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Pre-M.S. entry

Students who have not already earned a Master of Science degree will follow the these procedures.

Curriculum requirements   Course work  Seminar requirement  Adviser and research  Qualifying Exam  Supervisory Committee  General Exam  Dissertation research  Reading Committee  Scheduling the Final Exam  Dissertation Defense and final submission to the Graduate School

Curriculum requirements

90 total credits. Of these, at least 42 credits must be in numerically graded coursework. A maximum of 12 of these credits may be in 400 level courses, and the remainder must be in 500 level courses or above. 18 of these credits must be taken in 500 level Mechanical Engineering courses (excluding credits from ME598-Graduate Project course). The remaining 24-course credits may be from other departments. These courses should be closely related to the student's overall plan, and must be drawn from the following departments unless waived by the Graduate Program Coordinator (GPC):

  • Engineering departments (BioE, A&A, ChE, CEE, CSE, ECE, HCDE, INDE, MSE, NucE)
  • Mathematical and computational sciences (Math, AMath, Stat)
  • Physical sciences (AtmS, Chem, Gphys, Ocean, Phys)
  • Approved biological sciences

No seminar credits can be counted towards either the 90 total credit requirement or the 42 credit coursework requirement. The 42 credits must include 6 credits of Mechanical Engineering Analysis and at least 3 credits of computational or numerical analysis.

Engineering analysis (required)

Quarter Course Cr. Title
Autumn ME 564 3 Mechanical Engineering Analysis I
Winter ME 565 3 Mechanical Engineering Analysis II

Numerical analysis (one course required)

At least 3 credits of computational or numerical analysis must be taken from the following list of approved courses (or from an approved plan of an individual study conducted as part of thesis research).

Quarter Course Cr. Title
Autumn AMATH 581 5 Scientific Computing
Autumn AMATH 584 5 Applied Linear Algebra and Introductory Numerical Analysis
Winter AA 540 3 Finite Element Analysis I
Winter AA 543 3 Computational Fluid Dynamics
Winter CESG 504 3 Finite Element Methods in Structural Mechanics
Winter ME 574 3 Introduction to Applied Parallel Computing for Engineers 
Winter ME 578 4 Convex Optimization
Spring ME 535 3 Computational Techniques in Mechanical Engineering

To waive any of the required courses (ME 564, ME 565, and computational or numerical analysis), the student must file a ME Graduation Petition with the GPC demonstrating equivalent background in applied mathematics, computational analysis, or both. Along with the Graduation Petition, the student should include a copy of the transcript showing the final grade in the equivalent course and a course syllabus (only for non-UW courses). Once submitted, the petition will be evaluated by the GPC after the student has been admitted to the program.

Direct Ph.D. students have the option of receiving an MSME or MSE degree when they have completed 42 credits of coursework (these are not included ME598- Graduate Project course). To do so, they must satisfy all the requirements for either the MSME or MSE non-thesis degrees. Students must also have taken the qualifying exam for the first time, although they do not need to have passed it at this point. Students who are admitted into the direct Ph.D. program and then change their minds and decide not to earn a Ph.D. will still be required to take the qualifying exam before earning the MSME or MSE degree. To learn more about this procedure students must see the ME Graduate Advisor.

Note that the Graduate School imposes additional requirements (e.g., no credits older than 10 years can be applied to a Ph.D. degree, etc,). It is the responsibility of the student to be aware of all Doctoral Degree policies.

Course work

Ph.D. students are required to take ME 564 and ME 565 (Mechanical Engineering Analysis) plus three courses are chosen from the core curriculum. Students must maintain a cumulative GPA of at least 3.5 in the core curriculum.

Seminar requirement

Full-time Ph.D. students must register for a seminar course (1 credit minimum) every quarter throughout the entire Ph.D. program. The default seminar course in the ME Department is ME 520. The quarterly registered seminar course may be offered by other UW engineering or applied math programs. The seminar requirement is waived for EDGE students and part-time students (students registered with 1 to 9 credits).

Adviser and research

New students must identify an initial adviser during their first quarter on campus. They must conduct initial research under the direction of the adviser during the period leading up to the Qualifying Exam. This requirement applies even if the student holds a teaching assistantship (TA).

Qualifying exam

See the ME Qualifying Exam Procedures.

Supervisory committee

A graduate student is not officially considered a doctoral student until a Supervisory Committee has been appointed by the Dean of the Graduate School in MyGrad program. The Supervisory Committee should be established as soon as possible after successfully passing the Qualifying Exam but in no case less than four months prior to scheduling the General Examination. This committee replaces the initial advisor. For details see UW Graduate School Policy 4.2.

The Supervisory Committee consists of a minimum of four members, three of whom must be from the graduate faculty, including the Chair and the Graduate School Representative (GSR). The Department further requires that at least two must be core Mechanical Engineering faculty. Core faculty comprise Mechanical Engineering Faculty in all ranks with tenure or tenure-track appointments, and research, emeritus, and joint appointments. Faculty with adjunct and affiliate ranks are not included.

The student and adviser nominate the GSR to the committee, who will represent the Graduate School at all examinations and committee meetings. See UW Graduate School Policy 4.2.

The GSR must be from outside the student's department and must hold no joint appointments in the student's program or with the Supervisory Committee Chair. It is very important that the student contact the GSR as soon as possible after the appointment to acquaint him or her with the work in progress. Please see more details regarding GSR Eligibility here.

To request the formation of this committee, students must compose an email to the ME Graduate Adviser ( and identify:

  • The quarter/year they plan to take the General Exam
  • The Supervisory Committee Chair (or Co-Chairs)
  • The GSR and the remaining committee members, including the department or company each member represents and their email addresses

Prior to sending this e-mail, the student must have contacted each of the proposed members and secured their consent to serve on the Committee.

The ME Graduate Adviser submits the proposed Committee to the Graduate School. Once the Graduate School has accepted the appointment, an email formalizing the Committee is sent to the student and all members. The Registrar's Office is also notified and student's graduate status is changed to doctoral pre-candidate.

General exam

Within six to eighteen months after passing the Qualifying Exam Ph.D. students are required to take the General Exam, which centers on the student's dissertation proposal and his or her qualifications to successfully perform the research. Note that the Department views the failure of full-time students to take the General Exam within five years of entering the program as an indication of inadequate progress towards the degree.

Graduate School & ME departmental requirements

The following minimum requirements must be met before the General Exam can be scheduled:

  • The student must have completed at least 18 credits of numerically graded coursework at the 500 level and above. The Graduate School accepts numerical grades in approved 400 level courses as part of the major, and in all 500-level courses. A minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00 is required for a graduate degree at the University. For more details see Doctoral Degree policies.
  • The Supervisory Committee should have been in existence for at least four months prior to the exam date.
  • Short written proposal 4 weeks before the General Exam defense. A 5-page proposal is recommended, but the exact format is up to the committee and advisor.
  • All UW English requirements must be satisfied. See UW Graduate School Policy 3.2.
  • The ME Supervisory Committee will determine if the study of another language is necessary for the student. The Committee may defer to the minimum language requirement of the department, which is two years of a foreign language in either high school or college or demonstration of capability in a language other than the native language of the student.

Scheduling the general exam

Prior to scheduling the General Exam, the student should notify all members of the Supervisory Committee including the GSR, of the exam date and time.

At least three weeks in advance of the exam date the student must formally schedule the General Exam through MyGrad.

The student must then compose an e-mail to the ME Graduate Adviser ( notifying the department of the exact dissertation proposal title. This is necessary so an announcement can be sent to the ME students and faculty.

The student's transcript is then evaluated to ensure that all minimum Graduate School requirements, with the exception of the dissertation credits and the Final Exam, have been satisfied. If there is a problem or question with an evaluation, the student will be notified. Occasionally a contingency will be noted on the Committee Signature Form in which case candidacy will not be conferred until it has been met.

Full or part-time registration is required the quarter the General Exam is taken and Candidacy is awarded.

Taking the general exam

The oral exam is administered by the Supervisory Committee and usually centers on the student's oral presentation and defense of his or her dissertation thesis proposal.

The Committee Signature Form is signed by the Supervisory Committee after the successful completion of the exam. Upon completion of the Exam, students need to return the signed Committee Signature Form to the ME Graduate Advising Office no later than the last day of that quarter (defined as the last day of exams). If the Committee Signature Form is not received by this deadline, candidacy will be awarded the following quarter, and registration for that quarter will be required.

Candidacy will be conferred on the last day of a quarter and certificates are issued by the Graduation Academic Records office approximately 4 months after this date. In addition, the candidacy will be posted to the student's transcripts. For more information see Doctoral Degree policies.

Dissertation research

Registration for a minimum of 27 credits of dissertation research is required over a period of at least three quarters — and at least two quarters after the General Exam. The student should meet frequently with the Supervisory Committee Chair, and keep all members of the committee informed of ongoing progress.

Reading committee

The Reading Committee consists of at least three members drawn from the Supervisory Committee. It must include at least two core faculty. Core faculty comprise Mechanical Engineering faculty in all ranks with tenure or tenure-track appointments, and research, emeritus, and joint appointments. Faculty with adjunct and affiliate ranks are not included. For more details see UW Graduate School Policy 4.2.

When the Supervisory Committee Chair determines that the dissertation reflects the mastery of research techniques, he or she will recommend the appointment of a Reading Committee through an email to the ME Graduate Adviser ( identifying:

  • The quarter/year the student plans to take the exam
  • The Reading Committee Chair (or Co-Chairs)
  • The GSR and the remaining committee members, including the department or company each member represents and their email addresses

Note that this email must come from the adviser, not the student, and it should indicate that all proposed members have agreed to serve. When the committee has been approved, a message will be sent to the student and all members of the Reading Committee.

Scheduling the final exam

After the Reading Committee is satisfied with the dissertation, the student must schedule the Final Exam through MyGrad.

It is imperative that students familiarize themselves with the Graduate School requirements for formatting and submitting the dissertation. To this end, students should review the Graduate School thesis/dissertation requirements carefully.

Prior to scheduling the Final Exam, the student should notify all members of the Supervisory Committee, including the GSR, of the exam date and time. 

The student must then compose an e-mail to the ME Graduate Adviser ( notifying the department of the exact dissertation title. This is necessary so an announcement can be sent to the ME students and faculty.

During this period, the Graduate School will evaluate your transcript.

Before going to your final exam

  • Carefully read and understand the Graduate School's instructions as explained on the page titled Preparing to Graduate.
  • Pick up your ME Committee Signature Form from the ME office.

The day of your final exam

  • Take the ME Committee Signature Form to the Final Exam.
  • Obtain signatures on the ME Committee Signature Form.

Dissertation defense and final submission to the Graduate School

The Final Exam is a defense of the dissertation and has two parts: a public presentation, and a closed portion which is open only to faculty members. The Supervisory Committee determines if the student passes the Exam.

Upon completion of the Exam and no later than the last day of the quarter, the student must:

  • Return the signed ME Committee Signature Form to the ME Office.
  • Doctoral Reading Committee members to submit electronic approval of your dissertation in Committee log in before student can upload the final version of the dissertation to the Graduate School through ETD Administrator website.
  • Once dissertation submission is completed, notify the Graduate Academic Counselor at
  • Return all departmental keys and equipment.
  • Remove all personal belongings from offices and desks in the ME Building.

Graduate registration waiver fee

If a student is unable to submit the dissertation by the end of the quarter, they have the option of paying a Graduate Registration Waiver Fee. In order to request a Graduate Registration Waiver, the student will pay a $250 fee instead of registering the following quarter. This option is available to qualifying students for a 2 week period directly following the quarter in which all Graduate School and graduate program degree requirements are met. Qualifying students who pay this fee will graduate in the quarter following the fee payment period.

This option may have an effect on the grace period for student loans becoming due; students should check with their lenders for registration requirements before utilizing this option in lieu of registration.

Important details to remember

  • Failure to submit any of the above documents or electronic copies of the dissertation by the published deadlines will result in graduation being delayed.
  • The degree is conferred the quarter in which the student's dissertation is accepted by the Graduate School.
  • Holds may be placed on degrees until keys and equipment are returned.