ENGINEERING 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.


COVID-19 NOTICE: Due to the current pandemic, the requirement for applicants to submit GRE scores is suspended for the Fall 2021 admission cycle. However, it is still highly recommended that applicants submit GRE scores if they have previously taken the exam or have the ability to do so now. Applicants who have not graduated from an English-speaking university must still submit official TOEFL/IELTS scores. 


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 recommended with the following minimum scores:

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

The GRE is recommended to have been taken within the last 5 years.

The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), Duolingo English Test, or Pearson English Language Test (PTE) 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) or 550 on the Paper Based Test (PBT).

IELTS minimum score is 6.5. 

Duolingo minimum score is 105.

PTE minimum score is 58.

TOEFL, IELTS, Duolingo, and PTE tests must have been taken within the last 2 years to be accepted.

COVID-19 NOTICE: Due to the current pandemic, the requirement for applicants to submit GRE scores is suspended for the Fall 2021 admission cycle. However, it is still higly recommended that applicants submit GRE scores if they have previously taken the exam or have the ability to do so now. Applicants who have not graduated from an English-speaking university must still submit official TOEFL/IELTS scores. 

  • Applications for Fall 2021 are: CLOSED
  • Applications for Fall 2021 were accepted from: OCTOBER 1, 2020 to DECEMBER 15, 2020
  • Applications for Fall 2022 will be accepted from: OCTOBER 1, 2021 to DECEMBER 15, 2021

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 by December 15, 2020
     a. Select San Diego State University for campus and one of the four JDP engineering degrees:
           o Engineering Sciences (Bioengineering)
           o Engineering Sciences (Electrical and Computer)
           o Engineering Sciences (Mechanical and Aerospace)
           o Engineering Sciences (Structural)
  2. Payment of application fee (This fee cannot be waived for international applicants)
  3. Official transcripts from all previous institutions attended sent to SDSU Graduate Admissions Office
  4. Official certificates of all degrees earned sent to SDSU Graduate Admissions Office
  5. Official GRE and English language proficency (if applicable) scores sent to SDSU Graduate Admissions Office
  6. Resume/CV uploaded to SDSU supplemental application
  7. Statement of Purpose uploaded to SDSU supplemental application
  8. Three letters of recommendation uploaded to SDSU supplemental application
  9. Acceptance by an SDSU faculty member to serve as advisor with confirmation sent to SDSU Program Manager
  10. Online UCSD graduate application between January 20, 2021 and February 17, 2021

Steps 1 and 2 are completed via the California State University graduate application.  

Steps 3 and 4 are completed by mailing official documents to the SDSU Graduate Admissions Office:

Graduate Admissions Office
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 included with the translation.

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

Steps 6, 7, and 8 are completed by submitting documents via the SDSU Interfolio supplemental application.

Step 9 is completed when the potential SDSU faculty advisor has informed the SDSU Program Manager of his or her acceptance of the applicant by email. Completing this step is required before an application will be reviewed. Applicants may contact faculty members directly to inquire about serving 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

Step 10 is completed via the UCSD graduate application between January 20, 2021 and February 17, 2021 and only if recommended for acceptance by SDSU first.

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

For more information contact:

Donovan Geiger, Joint Doctoral Program Manager
Email: [email protected]

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 2020, tuition at SDSU for the JDP is:

$6,142 per year for California residents

$10,894 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.

Students should be aware that tuition waivers do not cover mandatory student fees which total approximately $1,200 per semester. Students must be prepared to cover these fees unless prior arrangements have been made with their adviser.

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 $22,900 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.

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 - Kal Seshadri, PhD
858-534-4876, [email protected] 

UCSD Program Manager - Philip McMullen 
858-822-4536[email protected]

For program inquiries: 

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

To submit official documents as part of an application: 

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

  • What is the location? 

    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 8th 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.

  • What is the cost of living? 

    The cost of living in San Diego is very high being in the top 10 most expensive cities in the US. Housing costs (rent, utilities, and taxes) are more than double the national average. A small 1 bedroom apartment rents for over $1,700 a month with rent climbing to over $2,200 a month for a 2 bedroom and over $3,000 a month for a 3 bedroom apartment.

    The cost of food, transportation, and entertainment are also above the national average. 
  • How is funding determined?

    Applicant should inquire with potential SDSU advisers regarding funding. It can vary from adviser to adviser and their sources of funding which typically comes in the form of a teaching assistantship or research assistantship. 
  • How much time is spent at both universities? 

    Typically the first two years will be spent primarily at UCSD as students complete a full load of coursework which is on average 2 courses per quarter for a total of 9 to 12 courses. However, some time will be spent in SDSU labs working on research or other tasks at the direction of advisers. 

    This will shift after the completion of coursework where time is mostly spent in labs at SDSU completing research. However, students always have access to both institutions (labs, facilities, libraries, etc) and go back and forth as needed. 
  • Am I considered a student at both SDSU and UCSD?

    Absolutely. JDP participants are students at both SDSU and UCSD for the duration of their studies. In fact, it is mandatory that students remain enrolled in units at both institutions every quarter/semester. If regular coursework is complete, students will enroll in research units.    
  • What sort of activities are students expected to participate in?

    Some activities are program requirements such as annual orientation/information sessions and the annual JDP Research Symposium. Advisers may require their students to participate in other events such as conferences, symposia, and meetings. There are also optional social events, mixers, and associations that students may attend.  
  • How many students are in the program?

    As of fall 2020, there are 49 students enrolled in the Engineering Joint Doctoral Program:

    26 in Mechanical and Aerospace
    14 in Electrical and Computer 
    6 in Bioengineering
    3 in Structural 
  • Can the SDSU application fee be waived? Is there an application fee at UCSD?

    Unfortunately, the SDSU application fee cannot be waived. However, the UCSD application fee is waived for all Engineering Joint Doctoral Program applicants.  

Applicants who have previously attended institutions outside the United States may have different document requirements. 

For evaluation purposes, unofficial documents can be submitted. Copies of transcripts and diplomas/degree certificates can be uploaded through your SDSU WebPortal account under Upload Admission Documents. If transcripts and diplomas/degree certificates are not issued in English, applicants must submit a certified literal English translation of each document. The translated documents must be from the university or a certified translator and should contain all information shown on the original language documents and in the same format.

If admitted, official documents will be required prior to enrollment and must be sent directly from the institution(s) in a sealed envelope and signed or stamped by the appropriate official at the university. Please do not send your only original academic record(s) and/or diploma(s)/degree certificate(s). All documents received become property of SDSU and will not be returned.

Requirements by Country Listing

In addition, all applicants (regardless of citizenship status) applying to SDSU from an international institution where the medium of instruction was not English, must submit one of the following as proof of English proficiency:

  1. TOEFL minimum score of 80 iBT/ 550 PBT: Score can be sent electronically from Educational Testing Service (ETS) using the SDSU institution code: 4682. Test score must be from within the past two years.
  2. IELTS overall score of 6.5 or higher: Score report must be submitted directly to the SDSU Graduate Admissions Office. Test score must be from within the past two years.
  3. Duolingo English Test score of 105 or higher: Score can be sent electronically from Duolingo, to the SDSU Graduate Admissions Office. Test score must be from within the past two years.
  4. PTE minimum score of 58 or higher: Score report must be submitted directly to the SDSU Graduate Admissions Office. Test score must be from within the past two years.
  5. Official transcripts have been received indicating English as the principal language of instruction.