Joint Doctoral Program

San Diego State University, in collaboration with the University of California, San Diego, offers four doctoral degrees (Ph.D.) in:

Each of the distinctive programs involves graduate level courses and research projects under the supervision of SDSU faculty in the fields of Aerospace, Civil, Construction, Electrical and Computer, and Mechanical Engineering with cooperating faculty from the University of California, San Diego. The Ph.D. degree is awarded jointly by the two institutions.


Applicants must have a bachelor's degree or master's degree from an accredited institution and must meet the requirements for classified graduate admission to both SDSU and UCSD. A minimum grade point average of 3.0 in the major field for students with a B.S. and 3.5 for students with the M.S. degree is required.

The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is required with the following minimum scores:

  • Quantitave: 159
  • Verbal: 153
  • Analytical Writing: 4.0

The GRE must have been taken within the last 5 years to be accepted.

The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is required for all applicants who did not earn a degree from an English-speaking university.

TOEFL minimum score is 80 on the Internet Based Test (IBT), 213 on the Computer Based Test (CBT), or 550 on the Paper Based Test (PBT).

IELTS minimum score is 6.5. 

TOEFL or IELTS must have been taken within the last 2 years to be accepted.

  • Applications for Fall 2019 are now: CLOSED
  • Applications for Fall 2020 will be accepted from: OCTOBER 1, 2019 to FEBRUARY 15, 2020

Spring, Summer, and Winter admissions are not offered.

A complete application to the Engineering JDP includes:

  1. Online California State University graduate application and Interfolio supplemental application
     a. Be sure to select San Diego State University for campus and one of the four degrees in the Engineering JDP:
           o Engineering Sciences (Bioengineering)
           o Engineering Sciences (Electrical and Computer)
           o Engineering Sciences (Mechanical and Aerospace)
           o Engineering Sciences (Structural)
  2. Online University of California - San Diego graduate application
    a. Be sure to select one of the four degrees in the Engineering JDP:
           o Engineering Sciences (Bioengineering)
           o Engineering Sciences (Electrical and Computer)
           o Engineering Sciences (Mechanical and Aerospace)
           o Engineering Sciences (Structural)
  3. Payment of application fees to SDSU and UCSD
  4. Official transcripts from all previous institutions attended sent to SDSU and UCSD
  5. Official certificates of all degrees earned sent to SDSU and UCSD
  6. Official GRE and TOEFL (if applicable) scores sent to SDSU and UCSD
  7. Resume/CV uploated to SDSU supplemental application and UCSD graduate application
  8. Statement of Purpose uploaded to SDSU supplemental application and UCSD graduate application
  9. Three letters of recommendation uploaded to SDSU supplemental application and UCSD graduate application
  10. Acceptance by an SDSU faculty member to serve as advisor with confirmation sent to SDSU Program Manager

Steps 1 and 2 are completed via the SDSU graduate application online. Do not submit an application or any supporting documents directly to UCSD as they will not be reviewed or added to your SDSU application.

Steps 3 and 4 are completed by mailing official documents to:

Graduate Admissions
San Diego State University
5500 Campanile Drive
San Diego, CA 92182-7416

If any documents are in a language other than English, they must be translated either by the issuing institution or a translation company selected by the applicant and the original language document must be sent with the translation.

Step 5 is completed by sending official scores from ETS to SDSU (ETS Code: 4682).

Steps 6, 7, and 8 are submitted online via the Interfolio supplemental application.

Step 9: Securing an SDSU faculty advisor is required before an application may be reviewed. Applicants may contact faculty members directly to inquire if they wish to serve as their advisor. A listing of faculty, their research, and contact info can be found on each departmental website: 

Aerospace Engineering

Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering

Electrical and Computer Engineering

Mechanical Engineering

The application and ALL supporting documents as indicated in steps 1 thru 9 above must be submitted by February 15, 2018. Documents received after that date will not be accepted and incomplete applications will be automatically rejected. 

Admission occurs when the applicant is formally accepted by the graduate deans of both universities and then affirms their intent to enroll. 

For more information contact:

Donovan Geiger, Joint Doctoral Program Manager
Email: [email protected]
Telephone: (619) 594-6079  

When a student is admitted to the Doctoral Program, the directors of the Engineering Joint Doctoral Program at SDSU and UCSD will appoint a three member Advising Committee consisting of at least one member from each institution.

It is the responsibility of this committee to develop in consultation with the student a course of study and plan of preparation for the Doctoral Qualifying Examination. The qualifying examination should be taken as soon as possible after the two years of study at the two institutions. Students with advanced standing may be capable of taking the exam earlier.

Upon the student's successful completion of the examination, the Advising Committee will recommend the membership of the student's Doctoral Committee, which upon appointment, will supersede the Advising Committee and be responsible for the student's program of study and dissertation research. The Doctoral Committee will consist of three members from each institution with one being from a department outside the student's research area.

The PhD degree is a research degree and represents both attainment of advanced knowledge and demonstration of research skills. Therefore, no specific course requirements for the Joint Doctoral Program exist. However, the Advising Committee will usually select specific coursework to prepare the student for the Qualifying Examination. On average, a student will take between 10 and 12 courses. Upon satisfactory completion of the Qualifying Examination and appointment of the student's Doctoral Committee, an appropriate program of course work will be developed in order to enhance the student's research capabilities in the subject of the dissertation.

The normative time for the Engineering Doctoral Program is five years. The regulations concerning the normative time are described in the SDSU and UCSD general catalogs and are initiated at the time the student is admitted to the program. Students are expected to make continuous, satisfactory progress and to remain in good standing at both institutions while enrolled.

The degree of Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Engineering Science (Aerospace and Mechanical), Engineering Science (Bioengineering), Engineering Science (Electrical and Computer), or Engineering Science (Structural) are awarded jointly by the Trustees of The California State University and the Regents of the University of California.

The laboratories of the engineering departments involved in the program are fully equipped for modern research in different areas of engineering science. Major items include sub- and supersonic wind tunnels, a low speed water channel, shake tables, an acoustic visualization system, soil mechanics laboratory, powder technology laboratory, microelectromechanical laboratory, and a biodynamics laboratory. Research support, machine shops, and numerous computational facilities are also available; SDSU is also a member of the regional CRAY Supercomputer Consortium and is the only participant in The California State University System.

As of fall 2019, tuition at SDSU for the JDP is:

$5,930 per year for California residents

$10,682 per year for non-residents and international students

Tuition waivers are competitive and limited. If granted, tuition waivers are issued for one year at a time and not guaranteed to renew. Applicants are advised to have appropriate financial savings to cover tuition costs for the duration of their studies.

Apart from tuition costs, faculty advisers strive to provide adequate financial support for their students so that full time can be devoted to research and graduate level study. Teaching and research assistantships are approximately $22,000 per year with benefits. Students are also expected to obtain teaching experience which will be carried out under the supervision of faculty members participating in the program.

San Diego has a very high cost of living and applicants should calculate anticipated costs to support their expected standard of living before attending.

San Diego is located on the coast of southern California, about two hours south of Los Angeles by car. San Diego is a major metropolitan city with over 1.3 million residents, making it the 2nd largest city in California and the 7th largest in America. It is home to many beautiful beaches, mountains, and a year-round warm Mediterranean-style climate. San Diego also supports a vibrant economy and world-class entertainment, historical, and sporting venues.

SDSU is located about 10 minutes east (by car) from downtown San Diego and is served by the San Diego Trolley and several bus lines. UCSD is located about 15 minutes north by car of downtown San Diego and is served by several bus lines and a local university shuttle.

SDSU Program Director - Temesgen Garoma, PhD
619-594-0597, [email protected]

SDSU Program Manager - Donovan Geiger, MBA
619-594-6079, [email protected]

UCSD Program Director - Enrique Luco, PhD
858-534-4338, [email protected]

UCSD Program Manager - Kate Balderston
858-822-4636, [email protected]

Engineering Joint Doctoral Program
College of Engineering, MC 1326
San Diego State University
5500 Campanile Drive
San Diego, CA 92182-1326