PhD in Industrial Engineering

PhD degree program

Application Deadlines:

Fall: January 1

Spring: October 1

Summer: February 1

Re-entry applicants: August 1 (Fall), December 1 (Spring) and must notify an academic advisor.

Note: Although we accept summer applications we recommend applying for Fall or Spring as there are not many courses offered in the summer.

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

More information available on our Research Page.

Program Details


Application deadlines are strictly enforced and ALL application materials including transcripts, GRE and TOFL scores MUST be included and submitted by the application deadline.

*Please note our office does not provide feedback to applicants as to their potential for admission – please review both the ISyE department and Graduate School requirements for admission and if you feel you meet the necessary criteria for applying, please do so.

1. Applicants must first meet all of the  requirement of the Graduate School. Click here for more information about these requirements.

2. Applicants must also meet department specific requirements as outlined below:

  • BS degree or equivalent
  • Mathematical Statistics course (for example, Stat 312)
  • Computer Programming course (for example, CS 302)
  • Three introductory courses in Industrial Engineering, such as: 313, 315, 320, 323, 349, 415, 417

Note: Depending on an applicant’s background, applicants may be deficient in up to two prerequisite courses.


  1. Fill out an online application through the Graduate School website and pay the application fee.
  2. List three recommenders and their contact information as part of the online application. An email will be sent to the recommender, asking that they submit their letter online using the Graduate School’s recommendation form. Applicants can log back into their online application to re-send the email request if the recommender loses the email. Letters of recommendation must be submitted electronically.
  3. Submit a Statement of Purpose in your online application.
  4. TOEFL EXAM INFORMATION: Ask ETS to submit your GRE and/or TOEFL scores to the UW-Madison Graduate School (Institution Number 1846). If you have your scores sent to UW-Madison, they will be available online to all departments to which you have applied. The institution code, therefore, is the only number needed. For more information please visit the Graduate School Requirements page. (Please note: Exam information must be valid at start date of the semester that you are applying for (non-expired)).
  5. Electronically submit one copy of your official transcript to the email address below. Unofficial copies of transcripts will be accepted for review but official copies are required for admitted students.

→Submit only the documents requested.




Check out the Admissions FAQ or contact us at

Program Requirements

Course List


PhD Qualifying Exams

Students must register for the ISyE Qualifying Exams for all focus areas by 4:00pm on the first Friday of September.

Qualifying Exam Registration Form

  1. General Policy for Qualifying Exams
  2. Breadth Requirement
  3. Focus Area Requirements

Qualifying Exams are offered in the following focus areas and are written and graded by the area group:

Decision Sciences and Operations Research

  1. Policy: Decision Science/Operations Research Qualifying Exam Policy
  2. Example: Decision Science and Operations Research Fall 2015 Examination
  3. Convenor: Professor Jeffrey T. Linderoth

Health Systems Engineering

  1. Policy: Health Systems Qualifying Exam Policy
  2. Example: Health Systems Fall 2015
  3. Convenor: Professor Oguzhan Alagoz

Human Factors and Ergonomics

  1. Policy: HFE Qualifying Exam Policy
  2. Evaluation: HFE Qualifying Exam Scoring Rubic
  3. 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.
  4. Convenor: Professor Rob Radwin

Manufacturing and Production Systems

  1. Policy: MPS Qualifying Exam Policy
  2. Example: MPS Fall 2015 Qualifying Examination
  3. Convenor: Professor Jingshan Li


  1. Policy: Optimization qualifying exams are offered by the Department of Computer Sciences. Please contact Angela Thorp.
  2. Optimization Topics List and Recommended Reading
  3. Convenor: Professor Jeffrey T. Linderoth

Other resources

Financial Support

At UW-Madison there are four types of financial support, which include: fellowship, project/ program assistant, research assistant, and teaching assistant.

  • Fellowship: enables a graduate student to pursue a degree full-time. Fellowship recipients are chosen through a competitive process in the national, university, school/college, or department/program level. Currently, the ISyE department does not have any fellowships available for incoming graduate students.
  • Project/Program Assistantship (PA): graduate students employed to assist with research, training or other academic programs or projects. Project/Program Assistants are included in the labor agreement between the state of Wisconsin and the Teaching Assistants Association. These appointments are offered to students by individual faculty.
  • Research Assistant (RA): must be a graduate student working toward a master.s or PhD degree. The work performed is primarily to further the education and training of the student. These appointments are offered to students by individual faculty.
  • Teaching Assistant (TA): graduate students who have been assigned teaching responsibilities in an instructional department under the supervision of a faculty member. Teaching Assistants are included in a labor agreement between the state of Wisconsin and the Teaching Assistants Association. These are awarded to students by the department or individual faculty.

You can apply for funding (RA, PA, TA positions or fellowships) by contacting individual faculty members directly. The admissions office does not know if a particular professor has funds for assistantships. Those inquiries, and all other inquiries regarding funding opportunities, should be directed to the faculty directly.

About 95% of ISyE applicants request financial aid and unfortunately there is very little assistance available, especially to incoming Industrial and Systems Engineering graduate students. Funding is awarded to students based on the qualifications of the student, the amount of available funding, and the number of continuing students receiving support. As these components carry term to term, we cannot answer this question directly. However, approximately 48% of current ISyE graduate students have some type of funding (either from within or outside of the department). It is unlikely that first semester graduate students will receive funding, but the odds increase in later semesters, once students are able to meet faculty and make connections on campus.

Project, research, and teaching assistantships are given by individual faculty who have funding to pay for this type of position; however, professors are generally unwilling to hire students for assistantships based strictly on their resumes and applications. It is too difficult to gauge a person.s work ethic this way and has often led to inharmonious working relationships. The chances of getting funding usually increase after a student is on campus, performs well, and establishes a relationship with a faculty adviser.

If you choose to attend UW-Madison and plan to pursue funding on your own, the following sites could be very helpful: