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Ph.D. in aerospace engineering

An AOE student holds a quadcopter
A student researcher works on an unmanned aerial system in the Nonlinear Systems Laboratory. The lab provides a facility for research and instruction in dynamics and control of nonlinear systems. It is a core laboratory in the Virginia Center for Autonomous Systems (VaCAS).

This research-oriented degree can focus on one or more specializations, including

  •  aero-hydrodynamics
  • dynamics and control
  • structures and structural dynamics
  • ocean engineering
  • applied physics
  • space engineering
  • applied mathematics

For more information on degree requirements, see the Graduate Study Policies and Procedures Manual.

Research project/final dissertation

This degree requires an in-depth research project, which will serve as the subject of the final dissertation. Recent research projects have focused on:

  • computational fluid dynamics (CFD)
  • experimental fluid mechanics (both high and low speed)
  • instrumentation development
  • composite materials
  • structural optimization
  • flutter analysis
  • nonlinear flight control
  • pilot-aircraft interactions
  • aerodynamic modeling
  • computer aided design
  • interdisciplinary design and optimization
  • trajectory analysis and optimization
  • and space mechanics and space vehicle design

Many of these projects are tied to industry and government-sponsored programs, and include interaction with personnel and facilities from those organizations. 

For more details on thesis requirements and procedures, see the Graduate Study Policies and Procedures Manual.

Graduate checklists

A formal description of the Ph.D. in aerospace engineering, its requirements, and more detailed information on all AOE graduate programs can be found in the graduate checklists. 

Preliminary exam and final oral exam

A preliminary written and oral exam and a final comprehensive oral exam are required of all students completing the Ph.D. degree. Guidelines for these exams are described in the AOE Graduate Study Policies and Procedures Manual.