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DEGREE Mechanical Engineering, PhD

Doctoral degree in mechanical engineering

As a PhD student in mechanical engineering, you’ll be part of a community of outstanding students who are preparing for advanced work in industry, national labs, and academia. We’ll mentor you on your way to becoming a world-class researcher, and you can choose from opportunities within established and emerging research specializations. Broad research themes within the department include biomechanics, computational engineering, energy, manufacturing, and mechanics and controls, and within those, you’ll also have access to excellent research facilities are available for specialized research.

At a glance

Mechanical engineering department

US Dollars20MMillion
average annual research funding
12
undergraduate ranking among public universities
7
graduate ranking among public universities

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

*Due to COVID-19, GRE scores will not be required for applications to Mechanical Engineering graduate programs for admission to the Spring 2023, Summer 2023, and Fall 2023 terms.


APPLICATION REQUIREMENTS and PROCESS

Degree: Most applicants have a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering. Students with a Bachelor of Science in other engineering or physical and natural science disciplines will be considered for admission. International applicants must have a degree comparable to a regionally accredited U.S. bachelor’s degree.

GPA: The Department of Mechanical Engineering prefers a 3.2/4.0 GPA. The minimum GPA to be reviewed by the admission committee is 3.0/4.0.

GRE: The GRE requirement is waived for applications to the Spring 2023, Summer 2023, and Fall 2023 terms. Any scores submitted will not be reviewed.

Advisor selection process: Applicants are required to seek out and secure their own faculty advisor. International students must complete this process as part of the application process, before an offer of admission may be granted. To seek out a faculty advisor please review the department Research and People websites. Only those faculty listed with 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 encouraged to inquire about possible funding opportunities. If a faculty member offers to be your advisor, ask them to email their acceptance to megradadmission@engr.wisc.edu.

Each application must include the following:

  • Graduate School Application
  • Academic transcripts
  • Statement of purpose
  • Resume/CV
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • English Proficiency Score (if required)
  • Application Fee

All applicants must satisfy requirements that are set forth by the Graduate School. Upon acceptance, students without Mechanical Engineering Bachelor of Science degrees may be required to complete one or more courses in addition to degree requirements to satisfy any deficiencies (this requirement cannot be determined prior to admission).

DEADLINES

To apply to the Mechanical Engineering 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 Mechanical Engineering department 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 Mechanical Engineering 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 RECOMMENDATION

These letters are required from people who can accurately judge the applicant’s academic, research, and/or work performance. 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

The GRE requirement is waived for applications to the Spring 2023, Summer 2023, and Fall 2023 terms. Any scores submitted will not be reviewed.

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

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. 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. Applicants who do not qualify for a fee grant as explained above, may seek out a Mechanical Engineering faculty advisor and discuss the fee grant option with that individual. If the faculty advisor is able and willing to pay the application fee for the applicant, the faculty advisor should contact the ME Associate Chair for Graduate Studies or the ME Graduate Admissions Team for assistance. 

QUESTIONS:

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



RE-ENTRY ADMISSIONS

If you were previously enrolled as a graduate student in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, 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 ME faculty advisor) must be willing to supply advising support and should e-mail the ME 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 ME 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 ME or a non-ME graduate program, wishing to apply to this degree program should contact the ME 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 megradadmission@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

There are three mechanisms for Graduate Student funding through the university for Mechanical Engineering Ph.D. students:

  1. Fellowships
  2. Graduate assistantships: project assistantships, teaching assistantships, and research assistantships
  3. Traineeships

Funding is awarded based on the qualifications of the student, the number of applicants, the amount of available funding, and the number of continuing students receiving support. You can apply for funding for research assistantships by contacting individual faculty members directly. Please check our website to look for faculty (only those listed with titles of assistant professor, associate professor, or professor can serve as graduate student advisors). Search for faculty who have research interests that align closely with your own by viewing faculty directory entries, visiting the faculty’s website (linked from the directory page), and reviewing publications by the faculty member. Once you have identified faculty with interests close to your own, you are encouraged to contact them by email to inquire regarding available research assistant positions. The admissions office does not know if a particular professor has research assistant positions available.

Students who apply to the department will be automatically considered for fellowship opportunities within the department. Admitted students will be eligible to apply for Teaching Assistantship positions. More information, including the application, will be available to students after admission is complete.

Additional resources

Federal loans

Students who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents may be eligible to receive some level of funding through the federal direct loan program. These loans are available to qualified graduate students who are taking at least 4 credits during the fall and spring semesters, and 2 credits during summer. Private loans are also available. Learn more about financial aid at their website.

International student services funding and scholarships

For information on International Student Funding and Scholarships visit the ISS website.

Global industry partners and U.S. government agencies (like the Department of Energy, National Institutes of Health, and the National Science Foundation) entrust Badger engineers to design and conduct complex research into a wide range of theoretical and practical questions. Our faculty and student lab teams create a deeply collaborative research environment to study problems ranging from renewable energy to soft robotics and osteoarthritis to vehicle traction on the Moon.

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).
Overall Graduate GPA Requirement 3.25 GPA required.
Other Grade Requirements Students must earn a C or above in all formal coursework. Ph.D. candidates may not have any more than two Incompletes on their record at any one time.
Assessments and Examinations The Ph.D. candidate will need to pass a qualifying exam, preliminary exam, and a final defense in order to obtain a degree.
Language Requirements No language requirements.
Breadth Requirement All doctoral students are required to complete a doctoral minor or Graduate/Professional certificate. Students should select one of the following options:
• 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 12 course credits. The coursework should form a coherent group of courses for which graduate credit is allowed. The approval of the faculty advisor and ME Graduate Committee is required.
• Option C (Graduate/Professional Certificate): Fulfillment of this option requires successful completion of a Graduate/Professional certificate in a program outside of the student’s doctoral major program.

Two semesters of M E 903 Graduate Seminar are required.  These should be taken the first two semester the student is in residence.  If an M.S. degree is received at UW–Madison, additional M E 903 credits are not required.

A minimum of 42 formal course credits beyond the B.S. degree. This includes a minimum of 15 credits (usually five courses) numbered 700 or higher (excluding M E 964 Special Advanced Topics in Mechanical Engineering courses unless specifically approved). 12 credits (usually four courses) of the 700-level courses must be taken at UW–Madison. A minimum of 6 credits (usually two courses) of the 700-level courses must be in Mechanical Engineering at UW–Madison. A minimum of one (3 or more – credit) math course. The following courses would satisfy the math course requirement:

Special Topics in Mechanical Engineering (Topic "Computational Math w/Engr Apps")
Special Advanced Topics in Mechanical Engineering (Topics: "App & Comp Math w/ Eng Apps" OR "Comp Math with Apps in Eng" OR "Sci Computing for Apps in Eng")
Introduction to Scientific Computing for Engineering Physics
Engineering Analysis I
Engineering Analysis II
Applied Mathematical Analysis
Applied Mathematical Analysis
400-level and above Math Department courses
400-level and above Statistics Department courses
Graduate "transfer credits" equivalent to the above

Acceptable courses for the remainder of the required 42 formal course credits (this total includes the courses taken for the PhD minor requirement) are those numbered 400 and above. Up to two 300-level courses in engineering, math, or the sciences taken at UW-Madison can also be used towards the formal course credit requirement. The 300-level courses can be from Mechanical Engineering if approved by the student’s advisor and the ME graduate committee. 

Minimum of 18 thesis credits (M E 790 Master’s Research and ThesisM E 890 PhD Research and ThesisM E 990 Dissertator Research and Thesis) are required with an overall grade of S.

 

Graduate Student Services
megradadmission@engr.wisc.edu
3182 Mechanical Engineering Building
1513 University Ave., Madison

Associate Chair for Graduate Studies
grad.chair@me.wisc.edu

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

Recent mechanical engineering graduate news

Our students and department alumni are making outstanding impacts and collaborations across Wisconsin and the world. These stories highlight a few of the many achievements made by Mechanical Engineering students.

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