrest phenomena will be covered. This will include traditional dynamic fracture considerations as well as discussions of failure by adiabatic shear localization.

    ME 312 - Dynamic Behavior of Materials
    Prerequisite: AMCS 201 and AMCS 202 or equivalent; ME 211 a, b.
    Fundamentals of theory of wave propagatiolfven; plane waves,wave guides, dispersion relations; dynamic plasticity, adiabatic shear banding; dynamic fracture; shock waves, equation of state.

    ME 313 a, b - Theory of Structures (3-0-3); first, second terms
    Prerequisite: ME 313b requires ME 313a.
    Geometry of spatial curves; finite 3-D rotations; finite deformations of curved rods; dynamics of rods; strings and cables; theory of plastic rods; statistical mechanics of chains; applications including frames and cable structures, polymers, open-cell foams, DNA mechanics, cell mechanics; small strain and von Karman theory of plates; applications to thin films, layered structures, functionally graded thin films, delamination, plastic collapse; surface geometry; finite deformations of shells; dynamics of plates and shells; membranes; theory of plastic plates and shells; fracture of plates and shells; elastic and plastic stability; wrinkling and relaxation; applications including solar sails, space structures, closed cell foams, biological membranes; numerical methods for structural analysis; discrete geometry; finite elements for rods, plates and shells; time-integration methods; thermal analysis.

    ME 314 - Plasticity
    Prerequisite: ME 211 a, b.
    Theory of dislocations in crystalline media. Characteristics of dislocations and their influence on the mechanical behavior in various crystal structures. Application of dislocation theory to single and polycrystal plasticity. Theory of the inelastic behavior of materials with negligible time effects. Experimental background for metals and fundamental postulates for plastic stress- strain relations. Variational princiremental elastic plastic problems, uniqueness. Upper and lower bound theorems of limit analysis and shakedown. Slip line theory and applications. Additional topics may include soils, creep and rate- sensitive effects in metals, the thermodynamics of plastic deformation, and experimental methods in plasticity.

    ME 315 - Computational Mechanics Using Particle Methods
    Prerequisite: ME 319 a, b or equivalent.
    Particle simulations of continuum and discrete systems. Advances in molecular, mesoscopic and macroscale simulations using particles, identification of common computing paradigms and challenges across disciplines, discretizations and representations using particles, fast summation algorithms, time integrators, constraints, and multiresolution. Exercises will draw on problems simulated using particles from diverse areas such as fluid and solid mechanics, computer graphics, and nanotechnology.

    ME 316 - Micromechanics
    Prerequisite: AMCS 201 and AMCS 202 or equivalent, ME 211 a, b and ME 212 a, b or instructor's permission.
    The course gives a broad overview of micromechanics, emphasizing the microstructure of materials, its connection to Mechanical Engineering. Courses molecular structure and its consequences on macroscopic properties. Topics include phase transformations in crystalline solids, including martensitic, ferroelectric and diffusional phase transformations, twinning and domain patterns, active materials; effective properties of composites and polycrystals, linear and nonlinear homogenization; defects, including dislocations, surface steps and domain walls; thin films, asymptotic methods, morphological instabilities, self-organization; selected applications to microactuation, thin-film processing, composite materials, mechanical properties and materials design. Open to undergraduates with instructor's permission. 

    ME 317 a, b - Mechanics of Composite Materials and Structures; first, second terms
    Prerequisite: ME 211a; ME 212a; ME 317b requires ME 317a.
    Introduction and fabrication technologies. Elastic response of composite materials (especially fiber and particulate reinforced materials) from the fabrication to the in-service structure. Up scaling strategies from the microstructure to the single ply: kinematic and static bounds, asymptotic expansion and periodical homogenization. Up scaling strategies from the single ply to the structural scale: elastic deformation of multidirectional laminates (lamination theory, ABD matrix). Mechanics of degradation in composite materials: fiber-matrix debonding, plasticity, microcracking and induced delamination. Tools for description of nonlinear effects: damage mechanics for laminates, applications of fracture mechanics. Aging and fatigue. Basic criteria-based theories will also be reviewed, including first ply failure, splitting and delamination. Basic experimental illustration will include: hand lay up of a simple laminate, characterization using full field measurement of its material properties.

    ME 318 - Dynamic Fracture and Frictional Faulting
    Prerequisite: ME 211 a, b or ME 212 a, b.
    Introduction to elastodynamics and waves in solids. Dynamic fracture theory, energy concepts, cohesive zone models. Friction laws, nucleation of frictional instabilities, dynamic rupture of frictional interfaces. Radiation from moving cracks. Thermal effects during dynamic fracture and faulting. Crack branching and faulting along nonplanar interfaces. Related dynamic phenomena such as adiabatic shear localization. Applications to engineering phenomena and physics and mechanics of earthquakes. 

    ME 319 a, b - Computational Solid Mechanics; first, second terms
    Prerequisite: AMCS 201 and AMCS 202 or equivalent; ME 211 a,b or ME 212 a,b (may be taken concurrently); ME 319b requires ME 319a.
    Variational principles in linear elasticity. Finite element analysis. Error estimation. Convergence. Singularities. Adaptive strategies. Constrained problems. Mixed methods. Stability and convergence. Variational problems in nonlinear elasticity. Consistent linearization. The Newton-Rahpson method. Bifurcation analysis. Adaptive strategies in nonlinear elasticity. Constrained finite deformation problems. Contact and friction. Time integration. Algorithm analysis. Accuracy, stability, and convergence. Operator splitting and product formulas. Coupled problems. Impact and friction. Space-time methods. Inelastic solids. Constitutive updates. Stability and convergence. Consistent linearization. Applications to finite deformation viscoplasticity, viscoelasticity and Lagrangian modeling of solids.

    ME 320 - Geometry of Nonlinear Systems
    Prerequisite: AMCS 202. 101, 131, 151.
    Basic differential geometry, oriented toward applications in control and dynamical systems. Topics include smooth manifolds and mappings, tangent and normal bundles. Vector fields and flows. Distributions and Frobenius' theorem. Matrix Control and Dynamical Systems. Lie groups and Lie algebras. Exterior differential forms and Stokes' theorem. 

    ME 324 - Advanced Control Systems
    Prerequisite: AMCS 201 and AMCS 202 or equivalent; ME 221 ab or equivalent.
    Introduction to modern control systems with emphasis on the role of control in overall system analysis and design. Input-output directions in multivariable systems: eigenvalues and singular value decomposition. System norms and introduction to MIMO robustness. Controller design for multivariable plants: linear quadratic regulator, linear quadratic Gaussian optimal control, H-infinity and H-2 control, sampled-data, model predictive control. Convex design methods: Youla parameterization, linear matrix inequalities; adaptive control, neural networks, fuzzy logic systems; introduction to neuro-fuzzy systems and soft computing. Multivariable control design examples drawn from throughout engineering and science in the field of aerospace, automotive, chemical-and energy-efficient buildings. 

    ME 326 - Robust Control
    Prerequisite: AMCS 201 and AMCS 202 or equivalents; ME 221 ab or equivalent.
    Linear systems, realization theory, time and frequency response, norms and performance, stochastic noise models, robust stability and performance, linear fractional transformations, structured uncertainty, optimal control, model reduction, m analysis and synthesis, real parametric uncertainty, Kharitonov's theorem and uncertainty modeling. 

    ME 332 - Geometric Mechanics
    Prerequisite: ME 232 a, b.
    The geometry and dynamics of Lagrangian and Hamiltonian systems, including symplectic and Poisson manifolds, variational principles, Lie groups, momentum maps, rigid-body dynamics, Euler-Poincaré equations, stability, and an introduction to reduction theory. More advanced topics (taught in a course the following year) will include reduction theory, fluid dynamics, the energy momentum method, geometric phases, bifurcation theory for mechanical systems, and nonholonomic systems. 

    ME 340 - Advanced Combustion Theory
    Prerequisite: ME 244 or equivalent.
    Review of fundamental concept of and phenomenology of combustion. Singularities in nonlinear problems.  Matched asymptotic expansion technique. Large activation energy, Danköhler number and rate ratio asymptotics. Ignition/extinction. Laminar burning velocity. Diffusion flame. Aerodynamic effect. Preferential diffusion, differential diffusion and heat loss effects. Hydrodynamic and acoustic instabilities. Reduced mechanisms. 

    ME 342 - Combustion Kinetics
    Prerequisite: ME 244 or ME 344.
    Non-equilibrium processes in chemically reacting gases. Example applications to combustion, atmospheric chemistry, plasmas, chemical and materials processing, rocket nozzles and gaseous lasers. Bimolecular reaction theory (collision theory); transition state theory; unimolecular and association reactions; complex reactions; straight chain reactions; explosions and branched chain reactions; photochemistry, photophysics; energy transfer in fuel tracers; vibrational relaxation; experimental techniques.

    ME 344 - Gas Dynamics
    Prerequisite: ME 241.
    Concepts and techniques for description of high-temperature and chemically reacting gases from a molecular point of view. Introductory kinetic theory; chemical thermodynamics; statistical mechanics as applied to properties of gases and gas mixtures; transport and thermodynamic properties; law of mass action; equilibrium chemical composition; Maxwellian and Boltzmann distributions of velocity and molecular energy; examples and applications from areas of current interest such as combustion and materials processing.

    ME 346 - Turbulent Combustion
    Prerequisite: ME 244, ME 307 or equivalent.
    Governing equations of reactive fluid flow. Review of fundamental concepts in turbulence. Non-premixed turbulent combustion. Conserved scalar modeling approach and turbulent non-premixed combustion models. Premixed turbulent combustion fundamentals and combustion regimes. Canonical models for premixed turbulent combustion. Partially premixed combustion. Scaling laws for lifted turbulent jet flames. 

    ME 348 - Introduction to Spectroscopy and Laser Diagnostics
    Prerequisite: ME 241 or ME 344.
    Fundamentals of microwave, infrared, Raman, and electronic spectroscopy. Laser-based diagnostic techniques for measurements of species concentration, temperature, pressure, velocity, and other flow field properties. Topics: rotational, vibrational, and electronic transition frequencies; spectral lineshapes and line-broadening mechanisms; nuclear spin effects; electronic spectra of atoms and molecules; absorption; emission; laser induced fluorescence (LIF); Rayleigh and Raman scattering methods; Mie theory; laser Doppler velocimetry (LDV) and particle image velocimetry (PIV); applications and case studies.Laser Diagnostics for Thermal Engineering. 

    ME 376 - Introduction to Combustion Engines
    The objective of the course is to provide a thorough understanding of the processes that occur in an internal combustion engine and the reason why it is designed as it is. The course will after an introduction deal with the performance measures of ICE, the link between engine performance and vehicle requirements, fundamental combustion, thermodynamic cycles, multicylinder balance, in-cylinder flow and turbulence, Spark Ignition Combustion, Spark Ignition engine emissions, the combustion in Compression Ini-tion engines and it's after treatment needs. The course ends with a rather comprehensive description of the gas exchange system with valve system, gas dynamics in inlet and exhaust systems, two-strokes and finally supercharging/ turbocharging.

    ME 377 - Contemporary Topics in Thermal Science and Engineering: Advanced Internal Combustion Engines
    Prerequisites: ME 391 Introduction to Combustion Engines.
    The course starts with an in-cylinder pressure analysis for heat release evaluation. Modern and advanced Otto and Diesel type engines are investigated as well as the historical development of engines. Advanced gas ex-change systems are discussed and special emphasis is provided on direct fuel injection since such systems have evolved dramat¬ically the last years. New types of internal combustion engines such as HCCI and PPC are explained. Measuring techniques for the analyzing of engines as well as engine control are presented. Fuel aspects with emphasis on engine performance and emissions are presented.

    ME 378 - Special Topics in Combustion: Experimental Combustion
    Prerequisites: ME 100, ME 101.
    Experimental methods for combustion study will be instructed. Widely studied canonical flames and burners, which include a coflow burner, a counterflow burner, jet flames and outwardly propagating flames will be introduced and detailed experimental conditions to control various flame characteristics, such as flame temperature and burning velocity, will be instructed. Practical diagnostic methods such as laser induced fluorescence and particle image velocimetry will be covered. Complementary experiments will be provided for practical knowledge and experience.

    ME 394a - Contemporary Topics in Fluid Mechanics
    Prerequisite: ME 200 a, b and consent of the instructor.
    Lecture and/or seminar course on advanced topics in fluid mechanics. Topics are determined by the instructor and may vary from year to year. The course may be repeated for credit. 

    ME 394b - Contemporary Topics in Solid Mechanics
    Prerequisite: ME 211 a, b, ME 212 a, b and consent of the instructor.
    Lecture and/or seminar course on advanced topics in solid mechanics. Topics are determined by the instructor and may vary from year to year. The course may be repeated for credit.

    ME 394c - Contemporary Topics in Control Theory and Practice
    Prerequisite: ME 221 a, b and consent of the instructor.
    Lecture and/or seminar course on advanced topics in control theory and practice. Topics are determined by the instructor and may vary from year to year. The course may be repeated for credit.

    ME 394d - Contemporary Topics in Dynamics
    Prerequisite: ME 232 a, b and consent of the instructor
    Lecture and/or seminar course on advanced topics in dynamics.  Topics are determined by the instructor and may vary from year to year. The course may be repeated for credit. Maximum number of credits is 3 per semester. 

    ME 394e - Contemporary Topics in Thermal Science and Engineering
    Prerequisite: ME 241 and ME 242 or ME 244 and consent of the instructor.
    Lecture and/or seminar course on advanced topics in thermal science and engineering. Topics are determined by the instructor and may vary from year to year. The course may be repeated for credit. 

    ME 395 - Internship (6 credits)
    Prerequisite: Approval of Dissertation Advisor.
    Doctoral-level summer internship.

    ME 397 - Dissertation Research (variable credits)
    Prerequisite: Ph.D. status and consent of instructor.
    Course may be repeated for credit. Maximum number of credits is 12 per semester. Must be taken on a pass/fail basis. Individual investigation on topics of relevance to mechanical engineering.

    ME 398 - Graduate Seminar (non-credit)
    Prerequisite: None.
    All candidates for the Ph.D. degree in mechanical engineering are required to attend one graduate seminar in Mechanical Engineering each week for at least one semester. In case the ME seminar is not held in any particular week, then it is the student's responsibility to attend any other technical seminar on campus that week. Graded satisfactory/unsatisfactory.

    ME 399 - Directed Research (variable credits)
    Prerequisite: Approval of Dissertation Advisor.
    Doctoral-level supervised research. ​​


The Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree is designed to prepare students for research careers in academia and industry. 
It is offered exclusively as a full-time program.

There is a minimum residency requirement at KAUST of 3.5 years for students entering with a B.S. degree and 2.5 years for students entering with an M.S. degree. A minimum GPA of 3.0 must be achieved on all Doctoral coursework. Individual courses require a minimum of a B- to earn course credit.

Students pursuing Ph.D. degree are required to complete the following degree requirements to earn the degree:


Designation of Dissertation Advisor

  • ​The selected Dissertation Advisor must be a full time program-affiliated Assistant, Associate or Full Professor at KAUST.

    The student may also select an advisor from another program at KAUST. This advisor can only become project-affiliated for the specific thesis project with program level approval.

    Project-affiliation approval must be completed prior to commencing research. View a list of faculty and their affiliations: CLICK HERE​​

Ph.D. Course Requirements

  • ​The required coursework varies for students entering the Ph.D. Degree with a B.S. Degree or a relevant M.S. Degree.
    Students holding a B.S. Degree must complete all Program Core/Mandatory Courses and Elective Courses outlined in the M.S. Degree section and are also required to complete the Ph.D. courses below.
    Students entering with a B.S. Degree may also qualify to earn the M.S. Degree by satisfying the M.S. Degree requirements; however, it is the student's responsibility to declare their intentions to graduate with an M.S.
    Students entering the Ph.D. Degree with a relevant M.S. Degree must complete the requirements below, though additional courses may be required by the Dissertation Advisor.

    Ph.D. Courses

    • Two 300-level Mechanical Engineering courses, one Applied Mathematics course, one elective course. 
    • Graduate Seminar 398 (non-credit): All students are required to register and receive a Satisfactory grade for every semester the program requires they attend. 
    • Winter Enrichment Program: Students are required to satisfactorily complete at least one full Winter Enrichment Program (WEP) as part of the degree requirements. Students who completed WEP requirements while earning the M.S. Degree are not required to enroll in a full WEP for a second time in the Ph.D. Degree. 
    Students entering the program with an M.S. Degree from KAUST may transfer unused coursework toward the Ph.D. program requirements subject to program level approval. Students transferring from another university's Ph.D. program may receive some Dissertation Research and Coursework credit on a case-by-case basis for related work performed at the original Institution upon approval by the Dean. However, such students must still satisfy the Qualifying Exam and Dissertation Proposal Defense requirements at KAUST.​

Ph.D. Qualifying Exam

  • The purpose of the Subject-based Qualifying Exam is to test the student's knowledge of the subject matter within the field of study. All students entering the Ph.D. program with a B.S. degree must take this examination within two years of their admission. Students admitted to the program with an M.S. degree must take this exam within one year.

    CLICK HERE For List of Topics for the Ph.D. Qualifying Examination

    The examination in all three subjects will be held on the same day. 

    Only PhD and MS/PhD students will be allowed to take the qualifying exam.

    Registration for the Qualifying Exam: 

    The qualifying exam is schduled twice per year, January and June. A call for registration will be sent via email to Ph.D. students eight (8) weeks before the exam date. The email will include the exam date and instructions to register for the exam.

    Evaluation of Ph.D. Qualifying Exam:

    The exams will be evaluated within the next 72 hours.

    Faculty members will discuss and approve the results before sending the results to students.

    Results will be sent to students via email.

    Students failed the qualifying exam are required to re-take the exam the following time the exam is offered.

    Students who fail the Subject-based Qualifying Exam with no retake or fail the retake will be dismissed from the university​.​

Dissertation Committee Formation

  • ​The Dissertation Committee must include the following members:

    • First member: Dissertation Advisor who acts as committee chair
    • Second member: Program or Program-affiliated faculty member
    • Third member: KAUST faculty member from another program

    The Dissertation Committee must be approved by the Program Chair and the Dean.  Once constituted, the composition of the committee can only be changed with the approval of both the Dissertation Advisor and the Dean.

    The Dissertation Committee form​ must be completed and submitted to GPC for approval two weeks prior to the Ph.D. proposal defense

PhD Dissertation Proposal Defense

  • ​The Dissertation Proposal Defense is the second part of the qualification milestones that must be completed to become a Ph.D. Candidate. The purpose of the Dissertation Proposal Defense is to demonstrate that the student has the ability and is adequately prepared to undertake Ph.D. level research in the proposed area. This preparation includes necessary knowledge of the chosen subject, a review of the literature and preparatory theory or experiment as applicable.​Ph.D. students are required to complete the Dissertation Proposal Defense within one (1) year after passing the qualifying exam. The proposal defense date will be determined by student and his/her advisor. Ph.D. students must request to present the Dissertation Proposal Defense to the Proposal Dissertation Committee by submitting the Dissertation Committee Formation Form two weeks prior to the Ph.D. proposal defense date. 

    The Dissertation Proposal Defense includes two aspects: a written research proposal and an oral research proposal defense. 

    • The written research proposal document should be 3000 words (+/- 10%).
    • The oral defense should be 1.5 hours long (30 min presentation, 60 min questions)

    Ph.D. Proposal Defense Evaluation

    There are four possible outcomes from this Dissertation Proposal Defense:

    • Pass: A pass is achieved when the committee agrees with no more than one dissenting vote, otherwise the student fails.
    • Pass with conditions: In the instance of a Pass with conditions, the entire committee must agree on the required conditions and if they cannot, the Dean decides. The deadline to complete the conditions is one month after the defense date, unless the committee unanimously agrees to change it.
    • Fail with retake: The deadline to complete the retake is six months after the defense date, unless the committee unanimously agrees to reduce it.
    • Fail without retake: In the instance of a Fail without Retake, the decision of the committee must be unanimous. Students who fail the Dissertation Proposal Defense, or who fail the retake, will be dismissed from the University.

    The Dissertation Proposal Evaluation form  must be submitted within 48 hours after presenting the dissertation proposal.

    Upon passing the Proposal Defense, student must submit the Change to Ph.D. candidate status​ form.​

PhD Dissertation Defense and Submission

  • ​The Dissertation Defense is the final milestone of the degree. This requires acceptance of the Dissertation and passing of the final defense. The final defense is a public presentation that consists of an oral defense followed by questions.​

    To complete this part of their Ph.D. the student is required to complete the following:

    • Form Ph.D. Dissertation Committee and petition for Ph.D. dissertation Defense examination .
    • Defend the dissertation and submit the results
    • Submit Ph.D. Dissertation and the Final Approval form

    Fall 2017 Submission Deadlines​

    Deadline to submit the Ph.D. Petition for Dissertation Defense Examination form is August 31, 2017.

    Deadline to submit the Ph.D. Dissertation Defense Examination Result form is November 9, 2017.

    Deadline to submit the Ph.D. Dissertation and Final Approval form is December 3, 2017.


    Students must follow the KAUST Thesis and Dissertation Guidelines available on the library website when they write their dissertation.

​frequ​enty used forms: