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DEGREE Engineering Mechanics: Research, MS

Master’s degree in engineering mechanics

As a master’s student in our traditional engineering mechanics major, you’ll gain additional understanding of several areas within the mechanics of materials and astronautics—among them, continuum mechanics, computational mechanics, dynamics and vibration, fluid mechanics, nanomechanics, solid mechanics, and biomechanics.

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).

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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

Admission and funding are separate decisions. Not all admitted students are offered support. International applicants must secure a research assistantship, teaching assistantship, fellowship, or independent funding before admission is final. A portion of the top domestic applicants are invited to visit Madison in March. The funding for RAs comes from faculty research grants. Each professor decides on his or her own RA offers. 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 30 credits
Minimum Residence Credit Requirement 16 credits
Minimum Graduate Coursework Requirement 15 of the required 30 credits must be in graduate-level coursework; courses with the Graduate Level Coursework attribute are identified and searchable in the university’s Course Guide (
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 A thesis is not required for a Master’s degree in Engineering Mechanics. Credit for Master’s research (E M A 790) will be granted toward meeting the M.S. requirements only when a formal M.S. thesis is submitted and approved by the thesis committee. If submitting a M.S. thesis, a thesis Oral Defense is required. Candidates must pass an oral exam administered by a three-member committee, selected by the student’s advisor. At least two of the committee members must be members of the UW-Madison Graduate Faculty. (For more information, see Typically, the student presents an overview of their thesis/research, and then the examiners ask questions in closed session. See the Graduate School’s information and note the requirement for an advisor approval page; the form that appears in Appendix C of the Handbook may be used.
Language Requirements No language requirements.

The program requires 30 credits of technical coursework approved by the student’s advisor.
All courses must be at the 500-level or above. At least 15 credits must be 600-level and above OR from the following list:15
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 Requirements3
Students must take at least 3 credits (1 course) 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
Students must take at least 5 courses from the list below. At least 3 must be identified by a *. The courses must span at least 2 of the 3 areas defined below. For each of the 2 areas, the student must take at least 2 courses.
Solid Mechanics
E M A 506 Advanced Mechanics of Materials I *3
E M A/​CIV ENGR/​M E  508 Composite Materials3
E M A 519 Fracture Mechanics *3
E M A/​M S & E  541 Heterogeneous and Multiphase Materials *3
E M A/​M E  570 Experimental Mechanics3
E M A 605 Introduction to Finite Elements *3
E M A 611 Advanced Mechanical Testing of Materials *3
E M A/​E P  615 Micro- and Nanoscale Mechanics *3
E M A 622 Mechanics of Continua *3
E M A 630 Viscoelastic Solids *3
E M A 700 Theory of Elasticity *3
E M A/​M E  703 Plasticity Theory and Physics3
E M A 705 Advanced Topics in Finite Elements *3
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 Aerodynamics *3
E M A 524 Rocket Propulsion *3
E M A 622 Mechanics of Continua *3
M E 563 Intermediate Fluid Dynamics *3
M E 572 Intermediate Gas Dynamics *3
M E 573 Computational Fluid Dynamics *3
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 Control *3
E M A/​M E  540 Experimental Vibration and Dynamic System Analysis *3
E M A 542 Advanced Dynamics *3
E M A 545 Mechanical Vibrations *3
E M A/​ASTRON  550 Astrodynamics3
E M A 610 Structural Finite Element Model Validation *3
E M A 642 Satellite Dynamics *3
E M A 742 Theory and Applications in Advanced Dynamics *3
E M A 745 Advanced Methods in Structural Dynamics *3
E M A 747 Nonlinear and Random Mechanical Vibrations *3
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 Requirement6
At least 2 courses (6 credits) must be 700-level or above in mechanics, from the following list:
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
Independent Study/Research Credits
All students must take a minimum of 3 credits of E M A 599. A maximum of 6 credits of E M A 599 may be used toward the 30-credit minimum. Students in the thesis track may use a maximum of 12 credits of E M A 599 and E M A 790, combined, toward the 30-credit minimum. Credit for E M A 790 will be granted toward meeting the M.S. requirements only when a formal M.S. thesis is submitted and approved by the thesis committee.
Thesis track1: minimum of 3 credits of E M A 599 and a minimum of 6 credits of E M A 790
Independent study track1: minimum of 3 credits of E M A 599
1These tracks are internal to the program and represent different pathways a student can follow to earn this degree. Track names do not appear in the Graduate School admissions application, and they will not appear on the transcript.
Optional Seminar Credits
Up to 3 credits of Mechanics Seminar may be used to count toward the 30-credit minimum.

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 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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