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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 Dollars15.5MMillion
average annual research funding
undergraduate ranking among public universities
graduate ranking among public universities

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

*Due to COVID-19, GRE scores will not be required for applications to Mechanical Engineering graduate programs for admission to the Spring 2022, Summer 2022, and Fall 2022 terms.

Students with a strong background in mechanical engineering or a related field with interest in furthering their education in mechanical engineering are encouraged to apply for admission to the department. Applicants accepted into the program generally have an undergraduate grade point average well above the graduate school minimum of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. All applicants are required to take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE). Applications are evaluated on the basis of previous academic record, GRE scores, letters of recommendation, and a personal statement. Applicants are strongly encouraged to identify a faculty advisor during the application process. For more information on admission requirements see the department’s PhD degree website


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

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.

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 Half of degree coursework (30 credits out of 60 total credits) must be completed graduate-level coursework; courses with the Graduate Level Coursework attribute are identified and searchable in the university’s Course Guide (
Overall Graduate GPA Requirement 3.25 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.
Doctoral Minor/Breadth Requirements All doctoral students are required to complete a minor. Students pursuing an Option B (distributed) minor must take a minimum of 12 course credits. The coursework should form a coherent group of courses for which the graduate credit is allowed. The approval of the advisor and the graduate committee are required.

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
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
3182 Mechanical Engineering Building
1513 University Ave., Madison

Director of Graduate Studies

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

Mechanical engineering news

From classrooms to major research to recognition for a lifetime of service, our students and faculty are proud of their accomplishments and collaborations. These stories are just a few of the many achievements made by Badger mechanical engineers.

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