Frequently Asked Questions


Who do I see for various questions?

Funding, fellowships, GSI applications, GSI questions, Grader applications: ME Academic Services Office
Room reservations; Mechanical Engineering Main Office

Who is my academic advisor?

Mechanical engineering has a team of academic advisors available to assist students with questions about their academic career. If you are looking for academic help, you can send an email with your question(s) to where the Graduate Coordinator will assist you and set up a meeting if needed.

How many courses do graduate students usually take in a semester?

We recommend that graduate students start with three courses in their first semester. In later terms, students will occasionally take four courses. Please refer to the following list to determine which three courses are appropriate based on your program:

  • Direct PhD Students and PhD Students with a relevant Master's: 2 RCC Courses and 3 credits research (e.g. ME590)
  • MSE Student: 3 courses

How do I withdraw from all of my courses for the term?

In order for a graduate student to withdraw from all courses for a given term, a term withdrawal form must be completed by you and an advisor and turned in to the Registrar's Office. Forms are available in the ASO and can be completed at the time you pick up the form.

What do I do if I am not able to finish my degree within Rackham's time limit?

In order to extend a degree beyond Rackham's deadline, a student must submit a request to Rackham for an extension for time to degree. The request will be made with the Petition for Modification form and should specify a new deadline (month/year) for completion of the degree along with an explanation of why the extension is needed. In addition, a memo from the graduate chair supporting the request and stating that the degree will still be “state-of-the-art” is also required. For PhD students, a timeline of when the degree will be finished must also be included.

Who do I list as my graduate coordinator for Rackham?

Please list Lisa Rogers ( as your graduate coordinator when prompted by Rackham.

Master's Degree and SUGS

How do I pursue the thesis option?

Please note that the two research options (e.g. Individual Research Project and Master's Thesis) for the master's degree start with same research course, ME590. Most students who are considering the thesis option for their master's degree start on the individual research project track because it is not as difficult to get a faculty member to commit to overseeing a one or two term project. This initial research phase allows the student and faculty member to determine if the thesis option is a good fit. If all goes well, the work completed during the project could be continued and completed as an MSE thesis.

How do I change to the PhD program?

First, you must find a UM ME faculty member who is willing to provide full intellectual and financial support for the duration of your PhD studies. For more information, please refer to the information here. Second, you will need to complete the application process. More information about applying to the PhD program can be found here.

Doctoral Degree

What research course should I sign up for?

Your research course is dependent on your educational experience prior to entering the PhD program as well as your current progress in the program. The list below should help you determine the appropriate research course for a given term:

  • ME590 (3 credits per term with a 6 credit maximum) - All incoming PhD students.
  • ME695 (3 credit maximum and taken after the completion of 6 credits ME590) - Direct PhD student earning thesis MSE
  • ME990 (1-8 credits per term with no limit on the total number of credits taken as a PhD student) - PhD pre-candidates who have completed 6 credits of ME590 research
  • ME995 (8 credits per term) - All PhD Candidates

Course Enrollment

When can I enroll in courses?

Incoming graduate students will gain the ability to enroll for fall courses sometime during the month of June. The Office of the Registrar will notify you of your registration appointment date (which is the date you begin enrolling).

All graduate students can view their enrollment appointments via wolverine access student business on the enrollment page.

What courses are being offered this term?

You can see a tentative list of the academic year's course offerings here.

What do I do if the course I am interested in taking is closed?

The Academic Services Office manages the enrollment in all ME courses. If the course you are trying to take is an ME course, please send an e-mail to requesting an override. If the course is offered by another unit, you will need to contact that unit directly.

If you are not able to get into the course because it is truly full but you are still very interested in taking the course, you should show up for the first day of class because openings may occur as students drop the course.

How do I register for research credits?

You will need to log in to Wolverine Access student business. Under “Enrollment”, select “Enrollment: Add Classes.” Click on the Search tab (at the top of the page). Fill in the “Class Search Criteria” form as follows:

  • Course Subject: MECHENG
  • Course Number: 590 or 990 or 995 (see above criteria for which section you should enroll in)
  • Uncheck the box for “Show Open classes only”
  • Check the box for “Include Independent Study Classes”
  • Click on “Additional Search Criteria,” and type your advisor's name under “Instructor last name”

Once you click “Search”, your advisor's research section should appear. Next to “Section”, copy the 5-digit number in parenthesis. Now, go to the “Backpack/Registration” tab at the top of the page and enter the 5-digit number in the space titled “Enter Class Nbr” under “Add to Backpack” and click “Enter.”

We've developed a screencast to help students enroll in research credits.

Do I have to submit a proposal for ME590?

Every student who enrolls in ME590 must submit a research proposal and final report in order to receive credit for the course. More information about the proposal and report process can be found on the ME 590 Research page.

Why hasn't my grade for ME590 shown up yet, but my final report has been approved?

Please check with your advisor to make sure that he/she has submitted a final ME590 grade via Wolverine Access after approving your final report.

Does XYZ course count as a math course?

Please check the section on math courses.

How does a student register after the registration deadline has passed?

The student needs to submit an add/drop form to the Registrar's Office. The add/drop form must be signed by the course instructor and a member of the ASO team. There is a late fee since the registration period has passed. If this is your first course for the term, you'll be charged a fee. The fee cannot be waived unless you had a late admit date to the University. If you would like to discuss this fee waiver, the RO will refer you to the Tuition and Waiver Fee Office. If you have any questions regarding the cost of the fee, contact the RO at 734.647-3507.

Financial Support

When will the GSI application be available?

For fall appointments, the GSI application will generally be available mid-summer.  Students will be notified when the applications become available. For winter appointments, the application will be available in October. Applying for a GSI position does not guarantee that you will be selected for a position.

When will GSI appointments be announced?

For fall appointments, appointments are announced in late August via email. Winter appointments are announced in late December. Applying for a GSI position does not guarantee that you will be selected for a position.

Will there be an interview during the GSI hiring process?

Interviews are not necessarily a part of the GSI appointment process. Some faculty will specifically seek out students with a background in their coursework, and may reach out to the student for a conversation if they do not already have a relationship.

Do I have to attend training to be a GSI?

Training is required for new GSI appointments. The COE policy states “in accordance with university policy and the Graduate Employees' Organization (GEO) contract, all new engineering GSIs are required to attend Engineering GSI Teacher Training prior to assuming a GSI role. The program consists of attendance at an all-day session prior to the start of classes and participation in an advanced practice teaching session early in the term.” Specific date and time details are sent via email after appointments have been chosen.

Are there language requirements associated with being a GSI?

Yes, in order to be a GSI, international students whose undergraduate education was not taught exclusively in English must pass the GSI Oral English Test (OET).

What is the GSI Oral English Test (OET)?

The GSI OET is a procedure for testing the spoken English of prospective graduate student instructors whose undergraduate education was at an institution in which the language of instruction is not English. The evaluation procedure is a performance test that consists of four tasks that assess a test taker's competence and effectiveness in the type of communication typically used by GSI's at the University of Michigan. Further information regarding the GSI OET including the test format, rating guidelines, and sample videos can be found on the CaMLA page.

When and where will the GSI OET exams be administered?

The GSI OET exams are administered in the following months: April, May, August, November, and December. The exams take place in conference rooms in the G.G. Brown building.

Who administers the GSI OET?

Three evaluators are present during the exam. Two of the evaluators are from CaMLA, and one evaluator is an ME faculty member.

How will I know if I need to take the GSI OET?

All international students whose undergraduate education was at an institution in which the language of instruction was not English will need to take and pass the GSI OET by the end of their 3rd academic term of enrollment in order to be considered making satisfactory progress in the PhD program. You will be automatically contacted by the ASO via email in the beginning of your first term if you are required to take the GSI OET with further instructions.