Doctor of Philosophy

The doctor of philosophy (PhD) in the School of Mechatronic Systems Engineering is a program intended for those who wish to develop advanced independent research skills. Candidates with strong aptitude for research and exceptional quantitative, analytical, and design skills pursue a research-intensive program leading to a substantial contribution to knowledge in multidisciplinary areas including mechanical and electrical engineering.


Program Requirements

This program consists of course work, a qualifying examination, and a thesis for a minimum of 21 units. Students may take additional courses to correct any deficiencies in their background upon approval of their supervisor. If the subject matter of a listed course has been previously completed with graduate credit, the course may not be completed again for credit.

Students must succesfully complete the following nine(9) courses in order to graduate:


MSE 801 - Writing for Engineers (3 units) OR
ENSC 803 - Writing for Publication (3 units)


An MSE graduate course, selected in consultation with your supervisor (cannot be a Directed Studies course)


An MSE graduate course, selected in consultation with your supervisor (cannot be a Directed Studies course)


A FAS or SCI graduate technical course (including MSE 891 - Directed Studies I or 892 - Directed Studies II)


A FAS or SCI graduate technical course (cannot be a Directed Studies course)


MSE 804 - Graduate Seminar (#1) must be completed twice


MSE 804 - Graduate Seminar (#2)


MSE 890 - PhD Qualifying Examination (must be taken every term until completion of your QE)


MSE 899 - PhD Thesis (must be taken every term until you defend your thesis)



Program Length

Students are expected to complete the program requirements within four years.


Other Information


Transfer to PhD from Master in Applied Science

Proceeding to a PhD program without completing a master's degree is discouraged. However, a student may be transferred when all of the following conditions have been met which are above the minimum university requirements:

  • The application for a transfer is submitted within the first six terms of the MASc program at SFU;
  • All the MASc coursework requirements have been completed with a CGPA of 3.67/4.33 or better;
  • A recommendation by the student's supervisor indicates demonstrated potential for outstanding research;
  • The student's supervisory committee and the graduate program committee approve.

Annual Progress Review

The student's progress will be reviewed at least once every 12 months by the supervisory committee. At each annual review, the student presents a summary of his/her work to date, with the second review normally being the research proposal defence as described in the section for Qualifying Examination (see above). Students not making satisfactory progress in their research topics, or failing to demonstrate satisfactory knowledge and understanding of recent publications in their general area of research, or failing to have their revised research proposal approved by their supervisory committee within 24 months of admission, may be required to withdraw from the program as per section 1.8.2 Review of Unsatisfactory Progress of the Graduate General Regulations.

Optional Industrial Internship

Students in the PhD program may complete an optional internship course of paid practical experience in an appropriate industrial setting to complement their academic studies. The internship will appear on the student's transcript, but does not count towards the student's CGPA and course requirements for the degree. Students require a pre-approval from both their supervisor and the graduate program chair in order to apply for the internship.

Qualifying Exam

To qualify, the student will submit a brief written research proposal and defend it orally to his/her supervisory committee within the first 24 months of admission. The proposal's defence will be judged according to the feasibility and scientific merits of the proposed research, and demonstration of a sophisticated understanding of general material in the student's major area of research. This level of understanding is associated with senior undergraduate and first year graduate course material. The possible outcomes of the qualifying examination are the following: Satisfactory or Unsatisfactory. A student with an unsatisfactory grade may be permitted to take the exam a second time. A student with an outcome of unsatisfactory for a second time is required to withdraw from the program.


Students define and undertake original research, the results of which are reported in a thesis. An examining committee is formed as defined in Graduate General Regulation 1.9.3. The supervisor will be a Mechatronic Systems Engineering faculty member approved by the graduate program committee.

Academic Requirements within the Graduate General Regulations

All graduate students must satisfy the academic requirements that are specified in the Graduate General Regulations, as well as the specific requirements for the program in which they are enrolled.


Residence Requirement

Students must conform to the residence requirements stipulated in Graduate General Regulations 1.12.