Degrees Offered

Purdue University's School of Mechanical Engineering is shaping its academic programs around the grand challenges of the 21st century.  There are multiple options to fit your needs:

Master of Science

Professional Masters

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Direct Ph.D.

Combined BSME/MSME

Online MSME

Master of Science Degree Information

Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering (MSME)

Students who are admitted to the Master’s program may choose to complete either the thesis option or the non-thesis option.

Thesis Option. The thesis option is highly recommended because it includes conducting independent research and a publishable report or thesis. Outstanding performance in the thesis option Master’s provides students with a distinct advantage when applying for a Ph.D. program or employment. Admission to the Ph.D. requires that the student provide evidence of the ability to perform independent research. 

  • The thesis option requires a minimum of 21 graduate semester hours of course work and a thesis. research credits acquired through the thesis research registration of ME 698 to fulfill the remainder of the requirement for a total of 30 credit hours. Research is always completed under the supervision of the Chair (Major Professor) or Co-Chairs of the Advisory Committee. Only in special cases is this option available to distance education students.

  • All Master’s Plans of Study must contain a minimum of six (6) hours of applied mathematics; at least three (3) of which must be taken from the Mathematics Department.

Non-thesis Option

  • The non-thesis option also requires 30 semester hours of graduate course work, not more than 6 credits of which may be completed as independent project work (ME 597 or ME 697). Independent project work may be completed under the supervision of the Chair of the Advisory Committee (Major Professor) or any other member of the faculty, including members of the Advisory Committee. The more predictable time frame for completion of course work available through the non-thesis option allows students to more accurately plan a graduation date. Students completing the Master’s degree by distance education will, in general, be completing the non-thesis option. 

  • All Master’s Plans of Study must contain a minimum of six (6) hours of applied mathematics; at least three (3) of which must be taken from the Mathematics Department.

Professional Masters

Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering (MSME)

This full-time on-campus program from Purdue Mechanical Engineering blends 21 credits of technical specialties with 9 credits of management and professional development classes, offered by Purdue's Krannert School of Management.  It's perfect for:

  • current undergrads who want a graduate degree, but still want to jump into industry quickly;
  • domestic and international students who want an engineering degree that is more practice-oriented;
  • busy professionals, who want specialized expertise to advance in their careers.

Completion of the Professional Master's Program typically takes one calendar year -- fall, spring, and summer semesters (longer if you choose to take it part-time).  While this is an on-campus program, up to 25% of your classes can be completed online, when available.  Graduates receive an MSME (Master's of Science in Mechanical Engineering).  No thesis is involved, and it does not provide a path to a doctoral degree.  Students are ineligible for teaching/research assistantships or fellowships.

Learn more about the Professional Masters program here.

Doctor of Philosophy Degree Information

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

The Ph.D. involves additional course work as prescribed by the advisory committee. 
  • The Ph.D. Plan of Study includes a minimum of 21 credit hours beyond the Master’s degree; a minimum of ninety course and research credits (including the Master’s degree credits) is required for graduation. 
  • All Ph.D. Plans of Study must contain a minimum of nine (9) hours of applied mathematics; at least six (6) of which must be taken from the Mathematics Department.
  • Your Major Professor or you may feel that additional courses not included on the Plan of Study should be taken to strengthen your background in a particular area.

Direct Ph.D. Program in Mechanical Engineering

Incoming Students: The student must have a strong interest in Graduate Studies leading to the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. The student must have:

  • Cumulative GPA ≥ 3.60 in the baccalaureate degree from a highly ranked university;

  • GRE recommended scores of 156 verbal, 161 quantitative and 4.0 analytical.

Students presently in MSME Program:  A graduate student who enters the Master’s program but later decides to pursue the Direct Ph.D. must submit a written request to the ME Graduate Office. The ME Admissions Committee approves changes from the MSME to Direct PhD requests. The student must have:

  • Cumulative GPA ≥ 3.60 in the baccalaureate degree from a highly ranked university;

  • Must have completed at least 12 credit hours of graduate coursework at Purdue with a minimum GPA of 3.80;

  • GRE recommended scores of 161 quantitative and 4.0 analytical;

  • The request must include a written endorsement by the Major Professor;

  • The request must be submitted to the Graduate Office before the first semester after the student has completed at least 12 credit hours of graduate coursework*

Optional MS Degree: Students enrolled in the Direct Ph.D. program have the option of seeking a Master’s degree “along the way” to the Ph.D. This option is available when the student meets the School of Mechanical Engineering’s and Purdue Graduate School’s requirements for a Master’s degree. The student will file a Master’s Plan of Study and register for Master’s candidacy. The Master’s plan may be for a non-thesis option and must satisfy ME’s requirements for a non-thesis Master’s degree.

Area Examinations: The Direct Ph.D. student must appear in the area examinations no later than the third semester (excluding summer sessions) of graduate studies at Purdue. The student will be given a maximum of two chances to pass the area exams. In the first attempt, the student must appear in all the required exams in the same semester. Any student unable to pass all the required area exams in two attempts will be dismissed from the Direct Ph.D. program. If desired, by the student and the Major Professor, a DPhD student failing the PhD area examinations may petition the ME Admissions Committee to convert from the Direct Ph.D. to the Master’s Degree program.

Direct PhD Plan of Study: Students are expected to file a Ph.D. Plan of Study before the beginning of the second semester of graduate study. The Plan of Study for a Direct Ph.D. student includes a minimum of 36 credit hours of graduate coursework in addition to thesis research hours. At least three (3) courses or nine (9) hours from among the twelve courses must be in applied mathematics. The Graduate School Database (Plans of study) and Purdue Banner systems will identify the student as a “PhD” student rather than Direct PhD.

Stipend Levels for Students Admitted to Direct PhD Program: The admitted student initially will be given the same stipend as the student admitted to the MS Program. The student’s stipend level will be adjusted to the PhD level after the student passes all area examinations. The new stipend level will become effective in the semester following the semester of passing the area exams.

*Regulations and Deadlines for Submitting the Direct PhD Application

  1. A current MSME student wishing to be considered for the Direct PhD Program must submit a letter of request to the Graduate Office to be considered for the program. The letter needs to contain information explaining how the student’s credentials meet the requirements for the program, and the specific reasons for making the request should be explained. Any research experience, teaching experience or presentations, publications, GRE scores, and/or GPA, and long-term faculty or research position interests can be included to enhance the nomination.

  2. The student’s major advisor also must submit a letter in support of the student for the Direct PhD Program.

  3. Both letters should be submitted to the Graduate Office before the start of the Fall or Spring semester. The Admissions Committee reviews the request. The Committee will consider the most updated information available at that time for making a decision on the request.

  4. Requests received after the deadline will be held until the beginning of the following semester. Requests will not be considered during the summer months.

  5. Incoming students admitted into the Master’s program for the following semester will need to have their letter submitted in the same manner.

Combined BSME/MSME: The 5-Year Plan

The Combined BSME/MSME Program is an integrated five-year degree program in which qualified students can receive a BS and an MS in Mechanical Engineering. The program provides a seamless transition from the BS to MS programs for Purdue students where graduate courses taken as undergraduate electives are counted toward both the BS and MS degrees, thereby reducing the overall time required for the MS degree. This program is only available at the West Lafayette campus.

Learn more about the Combined BSME/MSME Program.

Online MSME

You can get a Master's Degree from Purdue University Mechanical Engineering entirely online.  Your course materials and lectures are accessible online any time, so you aren't restricted by timetables.  You get the same quality education from the same faculty who teach on-campus, but on your schedule. 

Learn more about the online MSME program.

ME Graduate Office
585 Purdue Mall (Room 1003)
West Lafayette, IN 47907
(765) 494-5730