Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy Degrees in Mechanical Engineering

Graduate students benefit from a tier-one research university, working on pioneering research through grants from industry and government. Additionally, the department’s series of distinguished seminar speakers broadens exposure to current research endeavors in both academia and industry. Many of our graduates go on to academic careers as research or tenure track professors, while others will secure advanced positions in industrial and research institution careers. The Department of Mechanical Engineering offers the following Master of Science (MS) and Doctoral (PhD) degrees in Mechanical Engineering.

View our degree comparison chart.

MS and PhD Mechanical Engineering Programs

Mechanical Engineering offers a Master of Science (MS) Mechanical Engineering: Research degree. Students in this program will select one of two tracks; either the Thesis track or the Independent Study track.

M.S. Mechanical Engineering: Research (2 tracks)

  • Thesis
  • Independent Study

The MS Mechanical Engineering: Research degree takes approximately two years to complete. The thesis track has a significant research component giving students valuable hands-on research experience with mentoring by faculty in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. The independent study track has a stronger focus on coursework but also requires at least 3 credits of independent study mentored by faculty in the Department of Mechanical Engineering.

All students are mentored by the world-class faculty in the mechanical engineering department at UW-Madison. For a list of mechanical engineering faculty along with faculty research interests, please visit our faculty directory. For more information on research areas see our page on research in Mechanical Engineering.

The Department of Mechanical Engineering offers a Master of Science (MS) in Mechanical Engineering, Accelerated Program. The Accelerated Program takes approximately three terms (one calendar year) to complete. The Accelerated Program only includes coursework. In this program you will select your coursework interest area.

For a list of mechanical engineering courses 400-level and above, please visit our list of mechanical engineering courses.

The Department of Mechanical Engineering offers a Master of Science (MS) in Mechanical Engineering: Automotive Engineering. This is an accelerated on campus degree program (completed in 12 months) geared toward preparing students for a career in the automotive industry. With a strong emphasis on in-cylinder energy conversion processes, graduates of this program will be poised to immediately participate in engine development programs in the automotive, heavy duty, or recreational engine sectors. The coursework includes 12 credits of thermofluid processes, 12 formal credits in other relevant topics, and a 6 credits of summer practicum that pairs a hands-on laboratory course with a hands-on modeling course. The summer practicum coalesces information from coursework by applying it to internal combustion engines in a hands-on environment.

The Department of Mechanical Engineering offer a Master of Science (MS) in Mechanical Engineering: Modeling and Simulation in Mechanical Engineering. This is an accelerated on campus degree program (completed in 12 months) with a stated objective of endowing the student with: computational engineering literacy and a strong modeling and simulation skillset. This degree prepares individuals who are interested in mastering the use of computers for the end goal of solving challenging engineering problems via simulation. This is a coursework only program that in one year enables the students to take 30 credits in a combination of foundation, core, and elective courses. The backbone of the program is a fall–spring sequence of two “computers in Engineering” foundation classes: ME 459 Computing Concepts for Applications in Engineering and ME/​COMP SCI/​ECE/​EMA/​EP 759 High Performance Computing for Applications in Engineering. Beyond these two foundation classes, students choose four more core courses from a carefully selected pool of Mechanical Engineering modeling courses anchored in application areas such as thermodynamics, fluid dynamics, heat transfer, solid mechanics, biomechanics, and manufacturing. In addition to core and foundation classes, students select four more elective classes that fit their educational priorities.

The doctoral program in the Department of Mechanical Engineering prepares students to perform independent research in areas of faculty expertise within the department. The PhD program in Mechanical Engineering is designed to train outstanding students for advanced work in industry, national labs, and academia through a combination of coursework and hands on research.

PhD students are mentored by faculty to become world-class researchers. The Department of Mechanical Engineering has a long history of excellence in graduate education. The department is consistently ranked in the top 20 in the United States for graduate programs in mechanical engineering. The department offers research opportunities in a large number of established and emerging research specializations. Broad research themes within the department include: biomechanics, computational engineering, energy, manufacturing, and mechanics and controls. Excellent research facilities are available for specialized research within these broad areas for studies in: biomechanics, combustion, computational design, controls, cryogenics, dynamics and vibrations, fluid dynamics, fluid power, geometric modeling and prototyping, heat and mass transfer, internal combustion engines, laser diagnostics, manufacturing processes, mechanics, mechatronics, polymer and composites processing, powertrain control, robotics, solar energy, and more.

For a list of mechanical engineering faculty along with faculty research interests, please visit our faculty directory. For more information on research areas see our page on research in Mechanical Engineering.

Application Process and Requirements

Interested applicants will submit an online application with all required documents (explained below). After the application deadline has passed, the department admissions committee will review applications. Applications selected by the Department of Mechanical Engineering for a “recommendation of admission” will be forwarded to The Graduate School for additional processing with an end goal of an official offer of academic admission.

To be guaranteed review for admission and funding, ALL application materials must be submitted online through the Graduate School’s application portal and must be received by the deadline. There is one deadline for each term, listed below. Not all programs accept applications for every term. Please review our “Degree Comparison Chart” for specific deadlines by program.

  • Fall term – December 15th
  • Spring term – October 1st
  • Summer term – December 15th
  1. ALL applicants must meet the general Graduate School Requirements for Admission.  
  2. The Department of Mechanical Engineering uses a holistic approach to reviewing applications to its graduate programs. The whole application is considered. No single item, for example a low GRE score, will prevent an applicant from being admitted. The Department of Mechanical Engineering is looking for:
    • GPA: The Department of Mechanical Engineering prefers a 3.2/4.0 GPA. The mandatory minimum GPA to be reviewed by the admissions committee is 3.0/4.0 (as indicated in the Graduate School Admission Requirements link above).
    • GRE: The preferred scores: Analytic Writing – 3.5, Verbal Reasoning – 150, and Quantitative Reasoning – 155. These are “preferred” scores, not minimum required scores. Applicants with scores lower than these scores may apply and may be considered for admission.
    • 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. 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).

All application materials must be submitted online through the Graduate School’s application portal and received by the application deadline. Do NOT send any paper copies of documents by mail (email or paper mail) unless specifically requested to do so by the Graduate Admissions Team.


  1. Online application:
  2. Resume or Curriculum Vitae (CV)
  3. Statement of Purpose: Graduate School Guidelines for the statement of purpose are found at There are no Department of Mechanical Engineering specific requirements or guidelines. Information on research interests and future aspirations are important for the application review process.
  4. Unofficial transcripts: All applicants must upload a copy of their transcript from their undergraduate institution and other previous higher education institutions, including other graduate studies. An official transcript is not part of the initial application process but may be requested at a later phase of the application process.
  5. Three (3) letters of recommendation: Enter recommenders email contact information into the online application. Recommenders will receive an email with instructions for the survey and recommendation letter upload process. We do not accept recommendation letters via email, paper format, or online portfolios.
  6. GRE 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 (no department code is needed).
  7. English Proficiency Scores (TOEFL/IELTS) – required for those whose native language is not English, or whose undergraduate instruction was not in English. See Graduate School Requirements for Admission for more information and exemption policies. 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.
  8. Application Fee
  1. International applicants must have a degree comparable to a regionally accredited U.S. bachelor’s degree.
  2. Every applicant whose native language is not English, or whose undergraduate instruction was not in English, must provide an English proficiency test score. For detailed requirements see the Graduate School Admission Requirements.
  3. International applicants are required to have adequate financial resources to cover expenses for the duration of their studies at UW–Madison. Do not send any financial statements to the program/department. If the department recommends your application for admission, the Graduate School will request the documents through your online status check page. For more information see the Graduate School International Students
  4. For applicants applying to the PhD or the Master of Science – Research (both tracks) programs only: Review the department website to find and secure a graduate faculty advisor. Only those faculty listed with titles of Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, or Professor, can serve as graduate advisors. Do not contact Emeritus faculty. 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 (

Applicants should monitor the application status by visiting the MyUW application portal. You may need to activate a NetID to gain access to the MyUW portal (information will be sent after submitting an application). “Available for Recommendation” means you have submitted an application and it is in process. It does not mean the application is complete and does not mean a decision has been made.

You should monitor your application status via the “Checklist” in your MyUW application portal. As each item is received, a checkmark will appear next to that item. When a checkmark is placed next to the “Application Complete” line, then your application is considered complete. Please note that checkmarks are not all automatic and some will require manual staff intervention. Please allow five (5) business days after the receipt of a new item for the application to be reviewed and your checklist updated.

  • Fall applications: Decisions typically take place between mid-January through May.
  • Spring applications: Decisions typically take place between mid-October and December.
  • Summer applications: Decisions typically take place between mid-January through May.

Applicants will receive one of two decisions: a “recommendation for admission” decision or a denial decision. Decisions will be made available both via the MyUW Application Portal and via email.

A recommendation for admission decision will be followed by an email from the UW-Madison Graduate School requesting additional information. The additional information will need to be submitted to and processed by The Graduate School. Once all documentation meets The Graduate School requirements, The Graduate School will finalize the academic admission offer with an official letter of admission.

A denial decision means your application has been denied by the program. We apologize, but a reason for denial is not submitted and therefore not available to each individual applicant. Applications may be denied for a number of reasons, including lack of resources and space in the program. If your application is denied and you would like to apply for a future term, you must submit a new application for the future term and submit new application documents. Previously submitted tests scores do not need to be resubmitted.

Graduate-student funding is an important consideration for both prospective students and the department. Decisions for academic admission and funding are made separately.  Graduate students in the department may be funded by research assistantships (RAs) or teaching assistantships (TAs).  Funding is not guaranteed for all students.

Students enrolled in one of the accelerated programs (Accelerated Program, Automotive Engineering, and Modeling and Simulation in Mechanical Engineering) are not eligible for department funding.

RA funding: Prospective students interested in securing an RA position are encouraged to find information on faculty research activities and contact faculty investigators whose research aligns with the students’ interests.  Faculty information may be reviewed here: Decisions on RA positions are made at the investigator/faculty level and not at the Department level. The admissions office does not have a list of available RA positions.

TA funding: Applicants interested in Teaching Assistantships must submit a TA Application, located on the forms page: Questions about TA positions and policies should be directed to the Department of Mechanical Engineering Office:

Other funding sources may include national fellowships, private funding, federal student loans, and self-funding: International students may also find the International Student Services webpage helpful:

The Department of Mechanical Engineering does not offer application fee waivers. Some applicants may be eligible for a fee grant through the UW-Madison Graduate School:

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 re-entry students. Your previous faculty advisor (or another ME faculty advisor) must be willing to supply advising support and should contact/e-mail the ME Graduate Student Services Coordinator regarding next steps in the process.


If you were previously enrolled in the UW-Madison Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering degree, completed the M.S. degree, have had a break in enrollment since earning the degree and would now like to apply for the Ph.D. program; you are required to submit a new student application through the UW-Madison Graduate School online application.

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

Please do not mail any paper copies of application materials, this includes transcripts. They will not be reviewed. Please only upload the required application materials with the Graduate School application.

Information for Current Students

Mechanical Engineering Department Handbook
Policies and procedures for on-campus MS and PhD degrees in the Mechanical Engineering Department are described in detail in the Mechanical Engineering Department Handbook.

Current students enrolled in the Mechanical Engineering department need to follow the policies and procedures contained in the current posted version of the Handbook. The Handbook also contains detailed information on degree requirements for on-campus graduate degrees in Mechanical Engineering. The degree requirements for all students enrolled in ME degree programs are included in the handbook. Additional links related to Mechanical Engineering Department Policies and Procedures and course requirements are provided below.

View all courses approved for instruction by the Department of Mechanical Engineering, in the Guide

Explore Mechanical Engineering classes scheduled for the current and upcoming semester in Course Search & Enroll (requires a UW NetId)

Tentative plan for technical electives offered in coming semesters

These courses count toward 700-level course requirements for Mechanical Engineering graduate students:

  • CBE 620: Intermediate Transport Phenomena
  • EMA 622: Mechanics of Continua
  • EMA 630: Viscoelastic Solids
  • ME 964: Advanced Computational Techniques for Design Optimization & Nonlinear Finite Element Analysis
  • ME 964: Computational Biomechanics
  • ME 964: Computational Design & Manufacturing (also called Computational Geometry of Materials)
  • ME 964: Computational Mathematics with Applications in Engineering
  • ME 964: Design of Nonlinear Controllers & Observers
  • ME 964: High-Performance Computing for Engineering Applications
  • ME 964: Metal Additive Manufacturing
  • ME 964: Modeling & Simulation Two-Phase Flows
  • ME 964: Model-Based Engineering
  • ME 964: Statistical Shape Modeling

To change your faculty advisor please have your new advisor email the ME Graduate Coordinator your name, student ID number, and faculty advisor authorization.

To view a list of faculty and research employment opportunities visit the ME Job Board. You will need to log in with your NetID and password. You may need to download files to see all attachments.

ME Job Board

Graduate Program Coordinator
Sara Hladilek
3182 Mechanical Engineering
1513 University Ave


Graduate Committee Chair  

Frank E. Pfefferkorn

1031 Mechanical Engineering

1513 University Ave