Program Overview

The Master's degree with a thesis option allows students to work with world-renowned faculty to dig deeper in an area of interest. The development of a thesis involves utilizing the knowledge gained in a sub-field of study (e.g., human factors) to a novel engineering problem. In addition, students deepent their competence in surveying cutting-edge research, leading a project independently, design (especially in emerging fields), and communication. 

A thesis is a major undertaking, requiring deep interest in the subject matter and a close relationship with the faculty member supervising the research. Prospective students are encouraged to consider the research profiles of IE faculty, including recent publications, to determine program fit. Pursuing a thesis-option Master's degree is often a step toward pursuing a Doctor of Philosophy degree, and may be required for admission to some doctoral programs. However, the skills gained through completing a thesis-option Master's program still are highly sought after in industry. Students who intend to earn the doctoral degree must pursue this option. 

Prospective Thesis Master's students are encouraged to consult with faculty members with whom their interests align prior to applying for admission. You can learn about our research areas and the faculty doing work in them here, and can directly peruse faculty profiles via our IE Faculty Directory.


  • Enrollment & Statistics. A total of 9407 students from abroad, representing 127* countries and 1514 international faculty and staff representing 84* nations, claim Purdue University as their home this fall semester.
  • Two-year program: Students complete a combination of advanced technical courses, focusing their studies on areas of interest, culminating in a Master of Science in Industrial Engineering degree.
  • Career Catalyzation: Graduates pursue diverse careers, often on advanced leadership tracks.
  • Degree Requirements: Courses selected for the thesis option are intended to provide in-depth study in a specific area of interest. Prerequisites ensure a minimum level of knowledge in the general field of industrial engineering. The curriculum allows for significant student choice in coursework, which should be made in consultation with the faculty member supervising the research project to ensure alignment with the research topic.
  • Research Areas & Courses offered in the following topic areas:
    • Human Factors Engineering
    • Manufacturing Systems Engineering
    • Operational Research (Mathematical Programming; Simulation & Stochastic Processes)
    • Production Systems Engineering
  • Thesis/Defense: Development of a thesis document meeting all requirements of the faculty and Graduate School, followed by a successful oral defense of the thesis before a committee of faculty members.

Why Industrial Engineering?

Increased Employment Opportunities: A master's thesis degree is traditionally for students planning to continue in research or academia. However, this research-focused program also equips students with technical skills highly sought after in industry, such as decision making, systems engineering, operations, and oral and written communications.

Increased Earning Potential: Purdue Industrial Engineering Master's graduates report earning 15% or more than their peers with a Bachelor's degree.

Field Defining Innovation & Research: The School of Industrial Engineering has been shaping the field and educating future leaders in industrial engineering for 65 years. The graduate program is ranked in the top 10, and the IE online degree program is ranked #1 in the nation. Our researchers conduct field-defining research that is recognized worldwide for its impact and quality.

Excellence at Scale: As one of the top 10 engineering graduate programs in the nation, Purdue's College of Engineering is one of the largest and strongest programs in the nation with 13 different schools and departments.

Affordable Tuition: Our program's tuition is significantly cost-effective compared to other programs.

Low Cost of Living: The cost of living in the Greater Lafayette-West Lafayette area is among the lowest in the nation, with housing rent ranging from 23% to 179% less expensive than competing university cities (

Funding Resources: There are several funding options for Purdue graduate students to explore, including assistantshipsfellowshipsgrantsloans and other financial aid. Financial support for graduate students at Purdue is primarily awarded in the form of assistantships and fellowships. Over 60 percent of graduate students at the University are on assistantships. Furthermore, the Fellowship Office hosts many resources for students applying for fellowships.

Most funding decisions for assistantships are made by each individual graduate program. 

Degree Requirements 

Minimum 30 Total Credit Hours

  • 21 credit hours of coursework
  • At least 12 credit hours must come from IE-listed courses
  • A maximum of 9 credit hours of master's thesis research credits (IE 69800)
  • Advisory committee
  • Development of a thesis document meeting all requirements of the faculty and Graduate School
  • Successful defense of the thesis through an oral examination to a committee of faculty members


Graduate Program Student Guide: New, Returning & Online Student Resources, Plan of Study & Course Requirements for Master's Thesis, Final Examination Guidelines for Master's Thesis, Completion Guidelines for Master's Thesis, Academic Calendars, and more

Tuition & Fees

See Graduate Tuition and Fees for access to detailed information regarding Purdue tuition, rates and fees for graduate students, including summer, fall/spring and winter rate information as well as other case-specific fees that may not be included with the seasonal fee information.


Application Requirements

Prospective Student Events

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IE Graduate Office:

Heather Bagshaw

Sr. Graduate Program Administrator

+1 765 494-0680