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DEGREE Engineering Mechanics, PhD

Doctoral degree in engineering mechanics

As a PhD student in engineering mechanics, you’ll delve deeper into several main areas of the mechanics of materials and astronautics: continuum mechanics, computational mechanics, dynamics and vibration, fluid mechanics, nanomechanics, solid mechanics, and biomechanics. Additionally, you can add breadth to your education with a minor in a number of related fields, including civil and environmental engineering, chemical and biological engineering, electrical and computer engineering, materials science, mechanical engineering, nuclear engineering and engineering physics, physics, geological engineering and geology, mathematics, statistics, and computer science.

At a glance

Engineering physics department

of the nation’s few remaining research and teaching nuclear reactors
undergraduate ranking among public universities in nuclear engineering
graduate ranking among public universities in nuclear engineering

Learn more about what information you need to apply.

Fall Deadline December 15
Spring Deadline October 1
Summer Deadline December 15
GRE (Graduate Record Examinations) Required.*
English Proficiency Test Every applicant whose native language is not English or whose undergraduate instruction was not in English must provide an English proficiency test score and meet the Graduate School minimum requirements (
Other Test(s) (e.g., GMAT, MCAT) n/a
Letters of Recommendation Required 3

The Graduate School sets minimum requirements for admissions. Academic program admission requirements are often more rigorous than those set by the Graduate School. Please check the program website for details and admissions deadlines.


Tuition and segregated fee rates are always listed per semester (not for Fall and Spring combined).

View tuition rates

Graduate School Resources

Resources to help you afford graduate study might include assistantships, fellowships, traineeships, and financial aid. Further funding information is available from the Graduate School. Be sure to check with your program for individual policies and restrictions related to funding.

Program Resources

Offers of financial support from the Department, College, and University are in the form of research assistantships (RAs), teaching assistantships (TAs), project assistantships (PAs), and partial or full fellowships. Prospective PhD students that receive such offers will have a minimum five-year guarantee of support. The funding for RAs comes from faculty research grants. Each professor decides on his or her own RA offers, and a portion of the top domestic applicants is invited to visit Madison in order to meet faculty members and tour the department facilities. International applicants must secure an RA, TA, PA, fellowship, or independent funding before admission is final. Funded students are expected to maintain full-time enrollment.  See the program website for additional information.

In the Department of Engineering Physics, we strive to design and deploy unique world-class experimental and computational capabilities to translate novel discoveries into transformative technologies. Having a broad range of laboratory facilities and collaborative centers at the right scale for energy and mechanics research is a hallmark of the department. The technologies we develop can solve challenges in energy, health, space, security and many other areas.

View our research

Minimum graduate school requirements

Review the Graduate School minimum academic progress and degree requirements, in addition to the program requirements listed below.

Minimum Credit Requirement 60 credits
Minimum Residence Credit Requirement 32 credits
Minimum Graduate Coursework Requirement 30 of the required 60 credits must be in graduate-level coursework; courses with the Graduate Level Coursework attribute are identified and searchable in the university’s Course Guide ( In addition, at least 18 of the non-research credits must be in classes having the graduate-level designation.
Overall Graduate GPA Requirement 3.00 GPA required.
Other Grade Requirements Courses in which grades of BC, C, or below are received cannot be counted toward the degree except as follows: 1) Credits of C will be allowed provided they are balanced by twice as many credits of A or by four times as many credits of AB, 2) Credits of BC will be allowed provided they are balanced by twice as many credits of AB or by an equal number of credits of A.
Assessments and Examinations Ph.D. qualifying examination is required of all students.

After acceptance of the student’s doctoral plan of study, the student must take an oral preliminary examination.

Final oral examination is required at the end of the thesis work.
Language Requirements No language requirements.
Doctoral Minor/Breadth Requirements There are two minor options available:

Minor Option A
Students minor in a single department and satisfy the minor requirements of that department.

Minor Option B (Distributed Minor)
This option requires a minimum of 9 credits in two or more departments outside the major, in related courses selected for their relevance to a particular area of concentration. The following rules apply:
1. Courses typically included on or within the scope of the E M A Qualifying Exam shall not be considered acceptable for the Ph.D. Minor Option B.
2. At least 6 credits must be taken in courses listed in the UW-Madison Guide as "Grad 50%" courses.

At least 36 of the required 60 credits must be in classes satisfying the following general requirements and mathematics, breadth and depth requirements.

All courses must be at the 500-level or above. At least 21 credits must be 600-level and above OR from the following list:21
Composite Materials
Fracture Mechanics
Aerodynamics Lab
Flight Dynamics and Control
Experimental Vibration and Dynamic System Analysis
Heterogeneous and Multiphase Materials
Engineering Analysis I
Engineering Analysis II
Experimental Mechanics
Mathematics Requirements6
At least 6 credits (2 courses) must be in applied mathematics from the following list:
Engineering Analysis I
Engineering Analysis II
Ordinary Differential Equations
Analysis I
Analysis II
Linear Algebra II
Analysis of Partial Differential Equations
Complex Analysis
Methods of Applied Mathematics 1
Methods of Applied Mathematics-2
Methods of Computational Mathematics I
Methods of Computational Mathematics II
Breadth Requirement
As part of their M.S. or Ph.D., students must have taken courses from at least 2 of the 3 areas defined below. For each of the 2 areas, the student must have taken at least 2 courses. The courses must be at a similar level to those listed below.
Solid Mechanics
E M A 506 Advanced Mechanics of Materials I3
E M A/​CIV ENGR/​M E  508 Composite Materials3
E M A 519 Fracture Mechanics3
E M A/​M S & E  541 Heterogeneous and Multiphase Materials3
E M A/​M E  570 Experimental Mechanics3
E M A 605 Introduction to Finite Elements3
E M A 611 Advanced Mechanical Testing of Materials3
E M A/​E P  615 Micro- and Nanoscale Mechanics3
E M A 622 Mechanics of Continua3
E M A 630 Viscoelastic Solids3
E M A 700 Theory of Elasticity3
E M A/​M E  703 Plasticity Theory and Physics3
E M A 705 Advanced Topics in Finite Elements3
E M A/​M E  706 Plates, Shells and Pressure Vessels3
E M A/​M E  708 Advanced Composite Materials3
E M A/​M E  722 Introduction to Polymer Rheology3
M E/​B M E  603 Topics in Bio-Medical Engineering (Topic: FE for Biomechanics)1-3
M E 753 Friction, Lubrication and Wear3
Fluid Mechanics
E M A 521 Aerodynamics3
E M A 622 Mechanics of Continua3
M E 563 Intermediate Fluid Dynamics3
M E 572 Intermediate Gas Dynamics3
M E 573 Computational Fluid Dynamics3
M E 769 Combustion Processes3
M E 770 Advanced Experimental Instrumentation3
M E 774 Chem Kinetics of Combust Systems3
M E/​CIV ENGR/​E M A  775 Turbulent Heat and Momentum Transfer3
MATH 705 Mathematical Fluid Dynamics3
E M A 523 Flight Dynamics and Control3
E M A/​M E  540 Experimental Vibration and Dynamic System Analysis3
E M A 542 Advanced Dynamics3
E M A 545 Mechanical Vibrations3
E M A/​ASTRON  550 Astrodynamics3
E M A 610 Structural Finite Element Model Validation3
E M A 642 Satellite Dynamics3
E M A 742 Theory and Applications in Advanced Dynamics3
E M A 745 Advanced Methods in Structural Dynamics3
E M A 747 Nonlinear and Random Mechanical Vibrations3
M E/​E C E  577 Automatic Controls Laboratory4
M E 740 Advanced Vibrations3
M E 747 Advanced Computer Control of Machines and Processes3
M E 748 Optimum Design of Mechanical Elements and Systems3
Depth Requirement12
At least 4 courses (12 credits) must be 700-level or above in mechanics, applied mathematics, or computer science. At least 2 of the courses (6 credits) must be from List 1 (below), and the remaining 2 courses (6 credits) may be from List 1 or List 2.
List 16-12
Any E M A course except E M A 790, E M A 890, or E M A 990.
E M A 601 Special Topics courses may only be counted as 700-level if designated as such by the instructor.
Microhydrodynamics, Brownian Motion, and Complex Fluids
Engineering Properties of Soils
Soil Dynamics
Mathematical Fluid Dynamics
Advanced Vibrations
Dynamics of Controlled Systems
Advanced Computer Control of Machines and Processes
Optimum Design of Mechanical Elements and Systems
Advanced Computational Dynamics
Friction, Lubrication and Wear
Combustion Processes
Advanced Experimental Instrumentation
Chem Kinetics of Combust Systems
Turbulent Heat and Momentum Transfer
List 20-6
Methods of Computational Mathematics I
Methods of Computational Mathematics II
Computational Methods for Large Sparse Systems
Machine Learning
Linear Systems
Optimal Systems
Mathematical Foundations of Machine Learning
Nonlinear Dynamics, Bifurcations and Chaos
Theoretical Foundations of Machine Learning
Methods of Applied Mathematics 1
Methods of Applied Mathematics-2
Advanced Materials Processing and Manufacturing
Modeling and Simulation in Polymer Processing
Advanced Robotics
Solid Modeling
Topics in Thermodynamics
Advanced Heat Transfer I-Conduction
Structural Analysis of Materials
Imperfections and Mechanical Properties
Molecular Dynamics and Monte Carlo Simulations in Materials Science
Theoretical Physics-Dynamics
Statistical Mechanics
Theoretical Physics-Electrodynamics
Quantum Mechanics
Quantum Mechanics
Advanced Solid State Physics
Special Topics in Theoretical Physics (when taught as Nanostructures in Science and Technology)

 It is acceptable for students who earned an M.S. degree in Engineering Mechanics at UW-Madison to use coursework completed while in the M.S. degree program to meet the requirements above.

Graduate Student Services
3182 Mechanical Engineering
1513 University Ave., Madison, WI 53706

Carl Sovinec, Director of Graduate Studies

View the Graduate Guide for program-specific information on admission, coursework, policies, rules and regulations.

Engineering physics news

In our department, our research spans areas that include aerospace, materials, fusion energy, nuclear systems and more—and we are a community that brings them all together for the benefit of our world.

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