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Program Information

FAQs about the M.S. and Ph.D. Graduate Programs in Aerospace or Mechanical Engineering

The Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering offers both M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in mechanical or aerospace engineering. Our program is primarily designed for Ph.D. students, which is a longer course of study, typically taking 5 years. This list of information is intended to help you understand the difference between the two degrees and sort out which degree makes sense for you. Also include is other information about our degree programs and graduate student life at Notre Dame. Please reach out to me if you have questions! 

David B. Go (
Rooney Family Collegiate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies


Is an M.S. degree required prior to applying for the Ph.D. program?

  • No! We directly admit both students with only B.S. or B.A. degrees and students with M.S. degrees into our Ph.D. program.


If my ultimate goal is to obtain a Ph.D. should I apply directly to the Ph.D. program?

  • Yes! If you ultimately want a Ph.D., we strongly encourage you to apply to the Ph.D. program directly. 


How long does the Ph.D. take?

  • For student’s entering with a B.S., it typically takes 5 to 5.5 years. For student’s entering with a M.S., 4 years is the typical time.


Is there financial support for Ph.D. students?

  • Yes! All of our Ph.D. students receive a tuition waiver and nearly all are also supported by either a research assistantship or fellowship to provide a monthly stipend of approximately $2500 per month. The Graduate School also provides a health subsidy to provide coverage for healthcare for the student.
  • First year students are all supported by research assistantships by the department; they are then supported as research assistants by their research advisor for the rest of their time in the program.
  • Especially strong applicants will also be considered for our premier fellowships that provide an additional bonus in addition to the regular monthly stipend. 


If I am considering a Ph.D., should I also apply for external fellowships?


Will I get the opportunity to teach or work with undergraduate students as a Ph.D. student?

  • We view that participating in the educational mission of the University is an important part of both a graduate student’s education and their professional development. Nearly all of our graduate students are required to contribute as teaching assistants for undergraduate and graduate courses, typically requiring about 4 hours per week.
  • For senior students, there are opportunities to teach a course depending on the student’s progress toward graduation, the available courses, and career goals.


If I don’t have a B.S. in Mechanical or Aerospace engineering, can I still apply to the Ph.D. program?

  • Yes! We consider students with any STEM B.S. degree, including other engineering disciplines, chemistry, physics, biology, and mathematics. 


Is there financial support for M.S. students?

  • Unfortunately no, there is no financial support offered for M.S. students. Tuition waivers, fellowships, and research assistantships go to our nearly 140 Ph.D. students.


How long does an M.S. take? Are there any area-specific M.S. degrees?

  • We offer both non-thesis and thesis M.S. options.  The former can be completed in approximately 1.5 years or 1 year and a summer, and the latter typically requires 2 years.
  • We do not offer any area-specific M.S. degrees at the current time, so students are allowed to define their own coursework with approval from their advisor.


What are the areas of research for Ph.D. students?

  • Our department is focused on five research pillars and there are a number of faculty in each pillar accepting applicants into their research groups. The pillars are:
    • fluid mechanics and aerodynamics
    • bioengineering/biomedical engineering
    • robotics and controls
    • thermal and materials science and manufacturing
    • computational science


What support is there for finding a position after graduation?

  • The University offers a number of resources through the Graduate Career Services office, including scheduling meet & greets with potential employers, resume assistance, and interview preparation. Learn more at:
  • Our department typically places Ph.D. graduates in some of the top U.S. companies as well as in post-doctoral positions in top universities and at national laboratories. Recent placements from the past three years include Google, Raytheon, Pratt & Whitney, NASA’s Joint Propulsion Laboratory, and post-docs at Harvard and Princeton Universities.


Is there a good graduate student community at Notre Dame?

  • The Graduate Student Union’s purpose is to improve the quality of life for all graduate students at Notre Dame. They provide a number of resources ranging from travel grants and putting on a Graduate Research Symposium to social events.  Learn more at:
  • The Graduate School also offers a number of resources and events to aid in the personal and professional development of Notre Dame graduate students. Learn more at:
  • Our department also has the Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering Graduate Organization (AMEGO), which is run by graduate students and puts on a variety of social activities (typically with free food!) throughout the year including tailgate parties, ice skating, paintball, and intramural sports teams. All graduate students in the department are welcome to participate.