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.

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

The Graduate School sets minimum requirements for admissions. Academic program admission requirements are often more rigorous than those set by the Graduate School. Please check the program website for details and admissions deadlines.

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

Offers of financial support from the Department, College, and University are in the form of research assistantships (RAs), teaching assistantships (TAs), project assistantships (PAs), and partial or full fellowships. Prospective PhD students that receive such offers will have a minimum five-year guarantee of support. The funding for RAs comes from faculty research grants. Each professor decides on his or her own RA offers, and a portion of the top domestic applicants is invited to visit Madison in order to meet faculty members and tour the department facilities. International applicants must secure an RA, TA, PA, fellowship, or independent funding before admission is final. Funded students are expected to maintain full-time enrollment.  See the program website for additional information.

Minimum Graduate School Requirements

Review the Graduate School minimum academic progress and degree requirements, in addition to the program requirements listed below.

Major Requirements


Face to Face Evening/Weekend Online Hybrid Accelerated
Yes No No No No

Mode of Instruction Definitions


Minimum Credit Requirement 60 credits
Minimum Residence Credit Requirement 32 credits
Minimum Graduate Coursework Requirement 30 of the required 60 credits must be in graduate-level coursework; courses with the Graduate Level Coursework attribute are identified and searchable in the university's Course Guide ( In addition, at least 18 of the non-research credits must be in classes having the graduate-level designation.
Overall Graduate GPA Requirement 3.00 GPA required.
Other Grade Requirements Courses in which grades of BC, C, or below are received cannot be counted toward the degree except as follows: 1) Credits of C will be allowed provided they are balanced by twice as many credits of A or by four times as many credits of AB, 2) Credits of BC will be allowed provided they are balanced by twice as many credits of AB or by an equal number of credits of A.
Assessments and Examinations Ph.D. qualifying examination is required of all students.

After acceptance of the student’s doctoral plan of study, the student must take an oral preliminary examination.

Final oral examination is required at the end of the thesis work.
Language Requirements No language requirements.
Doctoral Minor/Breadth Requirements There are two minor options available:

Minor Option A
Students minor in a single department and satisfy the minor requirements of that department.

Minor Option B (Distributed Minor)
This option requires a minimum of 9 credits in two or more departments outside the major, in related courses selected for their relevance to a particular area of concentration. The following rules apply:
1. Courses typically included on or within the scope of the E M A Qualifying Exam shall not be considered acceptable for the Ph.D. Minor Option B.
2. At least 6 credits must be taken in courses listed in the UW-Madison Guide as "Grad 50%" courses.

Required COURSES

At least 36 of the required 60 credits must be in classes satisfying the following general requirements and mathematics, breadth and depth requirements.

All courses must be at the 500-level or above. At least 21 credits must be 600-level and above OR from the following list:21
Composite Materials
Fracture Mechanics
Aerodynamics Lab
Flight Dynamics and Control
Experimental Vibration and Dynamic System Analysis
Heterogeneous and Multiphase Materials
Engineering Analysis I
Engineering Analysis II
Experimental Mechanics
Mathematics Requirements6
At least 6 credits (2 courses) must be in applied mathematics from the following list:
Engineering Analysis I
Engineering Analysis II
Ordinary Differential Equations
Analysis I
Analysis II
Linear Algebra II
Analysis of Partial Differential Equations
Complex Analysis
Methods of Applied Mathematics 1
Methods of Applied Mathematics-2
Methods of Computational Mathematics I
Methods of Computational Mathematics II
Breadth Requirement
As part of their M.S. or Ph.D., students must have taken courses from at least 2 of the 3 areas defined below. For each of the 2 areas, the student must have taken at least 2 courses. The courses must be at a similar level to those listed below.
Solid Mechanics
E M A 506 Advanced Mechanics of Materials I3
E M A/​CIV ENGR/​M E  508 Composite Materials3
E M A 519 Fracture Mechanics3
E M A/​M S & E  541 Heterogeneous and Multiphase Materials3
E M A/​M E  570 Experimental Mechanics3
E M A 605 Introduction to Finite Elements3
E M A 611 Advanced Mechanical Testing of Materials3
E M A/​E P  615 Micro- and Nanoscale Mechanics3
E M A 622 Mechanics of Continua3
E M A 630 Viscoelastic Solids3
E M A 700 Theory of Elasticity3
E M A/​M E  703 Plasticity Theory and Physics3
E M A 705 Advanced Topics in Finite Elements3
E M A/​M E  706 Plates, Shells and Pressure Vessels3
E M A/​M E  708 Advanced Composite Materials3
E M A/​M E  722 Introduction to Polymer Rheology3
M E/​B M E  603 Topics in Bio-Medical Engineering (Topic: FE for Biomechanics)1-3
M E 753 Friction, Lubrication and Wear3
Fluid Mechanics
E M A 521 Aerodynamics3
E M A 622 Mechanics of Continua3
M E 563 Intermediate Fluid Dynamics3
M E 572 Intermediate Gas Dynamics3
M E 573 Computational Fluid Dynamics3
M E 769 Combustion Processes3
M E 770 Advanced Experimental Instrumentation3
M E 774 Chem Kinetics of Combust Systems3
M E 775 Turbulent Heat and Momentum Transfer3
MATH 705 Mathematical Fluid Dynamics3
E M A 523 Flight Dynamics and Control3
E M A/​M E  540 Experimental Vibration and Dynamic System Analysis3
E M A 542 Advanced Dynamics3
E M A 545 Mechanical Vibrations3
E M A/​ASTRON  550 Astrodynamics3
E M A 610 Structural Finite Element Model Validation3
E M A 642 Satellite Dynamics3
E M A 742 Theory and Applications in Advanced Dynamics3
E M A 745 Advanced Methods in Structural Dynamics3
E M A 747 Nonlinear and Random Mechanical Vibrations3
M E/​E C E  577 Automatic Controls Laboratory4
M E 740 Advanced Vibrations3
M E 747 Advanced Computer Control of Machines and Processes3
M E 748 Optimum Design of Mechanical Elements and Systems3
Depth Requirement12
At least 4 courses (12 credits) must be 700-level or above in mechanics, applied mathematics, or computer science. At least 2 of the courses (6 credits) must be from List 1 (below), and the remaining 2 courses (6 credits) may be from List 1 or List 2.
List 16-12
Any E M A course except E M A 790, E M A 890, or E M A 990.
E M A 601 Special Topics courses may only be counted as 700-level if designated as such by the instructor.
Microhydrodynamics, Brownian Motion, and Complex Fluids
Engineering Properties of Soils
Soil Dynamics
Mathematical Fluid Dynamics
Advanced Vibrations
Dynamics of Controlled Systems
Advanced Computer Control of Machines and Processes
Optimum Design of Mechanical Elements and Systems
Advanced Computational Dynamics
Friction, Lubrication and Wear
Combustion Processes
Advanced Experimental Instrumentation
Chem Kinetics of Combust Systems
Turbulent Heat and Momentum Transfer
List 20-6
Methods of Computational Mathematics I
Methods of Computational Mathematics II
Computational Methods for Large Sparse Systems
Machine Learning
Linear Systems
Optimal Systems
Mathematical Foundations of Machine Learning
Nonlinear Dynamics, Bifurcations and Chaos
Theoretical Foundations of Machine Learning
Methods of Applied Mathematics 1
Methods of Applied Mathematics-2
Advanced Materials Processing and Manufacturing
Modeling and Simulation in Polymer Processing
Advanced Robotics
Solid Modeling
Topics in Thermodynamics
Advanced Heat Transfer I-Conduction
Structural Analysis of Materials
Imperfections and Mechanical Properties
Molecular Dynamics and Monte Carlo Simulations in Materials Science
Theoretical Physics-Dynamics
Statistical Mechanics
Theoretical Physics-Electrodynamics
Quantum Mechanics
Quantum Mechanics
Advanced Solid State Physics
Special Topics in Theoretical Physics (when taught as Nanostructures in Science and Technology)

 It is acceptable for students who earned an M.S. degree in Engineering Mechanics at UW-Madison to use coursework completed while in the M.S. degree program to meet the requirements above.

Graduate School Policies

The Graduate School’s Academic Policies and Procedures provide essential information regarding general university policies. Program authority to set degree policies beyond the minimum required by the Graduate School lies with the degree program faculty. Policies set by the academic degree program can be found below.

Major-Specific Policies

Prior Coursework

Graduate Work from Other Institutions

With permission from their faculty advisor and the department chair, students may use up to 6 credits of graduate work taken at another institution if they meet departmental MS requirements.  Coursework earned ten or more years prior to admission to the PhD program is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

Graduate Coursework from Previous MS1

With advisor and EP Graduate Studies Committee approval, students may use up to 15 credits of prior MS coursework toward the PhD, provided that all of the following are met: (1) The student has completed an MS degree in a relevant field. (2) The coursework proposed by the student is at the graduate level and was taken as part of the student’s completed MS program. (3) The student’s faculty advisor agrees that the prior coursework proposed by the student satisfies the Engineering Mechanics PhD program requirements in terms of subject area and rigor. (4) A member of the EP Graduate Studies Committee who is familiar with the EM PhD program confirms the advisor’s recommendation.

UW–Madison Undergraduate

With faculty approval, students who have received their undergraduate degree from UW–Madison may apply up to 7 credits numbered 400 or above toward the minimum graduate degree credit requirement.  This work would not be allowed to count toward the 50% graduate coursework minimum unless taken at the 700 level or above. No credits can be counted toward the minimum graduate residence credit requirement. Coursework earned ten years or more prior to admission to a PhD program is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

With faculty approval, students who have received an ABET-accredited undergraduate degree (not including UW–Madison) may be eligible to apply up to 7 credits of their undergraduate coursework toward the Minimum Graduate Degree Credit Requirement.  No credits can be counted toward the Minimum Graduate Residence Credit Requirement, nor the Minimum Graduate Coursework (50%) Requirement.  Coursework earned five or more years prior to admission to a master's degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

UW–Madison University Special

With program approval, students are allowed to count up to 15 credits of coursework numbered 400 or above taken as a UW–Madison Special student toward the minimum graduate residence credit requirement, and the minimum graduate degree credit requirement. UW–Madison coursework taken as a University Special student would not be allowed to count toward the 50% graduate coursework minimum unless taken at the 700 level or above. Coursework earned ten years or more prior to admission to a doctoral degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.


A semester GPA below 3.0 will result in the student being placed on academic probation. If a semester GPA of 3.0 is not attained during the subsequent semester of full time enrollment (or 12 credits of enrollment if enrolled part-time) the student may be dismissed from the program or allowed to continue for one additional semester based on advisor appeal to the Graduate School.


Each student is required to meet with their advisor prior to registration every semester.


15 credits

Time Constraints

The Ph.D. qualifying examination should be first taken no later than completion of the M.S. requirements, or the beginning of the fifth semester of graduate study, whichever comes first. Students entering the program with a master’s degree in EMA, EP or NE from another institution, and taking the qualifying exam in that same major, must take the exam by the beginning of their third semester.

Students must submit the doctoral plan of study one month before the end of the semester following the one in which the qualifying exam is passed.

Candidates are expected to pass the Ph.D. preliminary examination no later than the end of the third year of graduate study, or by the end of the second regular semester following the one in which the Ph.D. qualifying examination was passed, whichever is later. A candidate who fails to take the preliminary examination within four years of passing the qualifying examination must retake the qualifying examination.

An oral examination on the findings of the Ph.D. research is required at the end of the thesis work. The candidate must apply for a warrant from the Graduate School through the student services office at least three weeks prior to the exam. The final oral examination must be taken within five years of passing the preliminary examination.

Grievances and Appeals

These resources may be helpful in addressing your concerns:

Engineering Mechanics Grievance Procedures

Students who feel that they have been treated unfairly have the right to a prompt hearing of their grievance.  Such complaints may involve course grades, classroom treatment, advising, various forms of harassment, or other issues. Any student or potential student may use these procedures.

  • The student should speak first with the person toward whom the grievance is directed. In most cases, grievances can be resolved at this level.

  • Should a satisfactory resolution not be achieved, the student should contact the program’s Grievance Advisor to discuss the grievance. The Graduate Student Coordinator can provide students with the name of this faculty member, who facilitates problem resolution through informal channels. The Grievance Advisor is responsible for facilitating any complaints or issues of students. The Grievance Advisor first attempts to help students informally address the grievance prior to any formal complaint. Students are also encouraged to talk with their faculty advisors regarding concerns or difficulties if necessary. University resources for sexual harassment concerns can be found on the UW Office of Equity and Diversity website.

  • If the issue is not resolved to the student’s satisfaction, the student can submit the grievance to the Grievance Advisor in writing, within 60 calendar days of the alleged unfair treatment.

  • On receipt of a written complaint, a faculty committee will be convened by the Grievance Advisor to manage the grievance.  The program faculty committee will obtain a written response from the person toward whom the complaint is directed. The response will be shared with the person filing the grievance.

  • The faculty committee will determine a decision regarding the grievance. The Grievance Advisor will report on the action taken by the committee in writing to both the student and the party toward whom the complaint was directed within 15 working days from the date the complaint was received.

  • At this point, if either party (the student or the person toward whom the grievance is directed) is unsatisfied with the decision of the faculty committee, the party may file a written appeal. Either party has 10 working days to file a written appeal to the College of Engineering.

The Assistant Dean for Graduate Affairs ( provides overall leadership for graduate education in the College of Engineering (CoE) and is a point of contact for graduate students who have concerns about education, mentoring, research, or other difficulties.

The Graduate School has procedures for students wishing to appeal a grievance decision made at the college level. These policies are described in the Academic Policies and Procedures at



Graduate School Resources

Take advantage of the Graduate School's professional development resources to build skills, thrive academically, and launch your career. 

  1. Demonstrate an extraordinary, deep understanding of mathematical, scientific, and engineering principles in the field.
  2. Demonstrate an ability to formulate, analyze, and independently solve advanced engineering problems.
  3. Apply the relevant scientific and technological advancements, techniques, and engineering tools to address these problems.
  4. Recognize and apply principles of ethical and professional conduct.
  5. Demonstrate an ability to synthesize knowledge from a subset of the biological, physical, and/or social sciences to help frame problems critical to the future of their discipline.
  6. Demonstrate an ability to conduct original research and communicate it to their peers.



Blanchard, Bonazza, Bronkhorst, Crone, Hegna, Henderson, Lakes, Schmitz, Smith, Sovinec, Sridharan, Waleffe, Wilson (chair)


Allen, Witt


Choy, Couet, Geiger, Franck, Notbohm, Thevamaran, Zhang


Anderson, Bednarz, Bier, Engle, Graham, Kolkowitz, Ludois, Ma, Miller, Morgan, Nellis, Pfotenhauer, Porter, Prabhakar, Robertson, Szlufarska, Thoma, Thomadsen, Trujillo, Vanderby


Abdel-Khalik, T. Allen, Bisognano, Callen, Carbon, Conrad, Cook, Corradini, DeLuca, Drugan, Emmert, Fonck, Hershkowitz, Kammer, Kulcinski, Mackie, Malkus, Moses, Plesha, Sandor, Schlack