Plan of Study

Each graduate student admitted to a degree program must file a Plan of Study (POS) starting after the second week of classes, for every degree.  The initial POS must be submitted by the end of the 6th week of classes in your first semester, and approved before the second semester, or you will not be permitted to register for the second semester. The POS may be modified as necessary after it is approved, and should be kept updated throughout your student career as things change

A plan of study is an academic contract among a student, the faculty members on the advisory committee, and the Graduate School, and guides a student’s academic progress.  All departmental and Graduate School policies related to the filing of a POS must be adhered to explicitly.

How to create your Plan of Study (POS)

  • Filing the plan of study is done electronically. Login to myPurdue with your Career Account user-id and password.
  • Under “Graduate Students” click on “Graduate School Plan of Study”
  • The Graduate School provides access to the POSG (Plan of Study Generator) through the “Graduate School Intranet Database” link (this is usually available after the second week of classes.)
  • A new browser window will open with the POSG login screen; login again with your Career Account user-id and password to proceed.
  • Click on the Plan of Study Generator link, then “Create new plan of study” link.
  • Refer to the “Help” buttons located on each page if you need assistance. You do not need to complete the entire form at one log in; you may save your plan of study and return to it later.
  • Coursework added to your POS must be graduate level (500- and 600-level courses), and technical and quantitative in content.  If you have any concerns if a course will meet these requirements, please check with the ME Grad Office prior to registering for the course.  Please provide course number/title/description/syllabus for review. (You can take courses that don’t meet these requirements for your own professional/personal development, but they will not count toward your degree requirements.)
  • Courses used to meet a conditional pass on a PhD qualifying exam should not be added to the POS, as they cannot be used to satisfy the minimum coursework requirement for the degree.
  • Please do not complete the column “B or better”, unless directed by your major professor.  Completing this column, means you have to receive a B or better, or the course will not count toward your degree requirements.

Completing Non-Course section

  • Enter your name and identification number as it appears in the admission letter.
  • Mechanical Engineering should be chosen for department.
  • Degree title should be MSME or PhD
  • Non-thesis candidates can leave the Research area blank. Master’s thesis students should select a research area from one of ME’s official fundamental areas below (not one of the application areas). You should not put your thesis title.
  • Concentration Area: for the majority of students, you will not complete this area.  Only complete this area if you have applied through Slate, and been accepted into a special concentration field, by that program. 
  • Language Requirement: skip
  • Primary Area: Courses should have a reasonably close relation to the core subject.  For example, if the primary area is heat transfer it might include courses in heat transfer, mass transfer, fluid mechanics and thermodynamics.  Courses in the primary area can come from other departments other than ME.  A significant number of courses on the POS are expected to be from ME or directly related to it.
  • Related Area: Courses would be outside the primary area but still contribute significantly to the knowledge base of the student.  These courses may come from ME or from other departments.  A key determining factor for any graduate level course to be acceptable on a POS in ME is that it is “technical and quantitative in content”.  Approved Applied Math courses would be categorized as related.
  • Advisory Committee: Online Master’s non-thesis students only need one Advisory Chair member for their advisory committee.  By default, this is the Grad Chair, Dr. Nicole Key, unless/until you make arrangements with another ME faculty to serve in this capacity.

Once you have completed the plan of study and feel it is ready for review of your advisory committee:

  • Save the Plan as final (Master’s thesis and PhD students should already have discussed your course selection with your major professor/advisory committee.) Draft submissions will not be reviewed, as it’s assumed you’re still finalizing the details.
  • The POS will be reviewed by the POS coordinator who will advise you of revisions adding supplemental notes and returning your POS for adjustments; or will move the POS forward in approvals.
  • Once the POS is approved by the POS coordinator, it begins the full approval process and will be electronically routed, reviewed, and if approved, signed by the departmental POS coordinator, your advisory committee and the Graduate School.
  • You may check the status of your plan at any time by returning to the POSG and click on “View”.
  • Once the Graduate School has approved your plan of study, you should check it each semester to monitor your academic degree progress, and update as changes are made.

Approved applied math courses for the ME Plan of Study

MS programs require a minimum of six credit hours of applied math courses. At least 3 credit hours must be a MA 50000 or 60000 level course. Three credit hours may be from the list of approved applied math courses offered in other departments at Purdue, listed below.

D-PhD and PhD degree programs require a minimum of 9 credit hours of applied math courses, usually three courses. At least two courses must be MA 50000 or 60000 level courses; the other 3 credits can be from the list of approved applied math courses below. Math courses taken during the MS may be included as PhD applied math courses.

Approved Math Courses in ME

  • ME 53900 Introduction to Scientific Machine Learning
  • ME 58000 Nonlinear Engineering Systems
  • ME 58100 Numerical Methods in Mechanical Engineering
  • ME 59700 Data Analytics for Scientists and Engineers (Fall '21—renamed to ME 539 Introduction to Scientific Machine Learning)
  • ME 60800 Numerical Methods in Heat, Mass and Momentum Transfer
  • ME 61200 Continuum Mechanics
  • ME 61400 Computational Fluid Dynamics
  • ME 68100 Finite & Boundary Element Methods

Approved Math Courses from Other Schools

  • CE 59500 Finite Elements in Elasticity
  • CS 51500 Matrix Computations
  • CS 57700 Natural Language Processing
  • CS 57800 Statistical Machine Learning
  • ECE 58000 Optimization Methods for Systems and Control
  • ECE 60000 Random Variables and Signals
  • ECE 60200 Lumped System Theory
  • IE 54500 Engineering Economic Analysis
  • IE 54600 Economic Decisions in Engineering
  • IE 69000 Stochastic Network Analysis
  • STAT 51100 Statistical Methods
  • STAT 51200 Applied Regression Analysis
  • STAT 51400 Design of Experiments
  • STAT 51600 Basic Probability & Applications
  • STAT 52200 Sampling & Survey Techniques
  • AAE 51200 Computational Aerodynamics
  • AAE 51600 Computational Fluid Mechanics
  • AAE 55300 Elasticity in Aerospace Engineering
  • AAE 55800 Finite Element Methods in Aerospace Structures
  • AAE 60300 Theoretical Methods in Engineering Science I
  • AAE 60400 Theoretical Methods in Engineering Science II
  • PHYS 570Q Stochastic Processes in Physics
  • PHYS 60000 Methods of Theoretical Physics I
  • PHYS 60100 Methods of Theoretical Physics II

These courses are NOT allowed on the Plan of Study to satisfy the Math requirement:

  • ME 56200 Kinematics
  • ME 57900 Fourier Methods in Digital Signal Processing
  • MA 58000 History of Mathematics
  • MSE 69700 Atomistic view of materials: Modeling & Simulations
  • STAT 50100 Experimental Statistics I
  • STAT 51300 Statistical Quality Control

Requirements for POS based on degree type

Different degrees (Master's thesis, Master's non-thesis) have different requirements for the plan of study. Since the ME Online Master’s degree is non-thesis, we’ll discuss those requirements only below.  If you change degree programs, please see the POS information listed in the on-campus section of this website.

Note:  We highly recommend that you do not add more coursework then required by your degree program, unless directed by your major professor; at which point, please add a supplemental note on your POS so we are aware.  As the POS is an academic contract, if you add more than the required credit hours, you will be expected to complete those credit hours before your degree will be awarded.  You can take additional courses, we just ask that they not be added to the POS, unless directed by your major professor and a supplemental notation is added.

Graduate level courses (500- and 600-level) taken during an undergraduate program at Purdue may be included on a POS, provided they were not used to meet baccalaureate degree requirements, taken during the senior year and have grades of B- or better.  At most twelve semester credit hours may be included in this manner.  Only the credit hours, not the grade, will be counted. (This does not apply for students in the BS/MS program.)

Master’s Non-Thesis POS

POS should include 30 credit hours of technical and quantitative-in-content coursework, of which at most, six credit hours may be from independent project work (ex: ME 597, or ME 697, etc.).  (Most of the independent study courses you see listed in the catalog are closed to only specific students of that instructor; you would need to reach out to the ME faculty member to discuss if they have any independent study projects that would be open for you to participate and register.  Usually, this registration will not be done within the scheduling assistant and will need to be done with a VT form at this point.)  

  • 6 credit hours of math are required out of the 30, with at least 3 being from the Math department, but the other 3 could be from the approved applied math course listing above.
  • 15 credit hours from ME (technical and quantitative in content).
  • 9 credit hours that are considered tech electives—these can be from within or from outside ME, but must meet the definition of technical and quantitative-in-content.

(Please note: GRAD and Engineering Education courses are not POS-acceptable.  But, also watch for other courses where they’re more professional development, like ECE 59500 Communication for Engineering Leaders and courses similar, as these obviously are not technical and quantitative-in-content and are more for furthering your professional development.)

One faculty member (from ME) who hold a “Regular Faculty” appointment is required for the advisory committee.  The faculty member will act as the student’s major professor.  The Grad Chair, Dr. Nicole Key, by default serves as your Advisory Chair, unless/until you arrange with another ME faculty member to serve in that capacity.  If that happens, you’ll submit a change to your POS to update your advisory committee chair.

Transfer courses to your POS

Approved Transfer courses placed on the POS receive the credit, but the grade is not calculated into the GPA. The following rules apply for post baccalaureate or transfer courses on the POS:

  1. All post baccalaureate and transfer courses used on the POS must have a grade B or better.
  2. All Master’s non-thesis students must complete a minimum of 18 credit hours of coursework after they are admitted to the graduate program at Purdue.
  3. Courses taken during the semester when a student is admitted to degree-seeking status can be used as a part of the requirement above.
  4. Courses taken at a Purdue regional campus are not “transfer” courses; they are Purdue courses and will already show up on your transcript.  They will be included in your calculated GPA.  Remember, that more than half of your courses, must be taken at the campus which is awarding the degree.
  5. A maximum of 12 semester credit hours of graduate coursework may be transferred from another institution or degree awarding program.  Completed courses must have a B or better and be approved by the Advisory Committee of the student and the Graduate Chair. 
  6. The Grad School has final approval on the transfer request.  If approved, the credit hours of the transfer courses are not recorded on the Purdue transcript until the course is listed on the approved POS and the official transcript from the institution has been accepted at Purdue.

Changes to the POS

Courses listed on the POS must be completed with grades of "C-" or better before certification for graduation can be granted; your cumulative GPA must be minimum of 2.85.  Changes to the POS are completed through myPurdue.  You can submit a change to your POS for changes in advisory committee members, delete/add courses, etc. Your POS should be kept current at all times. (Please note:  Per ME policy, courses that have received a grade, cannot be removed from your POS.)

A course on the POS with a grade lower than "C-" must be retaken.

Any final changes required in the POS must be made before the end of the second week of classes of the semester in which the degree is expected, and candidacy registration has taken place.


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