The Department of Mechanical Engineering offers three degree track options for its M.S. students: 1) an all-coursework option, 2) a project-based option, and 3) a thesis option. Only the thesis option requires students to formally opt into that track; however, all new M.S. students should decide between these three options as soon as possible. All degree tracks require students to earn a minimum of 42 credits.
Students who wish to pursue the project-based or thesis options are responsible for contacting faculty members about the availability of suitable project opportunities or research topics. Please be aware that this process may be very competitive.
All-coursework M.S. option
The all-coursework M.S. option is the department's default option for M.S. students. In this degree track, students complete all 42 credits of their M.S. degrees with numerically-graded coursework. This option is best suited to online or professional students or students who wish to make the fastest progress through their M.S. degrees. If full-time status is maintained, students taking the all-coursework option can usually graduate in 4-5 quarters.
Project-based M.S. option
The project-based M.S. option is the department's second non-thesis degree track option. Among the 42 credits required for graduation, up to 9 credits may be project credits in the form of ME 598 (Graduate Projects), ME 592 (Mechatronics Master's Project), and/or independent study/research credits in the form of ME 600 (Independent Study). The remaining credits must all be taken from numerically-graded coursework. The project-based M.S. option allows students the opportunity for hands-on experience under faculty supervision and is best suited to students with little project or professional experience. If full-time status is maintained, students taking the project-based option can usually graduate in 5-6 quarters.
Thesis-track M.S. option
As with the other degree track options, the thesis-track M.S. degree requires a minimum of 42 credits. A minimum of 30 credits of numerically-graded coursework are required, in addition to a minimum of 12 credits of ME 700 (M.S. thesis research). The thesis track is best-suited to students who desire in-depth research and writing experience. Commonly, thesis-track students wish to conduct research professionally or are considering entering a Ph.D. program in the future. If full-time status is maintained, a student in the thesis option normally graduates in 7-8 quarters.
Given the time and commitment involved in completing a thesis, students interested in pursuing the thesis track are strongly recommended to identify a research topic and thesis adviser before the end of their second quarter in the M.S. degree. Students must secure a thesis advisor and have their thesis proposal approved in order to begin registering for ME 700 credits.
Complete a Plan of Study for intended degree track option
Students in all degree track options are strongly encouraged to complete a Plan of Study for their intended option early in their time in the M.S. program. Completing a Plan of Study is not a requirement and a student’s plan does not need to be approved by the department. Despite the Plan of Study being optional, completing one encourages students to seek out courses in their interest areas; identify in advance interesting courses that may only be offered once per year; and plan ahead to meet the various credit distribution requirements of their intended degree track option.
Plan of Study forms are available for all-coursework, project-based, and thesis-track M.S. degree options. You must be logged into Google Suite with your UW NetID to access these forms. When completing their Plans of Study, students are encouraged to review the curriculum concentration course list to locate courses in their interest area.
As completing a Plan of Study is an exercise in planning ahead to meet degree requirements, students may make changes to their plans or pursue coursework in a different interest area at any time.