Degree Requirements

  • 30 course credits (10 courses) 
    • 18 credits (6 courses) following the guide of your study track area and 
    • 12 credits (4 courses) approved elective courses
  • Establish and meet with Qualifying Exam Committee (QEC) - Committee approval form
  • Complete Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) training
  • Complete two semesters of teaching assistantship
  • Pass the preliminary examination - Prelim outcome form
  • Complete and defend a dissertation - Defense forms
  • Pass a final examination

During their training, many students also complete:

Students Entering with an M.S.

Students entering the PhD program with a Masters from another institution should consult the DGS and their advisor for possible substitution of other courses and/or waivers of some of these course requirements, depending on the content and extent of prior coursework. Students are also subject to general Graduate School degree requirements, available on their website: for the MS degree and for the PhD.

Study Tracks

This department offers two specialization areas which direct the core courses the student will take.

Elective Courses

Choose any FOUR (12 cr) graduate level or approved higher level undergraduate courses. You can find most MEMS course descriptions here, but for the most up to date and accurate information please see the registrar's website.

Note: Although these can be any Duke courses to render the program flexible, preference should be given to MEMS and engineering courses to develop the necessary disciplinary depth.

Teaching Assistantships

All PhD students must complete two semesters of a Teaching Assistantship (TA) prior to graduation. It is expected that the student will complete this requirement some time during his/her third (3) through eighth (8) semester. Teaching Assistantships will be assigned by the DGS based on the background and interests of the student and the current department needs. Teaching Assistantships are expected to require 10 hours per week on average and may involve such activities as organizing and leading discussion sections, grading homework and quizzes, assisting in the development of course materials, supervising laboratory sessions and so forth. More information.


Students can also pursue various graduate certificate programs that offer additional areas of specialization and exploration. Certificates generally do not add substantially to the course load. Interested students should meet with the DGS to work the certificate into their curriculum.