Graduate Studies Information for Prospective Students
To qualify for study in any of the graduate programs in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, a student generally must have earned an accredited baccalaureate degree in mechanical engineering. However, a student with good preparation in another engineering discipline or a related field, such as physics, may qualify by taking the appropriate prerequisite undergraduate courses. These courses are determined in a case-by-case basis by the Department's Graduate Admissions Committee/Director.
For admission to regular status, the student must have an undergraduate grade point average of at least B (3.0 on a 4.0 scale). For students whose undergraduate GPA is below 3.0, but no lower than 2.75 on a 4.0 scale, admission on probational status will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Graduate Record Examination scores are required.
An applicant may be admitted as a provisional graduate student when either the quality or type of undergraduate preparation is deficient, i.e., the student's undergraduate grade-point average is below 2.75 on a 4.0 scale or the student has not met the prerequisite to do graduate work in the department or program to which he or she has applied.
After the equivalent of one semester of full-time study as a provisional graduate student, the department reviews his or her performance and recommends that the student be (1) transferred to regular status, (2) dropped from the Graduate School or (3) allowed to continue the equivalent of another semester as a provisional student. It is ordinarily expected that provisional status will not exceed two semesters. The transfer from provisional status is not automatic as it is in the case of probationary status.
Following are the acceptable means of verifying English proficiency for purposes of admitting non-native speakers of English and/or international students to graduate studies. These guidelines also apply to U.S. citizens and permanent residents who are not native speakers of English; they are subject to change by official action of the appropriate governance bodies.
- Receipt of an official copy (not student's copy) of an applicant's English proficiency standardized test scores (e.g., TOEFL) achieved not more than two years prior to the semester of first enrollment.
- Graduation with a baccalaureate degree (or higher) earned in residence from an accredited English-medium U.S. college, university, or an institution of higher education or such an institution in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, an English-speaking province of Canada, or an English-speaking Caribbean country, with instruction conducted in English. Degrees earned online may not be used to verify English proficiency.
All foreign students who are not native speakers of English must be screened by the Applied English Center on arrival, regardless of their TOEFL or other test scores, and according to the Rules and Regulations of the Faculty Senate, such students must enroll in the English courses specified for them by the Applied English Center.
All graduate students in the School of Engineering who are required to take courses at the Applied English Center must complete that requirement within three semesters of their initial enrollment by passing the AEC's English Proficiency Examination. Failure to complete the English proficiency requirement within this time limit will result in dismissal from the graduate engineering program.
Required Application Documents
Before an application is submitted for review, all supplemental documents must have been received by the Department. A list of the documents for both International and Domestic students can be found below.
There is currently no minimum score requirement for the GRE exam. The score requirements for the TOEFL and IELTS exams can be found here: http://graduate.ku.edu/english-proficiency-requirements.
- Online Application (follow the link at the top of the page)
- Application Fee (this is paid while you are completing the online application)
- Official TOEFL or IELTS Scores*
- Official GRE Scores*
- Proof of Graduation(if applicable)
- A copy of ONE (1) Official Transcript (from each institution of higher education attended)
- Three letters of Recommendation
*GRE, TOEFL, and IELTS scores must be sent directly to the department from the testing center. The university code is 6871. The department code is 1502.
The following documents are required only after a student has been admitted:
- Financial Statement
- ONE (1) Official Transcript sent directly from the applicant’s university to the University of Kansas**
**Official transcripts must be sent to the following mailing address prior to a student’s second semester of enrollment:Department of Mechanical Engineering
1530 W. 15th St
3138 Learned Hall
Lawrence, KS 66045 USA
- Online Application (follow the link at the top of the page)
- Application Fee (this is paid while you are completing the online application)
- Official GRE Scores
- A copy of ONE (1) Official Transcript (from each institution of higher education attended)
- Three Letters of Recommendation
The following document is required only after a student has been admitted:
- ONE (1) Official Transcript sent directly from the applicants university to the University of Kansas**
Application Deadlines when applying for the Fall semester
- Priority deadline for all students: December 15
- This deadline (Dec. 15th) is for all applicants who wish to be considered for funding opportunities from the department.
- Domestic students: June 1
- International students: March 31
Application Deadlines when applying for the Summer semester
- Domestic students: May 1
- International students: March 15
Application Deadlines when applying for the Spring semester
- Priority deadline for all students: September 30
- This deadline (Sept. 30th) is for all applicants who wish to be considered for funding opportunities from the department.
- Domestic students: November 1
- International students: September 30
Enrollment and Grading
The normal full-time enrollment for a graduate student is 9-12 credit hours per semester or 3-6 hours for the summer session. Students are not normally permitted to enroll for more than 16 hours a semester or more than 8 hours in the summer session. If a student is on the staff, the hours of enrollment should be limited according to Graduate School regulations. The enrollment of those holding foreign student (F-1) visas must conform to the minimum enrollment requirements established by the regulations of the Immigration and Naturalization Service. Foreign students must conform to the residence requirements established by the Graduate School, even if the minimal enrollments required by the INS are less. More information about enrollment can be found in the Graduate School Catalog.
The following student loads for coursework and/or appointments at the University of Kansas for teaching or research represent full-time graduate student status for purposes of qualifying for fellowship tenure, veteran's benefits, and similar certification, and in connection with meeting the residence requirements for doctoral degrees.
Full-time StatusFall and Spring Semesters:
- 9-12 credit hours = full-time
- 7-8 hours plus 30% teaching or research appointment = full-time
- 6 hours plus 40% + teaching or research appointment = full-time
- 6 credit hours = full-time
- 4-5 hours plus 25% teaching or research appointment = full-time
- 3 hours plus 50% teaching or research appointment = full-time
Half-time StatusFall and Spring Semesters:
- 6 credit hours = half-time
- 5 hours plus 10% teaching or research appointment = half-time
- 4 hours plus 20% teaching or research appointment = half-time
- 3 hours plus 25% teaching or research appointment = half-time
- 3 credit hours = half-time
- 25 hours plus 25% teaching or research appointment = half-time
- 3 hours plus 50% teaching or research appointment = half-time
Masters candidates must be enrolled for at least 1 credit hour during the semester in which the Masters final examination is taken.
Seniors and Graduate Study (Co-enrollment)
Seniors at KU who will complete the requirements for a baccalaureate degree in a given semester, and who have a very strong academic record (grade point average higher than a 3.0 on a 4.0 scale) may apply for contingent admission to the Graduate School and request permission of the Graduate Division to co-enroll in the Graduate School for the final undergraduate semester.
The basic system in the Graduate School is an A, B, C, D, F system, where A designates above-average graduate work, B, average graduate work, C, passing but not average graduate work. D and F work does not count toward a degree.
The letter P is used in this system only to indicate participation in thesis (899), dissertation (999), and research enrollments (related to thesis or dissertation), and in the first semester enrollment of a two-semester sequence course. P grades for enrollments in research or dissertation leading to one of the doctorates may remain unchanged, but a letter grade (A, B, C, D or F) will be assigned in the last semester of enrollment to characterize the quality of the final product. The I grade is not appropriate for enrollment in thesis, dissertation, or research, and will not be accepted.
For enrollments other than thesis, dissertation, or research, the letter I is used to indicate course work that has been of passing quality, some part of which is, for good reason, unfinished. Serious Sickness, Accidents, or family situations may be examples of good reasons for awarding an I. An unacceptable reason for awarding an I is that the current performance is lower than desired by the student. The grade of I for graduate courses shall remain unchanged on the student's record except that, should the student subsequently complete the course work, the instructor would then change the I to a letter grade, i.e., A, B, C, D, or F. At least a B average is required on course work counted towards a master's and only courses graded A, B, or C may be so counted. Courses graded P, S, U, or I are excluded from the computation of the average.
Upon falling below a cumulative graduate grade-point average of 3.0, computed with the inclusion of grades earned at the University of Kansas for all courses including undergraduate courses taken to make up background deficiencies, the Graduate Division of the School of Engineering shall place the student on probation. If the student's overall graduate average has been raised to B by the end of the next semester of enrollment after being placed on probation, the student may be returned to regular status. If not, the student will not be permitted to re-enroll in the Graduate School unless the Graduate Division acts favorably on a recommendation from the Department for the student to continue in graduate study.
If admitted on probation, a student must earn an overall graduate average of at least 3.0 during the first semester of enrollment (in which case the student is considered to have achieved regular status). A student admitted on probation who fails to earn a 3.0 average in the first semester will normally not be permitted to re-enroll. When the particular circumstances may be deemed to justify continuation, and upon the recommendation of the Department, such a student may be continued on probation by the Graduate Division for one additional semester equivalent of full-time graduate study.
Courses that may give graduate credit are numbered according to the following scheme:
- Courses numbered 500-699 are designed primarily for juniors and seniors, but are also taken by some graduate students who have fewer than 30 hours of graduate credit.
- Courses numbered 700-799 are designed primarily for graduate students who have fewer than 30 hours of graduate credit, but some undergraduates also take them.
- Courses numbered 800-899 are designed primarily for graduate students who have fewer than 30 hours of graduate courses.
- Courses numbered 900-999 are designed primarily for graduate students (Ph.D) who have 30 or more hours of graduate credit.
No course, regardless of its number, can give graduate credit unless it has been approved for graduate credit by the Graduate Division or the Graduate School, and is taught by a person holding a current appointment to the Graduate Faculty.
The Department of Mechanical Engineering offers a thesis option and a non-thesis option leading to the M.S. degree. The thesis option requires a minimum of 30 credit hours of graduate work, including a thesis for six hours of credit. The non-thesis option requires a minimum of 30 credit hours of graduate course work. A three credit hour independent investigation may be selected in lieu of three hours of coursework in the major for the non-thesis option.
Plan of Study
The M.S. degree student will select an advisor by the end of the first semester of graduate study. The Graduate Director advises as to enrollment for this first semester. The student and the student's Advisory Committee [made up of at least three members, all of whom must be members of the Graduate Faculty and at least two of whom must be Mechanical Engineering Faculty; chaired by the student's advisor,an ME faculty member] determine a plan of study (i.e., a list of specific courses and semester inwhich they are taken) during the following semester of enrollment.
The complete plan of study must be approved by the Advisory Committee before the beginning of the second semester of graduate enrollment and filed electronically with the Department and the Graduate Division of the School of Engineering. The student may change from one advisor to another if approved by the previous advisor, the Graduate Director, and the Department Chair. The student and the new advisor may, in consultation with the advisory committee, develop a new plan of study, which may require additional courses different than those of the previous plan of study. Courses completed without an approved plan of study filed will not necessarily be approved to count toward the degree.
The major will be selected from either the energy and thermal-fluids category, the mechanics and mechanical design category, or the biomechanics category. A maximum of six hours of Mechanical Engineering courses numbered between 500 and 699 may be included in the program of study. Courses either required or used for the B.S. degree may not be used to fulfill M.S. degree requirements. Graduate faculty employed full-time by the Department of Mechanical Engineering must teach at least one half of the graduate level coursework.
The program of study for the thesis option includes (1) not fewer than three credit hours dealing with advanced mathematics, (2) 6 thesis credits, and (3) a minimum of 12 credit hours (exclusive of credit for mathematics and the independent investigation or thesis) selected from Mechanical Engineering courses.
The program of study for the non-thesis option includes (1) no fewer than three credit hours dealing with advanced mathematics and (2) a minimum of 15 credit hours (exclusive of credit for mathematics) selected from Mechanical Engineering courses.
Each M.S. degree candidate must pass a final examination that may be oral, or both written and oral, as determined by the Advisory Committee. The examination must be publicized (by email, web, and posted notices) at least one week before the date of the examination. The examination will cover the field of mechanical engineering for both the thesis and non-thesis options and will emphasize the thesis for the thesis option.
The thesis presentation section of the examination shall be open. The written section of the examination, if required, will be composed and graded by the Examination Committee and is typically given at a different time than the presentation section. The Examination Committee, which is usually the Advisory Committee, must consist of at least three members of the Graduate Faculty, at least two of whom must be Mechanical Engineering Faculty.
The final examination is normally held in the semester of the candidate's final enrollment in course work and after the thesis or independent investigation is completed. The request to schedule the examination must be submitted to the Department on the University of Kansas Do-All form at least two weeks prior to the examination date. Unbound thesis copies must be submitted to the examination committee a minimum of 7 days before the examination.
Note: Masters Candidates must be enrolled for at least one credit hour during the semester in which the Masters Final Examination is taken.
Only two attempts to pass the M.S. examination are allowed. If the examination is not passed in two attempts, the student will be terminated from the program and will not receive the degree. For the thesis option only, if the candidate's performances in the MS program and examination are sufficiently meritorious, a "meritorious" notation may be made on the Do-All form reporting the examination results.
A thesis option student is expected to do original work that would be the basis of a paper suitable for publication in a refereed journal. Electronic Thesis submission to the Graduate Division of the University of Kansas shall be done only after the final examination is passed and the thesis is approved. One bound copy of the thesis is required for the Department of Mechanical Engineering, and one bound copy is required for the major advisor (both accompanied by the funds needed to bind them). The student should also submit their thesis electronically. To find out more information about submitting an electronic thesis, please visit the Graduate School website. The author, thesis title, and date will be printed on the thesis spine. In order to be cleared for completion of the degree, all of the Graduate School thesis requirements must be satisfied.
A non-thesis option student who selects the three credit hour independent investigation must do an analytical or experimental study of interest to the student and acceptable to the advisor. An oral presentation of the results of the project before Mechanical Engineering graduate students and faculty is required. A typed unbound copy of the project report must also be provided to the advisor.
Program Time Constraints
Master’s degree students are allowed a maximum of seven years for completion (for more information see Program Time Constraints in the Graduate Catalog) of all requirements for the degree. In cases in which there are compelling reasons or circumstances, the Dean of Engineering has authority to grant a one-year extension.
Credit by Transfer
Six hours of graduate credit taken at a regionally accredited graduate school may be transferred and applied to the master’s degree, provided that the transfer has the approval of the ME department (Graduate Director) and the Dean of Engineering. Eight hours may be approved for transfer if the student holds a baccalaureate degree from the University of Kansas. Transfer credit may not be the last hours required for the degree. Only work graded A or B may be transferred. The University of Kansas does not accept the transfer of credit for graduate-level courses completed in institutes and workshops or given for life/work experience.
A minimum of 72 credit hours, or the equivalent, beyond the baccalaureate degree must be spent in graduate study at the University of Kansas (or transferred from an approved university) in order to complete requirements for the Ph.D. degree. This normally requires three years beyond the MS.
A minimum grade point average of 3.5/4.0 in Master’s degree work is normally required for admission to a doctoral program. It is also possible to choose the "Fast Track" Ph.D program directly from an approved B.S. degree, with a minimum GPA of 3.75/4.0. In this program, no M.S. degree is obtained, shortening the time required to obtain the Ph.D.
Doctoral Qualifying Examination
A qualifying examination will normally be taken either in the first semester of participation in the doctoral program on regular status or before the beginning of the second semester.
The Doctoral Qualifying Examination shall be an oral examination consisting of basic material from major areas in mechanical engineering and advanced material from the area of specialty declared by the student. The Qualifying Examination Committee, consisting of three or more members of the graduate faculty who are typically members of the Research and Graduate Studies & Committee of the Department of Mechanical Engineering shall prepare written questions in advance to be given to the student at the beginning of the examination. The qualifying examination will be taken in the first semester of participation in the doctoral program on regular status. A graduate student who does not seek a Master’s degree will take the qualifying examination after completion of 30 hours of graduate course work. A grade of pass or fail will be assigned and be kept in the departmental records.
If a student fails to pass the qualifying examination on the first attempt, a second attempt may be granted by the Qualifying Examination Committee upon the request of the student. The second attempt can be either written, oral, or both at the option of the Committee and will be given during the second semester of the doctoral program. The student will be terminated from the doctoral program if the Qualifying Examination is not passed after two attempts.
Plan of Study
On successful completion of the qualifying examination, the student selects a major professor from the Department to serve as the chairperson of the Advisory Committee and to direct the research. An Advisory Committee of at least five Graduate Faculty members from the School of Engineering, with at least three being from the Mechanical Engineering faculty, is then asked to serve by the student and his advisor to assist the student in preparing the plan of study, in conducting the comprehensive examination and in planning research.
Courses completed without an approved plan of study electronically filed will not necessarily count toward the degree. The plan of study must be submitted before the beginning of the second semester (after the Qualifying exam is passed) and must include the specific courses and all other requirements (research skills, research topic, etc.) that the student is expected to complete. After approval, the plan of study is electronically filed with the Department and with the Engineering Graduate Division. To file an online plan of study go to https://gradplan.engr.ku.edu.
The minimum course work requirement is 54 credit hours beyond the coursework for the master's degree in Mechanical Engineering or 84 credit hours of coursework beyond the bachelor's degree, if the master's degree is not sought. A minimum of 9 credit hours of the 24 (or 21 of the 48) must be Mechanical Engineering courses numbered 700-990 (excluding 702, 899 and 901). A minimum of 9 credit hours of advanced mathematics beyond the bachelor's degree is required. Engineering, math, and other courses that count toward satisfaction of this mathematics requirement are listed in the M.E. Graduate Handbook. Additionally, a minimum of 30 semester hours of dissertation credit is to be taken.
Proficiency in Research Skill Area
The Ph.D. student must demonstrate a proficiency in at least one research skill area. Since the needs of each student differ, the research skills are determined with the advice and approval of the Advisory Committee. Possible areas may include:
- Foreign Language. The aspirant may demonstrate a reading knowledge in a foreign language in either of two ways:
- Receive a score in the language on the Educational Testing Service Graduate School Foreign Language Test at, or above, the minimal level prescribed by the Graduate School
- Complete a language course approved by the advisory committee with a grade of B or better.
- Computer Science. To establish competence in computer science, it is necessary to satisfy the Advisory Committee by demonstrating proficiency in a commonly used programming language and by creating at least one original program.
All research skill requirements must be satisfied prior to the comprehensive examination and reported to the Engineering Graduate Division on the Do-All form. If research skills are tested separately rather than integrally with the program, the completion of each requirement should be reported immediately to the Engineering Graduate Division so that it may be added to the student's permanent record.
Doctoral Comprehensive Examination
Following the completion of at least 18 credit hours of coursework beyond the Masters degree, a comprehensive or candidacy examination must be passed. The comprehensive examination shall consist of a presentation of the student's proposal for research on a topic previously approved by the advisor, followed by a public oral examination based on the aspirant's academic background. Through the Do-All form, the Department must request the School of Engineering Graduate Division to schedule the comprehensive oral examination in advance of the examination date by a minimum of two weeks. The committee (typically the advising committee) for the comprehensive oral examination must consist of at least five members, all of whom must be members of the Graduate Faculty and at least three of whom must be Mechanical Engineering Faculty. The Graduate Division of KU, on the basis of nominations submitted by the Department, will designate its members. At least one of the members must be from a department other than Mechanical Engineering. This member represents the Graduate School and must be a regular member of the Graduate Faculty. The examination may be scheduled provided that no less than five months have elapsed from the time of the aspirant's first enrollment at this university considering that the Qualifying Exam has been successfully completed.. The schedule for the examination should be announced (by email, web, and posted notices) throughout the Department at least 7 days in advance.
For every scheduled examination, the department will report a grade of honors, satisfactory, or unsatisfactory. If the aspirant receives a grade of unsatisfactory on the comprehensive oral examination, it may be repeated upon the recommendation of the Department and the request of the aspirant. The examination may not be repeated until at least 90 days have elapsed since the last unsuccessful attempt and no later than one year from the date of the first attempt. Normally, the aspirant will be terminated from the doctoral program if the comprehensive examination is not passed after two attempts.
After passing the comprehensive oral examination for a doctoral degree, the candidate must be continuously enrolled, including summer sessions, until all requirements for the degree are completed, and each enrollment must reflect, as accurately as possible the candidate's demands on faculty time and university facilities. During this time, until all requirements for the degree are completed or until 18 post-comprehensive hours have been completed (whichever comes first), the candidate must enroll for a minimum of 6 hours a semester and 3 hours a summer session. Post-comprehensive enrollment may include enrollment during the semester or summer session in which the comprehensive oral examination has been passed. If after 18 hours of post-comprehensive enrollment, the degree is not completed, the candidate must continue to enroll each semester and each summer session until all requirements for the degree have been met. The number of hours of each enrollment must be determined by the candidate's dissertation advisor and must reflect as accurately as possible the candidate's demands on faculty time and university facilities.
A dissertation is required of each doctoral candidate. The Ph.D. dissertation presents the results of the student's research investigation. It is expected to make an original contribution to technical knowledge of sufficient quality to merit publication(s) in refereed journals. A candidate for a doctoral degree must satisfy all Graduate School requirements for the degree and must submit to the major professor a paper or papers, based on the dissertation, suitable for publication in a refereed journal.
When the student passes the comprehensive oral examination, the Graduate Division identifies the candidate's Dissertation Committee based on the recommendations of the Department. The Dissertation Committee must consist of at least three members and may include members from other departments and divisions or, on occasion, members from outside the university. All members of the Committee must be chosen from the Graduate Faculty, and the chairperson must, in addition, be authorized to chair doctoral dissertations. A prospective member of the Committee from outside the university must have gained appointment as an ad hoc member of the Graduate Faculty prior to appointment to the Committee.
When the completed dissertation has been accepted by the Dissertation Committee, and all other degree requirements have been satisfied, the chairperson of the Dissertation Committee requests, three weeks in advance of the desired examination, the Graduate Division to schedule the final oral examination. The examination must be publicized at least 7 days prior to the date of the examination in the Department. At least five months must elapse between the successful completion of the comprehensive oral examination and the date of the final oral examination.
The committee for the final oral examination must consist of at least five members (the members of the Dissertation Committee plus at least two other members of the Graduate Faculty recommended by the chair of the dissertation committee and the Department and appointed by the Graduate Division). At least one of the members must be from an academic department other than the Department. This member represents the Graduate School and must be a regular member of the Graduate Faculty. The Department will report to the Graduate Division (by Do-All form) for every scheduled final oral examination a grade of honors, satisfactory, or unsatisfactory for the candidate's performance. If a grade of unsatisfactory is reported, the candidate may be allowed to repeat the examination upon the recommendation of the Department.
When the final oral examination has been passed and the dissertation has been signed by the members of the dissertation committee, a copy needs to be submitted electronically to the Graduate School, one bound copy to the major professor, and one bound copy to the Mechanical Engineering Department (with the funds needed to bind the two copies). In addition, the candidate must make arrangements for publication of the dissertation abstract in "Dissertation Abstracts International" Information on publication procedures may be secured from the Graduate Division.
Credit by Transfer
No credit taken after the award of the Masters degree can be transferred toward the Doctorate degree, but other relevant prior graduate work will be taken into consideration in planning programs of study.
Residence Requirement: Two semesters, which may include one summer session, must be spent in resident study at the University of Kansas. During this period of residence, the student must be involved full-time in academic or professional pursuits, which may include appointments in this university for teaching or research if directed specifically toward the student's degree objectives. In this latter case, the student must be enrolled in a minimum of 6 hours per semester, and the increased research involvement must be fully supported and documented by the dissertation supervisor as being contributory to the student's dissertation or program objectives. The research work must be performed under the direct supervision of the major advisor if on campus, or with adequate liaison if off campus.
The following time constraints apply for completion of doctoral programs:
- A student who enters graduate studies at KU with a Master’s degree from another university must complete all the work for the doctoral degree within eight years of the time of the initial enrollment in graduate work at this university.
- A student who leaves after having received the Master's degree from this university, and later decides to pursue the doctorate, may apply through the Department and Graduate Division for readmission to the Graduate School. If readmission is granted, the student must complete all the work for the doctoral degree within eight years of the time of the first enrollment after readmission.
Extension of the tenure periods specified above may be granted in exceptional circumstances for one year at a time by the Graduate Division upon receipt of a satisfactorily documented petition from the student concerned, supported by the Department.
A student in any of the categories listed above may petition the Graduate Division through the Department for a leave of absence during either the pre- or post-comprehensive period to pursue full-time professional activities related to the student's doctoral program and long-range professional goals. Leaves of absence may also be granted because of illness or other emergency. Ordinarily a leave of absence is granted for one year, with the possibility of extension upon request. After an absence of five years, however, a doctoral aspirant or candidate loses status as such and, in order to continue, must apply for readmission to the Department and to the Graduate Division.