Theoretical and Applied Mechanics Ph.D. (Ithaca)

Field of Study

Theoretical and Applied Mechanics

Program Description

The Field of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics provides a strong background in engineering science and applied mathematics, which prepares students to carry out high-quality analytical or experimental research and to handle a wide variety of modern engineering problems. Course work provides a broad education in the mechanics of rigid and deformable bodies, applied mathematics, and modern experimental techniques.

Current research topics include solid mechanics (modeling of manufacturing processes, quantitative ultrasonic and acoustic emission techniques, fracture mechanics, composite materials, mechanics of human-powered vehicles, nonlinear elasticity); fluid mechanics (granular materials, strongly swirling flows); dynamics and space mechanics (evolution of the solar system, planetary rings and rotation of celestial bodies, qualitative analysis of dynamic problems in nonlinear mechanics, bifurcations, chaos); and biomechanics and biomathematics (respiration of plants, how fishes swim).

All students are required to minor in at least one other field. Frequently selected minors are aerospace engineering, applied mathematics, applied physics, astronomy, electrical and computer engineering, geophysics, materials science, mathematics, mechanical engineering, physics, and structural engineering. Students usually take four years to earn the Ph.D. degree.

Ph.D. students take a qualifying examination. For incoming students with a Bachelor's degree, the examination is usually held after they have completed two semesters of graduate studies at Cornell. For incoming students with a Master's degree, the examination is held after they have completed one semester of graduate studies at Cornell. They must also demonstrate proficiency in English and one of the following languages: French, German, Russian, Chinese, or Japanese. Teaching experience is required.

Contact Information

Phone: 607 255-5250

107 Upson Hall
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY  14853

Concentrations by Subject

  • dynamics and space mechanics
  • fluid mechanics
  • mechanics of materials
  • solid mechanics



Application Requirements and Deadlines

Application Deadlines:

Fall, Dec. 15; no spring admission

Requirements Summary:

The field has students from a variety of academic and geographical backgrounds. Students are expected to have a background in physics, mathematics, or any branch of engineering.

 *Due to COVID-19, the GRE general test is optional for fall 2021 admission.

Learning Outcomes

  • Make an original and substantial contribution to the discipline
  • Demonstrate advanced research skills
  • Demonstrate commitment to advancing the values of scholarship by keeping abreast of advances in the field, showing a commitment to professional development and supporting a learning environment through teaching, collaborating, or mentoring
  • Demonstrate professional skill in ethics, communication, and giving and receiving feedback