Master of Science – Research and PhD, Engineering Mechanics

Due to safety concerns for all prospective students during the COVID-19 crisis, GRE scores are optional for applications to all Engineering Mechanics and all Nuclear Engineering and Engineering Physics graduate programs through the Fall 2022 semester. 

Program Details: Engineering Mechanics


The master of science and doctor of philosophy degrees in engineering mechanics are offered within a graduate program covering contemporary areas in both theoretical and applied mechanics. With the guidance of a major professor, a program can be designed to meet an individual student’s needs and interests.

The program is broadly structured into several main areas of instruction and research interests in mechanics of materials and astronautics: continuum mechanics, computational mechanics, dynamics and vibration, fluid mechanics, nanomechanics, solid mechanics, and biomechanics. Related fields in which minor work may be done include 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.

Current faculty research interests include adhesive-bonded joints; composites; failure criteria; analytical and computational solid mechanics; analytical and computational dynamics; multibody dynamics; analytical and computational active and passive space-structure control systems; dynamic stability; nonlinear fracture mechanics of traditional and advanced materials; continuum mechanics; modal analysis; nanomechanics and nanotribology; fluid-structure interaction; non-Newtonian fluid flow; structural mechanics; viscoelasticity; viscoplasticity; cell mechanics; and biomechanics.

Laboratories are well equipped for experimental testing and research; these include holography, Moire, atomic force microscopy, vibration testing, and other optical methods for experimental mechanics research. The department has access to collegewide facilities. The Wisconsin Laboratory for Structures and Materials Testing has facilities for testing large structures, fatigue and vibration labs, and complements the department’s laboratories. The Materials Science Center provides state-of-the-art instrumentation, support facilities, and expert technical assistance for research and education in materials. Its facilities include scanning and transmission electron microscopes, image processing and analysis systems, surface and thin film characterization facilities, and x-ray diffraction facilities.

Would you like to learn more about the graduate programs in Engineering Physics?  For overviews of our major research areas, lab tours and more check out the EP grad recruiting page!

Degree Information

The Department of Engineering Physics (EP) reviews Engineering Mechanics graduate student applications for the fall, spring and summer terms of each year. The application deadlines are below. In order to be reviewed for admission, ALL application materials must be submitted online through the Graduate School’s application portal by the deadline.

Due to safety concerns for all prospective students during the COVID-19 crisis, GRE scores are optional for applications to all Engineering Mechanics and all Nuclear Engineering and Engineering Physics graduate programs through the Fall 2022 semester.

Application Deadlines:

December 15th

October 1st

December 15th

Graduate School Application Website

ALL application materials, including test scores and letters of recommendation, must be submitted online through the Graduate School’s application portal by the application deadline.

Admission Requirements & Materials:

  1. ALL applicants must meet the general Graduate School Admission Requirements. 
  1. Apart from current UW-Madison NE/EP/EMA undergraduate students, all MS and PhD applicants must submit GRE General Test Scores. Scores may not be more than 5 years old from the start of the admissions term for which applicants are applying. Scores need to be sent directly from Educational Testing Services (ETS) using the institution code 1846. (GRE scores are not required for current UW-Madison NE/EP/EMA undergraduate students.) 
  1. All degree-seeking students must submit an online application to the University of Wisconsin – Madison’s Graduate School and pay the application fee. 
  1. Within the application:
  • All applicants must upload a copy of their transcripts from their undergraduate institution and other previous higher education institutions. Applicants must upload a transcript for each college-level institution attended.Please do not send any hardcopies of transcripts unless specifically instructed to do so by the UW-Madison Graduate School.
  • All applicants must submit a statement of purpose/reasons for graduate study. UW-Madison Graduate School Guidelines for the statement of purpose are found at Note that information on research interests and aspirations is important for the application review process.
  • All applicants must submit at least three letters of recommendation, uploaded electronically through the electronic application system. 
  1. International Students:  International applicants must submit TOEFL or IELTS scores. Please refer to the Graduate School’s Admission Requirements page for the minimum required scores. Scores are accepted if they are within two years of the start of the admissions term for which applicants are applying. TOEFL scores should be electronically sent directly from Educational Testing Service (ETS) to institution code 1846 (no department code is needed). IELTS scores should be electronically sent directly from IELTS to UW-Madison, Graduate Studies. 

Scores from one of these exams are required unless you met one of the following exemptions:

  • English is the exclusive language of instruction at the undergraduate level
  • You earned a degree from a regionally accredited U.S. college or university not more than 5 years prior to the anticipated semester of enrollment
  • You completed at least two full-time semesters of graded course work, excluding English as a second language (ESL) courses, at an institution where English is the exclusive language of instruction, not more than 5 years prior to the anticipated semester of enrollment

Please do not mail any paper copies of application materials. They will not be reviewed. Please only upload the required application materials with the Graduate School application. This includes transcripts. Applicants who are recommended for admission by the EP Graduate Studies Committee will receive further instructions from the EP Graduate Admissions Office. 

Application Status:

Monitor your application status by visiting the “Graduate Application Status” window within your MyUW portal (information on this is received after submitting an application). You may need to activate a NetID to gain access to the MyUW portal (information sent after submitting an application).

Most admissions decisions are made by the end of March or by early April. Applicants receive an e-mail from the EP Graduate Admissions Office with the admissions decision as soon as the office receives it.


Graduate-student funding is an important consideration for both prospective students and the Department. Apart from national fellowships, graduate students in the Department are funded by research assistantships (RAs), teaching assistantships (TAs), project assistantships (PAs), internal fellowships, or they are self-funded.  Prospective students interested in securing an RA position are encouraged to find information on the Department’s research activities, through web pages for example, and contact faculty investigators for the activities that align with the students’ interests.  Decisions on RA positions are made at the investigator level and not at the Department level.

For MS students, the selection processes for program admission and assistantship funding are made separately.

For PhD students, program admission and funding via assistantships are linked, subject to the following policies:

  • There is a period of guaranteed support of 5 years for PhD students entering with a bachelor’s degree and 3 years for PhD students starting with an MS degree.
  • If the Department extends an offer and the prospective PhD student accepts, the intention is to fund the student through degree completion, even if a student requires more time than the guaranteed period.
  • A student must maintain satisfactory progress toward the PhD degree, according to the NEEP and EM program policies and the Graduate School’s policies to continue to receive financial support.  It should be noted that research progress is required, regardless of the funding mechanism or funding level in order to maintain satisfactory progress toward the PhD degree.

  • Qualified students may be admitted without financial support if they guarantee their own funding.
  • A student’s appointment type (RA, TA, PA) may change. PhD students initially serving in TA positions typically move to RA positions when focusing on research.  However, changes in research funding from federal agencies may also require a student to take a TA or PA position, at least temporarily, after holding an RA or fellowship.  Students interested in gaining teaching experience may also request a TA position.
  • A student’s total assistantship support may be increased to no more than 50% time or reduced to no less than 33% time. Reductions are atypical, and the student’s workload would be adjusted, accordingly.
  • Because admission and financial support are linked, a prospective PhD student may not be admitted until the Department has made the respective funding decision or the student has provided evidence of external fellowship support or a guarantee of self-funding.

Further questions related to the Engineering Mechanics program admissions process may be directed to

Re-entry applicants:  If you were previously enrolled as a graduate student in the Department of Engineering Physics 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 re-entry students. Your previous faculty advisor (or another EP faculty advisor) must be willing to supply advising support and should contact/e-mail the EP Graduate Admissions & Student Services Coordinator regarding next steps in the process.

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