Skip to content

Frequently Asked Questions


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

Who do I list as my graduate coordinator for Rackham?

Please list Adam Mael ( 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. 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.
  • 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 in early 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.

Does XYZ course count as a math course?

Please check the section on math courses.

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.

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.