The Reliability Engineering Program offers both Masters (M.S.) and Ph.D. degrees with the elected certification in Risk and Reliability Engineering (RRE).
The Doctor of Philosophy degree is awarded in recognition of high level of scholarship, the ability to carry out independent research, and the publication of such research in archival journals. A high level of academic achievement is expected in the course work completed by the student. The program of study for the degree must consist of research and the preparation of a dissertation describing it, primarily in reliability and risk engineering.
These degrees are available on a full-time or part-time basis for both degree seeking and non-degree seeking students. These courses are usually offered in the late afternoon or evening and are also available as distance-delivered courses to non-resident students.
As early as possible, students should identify the faculty member whom they would like to serve as their coursework and research advisor. For research assistants, the faculty providing the financial support is also the advisor. A student’s advisor will also serve as chairperson of the student’s Dissertation Committee (see below).
All students entering the doctoral program are required to take the qualifying exam. Information on the Reliability Engineering Qualifying Exams follow:
Reliability Engineering Qualification Examination
1. Goals of the Exam: The primary goal of the exam is to evaluate the student’s ability to do independent research. The student will be given a topic not necessarily familiar to him/her, but in the general field of reliability engineering. The student’s performance will be evaluated based on the following criteria:
- familiarity and depth of understanding of the relevant literature;
- originality of student’s ideas in addressing the research issue; and
- clarity and quality of communicating the ideas to the committee.
2. When to take the Exam: Reliability Engineering Doctoral students are eligible to take the qualifying exam after the completion of the reliability core course requirement with a GPA of 3.5 or better. The following core courses must be completed within a doctoral student’s first four semesters:
- ENRE 600 Fundamentals of Failure Mechanisms
- ENRE 602 Reliability Analysis
3. Exam Schedule: The exams are typically scheduled during February of the Spring semester and October of the Fall semester.
4. Exam Preliminaries and Procedures:
- Exam Topic: The student should contact the chair of his/her qualifying exam committee, ten days prior to the date of the exam to obtain the topic. The student should make sure that he/she fully understands the research question(s) being asked. It is recommended that he/she discuss any clarification questions that they might have about the topic with the committee Chair. The student is expected to spend ten days to perform the needed research and be prepared to present his/her approach to the committee.
- Exam Committee Composition: The examining committee will be formed by three full-time faculty members, at least two of whom are expected to be from the Reliability Engineering Program.
- Written Requirement: The student will prepare a one page written summary report. The student should study the assigned and other pertinent literature on the selected topic in order to be able to formulate research questions within the topic, suitable for doctoral-level investigation and to outline their approach for carrying out such investigation. The results of this study are to be summarized on one page, formatted as follows: single-spaced, 12-point type, and one-inch margins all around. The summery must consist of the following three paragraphs: (i) a paragraph reviewing the pertinent literature on the assigned topic, (ii) a paragraph identifying a research issue related to the topic that the student feels worthy of doctoral-level research, and (iii) a paragraph describing a suitable research approach (experimental, numerical, and/or analytical) to address the research issues proposed by the student. The summery is to be submitted to each member of the committee by noon three days prior to the scheduled exam.
- Oral Exam: The examination will be about an hour long. The exam will begin with a 30 minute presentation, which would mean about a maximum of 20 viewgraphs in electronic form and/or hard copy. A computer and an overhead projector can be arranged through the Department before the exam. The presentation will be followed by questions from the committee, and there may be questions during the student’s presentation as well. The student should not request a review of his/her presentation material by the committee members prior to the examination.
5. Exam Outcome: The examining committee will confer immediately after the exam, carry out deliberations about the exam outcome, reach a decision, and convey this decision through the Examination Committee Chair to the Graduate Studies Office. The student will be notified about the outcome of the exam in writing by the Graduate Studies Office, within about two weeks after the exam.
The Ph.D. Coursework Plan sets forth the entire program of study that will be undertaken to satisfy the course requirements for the doctoral degree. The program of study must be compiled in consultation with the student’s advisor, who must approve the coursework plan. The plan should then be submitted to the Graduate Studies Office of the Department of Reliability Engineering for approval by the Department Graduate Committee and the Director of Graduate Studies, in the first semester of study. The Graduate Committee generally approves coursework plans only once a semester during the first meeting of the semester.
Changes to the plan are permitted, but must be approved by the student’s advisor, the Director of Graduate Studies, and the Graduate Committee prior to their implementation. Most revisions will need to be re-approved by the Graduate Committee; since the Graduate Committee only reviews Ph.D. coursework plans once every semester, students should understand that most revisions are not immediately approved. A new plan reflecting the changes must be filed with the Graduate Studies Office every time a change is made.
Ph.D. students require a minimum of 36 semester hours of courses with at least 30 semester hours at the 600 level or above (this includes all required courses for the MS plus 6 additional 600 level credits, at least six of the courses in a student's coursework plan must be in ENRE). These 36 semester hours of courses may not include any doctoral research credit (ENRE 899). PhD students must also pass a qualifying oral exam taken after the core courses and at least two additional ENRE elective courses have been taken. Students entering into the program with an MS degree will be given credit for the courses taken in that program up to 24 credits with the approval of the student's advisor and the Department of Reliability Engineering Graduate Committee. The coursework plan must contain the following Reliability Engineering core courses:
- ENRE 600 Fundamentals of Failure Mechanisms
- ENRE 602 Reliability Analysis
Students may not register for more than a total of six credits of ENRE 648: Special Problems in Reliability Engineering, no more than three credits in a single semester. For each registration of ENRE 648 an approved scholarly paper must be submitted to the Graduate Studies Office. Research completed for ENRE 648 may not overlap with a student’s thesis or dissertation topic. Furthermore, under no circumstances will students be permitted after the completion of the semester in which the credits were taken to convert ENRE 648 credit to thesis (ENRE 799) or dissertation (ENRE 899) credits.
Coursework plans should be submitted electronically using the online Plan of Study form.
Functions of the Dissertation Committee include conducting the dissertation-proposal review, conducting the final review of the dissertation, advising and aiding students in completing the program of study, advising the student in the research activity as necessary and evaluating the student’s progress. The Dissertation Committee is formally nominated through the completion of the Nomination of Thesis or Dissertation Committee Form.
The Chair of the Dissertation Committee is the student’s advisor. Each Dissertation Examining Committee shall have appointed to it a representative of the Dean of the Graduate School. The Dean's Representative should have some background or interest related to the student's research. The Dean's Representative must be a Tenured Member of the Graduate Faculty at University of Maryland and must be from a graduate program other than the student's home department. In cases where a student is in an interdisciplinary graduate program, the Dean's Representative may not be a faculty member participating in the interdisciplinary program. The remaining members of the Dissertation Committee must be members of the Graduate Faculty of the University of Maryland. Persons from outside the University of Maryland or non-tenure track faculty may serve on Dissertation Examining Committees, but must be Special Members of the Graduate Faculty. These special members must be in addition to the required five Tenured/Tenure Track Members of the University of Maryland Graduate Faculty.
To nominate an individual to serve as a Special Member, the student’s advisor needs to contact the ME Graduate Office at email@example.com for further instructions.
Specific instructions regarding the process and forms for nominating an individual to the graduate faculty can be located here.
Reliability Engineering students are expected to appoint their Dissertation Committee before their dissertation proposal is presented. To nominate the examining committee, the student must complete the Nomination of Thesis or Dissertation Committee Form [pdf] and return it to the Graduate Studies Office for approval and forwarding to the Registrar's Office. Changes to a dissertation committee due to unavoidable circumstances can be made at any time, with the approval of the student’s advisor, the Director of Graduate Studies and the Graduate School. Further information on deadlines for submission of the Nomination of Thesis or Dissertation Committee can be found here.
The advisor and student are notified in writing by the Graduate School regarding approval of the nominated doctoral dissertation committee and the Report of the Examining Committee Form is generated. Until the time of the student’s dissertation defense, the Report of the Examining Committee form is kept in the student’s file in the Graduate Studies Office.
The doctoral dissertation proposal is a formal presentation of the research the student plans to undertake as the basis for the Ph.D. dissertation. The dissertation proposal must be prepared in written form under the guidance of the student’s prospective dissertation advisor, and presented for approval by the student’s prospective dissertation committee. A dissertation proposal will be considered to have been approved when signed by all committee members after the proposal defense and submitted to the Graduate Studies Office for inclusion in the student’s file.
Proposal Format and Submission
- Proposals need to be submitted at least a week before the proposal defense to the committee members
- Proposal format should follow the dissertation format of the Graduate School and it is preferable to have the material presented in single space with 12 point font
- It is left open to the committee members to accept an electronic copy of the proposal
In addition to the University requirements for composition of a dissertation committee, the Reliability Engineering Program requires that all dissertation committees for Reliability engineering doctoral students contain five regular (tenure or tenure-track) faculty members. Research faculty and outside scientists are permitted, after approval.
Reliability Engineering students who matriculate into the doctoral program with an M.S. degree must present their doctoral dissertation proposals no later than the end of the fourth semester following their entry into this program. In the event the proposal is not approved, the student will be given until the end of the fourth semester to gain the approval of a proposed dissertation topic.
Reliability Engineering students who matriculate into the doctoral program with a B.S. degree, or whose admission status is changed from the M.S. program to the doctoral program, must present their doctoral dissertation proposals by no later than the end of the sixth semester following their entry into the doctoral program, or the M.S. program, whichever occurs first. In the event the proposal is not approved, the student will be given until the end of the seventh semester to gain the approval of a proposed dissertation topic.
Reliability Engineering students must present their doctoral dissertation proposals by no later than two semesters following their completion of the Qualifying Examination. In the event the proposal is not approved, the student will be given until the end of the seventh semester to gain the approval of a proposed dissertation topic.
Students who are unable to secure the approval of a proposed dissertation topic within the time limits set forth above will not be allowed to continue in the doctoral program. Such students will be permitted to remain in the program for one additional semester, after which their graduate admission will be terminated. Under no circumstances will such students be considered for readmission into the doctoral program.
Once a student has passed his or her doctoral qualifying examination, completed the coursework in the doctoral program of study, and has obtained approval for his or her doctoral dissertation proposal, the student is considered to have completed the preliminary training and demonstrated his or her potential to successfully complete the Ph.D. degree. This is formally confirmed by the Graduate School by recognizing the student as a Ph.D. Candidate. The student must submit the Application for Admission to Candidacy Form to the Graduate Studies Office. This form must be approved by the Graduate Director and by the Graduate School. Students must be admitted to candidacy at least 6 months prior to the date on which the degree will be conferred.
It is the responsibility of the student to submit an Application for Admission to Candidacy Form when all the requirements for candidacy have been fulfilled. Applications received prior to the 25th of the month will be processed such that the student's doctoral candidacy goes into effect on the first day of the following month.
Reliability Engineering Doctoral students who do not hold an M.S. degree in Reliability Engineering, may be awarded a non-thesis M.S. degree at advancement to candidacy. Reliability Engineering Students who wish to apply for this degree must have completed a minimum of 30 credits of graduate coursework. At least 24 credits must have been taken at the University of Maryland and at least 21 credits must have been derived from courses taken at the 600-level or above. In such cases, the doctoral dissertation proposal fulfills the research paper requirement of the non-thesis option and the doctoral proposal defense serves as the department comprehensive examination. In addition, students must file the following forms:
- The Request for Inclusion or Transfer of Credits [pdf] (if transferring credits not used for a previous graduate degree from another institution) must be filed with the Graduate School, 2123 Lee Building.
- The Certification of Master’s Degree without Thesis Form [pdf] must be filed with the Registrar's Office.
- The Approved Program Form [pdf] must be filed with the Registrar's Office.
- The Graduation Application (Application for Diploma) is submitted online.
A hard copy of the above forms may be obtained at the ME Graduate Studies Office.
The doctoral dissertation must be prepared in consultation with the current edition of the University of Maryland Thesis Manual, which may be obtained online at The University of Maryland Electronic Thesis and Dissertation (ETD) Style Guide. A typed copy of the dissertation, after the student’s advisor has approved it, must be provided to each member of the examining committee at least two weeks prior to the date of the examination.
In addition, one week prior to the examination date, a notice must be sent to the ME Graduate Office at firstname.lastname@example.org inviting faculty and students to the formal thesis presentation.
Each doctoral candidate is required to defend his or her doctoral dissertation orally in English. The defense consists of a formal presentation of the dissertation followed by a closed session where the examining committee reviews the student’s work. The dissertation defense cannot be held until the Graduate School approves the composition of the nominated dissertation examining committee. About a week prior to the date the dissertation defense is scheduled to take place, the student is advised to verify that the Report of the Examining Committee is in his or her file in the Graduate Studies Office of the Department of Reliability Engineering. The student’s advisor will then pick it up just prior to the dissertation defense and bring it with him or her to the examination.
When the student has passed the examination, the Report of the Examining Committee is signed by all members of the committee and submitted to the Graduate Studies Office for forwarding to Graduate School.
An electronic copy of the dissertation is to be submitted to the Graduate Studies Office and also must be submitted to the Registrar’s Office. Once this is done we ask that students fill out the Departmental Exit Information Form.
The following forms must be completed and submitted prior to graduation:
- Application for Diploma, also referred to as Graduation Candidate Application must be submitted online.
- Report of Examining Committee. This form is generated by the Registrar's Office upon the Graduate School's approval of the Nomination of Thesis Committee form and kept on file in the Graduate Studies Office. The signed Report of the Examining Committee form must be submitted to the Registrar's Office.
- An electronic copy of the thesis must be submitted to the Graduate School at UMI ETD Administrator.
- One copy of the approved thesis should be submitted to the Graduate Studies Office.
The deadlines for the above forms are posted online. Failure to submit the above listed forms by the established deadlines will result in postponement of the student’s graduation to the following semester. In the semester prior to graduation students should verify with the Graduate Studies Office that they have met all the requirements for graduation.
- Ph.D. Coursework Plan [pdf] Approved by Advisor, Graduate Director, and Graduate Committee
- Ph.D. Qualifying Exam Mechanical Engineering (preferred)
- Ph.D. Qualifying Exam Mechanical Engineering
(required if not taken previous semester)
3rd or 4th
- Application for Diploma (Ph.D.) submitted by first week of semester
- Ph.D. Dissertation Defense (no less than 6 months after admission to candidacy)
- Report of Examining Committee Form submitted following defense (pick up form in ME Grad Office)
- 1 copy of Dissertation submitted to Graduate Studies Office
*Admission to candidacy must be obtained within five years from entrance into the Ph.D. program. All remaining degree requirements must be completed within four years following admission to candidacy.
Students seeking a graduate degree must maintain an average grade of B (3.0) in all courses that have been taken for graduate credit since enrollment in the degree program. Ph.D. students enrolled in the Reliability Engineering program must complete the core courses with a minimal GPA of 3.5 in order to qualify for the Ph.D. Qualifying Exam.
Time Limitation and Transfer of Credits
With the exception of the six semester-hours of graduate-level course credits applicable for possible transfer to the master’s degree program, all requirements for the master’s degree must be completed within a five-year period. When extraordinary conditions arise, this limitation can sometimes be extended to seven years by submitting a waiver request. This time limit applies to all coursework, including transfer credits from other institutions.
Admission to candidacy must be obtained within five calendar years after admission into the doctoral program. All remaining requirements for the degree must be completed within four years of the admission to candidacy.
Prior to registering for any courses, students should consult with their advisor. The Graduate Studies Office can advise and assist students in locating an advisor. It is the student’s responsibility to develop an approved coursework plan at the beginning of the first semester of study in consultation with their advisor. Courses that are not on an approved coursework plan will not be counted toward the degree.
Minimum Registration Requirements
Graduate students are required to register every fall and spring semester during the duration of their graduated studies. In addition, students must be registered for at least one credit during the semester they graduate (including summer semesters).
Upon achieving doctoral candidacy, the Graduate School additionally requires that doctoral candidates be registered for at least 12 credit hours of ENRE 899 until graduation.
Distance Program Requirements
All classes are recorded for viewing on the Internet as streaming video. The material is copyrighted and may not be used for any other purpose than its original intent. Off-campus students usually contact their instructor by telephone and e-mail. In some courses, a Teaching Assistant is available to work with students when help is needed.
For students to participate in this distance-learning program, they must be able to arrange for a suitable proctor to oversee exams. It is usual for the Training Department of a company to provide proctoring of employees taking these exams. Distance exams unless otherwise specified by the instructor are to be completed in one session on the date of the exam. Students must make prior arrangements for the proctor to administer the exam on the exam date.
Official status (either full-time or part-time) for academic purposes will be determined on the basis of a student's registration at the end of the Schedule Adjustment Period (the first ten days of classes). Students receiving a private scholarship must maintain full-time status throughout the semester in order to keep their scholarship, unless otherwise stipulated by the donor in writing. International students on F-1 and J-1 student visas must also maintain full-time status throughout each semester according to Federal regulations governing F-1 and J-1 students. Please contact an advisor in International Student & Scholar Services (ISSS) at 301-314-7744 if you have any questions concerning full-time status.
To be certified as a full-time student a graduate student must be officially registered for a combination of courses equivalent to 48 units per semester. Graduate assistants holding full-time teaching or research appointments are considered full-time students if they are registered for at least 24 units. Courses taken for Audit do not generate graduate units and cannot be used in calculating full-time or part-time status. The list below gives the number of units per credit hour for each course level.
2 units per credit hour
4 units per credit hour
5 units per credit hour
6 units per credit hour
12 units per credit hour
(Pre-candidacy doctoral research)
18 units per credit hour
(Doctoral dissertation research)
18 units per credit hour
6 units per credit hour
2 units per credit hour
4 units per credit hour
2 units per credit hour
*All doctoral candidates must be registered for six credit hours of 899, for which they must pay candidacy tuition.