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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

1
of the nation’s few remaining research and teaching nuclear reactors
2
undergraduate ranking among public universities in nuclear engineering
7
graduate ranking among public universities in nuclear engineering

Learn more about what information you need to apply.

Please consult the table below for key information about this degree program’s admissions requirements. The program may have more detailed admissions requirements, which can be found below the table or on the program’s website.

Graduate admissions is a two-step process between academic programs and the Graduate School. Applicants must meet the minimum requirements of the Graduate School as well as the program(s). Once you have researched the graduate program(s) you are interested in, apply online.

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 (https://grad.wisc.edu/apply/requirements/#english-proficiency).
Other Test(s) (e.g., GMAT, MCAT) n/a
Letters of Recommendation Required 3
*

a) Current UW-Madison NE/EP/EMA undergraduate students are not required to submit GRE scores.

b) Due to COVID-19, GRE scores are not required for all applications to Engineering Mechanics graduate programs for the Spring 2023, Summer 2023, and Fall 2023 terms.


APPLICATION REQUIREMENTS and PROCESS

Degree: For admission to graduate study in Engineering Mechanics, an applicant must have a bachelor’s degree in engineering, mathematics, or physical science, and an undergraduate record that indicates an ability to successfully pursue graduate study. International applicants must have a degree comparable to a regionally accredited U.S. bachelor’s degree.

It is highly recommended that students take courses that cover the same material as these UW-Madison courses before entering the program:

Course and Semester Credits                                       Typical Courses

Advanced Mathematics, 3 cr                     MATH 319, MATH 320, or MATH 321

Linear Algebra and Matrices, 3 cr             MATH 320 or MATH 340

Mechanics of Materials, 3 cr                      E M A 303

Dynamics, 3 cr                                            E M A 202 or PHYSICS 311

Descriptions of course content can be accessed through The Guide. Students may enter without having taken these courses. However, in such cases the students must inform their advisors, who will help them plan courses of study that will provide adequate background for our department’s graduate curriculum. Provisions for admission on probation, or as an applicant for more than one master’s degree (e.g., simultaneous MS degrees in two departments) are given in the Graduate School website

All applicants must satisfy requirements that are set forth by the Graduate School

GPA: The Graduate School requires a minimum undergraduate grade point average of 3.0 on a 4.0 basis on the equivalent of the last 60 semester hours from the most recent bachelor’s degree. In special cases, students with grade point averages lower than 3.0 who meet all the general requirements of the Graduate School may be considered for admission on probation.

GRE: As a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the GRE requirement is waived for applications to the Spring 2023, Summer 2023, and Fall 2023 terms, and submission of GRE scores is optional. 

PhD advisor selection process: PhD applicants are encouraged to identify potential faculty advisors and seek a confirmation. Please review the department Research and People websites and contact those whose research interests align with yours. Only faculty members listed with the titles of Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, or Professor, can serve as graduate advisors. Do not contact Emeritus faculty, Lecturers, Research Scientists, or Faculty Associates. You are also encouraged to inquire about possible funding opportunities. If a faculty member agrees to be your advisor, ask the person to email an acknowledgment to emgradadmission@engr.wisc.edu.

Each application must include the following:

  • Graduate School Application
  • Academic transcripts
  • Statement of purpose
  • Resume/CV
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • GRE Scores (waived in response to the COVID-19 pandemic)
  • English Proficiency Score (if required)
  • Application Fee

DEADLINES

To apply to the EM program, complete applications, including supportive materials, must be submitted as described below and received by the following deadline dates:

  • Fall Semester—December 15 
  • Spring Semester—October 1 
  • Summer Session—December 15 

ACADEMIC TRANSCRIPT

Electronically submit one copy of your transcript of all undergraduate and previous graduate work along with your online application to the Graduate School. Unofficial copies of transcripts will be accepted for review, but official copies are required for admitted students. Please do not send transcripts or any other application materials to the Graduate School or the Department of Engineering Physics unless requested. Please review the requirements set by the Graduate School for additional information about degrees/transcripts.

STATEMENT OF PURPOSE

In this document, applicants should explain why they want to pursue further education in Engineering Mechanics and discuss which UW faculty members they would be interested in doing research with during their graduate study (see the Graduate School for more advice on how to structure a personal statement).

RESUME 

Upload your resume in your application.

THREE LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATIONS

These letters are required from people who can accurately judge the applicant’s academic and/or research performance. It is highly recommended these letters be from faculty familiar with the applicant. Letters of recommendation are submitted electronically to graduate programs through the online application. See the Graduate School for FAQs regarding letters of recommendation.

GRE SCORES

As a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the GRE requirement is waived for applications to the Spring 2023, Summer 2023, and Fall 2023 terms. Any scores submitted will be accessible by the Admissions Faculty.

Applicants who select to submit GRE scores: Scores should be submitted directly from Educational Testing Services (ETS) using institution code 1846. We do not require a department code, but entering a code is acceptable and will not negatively impact the receipt of your scores.

ENGLISH PROFICIENCY SCORE 

Every applicant whose native language is not English, or whose undergraduate instruction was not in English, must provide an English proficiency test score. The UW-Madison Graduate School accepts TOEFL or IETLS scores. Your score will not be accepted if it is more than two years old from the start of your admission term. Country of citizenship does not exempt applicants from this requirement. Language of instruction at the college or university level and how recent the language instruction was taken are the determining factors in meeting this requirement.

For more information regarding minimum score requirements and exemption policy, please see the Graduate School Requirements for Admission.

APPLICATION FEE

Application submission must be accompanied by the one-time application fee. It is non-refundable and can be paid by credit card (Master Card or Visa) or debit/ATM. Additional information about the application fee may be found here (scroll to the ‘Frequently asked questions).

Fee grants are available through the conditions outlined here by the Graduate School.

QUESTIONS:

If you have questions, please contact emgradadmission@engr.wisc.edu.



REENTRY ADMISSIONS

If you were previously enrolled as a graduate student in the Engineering Mechanics program, have not earned your degree, but have had a break in enrollment for a minimum of a fall or spring term, you will need to re-apply to resume your studies. Please review the Graduate School requirements for previously enrolled students. Your previous faculty advisor (or another EM faculty advisor) must be willing to supply advising support and should e-mail the EM Graduate Student Services Coordinator regarding next steps in the process.

If you were previously enrolled in a UW-Madison graduate degree, completed that degree, have had a break in enrollment since earning the degree and would now like to apply for another UW-Madison program; you are required to submit a new student application through the UW-Madison Graduate School online application. For EM graduate programs, you must follow the entire application process as described above.

CURRENTLY ENROLLED GRADUATE STUDENT ADMISSIONS

Students currently enrolled as a graduate student at UW-Madison, whether in EM or a non-EM graduate program, wishing to apply to this degree program should contact the EM Graduate Admissions Team to inquire about the process and deadlines several months in advance of the anticipated enrollment term. Current students may apply to change or add programs for any term (fall, spring, or summer).

QUESTIONS:

If you have questions, please contact emgradadmission@engr.wisc.edu.

Tuition

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. 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 credits must be graduate-level coursework. Details can be found in the Graduate School’s Minimum Graduate Coursework (50%) policy (https://policy.wisc.edu/library/UW-1244).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.
This program follows the Graduate School’s policy: https://policy.wisc.edu/library/UW-1203.
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.
Breadth Requirement All doctoral students are required to complete a doctoral minor or Graduate/Professional certificate.
In consultation with, and approval by, the graduate faculty advisor/department, students should select one of the following options:
• Graduate/Professional certificate

• Option A (External Minor): Fulfillment of this minor requires approval of the doctoral minor program. This minor must be outside of the student’s doctoral major program.

• Option B (Distributed Minor): Fulfillment of this minor requires 9 course credits from 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 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.

General
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
Dynamics
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
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
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
emgradadmission@engr.wisc.edu
3182 Mechanical Engineering
1513 University Ave., Madison, WI 53706

Carl Sovinec, Director of Graduate Studies
csovinec@wisc.edu

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

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