The doctoral program in the Department of Mechanical Engineering prepares students to perform independent research in areas of faculty expertise within the department. The Ph.D. 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.

Ph.D. 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

Graduate School Admissions

Graduate admissions is a two-step process between academic degree programs and the Graduate School. Applicants must meet requirements of both the program(s) and the Graduate School. Once you have researched the graduate program(s) you are interested in, apply online.  

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

Students with a strong background in mechanical engineering or a related field with interest in furthering their education in mechanical engineering are encouraged to apply for admission to the department. Applicants accepted into the program generally have an undergraduate grade point average well above the graduate school minimum of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. All applicants are required to take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE). Applications are evaluated on the basis of previous academic record, GRE scores, letters of recommendation, and a personal statement. Applicants are strongly encouraged to identify a faculty advisor during the application process. For more information on admission requirements see the department’s PhD degree website


Applications are accepted for admission during the spring semester.


Applications are accepted for admission during summer term and fall semester.

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 processes related to funding.

Program Resources

There are three mechanisms for Graduate Student funding through the university for Mechanical Engineering Ph.D. students:

  1. Fellowships
  2. Graduate assistantships: project assistantships, teaching assistantships, and research assistantships
  3. Traineeships

Funding is awarded based on the qualifications of the student, the number of applicants, the amount of available funding, and the number of continuing students receiving support. You can apply for funding for research assistantships by contacting individual faculty members directly. Please check our website to look for faculty (only those listed with titles of assistant professor, associate professor, or professor can serve as graduate student advisors). Search for faculty who have research interests that align closely with your own by viewing faculty directory entries, visiting the faculty’s website (linked from the directory page), and reviewing publications by the faculty member. Once you have identified faculty with interests close to your own, you are encouraged to contact them by email to inquire regarding available research assistant positions. The admissions office does not know if a particular professor has research assistant positions available.

Students who apply to the department will be automatically considered for fellowship opportunities within the department.

See the ME forms website for application forms for the positions of teaching assistant and grader. Please complete and return to the ME Department Office (3107 Mechanical Engineering Building).



Students who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents may be eligible to receive some level of funding through the federal direct loan program. These loans are available to qualified graduate students who are taking at least 4 credits during the fall and spring semesters, and 2 credits during summer. Private loans are also available. Learn more about financial aid at their website


For information on International Student Funding and Scholarships visit the ISS website.

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 Half of degree coursework (30 credits out of 60 total credits) must be completed graduate-level coursework; courses with the Graduate Level Coursework attribute are identified and searchable in the university's Course Guide (
Overall Graduate GPA Requirement 3.25 GPA required.
Other Grade Requirements Students must earn a C or above in all formal coursework. Ph.D. candidates may not have any more than two Incompletes on their record at any one time.
Assessments and Examinations The Ph.D. candidate will need to pass a qualifying exam, preliminary exam, and a final defense in order to obtain a degree.
Language Requirements No language requirements.
Doctoral Minor/Breadth Requirements All doctoral students are required to complete a minor. Students pursuing an Option B (distributed) minor must take a minimum of 12 course credits. The coursework should form a coherent group of courses for which the graduate credit is allowed. The approval of the advisor and the graduate committee are required.

Required COURSES

Two semesters of M E 903 Graduate Seminar are required.  These should be taken the first two semester the student is in residence.  If an M.S. degree is received at UW–Madison, additional M E 903 credits are not required.

A minimum of 42 formal course credits beyond the B.S. degree. This includes a minimum of five courses numbered 700 of higher (excluding M E 964 Special Advanced Topics in Mechanical Engineering courses unless specifically approved). Four of the five 700-level courses must be taken at UW–Madison. A minimum of two of the 700-level courses must be taken Mechanical Engineering at UW–Madison. Acceptable courses for the remainder of the required 42 formal course credits (this total includes the courses taken for the PhD minor requirement) are those numbered 400 and above. Up to two 300-level courses in engineering, math, or the sciences can also be used towards the formal course credit requirement. The 300-level courses can be from Mechanical Engineering if approved by the student's advisor and the ME graduate committee. 

Minimum of 18 thesis credits (M E 790 Master's Research and Thesis and Thesis, M E 890 PhD Research and ThesisM E 990 Dissertator Research and Thesis) are required with an overall grade of S.

Courses Numbered 400 and above in M E that may count toward course, independent study, research credit requirements:

M E/​B M E  415 Biomechanics of Human Movement3
M E 417 Transport Phenomena in Polymer Processing3
M E 418 Engineering Design with Polymers3
M E 419 Fundamentals of Injection Molding3
M E 420 Introduction to Polymer Composites Processing3
M E/​STAT  424 Statistical Experimental Design3
M E/​CBE/​CHEM/​E M A  425 Undergraduate Rheology Seminar1
M E 429 Metal Cutting3
M E/​M S & E  435 Joining of Materials: Structural, Electronic, Bio and Nano Materials3
M E 437 Advanced Materials Selection3
M E/​E C E  439 Introduction to Robotics3
M E 440 Intermediate Vibrations3
M E/​BSE/​FOOD SCI  441 Rheology of Foods and Biomaterials3
M E 444 Design Problems in Elasticity3
M E 445 Mechatronics in Control & Product Realization3
M E 446 Automatic Controls3
M E 447 Computer Control of Machines and Processes3
M E 448 Mechanical Systems Analysis3
M E 449 Redesign and Prototype Fabrication3
M E 450 Design and Dynamics of Vehicles3
M E 451 Kinematics and Dynamics of Machine Systems3
M E 460 Applied Thermal / Structural Finite Element Analysis3
M E 461 Thermal Systems Modeling3
M E/​M S & E  462 Welding Metallurgy3
M E 466 Air Pollution Effects, Measurements and Control3
M E 469 Internal Combustion Engines3
M E/​BSE  475 Engineering Principles of Agricultural Machinery3
M E/​BSE  476 Engineering Principles of Off-Road Vehicles3
M E 489 Honors in Research1-3
M E 491 Mechanical Engineering Projects I1-3
M E 492 Mechanical Engineering Projects II1-3
M E/​CIV ENGR/​E M A  508 Composite Materials3
M E/​I SY E  510 Facilities Planning3
M E/​I SY E  512 Inspection, Quality Control and Reliability3
M E/​I SY E  513 Analysis of Capital Investments3
M E 514 Additive Manufacturing3
M E/​N E  520 Two-Phase Flow and Heat Transfer3
M E/​CBE  525 Macromolecular Hydrodynamics3
M E/​COMP SCI/​E C E  532 Matrix Methods in Machine Learning3
M E 535 Computer-Aided Geometric Design3
M E/​COMP SCI/​E C E  539 Introduction to Artificial Neural Network and Fuzzy Systems3
M E/​E M A  540 Experimental Vibration and Dynamic System Analysis3
M E 545 Fluid Power3
M E 549 Product Design3
M E/​COMP SCI/​I SY E  558 Introduction to Computational Geometry3
M E 561 Intermediate Thermodynamics3
M E 563 Intermediate Fluid Dynamics3
M E 564 Heat Transfer3
M E/​N E  565 Power Plant Technology3
M E/​E P  566 Cryogenics3
M E/​CBE  567 Solar Energy Technology3
M E 569 Applied Combustion3
M E/​E M A  570 Experimental Mechanics3
M E 572 Intermediate Gas Dynamics3
M E 573 Computational Fluid Dynamics3
M E/​E C E  577 Automatic Controls Laboratory4
M E 601 Special Topics in Mechanical Engineering1-3
M E/​I SY E  641 Design and Analysis of Manufacturing Systems3
M E/​I SY E  643 Performance Analysis of Manufacturing Systems3
M E 699 Advanced Independent Study1-3
M E 702 Graduate Cooperative Education Program1-2
M E/​E M A  706 Plates, Shells and Pressure Vessels3
M E/​E M A  708 Advanced Composite Materials3
M E 714 Advanced Materials Processing and Manufacturing3
M E 717 Advanced Polymer Processing3
M E 718 Modeling and Simulation in Polymer Processing3
M E/​E M A  722 Introduction to Polymer Rheology3
M E/​E C E  739 Advanced Robotics3
M E 740 Advanced Vibrations3
M E 746 Dynamics of Controlled Systems3
M E 747 Advanced Computer Control of Machines and Processes3
M E 748 Optimum Design of Mechanical Elements and Systems3
M E 751 Advanced Computational Dynamics3
M E 753 Friction, Lubrication and Wear3
M E 758 Solid Modeling3
M E/​COMP SCI/​E C E/​E M A/​E P  759 High Performance Computing for Applications in Engineering3
M E 761 Topics in Thermodynamics3
M E 764 Advanced Heat Transfer I-Conduction3
M E 765 Advanced Heat Transfer II-Convection3
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
M E/​E P  777 Vacuum Technology3
M E 790 Master's Research and Thesis1-9
M E 890 PhD Research and Thesis1-9
M E 903 Graduate Seminar0
M E/​CBE/​CHEM/​E M A  925 Rheology Research Seminar1
M E 964 Special Advanced Topics in Mechanical Engineering1-3
M E 990 Dissertator Research and Thesis1-9
M E 999 Advanced Independent Study1-5

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

Graduate Program Handbook

The Graduate Program Handbook is the repository for all of the program's policies and requirements.

Prior Coursework

Graduate Work from Other Institutions

With program approval, students are allowed to count up to 24 credits of graduate coursework from other institutions toward the minimum graduate degree credit requirement and the minimum graduate coursework (50%) requirement. No credits from other institutions can be counted toward the minimum graduate residence credit requirement. Coursework earned ten years or more prior to admission to a doctoral degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

UW–Madison Undergraduate

Up to 7 credits numbered 400 or above can be counted toward the minimum graduate degree credit requirement. These credits may be counted toward the minimum graduate coursework (50%) requirement if they are from courses numbered 700 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 doctoral degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

UW–Madison University Special

With program approval, and payment of the difference in tuition, 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.  These credits may be counted toward the minimum graduate coursework (50%) requirement if they are in courses numbered 700 or above. Coursework earned ten years or more prior to admission to a doctoral degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.


The Graduate School regularly reviews the record of any student who earned grades of BC, C, D, F, or Incomplete in a graduate course (300 or above), or grade of U in research credits. This review could result in academic probation with a hold on future enrollment or in being suspended from the Graduate School.

  1. Good standing (progressing according to standards; any funding guarantee remains in place).
  2. Probation (not progressing according to standards but permitted to enroll; loss of funding guarantee; specific plan with dates and deadlines in place in regard to removal of probationary status).
  3. Unsatisfactory progress (not progressing according to standards; not permitted to enroll, dismissal, leave of absence or change of advisor or program).

A semester GPA below 3.25 will result in the student being placed on academic probation. If a semester GPA of 3.25 is not attained during the subsequent semester of full time enrollment (or 12 credits of enrollment if enrolled part-time), this will be deemed unsatisfactory progress and the student may be dismissed from the program or allowed to continue for one additional semester based on advisor appeal to the department.


All students must have a mechanical engineering faculty advisor who assists them in planning a course sequence that meets degree requirements, who helps guide them and mentor them in their research, and who will discuss career objectives with the student. A qualifying exam committee must include the student’s mechanical engineering faculty advisor and two other mechanical engineering faculty members. A preliminary committee must include the student’s mechanical engineering faculty advisor and at least three other members who will also serve on the final oral defense committee. A final oral defense committee must include the student’s mechanical engineering faculty advisor and at least four other members, three other graduate faculty or former graduate faculty up to one year after resignation or retirement, and one of the following: another graduate faculty, a retired faculty member with emeritus status, or a UW–Madison research scientist with principal investigator status who has been approved by the ME executive committee. At least one faculty member on the committee must be from outside of the ME department.


15 credits

Time Constraints

Students entering the PhD program without an MS or equivalent degree must take the qualifying exam no later than the second time it is offered after completion of 30 graduate credits regardless of whether the student chooses to complete an MS degree. Students completing 30 graduate credits in the fall semester must take the qualifying exam no later than the following August, and students completing 30 graduate credits in the spring semester or summer sessions must take the qualifying exam no later than the following January.

Students entering the PhD program immediately after earning an MS degree in Mechanical Engineering from UW–Madison must take the qualifying exam no later than the second time it is offered after completing their MS degree. Students graduating in the fall semester must take the qualifying exam no later than the following August, and students graduating in the spring or summer semesters must take the qualifying exam no later than the following January.

Students entering the PhD program with an MS degree either from another department or institution, or who are returning to UW-Madison with an MS degree after an absence, must take the qualifying exam before the start of their third semester, allowing students two full semesters (fall/spring) of classes before taking the exam. Students entering in the program in the summer session or fall semester need to take the qualifying exam no later than the following August, and students entering in the program in the spring semester need to take the qualifying exam no later than the following January.

Ph.D. students must complete their preliminary exam within five years of passing their qualifying exam.

The preliminary exam must be passed at least 9 months prior to the thesis defense.

A candidate for a doctoral degree who fails to take the final oral examination and deposit the dissertation within five years after passing the preliminary examination may be required to take another preliminary examination to be admitted to candidacy a second time.



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.

Faculty (who may serve as graduate advisor): 

Professors: Ghandhi (chair), Negrut, Nellis, Osswald, Pfotenhauer, Qian, Rutland, Sanders, Suresh, Shapiro, Thelen, Turng

Associate Professors: Eriten, C. Franck, Krupenkin, Miller, Pfefferkorn, Rothamer, Trujillo, Zinn

Assistant Professors: Adamczyk, M. Anderson, Henak, Kokjohn, Min, Pan, Roldan, Rudraraju, Rudykh 

Faculty Affiliates: M. Allen, Bonazza, J. Franck, Holloway, Notbohm, Reindl, Sarlioglu, Scarlat, Schauer, Serverson, Shinners, Thevamaran, Witzenburg

To see all ME Faculty please visit the directory here.