Female Doctoral candidates seated at 2015 Commencement.

Doctor of Engineering

Two male UMass Lowell students working in a Plastics Engineering lab.

The Doctor of Engineering in Plastics Engineering is designed to produce qualified professionals for technical management positions in the plastics industry, as well as for administrative positions in government and for teaching careers in colleges and universities.


The goal of the Doctor of Engineering program is to develop decision-making engineers with sound theoretical and technical research knowledge who are design and development oriented and who also have a firm background in engineering management. This interdisciplinary program encompasses study in materials, design, processing, mathematics, computer science, and management.

Admission Requirements

Graduates with a B.S. in Engineering or Science and high academic standing may apply to the Graduate School for admission to the Doctor of Engineering program. Technical graduates who do not have a B.S. in Engineering (e.g., Chemistry program graduates or Engineering Technology graduates) may request admission to the program with the understanding that they will also be required to take and pass the General Fundamental of Engineering Exam given by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying. Admission to the program will be based on review by the Graduate School and by the Admissions Committee of the Plastics Engineering Department.

Plan of the Program

Each student entering the program must develop a plan of study in consultation with his or her advisory committee. After satisfying the prerequisites and taking one year of graduate courses, the student will take a qualifying examination covering all the basic elements of plastics engineering. A student who performs well on this examination will be reviewed by the Admissions Committee of the Plastics Engineering Department and admitted to degree candidacy. He or she will then complete the remaining course work, seminars, research, written dissertation, and oral defense of the research.

Qualifying Examination

The qualifying examination will be administered in January (and in May if there is sufficient demand for a second exam). It will be a two day examination covering the following topics: plastics processing, design, properties, and materials. Any changes to the format will be indicated by the doctoral coordinator when the specific examination date is announced. The student will receive a grade of pass or fail. A student who fails the exam on a marginal basis may make a second attempt with permission of the Graduate Study Committee. All decisions of the Plastics Engineering Department regarding passing of the qualifying exam are final.

Two male UMass Lowell students wearing hard hats while working in a Plastics recycling lab.

Dissertation Proposal

Once the student has passed the qualifying exam, he or she will submit a dissertation proposal and defend the proposal before the Doctoral Committee. Upon approval, the student’s name will be submitted to the College Doctoral Committee and the Dean of the Graduate School as a candidate for the Doctor of Engineering degree. Admission to candidacy status does not guarantee awarding of the degree.

Transfer Credit

Up to 24 credits in graduate engineering courses are transferable to the Doctor of Engineering program upon approval by the department’s Doctor of Engineering Committee.

Other Requirements

A student must maintain high academic standing throughout the pursuit of the degree. He or she must spend at least one year at the University with full-time graduate student status to fulfill the university residence requirement.

Course Requirements

For the latest course information, including course descriptions, degree pathways and more please visit the UMass Lowell Graduate online Academic Catalog.

Students who have a B.S. Degree in Plastics Engineering from UMass Lowell are not required to take the Physical Properties Lab and Plastics Processing Lab. However, these students must still meet the 24 course credit hour program requirement.

Students who have a B.S. Degree in Plastics Engineering from UMass Lowell or an equivalent program may elect to test out of Advanced Plastics Materials and Advanced Plastics Processing. However, these students must still meet the 42 course credit hour program requirement by substituting other Plastics Engineering Graduate Courses.

A female UMass Lowell student seen through machinery in a Plastics Engineering lab.

Engineering Management Courses

Doctor of Engineering students are required to take 9 credits of graduate engineering management courses from the Manning School of Business or from the list of courses offered within the College of Engineering.

The latest course information, including course descriptions, degree pathways and can be found in the UMass Lowell Graduate online Academic Catalog.

Full Time vs. Part Time Status

The Doctor of Engineering Program in Plastics Engineering is primarily intended for full time graduate students, however, some students enrolled in the program take courses on a part time basis. Many of the courses required for this program are offered at night so that engineers working at local companies can take advantage of the program. Students taking fewer than 9 credits in a semester are considered part time, while those taking 9 or more credits are considered full time students. Graduate students must maintain full time student status in order to be eligible for teaching assistant (T.A.) or research assistant positions (R.A.).

Plastics Engineering Graduate Student Funding Policy

Teaching Assistant Positions: The Department of Plastics Engineering has a limited number of "Teaching Assistant” positions (T.A.) and "Research Assistant" Positions (R.A.) available for full time Masters and Doctoral Plastics Engineering Graduate Students. Only those students who have applied and have been accepted into the respective programs will be considered for such a position.

Most of the T.A. positions awarded by the department are "half" T.A. positions which provide a 9 credit tuition waiver and 9 credit fee waiver for in-state students, along with a stipend. Out-of-state students receive the 9 credit tuition waiver, a fee reduction and a stipend. A departmental committee selects the T.A.'s during the spring semester for the following September. It is recommended that interested candidates should visit the campus and meet with a Graduate Coordinator prior to June 1.

Research Assistant Positions: Unlike T.A. positions that are awarded by the Plastics Engineering Department, R.A. positions, either "full time" or "half time," are awarded by individual faculty who conduct funded research. Accepted students must correspond with the individual faculty to inquire about R.A. positions. Faculty research interests are listed in the Faculty section of the department web site. It is recommended that applicants interested in obtaining R.A. funding should send a letter and resume to those faculty having similar research interests.

Many of the full time graduate students enrolled in the Department of Plastics Engineering do not receive T.A. or R.A. funding, especially during their first year of study. Many students are able to arrange funding during their second year after completing much of their coursework and after having time to interact with the various faculty members; however, there is no guarantee of funding.