Ph.D. in Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering

Our Ph.D. in Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering is one of the largest and most successful at the University of Notre Dame, with more than 150 graduate students, 40 faculty, and a thriving research program.

Top-flight research opportunities and flexible advanced-level coursework allow you to pursue interests closely aligned with your career aspirations. With a 4:1 graduate-student-to-faculty ratio, the program offers individual attention and support to prepare you for careers in academia, government, and industry.

Our program is designed for Ph.D. students, typically takes five years, and includes full financial support, including a stipend and tuition scholarship.

Please note: Our program is not focused on the M.S. degree, and financial support is not available for master’s degrees.

Research areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Computation
  • Fluid Mechanics
  • Materials & Thermal Science and Manufacturing
  • Robotics and Controls

Degree requirements

  • A minimum of 60 credit hours, with at least 30 hours of coursework (10 classes) and at least 30 credits of thesis research or dissertation research.
  • Qualifying exam, which must be accomplished prior to the fourth semester and includes a written document on your research area, a presentation, and an examination by a committee of faculty.
  • Oral candidacy exam, which must be accomplished prior to the conclusion of the 8th semester (4th year), and includes a written proposal for a dissertation topic, a presentation, and an examination by a committee of faculty.
  • Written dissertation, outlining an original research contribution and showing technical mastery of the field and the contributions to the advancement of knowledge.
  • An oral presentation and dissertation defense to a committee of faculty.

All AME Ph.D. students must contribute to the educational mission of the Department as an essential part of their education, mastery of topical material, and professional development. Students serve as a teaching assistant (TA) for the first 8 semesters.

A detailed description of the requirements for a Ph.D. degree, including a list of courses offered, can be found in the AME Graduate Studies Handbook.

Admission requirements

  • Undergraduate degree in mechanical or aerospace engineering or a similar field.
  • Three letters of recommendation

Please note: A master’s degree is not required for direct admission into the Ph.D. program, and students with B.S., B.A., or M.S. degrees are all encouraged to apply directly to the Ph.D. program.

Financial support

  • Generous 12-month stipends for Ph.D. students
  • Substantially increased stipends for doctoral students with fellowships
  • 100% health insurance premiums paid
  • Full-tuition scholarships
  • Conference/workshop travel funding opportunities

We also offer dedicated graduate student career coaching.


The application deadline for Fall admission is December 31.


Questions about the program

Prof. Ryan McClarren
Director of Graduate Studies

Questions about the application process

Carly Reynolds
Program Administrator

FAQs about applying to the Ph.D. program

How do I apply?

Apply online to the Ph.D. program. Start your application by setting up an account and you can work on it periodically, saving it as needed. Just be sure to submit by December 31!

What do I need to provide with the application?

  • Unofficial transcripts
  • Curriculum vitae or resume
  • Statement of intent

Is there a minimum required GPA?

There is no minimum required GPA. However, generally a GPA of at least 3.3 on a scale of 4.0 or equivalent is recommended to be a competitive applicant.

Do I need to take the GRE?

GRE test is optional for all applicants.

Do I need to take the TOEFL or IELTS if I’m an international student?

If you are an international student who obtained your degree outside of the U.S., then either the TOEFL or IELTS is required. The minimum TOEFL IBT score is 80 with a 23 on the speaking section. If your speaking score is below 23, we still encourage you to apply, but we may request a phone or video interview to confirm speaking ability. The minimum IELTS score is 7.0.

If you are a non-native English speaker who spent a minimum of two academic years at an academic institution whose primary language of instruction was English, then you do not have to take the TOEFL or the IELTS. If it is not obvious that the institution’s primary language of instruction was English, a letter from the Registrar’s Office (or the office responsible for academic records) confirming English as the language of instruction is required.

Do TOEFL/IELTS scores expire?

Yes. TOEFL/IELTS scores are valid for 2 years.

Do I need letters of recommendation?

Yes, we require 3 letters of recommendation. Enter the recommender’s name and address into a form in the online application. You may add as many as five recommenders; three are required. The recommender will receive an email providing secure access to the recommendation form and instructions to complete the recommendation electronically. Please note that as soon as a recommender is added to an application, they will receive this email. Applicants should only add recommenders when they are prepared for this email to be sent and for a recommendation to be submitted for that application.

Letters of recommendation are very helpful to us in evaluating an application. Letters that discuss your potential as a graduate student are particularly helpful, especially if those that can cover your readiness and acumen for graduate level research.

We recommend that you line up your letter writers early in the application process so that they have enough time to write a strong letter and also have enough time to submit it by the application deadline.

What should go in the statement of intent?

The statement of intent is a very important part of the application. We are looking for approximately two pages that describe:

  • Your passion for research, why you want to go to graduate school, and how it fits into your career goals.
  • Your preparation for graduate school and, especially, graduate research, including past research experiences, your accomplishments, and the research skills you have developed (developing and testing a hypothesis, experimental skills).

Whom can I contact if I have questions about my application?

Our Graduate Program Coordinator Carly Reynolds ( is happy to help with any application questions.