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Doctoral Programs

Energy Engineering Doctoral Program

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

The objective of UMass Lowell's doctoral program in energy engineering is to prepare engineers for leadership positions in industry, academia and government to provide society with sustainable energy systems. Presently there are two areas of concentration: renewable and nuclear. The renewable concentration is administered by the Mechanical & Industrial Engineering Department and the nuclear engineering concentration is administered by the Chemical Engineering Department.

Admission Requirements

The applicant is required to have an M.S. degree in engineering or other suitable technical area, or its equivalent, or to have completed fifteen credit hours of graduate study, with a minimum grade point average of 3.250.

Students may be required to make up prerequisites which they lack in comparison to the equivalent Engineering curriculum at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. Students may apply for transfer of up to a maximum of 24 credits in acceptable graduate engineering courses (with grade of B or better) towards the doctoral program, upon approval by the Program Doctoral Committee.

Applicants must meet all Graduate Admissions standards for this program, which includes three letters of recommendation and official GRE scores.

Course Requirements

A total of 63 credit hours of graduate level courses are required for both the Ph.D. degree. The Ph.D. degree must involve a traditional research-based dissertation, plus:

  • A minimum of 30 approved credit hours of graduate-level engineering including associated science and math courses.
  • A minimum of 21 credit hours of doctoral dissertation.
  • The balance of the remaining 12 credits can be a mix of graduate-level engineering including associated science and math course and dissertation credits at the discretion of the department, faculty advisor and dissertation committee.
  • In addition to this 63 semester hours of approved graduate courses and dissertation:
    • The student must have a minimum grade point average of 3.250 to graduate.
    • The student is required to take and pass the doctoral qualifying examination.
Core Courses

The core requirements will consist of two courses in advanced mathematics, two courses in thermal/fluid processes, one course in materials, and one course in systems/controls. The specific courses follow:

Advanced Mathematics (select two of these or suitable alternatives with approval of the graduate coordinator):

Thermal/Fluid Processes (select two of these or suitable alternatives with approval of the graduate coordinator):

Materials (select one of these or a suitable alternative with approval of the graduate coordinator):

  • CHEN.5060 Interfacial Science and Engineering and Colloids
  • CHEN.5080 Material Science and Engineering
  • CHEN.5230 Nanodevices and Electronic Materials
  • PLAS.5470 Materials for Renewable Energy and Sustainability
  • CHEN.5350 Principles of Cell and Microbe Cultivation
  • PHYS.5390 Electro_Optics

Systems/Controls (select one of these or a suitable alternative with approval of the graduate coordinator):

Concentration Courses

A total of 12 credits of concentration courses must be taken, either from the renewable area or from the nuclear area. The specific courses in those areas follow:

Renewable (select four of these or suitable alternatives with approval of the graduate coordinator):

Nuclear (select five of these or suitable alternatives with approval of the graduate coordinator):

  • ENGY.5040 Energy Engineering Workshop
  • ENGY.5050 Nuclear Reactor Physics
  • ENGY.5060 Special Topics in Nuclear Reactor Physics
  • ENGY.5070 Nuclear Reactor Engineering and Safety Analysis
  • ENGY.5080 Special Topics in Nuclear Reactor Engineering
  • ENGY.5110 Advanced Reactor Concepts
  • ENGY.5140 Hazardous and Nuclear Waste Management
  • ENGY.5190 Nuclear Reactor Operator Training I
  • ENGY.5200 Nuclear Reactor Operator Training II

For Nuclear Option Students

Qualifying Examination

Students are required to take the qualifying examination within their first year of residency in the program. The first part of the exam is intended to cover knowledge of undergraduate engineering and is satisfied by passing the Professional Engineering Fundamentals Exam. The second part is intended to cover topics in an area of energy engineering of the student's interest, with the approval of the student's thesis advisor. The written part of this examination is closed book and composed of two sections, each of three hours duration. The examination is set and evaluated by the program Graduate Examination Committee, which determines whether or not a student shall be eligible to take the oral portion. Students who pass the written part of the qualifying examination must take the oral part of the examination within 6 weeks of notification of results of the written exam. The student is permitted two attempts at passing the qualifying examination which is administered on a declared schedule. Students who fail the qualifying examination the first time must retake the exam at its next scheduled offering. Students failing the doctoral exam twice will be automatically dismissed from the doctoral program.


Students may register for no more than six credit hours of research in preparing a formal dissertation proposal. This proposal, and the student's ability to perform the research, must be orally defended before the student's doctoral committee and other interested parties. The written proposal and oral defense constitute the candidacy examination. Upon passing this examination and completing all course requirements, the student becomes a candidate for the Ph.D. degree and may register for additional research credit with the adviser's approval.

The research work for the dissertation shall be conducted under the supervision of a program faculty advisor and a committee of two others, at least one of whom must be a faculty member in the university with the appropriate background for the thesis topic.

For Renewable Option Students:

Combined Qualifying Examination and Dissertation Proposal

The Doctoral Qualifying Exam will consist of a written dissertation proposal (a document of typically 20 to 50 pages with appendices) and associated oral presentation by the examinee to an audience of peers and a committee of faculty members (minimum of three) where one of whom must be the examine's dissertation adviser. The committee may have in addition one of more members from outside UMass Lowell.

At least two weeks prior to the date of the presentation of the dissertation proposal, an announcement document must be submitted to the department graduate coordinator and to the Associate Dean of Graduate Studies in the College of Engineering by the Associate Dean of Graduate Studies.

The dissertation proposal is open to the public. The proposal will outline the motivation for the research, give a summary of the related past work in the area and present the scope of the proposed dissertation research. The presentation should be approximately 30 minutes. The proposal should clearly articulate the proposed contribution of the student to the knowledge base and how it differs from the past work. The examinee will be expected to answer questions from the audience that demonstrate his/her understanding of the proposed research, as well as demonstration his/her proficiency in the general research field related to the dissertation proposal.

Other Requirements

  • The student must have a minimum grade point average of 3.250 in order to graduate.