Mechanical Engineering

The Department of Mechanical Engineering prepares students for careers involving technical innovation and leadership. Our graduate programs provide a solid foundation for careers in industry, research labs, and academia. The department tradition of interdisciplinary research provides students with exciting new opportunities in the broad areas of:

PhD students choose from seven focus areas:

  • Air Quality
  • Bioengineering
  • Materials Science
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Micro/Nano Systems
  • Thermo Fluid Sciences
  • Robotics and Systems Design

Master of Science thesis-option (MS) students choose from eight focus areas:

  • Bioengineering
  • Design
  • Energy & Environment
  • Foundation
  • Materials Science
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Microsystems
  • Simulation Based Mechanical Engineering Sciences

Masters of Science professional students (Professional MS) choose from five focus areas (a thesis is not required):

  • Technology for the Environment
  • Renewable and Sustainable Energy
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Design
  • Flex Option

Areas of Study and Research

  • Research and coursework in the Air Quality track encompass a broad range of topics from air quality monitoring, climate change, atmospheric chemistry and dynamics, and health impacts, to air pollution engineering, control and policy. Research addresses monitoring and impact assessment on scales spanning from local (building-scale) to regional and global; from fundamental science to applied social science and community-driven research; and from computational studies to field-based experiments in remote locations. The University of Colorado is uniquely situated amongst one of the world’s greatest ecosystems of academic institutions and national labs engaged in atmospheric research. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) are located within 30 minutes of CU Boulder.

  • Biomechanical engineering is a field which employs quantitative methods in physics, chemistry and biology to develop innovative medical technologies. At CU, we draw from our strengths in biomechanics – the application of classical and quantum mechanics to analyze biological systems – and product design to tackle current and emerging medical challenges, including those in the areas of biomaterials, tissue engineering, imaging and theranostics.

  • The Materials program offers students a mixture of high quality education and cutting-edge research. Faculty members carry out research in many different areas including polymers, thin films, soft actuators, battery materials, laser ultrasonics, flash sintering, nanomaterials for energy, heat transfer and meta materials. Graduate students have ample opportunities to choose to specialize in various aspects of materials science and engineering.

  • Mechanics of materials is an area focusing on quantitative description of the motion and deformation of solid materials subjected to forces, temperature changes, electrical voltage or other external stimuli. At CU, we apply theoretical modeling, computational simulation and experimental characterization to study a wide range of soft materials, from biological tissues and gels to smart polymers. Our applications cover a long list of current and emerging technologies including tissue engineering, membrane filtration, stretchable electronics, smart materials, medical robots and innovative surgical devices. 

  • Micro/Nanoscale research involves micro- and nano-electromechanical systems (MEMS and NEMS) for transducers, sensors and actuators. ​Strengths include atomic, nano, micro fabrication technologies and advanced packaging. Visible, active programs are also underway in nano and microscale characterization, simulation and design of materials.

  • Robotics and systems design research focuses on identifying fundamental principles and methodologies that enable engineered systems to exhibit intelligent, goal-oriented behavior, and developing innovative instruments to monitor, control and manipulate systems. Faculty and students participate in several major sponsored research centers, including the Army’s Micro Autonomous Science and Technology (MAST) CTA, and the AFOSR Center of Excellence on Nature-Inspired Flight Technologies and Ideas (NIFTI). Research in the Robotics and Systems Design Area typically leverages three core competencies in service to diverse needs in such areas as healthcare, security, education, space and ocean exploration, and autonomous systems in air, land and underwater.

Department research activities are supported by a wide range of industrial and federal agencies such as the National Science Foundation (NSF), Department of Energy (DOE), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), National Institute of Health (NIH), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) and Defense Agency Research Project Association (DARPA). Some research activities are carried out through interdisciplinary department research centers including the Joint Center for Combustion and Environmental Research (JCCER), and Membrane Applied Science and Technology (MAST) Center.

Degrees Offered


Degree Details


The Master of Science program involves both research and coursework, as well as a thesis. Students work closely with faculty members to arrange their study and tailor research to their individual preferences.

Professional MS

The professional master’s program focuses on coursework with a project-based learning component. The program results in a Master of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering (MSME).


The PhD program involves both research and course work. Graduate students work closely with faculty members to arrange their study and tailor research to their individual preferences. PhD students in the Mechanical Engineering department receive financial support for the duration of their studies. This support may take the form of a fellowship, a teaching assistantship, a research assistantship, or a combination of these options.

Opportunity for a dual degree with:

  • Engineering Management 

Admissions Requirements

Applicants must:

  1. Hold a baccalaureate degree in engineering, science or mathematics from a college or university of recognized standing (or the equivalent).
  2. Have undergraduate courses in calculus, linear algebra, and differential equations.
  3. Have two semesters of undergraduate calculus-based physics.
  4. Have at least two semesters of upper-division undergraduate courses in engineering or physics.
  5. Have an undergraduate grade point average of at least 3.20.
  6. Provide official GRE scores from an examination taken within the last five years.
  7. Provide three letters of recommendation.
  8. Provide a personal statement of academic and research interests.

Additional information is available on the department's website.

GRE Scores

PhD applicants and Master's applicants must submit GRE scores. For applicants whose undergraduate language of instruction was not English, a TOEFL score of 79 (IBT) (6.5 if taking IELTS) is required for masters applicants and a TOEFL score of 100 (IBT) (7.5 if taking IELTS) is required for PhD applicants. Preferred minimum GRE scores for MS and PhD applicants are: 157 Verbal, 159 Quantitative, and 4.5 Analytical.

Applicant Instructions

The department normally only accepts PhD applications for the fall semester. The department will consider exceptions for spring applications if the applicant can show proof of full funding at the time of applying. Master’s degree applications are accepted for both fall and spring semester starts. Please contact about applying for PhD during a spring semester. Masters applications are accepted for fall and spring. 


Fall Domestic PhD Application Deadlines:

January 5, 2017

Fall Domestic MS or MSME Application Deadline:

February 15, 2017

Spring Domestic MS or MSME Application Deadline:

October 1, 2016


Fall International PhD Application Deadline:

December 15, 2016

Fall International MS or MSME Application Deadline:

January 15, 2017

Spring International MS or MSME Application Deadline:

September 1, 2016

Contact Information

University of Colorado Boulder
Department of Mechanical Engineering
Vera Sebulsky, Graduate Advisor                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Engineering Center ME 112-B
Box 427 UCB
Boulder, CO 80309-0427
Phone: 303-492-7444
Fax: 303-492-3498
Department of Mechanical Engineering website