PhD in Industrial Engineering

PhD degree program


  • Fall: December 15
  • Spring: October 1
  • Summer: December 15

Reentry applicants: July 15 (fall), December 1 (spring), and must notify an academic advisor.

Additional reentry information


  1. Although we accept summer applications we recommend applying for fall or spring as there are not many courses offered in the summer.
  2. The GRE is not required for applications to all ISyE graduate programs for spring 2022 and fall 2022 admissions.

Admissions/Apply Now

Why pursue a graduate degree in industrial and systems engineering?

Graduate student involvement in cutting-edge research is part of the DNA of the UW-Madison. Doctoral students work closely and establish personal relationships with their advisers. Our world class faculty are the current national leaders in research funding, recognized for our strength and leadership in industrial and systems engineering. Our faculty are funded by the National Science Foundation, Department of Energy, National Institute for Standards and Technology, National Institutes of Health, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and many others.

The UW-Madison fosters a highly interdisciplinary culture where graduate students and faculty members form numerous collaborations with students and faculty members. Our unique spirit of interdisciplinary research is reflected in the numerous collaborators with researchers throughout the campus.

Focus Areas

  • Decision Science and Operations Research
  • Health Systems Engineering
  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Manufacturing and Production Systems
  • Quality Engineering

More information available on our Research Page.

Information for Current Students

Qualifying Exam Policy

Prior to registering for the qualifying exam, the student must have completed the PhD Preliminary Plan of Study form.

Students in the Human Factors and Ergonomics area should complete this PhD Preliminary Plan of Study form.

Students taking a written qualifying exam (DS/OR, MPS, Health Systems, and Optimization areas) must register to take the exam by 4:00 pm on the first Friday of September. The written qualifying exam is held on the 3rd Monday of September, from 1-5 pm. Registration can be done by filling out this online form.

Please see below for specific information about the qualifying exam in each area.

Decision Sciences and Operations Research

  1. Policy: Decision Science/Operations Research Qualifying Exam Policy
  2. Type of Exam: Closed Book
  3. Example:  Past DS/OR Qualifying Exams
  4. Convenor: Professor Vicki Bier

Health Systems Engineering

  1. Policy: HSE Qualifying Exam Policy
  2. Type of Exam: Oral Presentation
  3.  Scoring Rubric: HSE Qualifying Exam Scoring Rubric
  4. Additional Requirements: HSE Depth Requirement
  5. Convenor: Professor Oguzhan Alagoz

Human Factors and Ergonomics

  1. Policy: HFE Qualifying Exam Policy
  2. Type of Exam: Oral Presentation
  3. Evaluation: HFE Qualifying Exam Scoring Rubic
  4. Registration Form: Students should work with their major advisor to determine the scope of their preparation. Written & Oral examination dates and times to be determined by ISyE faculty advisors.
  5. Convenor: Professor Rob Radwin

Manufacturing and Production Systems

  1. Policy: MPS Qualifying Exam Policy
  2. Type of Exam: Open Book and Open Note
  3. Example: MPS-qualifying-exams
  4. Convenor: Professor Shiyu Zhou


  1. Policy: Optimization Topics List and Recommended Reading
  2. Type of Exam: Closed Book
  3. Example:  Past Optimization Qualifying Exams
  4. Convenor: Professor Jim Luedtke

To Apply:


Application Process:

Teaching Assistant and Grader positions are appointed each semester. New TAs must submit an application each semester in order to be considered. If you currently are a TA in Industrial and Systems Engineering, you do not need to complete an application each semester.

The number of positions is limited, and the application process is highly competitive. Priority is given to those with current positions who are in good standing and would like to continue teaching. Only after these positions are filled do we look at other applicants. The number of new positions available each semester is generally low, especially in the spring. While this should not deter you from applying, please keep it in mind when planning for the semester.

The Department will consider graduate students from other departments only when there are no qualified applicants from the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering.

Expected timing for appointments:

Appointments for Teaching Assistants are generally made in August for the fall semester and in early December for the spring semester. Grader appointments are appointed along a similar timeline, but often a few weeks later.

Once Hired:

Students hired into a TA position are required to attend the New Educator Orientation (NAO) training in late August. Please see the website for more details:


Speaking requirements for international students:

All international students applying for teaching assistant positions must meet the UW-Madison Graduate School’s requirement for spoken English BEFORE they can be considered as a TA. This requirement can be fulfilled in two ways:

  1. Pass the SPEAK You can register for the SPEAK test through Aaron Webster in Room 3180 ME,
  2. Receive a 26 or higher on the speaking portion of the TOEFL test (or equivalent). Provide a copy of your score to Aaron Webster in Room 3180 ME,

Students continuing as TAs/PAs:

Please be aware that Teaching Assistants cannot be reappointed for more than one semester unless they have completed Graduate Assistant Equity Workshops.

These workshops provide information about relevant laws, policies, regulations and resources; explore the practical application of these policies to classroom and learning environments; and engage in conversations designed to promote interdisciplinary dialogue and excellence through diversity. The workshop segment presented by the Office for Equity and Diversity is delivered in person and requires registration. The session schedule, electronic copies of the materials referenced during each in-person presentation, and the registration link are available here.

The McBurney Disability Resource Center segment of the workshop is presented through Learn@UW. Participants who attend and complete the in-person presentation by the Office of Equity and Diversity, will be automatically on a roster for the McBurney online training and should see the modules listed in their Student View.

Please note that Teaching Assistants need to attend the in-person presentation and complete the online training in order to comply with the UW-Madison reappointment expectations. TAs or PAs who have attended one of these sessions at UW-Madison in the past, need not attend again.