Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

MAE Graduate Program Admissions

Thank you for your interest in our graduate program! Below are requirements and guidelines for admissions to our program, including information about each aspect of the application. Please feel free to contact the individuals listed at the bottom of this page if your question is not addressed here. We look forward to receiving your application.

Apply Here!

Application Deadlines:

We only accept applications for Fall Quarter admission. We do not accept applications for Winter or Spring Quarter admission. Deadlines for Fall Quarter 2019 are listed below.

Priority Deadline:  December 15, 2018 (for full consideration for financial aid).

General DeadlineJanuary 5, 2019.

Space Available Deadline: April 1, 2019 (applicants who miss the General Deadline and meet the Space Available Deadline are not guaranteed to have their application reviewed by the graduate program. Their application will be reviewed only if the graduate program determines there is additional space available after reviewing Priority and General Deadline applicants).

Your application will not be considered complete until we have all of your application materials, including letters of recommendation, transcripts and test scores. Your application will not be reviewed until it is marked complete – if this is after the deadline, other applicants will be considered and admitted before your application is reviewed.

Application Requirements for Fall 2019:

  1. Graduate Application (all parts of the application must be completed)
  2. Application Fee: $105.00 Domestic, $125.00 International. Note: students who have participated in or are affiliated with certain programs (e.g. CAMP, LSAMP, UC LEADS, McNair Scholars) may be eligible for a fee waiver. See the Graduate Studies website for details.
  3. GRE scores
  4. Transcripts from all post-secondary institutions attended
  5. Three letters of recommendation
  6. Statement of Purpose and Personal History and Diversity Statement
  7. TOEFL or IELTS score (for nationals of non-English-speaking countries) Note: minimum score required is 80 on internet-based TOEFL or 7 on a 9-point scale on IELTS.

ALL application requirements must be submitted before an application will be reviewed.

Frequently Asked Questions:

General questions about admission to the MAE graduate program

What degrees do you offer?

We offer MS and Ph.D. degrees.

There are two pathways to achieve an MS degree. These are:

  • MS Plan I – Thesis: The MS I pathway requires that in addition to 24 units of letter graded coursework, students engage in substantial, independent research that culminates in the writing of a Thesis. The MS I degree pathway is for students who have a strong interest in gaining or expanding their research experience.
  • MS Plan II – Comprehensive Exam: The MS II pathway requires that in addition to 36 units of letter graded coursework, students complete a comprehensive exam which consists of the submission of a capstone written technical report.

The Ph.D. degree is for those students who have a major interest in developing deep knowledge of and performing independent, extensive research in their area of specialization, conducted in close collaboration with faculty. Students may apply directly to the Ph.D. program whether or not they have already obtained an MS degree.

Do you admit students to the Certificate, M.Eng or D. Eng programs?

No. We currently only consider applications for the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. More information about specific degree requirements is available here.

Can I apply to start in the Winter or Spring Quarter?

No, we only admit students for the Fall Quarter. If admitted to Fall Quarter, a student can request to defer to a later term (up to one year).  Approval is not automatic and a sound reason for requesting the deferral must be given.

Can you give me an idea of my chances for admission?

We do not provide pre-evaluation of applications to our graduate program. Please read these Admissions FAQs to help you determine if you meet the requirements for admission. Please remember that in a large and competitive applicant pool, many applicants who meet all requirements will not be offered admission.

How many people are usually admitted into the program?

We reviewed 362 applications for admission in Fall 2018 (111 PhD applications and 251 MS applications). About 25% of the PhD applicants and 40% of the MS applicants were offered admission.

I have been offered admission into the program. When do I need to Submit my Intent to Register (SIR)?

We ask that you SIR yes or no by June 1.  At the bottom of the admission letter there is a link that will allow you to let us know if you are accepting or declining our admission offer.  If you plan on accepting our offer, completing the SIR will allow you to see what other steps you must complete to enroll as a graduate student at UC Davis. Even if you plan on declining your admission offer we’d appreciate it if you complete the SIR to let us know.

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Requirements for the Ph.D. program

Do I need a MS to be eligible to apply to the Ph.D.?

No. Applicants intending to pursue a Ph.D. degree should apply directly to the Ph.D. program, even if an M.S. degree has not yet been obtained.

What is the GPA requirement for the Ph.D. program?

Applicants to the Ph.D. program should have a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.5 (out of 4.0) as well as a minimum graduate GPA of 3.50 (out of 4.0) if applicable.

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Information for applicants without a BS degree in Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering

I have a BS degree in a different major. Can I still apply?

The MAE admissions committee is primarily looking for individuals who have demonstrated excellent academic achievement in mechanical and aerospace engineering. However, outstanding applicants with an undergraduate major in a related field (electrical engineering, mathematics, physics, etc.) can also be successful in our program, so you can still apply.

General questions about application materials

How do I submit an online application?

The online application is available at the Graduate Studies website.

How do I pay the application fee?

The fee may be paid by credit card or e-check. The fee must be paid before the application is considered complete, and the fee must be paid for each application submitted (if applying for more than one graduate program). The application fee is $105 for the domestic application and $125 for the international application. Note: students who have participated in or are affiliated with certain programs (e.g. CAMP, LSAMP, UC LEADS, McNair Scholars) may be eligible for a fee waiver. See the Graduate Studies website for details.

How do I submit transcripts?

UC Davis requires academic records from each college-level institution you have attended.  You will be instructed to upload scanned copies of your transcripts after you have submitted your online application.  For more details on how to submit transcripts click here. DO NOT send transcripts or other material via mail unless specifically asked.

What should I include in my statement of purpose?

The statement of purpose plays a critical role in the review of an application. It should be well written and free from technical errors. It should define your background, and the interests and experiences that qualify you for graduate study. It must explicitly state your areas of interest for graduate study and detail how the program at UC Davis will help you attain your educational and research goals. The statement should reflect that you understand the on-going research in Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering at UC Davis and explain why you are qualified to contribute to that research. You can find general guidelines on writing the statement of purpose as well as the personal history and diversity statement here.

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Questions about GPA

What are the GPA requirements?

For applicants to our MS program, our GPA criteria are those of the Office of Graduate Studies; “A minimum 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale (or equivalent) from the institution where you have earned or will earn your bachelor’s degree.” It is expected that applicants to our Ph.D. program have a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.50 on a 4.0 scale (or the equivalent) as well as a minimum graduate GPA of 3.50 on a 4.0 scale (or equivalent) if applicable.

What are the typical GPA’s of admitted MAE students?

The average undergraduate GPA of admitted applicants to our graduate program varies from year to year but is typically around 3.5 for both the MS and PhD program.

Are admission decisions made only on the basis of GPA and GRE scores?

No. Students are reviewed based on their entire application including their statement of purpose, personal history and diversity statement, letters of recommendation, GPA, GRE scores, and TOEFL/IELTS scores. All academic achievements and qualifications as measured by GPA and GRE scores bear significant weight, but the admissions committee will occasionally recommend admission for an applicant whose GPA and/or GRE scores would not normally warrant admission. This may happen if other aspects of the applicant’s background which are not reflected in the GPA and/or GRE scores strongly indicate a potential for success in our graduate program. An example is extensive and relevant work experience with excellent performance.

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Questions about the GRE

Am I required to take a GRE subject test?

No. Only the general test is required.

How do I submit GRE scores?

GRE scores must be sent electronically directly from Educational Testing Services (ETS) to UC Davis. Please use the following codes: Institution Code 4834 and Department Code 1502.

What are the minimum Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores required for the MAE program?

We do not have a minimum score for the GRE since applications are reviewed holistically. However, poor performance on the GRE can be very detrimental to an application.

What are the typical GRE scores of admitted MAE students?

Average GRE scores for admitted applicants vary from year to year but are typically as follows: Verbal ~ 157, Quantitative ~163, and Analytical ~4.5.

When should I take the GRE to be considered for fall admission?

Applicants should take the GRE several months before their desired deadline to allow adequate time for processing.

How long are my GRE scores valid?

GRE scores are acceptable for 5 years after the date of examination.

If I don’t provide official GRE scores with my application, will I still be evaluated for admission?

No. Official GRE scores must be submitted to the department directly from ETS in order for your application to be considered complete. Incomplete applications are not reviewed for admission.

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Questions about the TOEFL/IELTS

Do I need to submit TOEFL scores?

Applicants whose native language is not English must take the TOEFL, unless they have earned or will be earning a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree from a regionally accredited U.S. college or university or a foreign college of university which provides instruction only in English.  See the Graduate Studies website for more information.

How do I submit TOEFL scores?

TOEFL scores must be sent electronically, directly to UC Davis using the following codes: Institution code 4834 and Department code 68.

What are the minimum TOEFL scores required?

The minimum overall TOEFL score required for admission to graduate study at UC Davis is an 80 on the TOEFL internet-based test (iBT).

What are the typical TOEFL scores of admitted MAE students?

Average TOEFL scores for admitted students vary from year to year but are typically around 90 on the iBT.

How long are my TOEFL scores acceptable?

TOEFL scores are acceptable for 2 years after the date of examination.

If I don’t provide original TOEFL scores with my application, will I still be evaluated for admission?

No. Official scores must be submitted to the department directly from ETS in order for your application to be considered complete. Incomplete applications are not reviewed for admission.

Can I submit an IELTS score instead of a TOEFL score?


How long are my IELTS scores valid?

IELTS scores are valid for 2 years after the date of examination.

What are the minimum scores required on the IELTS?

A minimum BAND score of at least 7 on a 9-point scale is required for admission. Official scores must be sent by mail directly from IELTS to the graduate program.

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Questions about letters of recommendation

How do I submit letters of recommendation?

Letters of recommendation must be submitted electronically through the online application. Once the online application is submitted, it will automatically notify the referee and provide them with instructions on how to submit their letter. Hard copies of letters of recommendation will not be reviewed.

How many letters of recommendation can I submit?

Three letters of recommendation are required to complete your application. We are unable to accept more than three letters of recommendation, and an application with less than three letters of recommendation will be considered incomplete and will not be reviewed.

Do all letter writers need to be from academic sources?

It is highly recommended that at least two letters of recommendation are from professors or instructors who are familiar with the applicant’s academic potential.

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Information for international students

How many international students are typically admitted to the Master’s degree program?

In 2018, 48% of admitted M.S. students were international students.

I am an international student and have questions about my visa, where should I go?

Please visit the Services for International Students and Scholars (SISS) website. A major role for SISS is to assist international students and scholars with visa and immigration issues while they are at UC Davis. In addition to preparing the necessary documents to apply for a U.S. visa, SISS assists international students and scholars in maintaining their legal status while in the United States. SISS also provides orientation, assistance, information, and referral to international students, faculty, and researchers regarding financial, personal, cultural, and academic concerns.

Should I send in my financial paperwork for my visa with my application materials?

No, please do not send any financial paperwork to the MAE department.  We do not process the financial paperwork at the department level.

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Information on contacting MAE Faculty

Can I contact faculty?

Yes. First, please be sure to visit the faculty contact information webpage and research those faculty with whom you wish to contact. In your initial contact with them, please be specific about your interest in their research or laboratory. Professors receive a large number of inquiries about admissions each year and may not reply if they do not have any available positions.

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Financial Aid Information

Do I need to submit a FAFSA?

All applicants who are US citizens, permanent residents, or immigrants should submit a FAFSA as early as possible. The FAFSA is used to assess your eligibility for financial assistance from federal sources. It should be submitted even if you are not applying for any federal grants yourself, as the department sometimes has fellowship aid from federal sources that you might be eligible for if you submit a FAFSA. Failure to file the FAFSA by the deadline automatically disqualifies you from receiving any federal aid.

Do you support all of your incoming students?

We strive to provide financial support to our graduate students, but it is not always possible and not everyone is funded. Financial support might be obtained in the form of a Graduate Student Researcher (GSR) position arranged with individual faculty members, depending on if the research is funded and if the grant/contract permits it. Financial support might also be obtained in the form of a Teaching Assistant (TA) position, depending on the availability of positions and student qualifications. Financial support is contingent on academic record, abilities in teaching and/or research, and availability of funds.

What type of funding is available to new students?

First-year graduate students may receive financial support from Department and Internal Campus Fellowships, Graduate Student Researcher (GSR) positions, Teaching Assistantships (TA), and Readerships. Not everyone is funded.

What is a department fellowship?

Students who demonstrate scholarship and the promise of outstanding academic and professional achievement may be awarded departmental fellowships.  These fellowships are competitive and vary regarding the type (stipend and/or tuition support) and amount of support they offer. Consideration for department fellowships is automatic upon completion and submission of the admission application by January 5th. No separate application is necessary.

What is a Graduate Student Research (GSR) position and how do I get one?

GSR positions are arranged with individual faculty members and are based on research grant funding. Applicants who are interested in a GSR position should contact individual faculty members in their areas of interest (see faculty contact information webpage) to discuss possible research funding opportunities. GSR appointments of at least 25% provide full remission of fees and Non-Resident tuition. A monthly salary is also earned.

What is a Teaching Assistantship (TA) position and how do I apply for one?

TA responsibilities include running discussion sections, supervising laboratory experiments, grading, etc. These positions are typically 25% appointments which include partial remission of in-state fees and a monthly salary. TA positions are assigned for the upcoming academic year from a competitive pool of applications consisting of both current and new students. Once you have been admitted to the program, the department will send you a TA application (typically in July) for fall TA positions.

What is a Readership position and how do I apply for one?

Readers grade homework, labs, exams, etc. These positions are typically 25% appointments which include partial remission of in-state fees and a monthly salary. When you apply for a TAship this automatically puts you in the running for a readership. There is no separate application process.

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UCD Fees and Tuition

What are the estimated yearly expenses for a graduate student?

Here are two websites that may offer information about the cost of attending UC Davis:

Tuition and Fees

Cost of Attendance

Is there funding available for non-resident supplemental tuition (NRST)?

Students at UC Davis who are not California residents are required to pay NRST. For international and non-California students, NRST often poses the greatest financial difficulty. For international students there is a reduction in NRST following advancement to candidacy for the PhD degree (after completing the qualifying exam). US citizens and permanent residents often become California residents after one year of study.

How do I establish California residency?

Domestic students (US citizens and permanent residents) may be eligible for California residency after one year if certain requirements are met. After residency is established, a student is no longer required to pay non-resident supplemental tuition. All questions regarding California residency must be directed to the Residency Deputy in the Office of the Registrar. For information, visit:

Certain non-resident students may qualify for in-state fees and a waiver of non-resident tuition if they attended at least three years and graduated from a California high school. International students on F-1 or J-1 visas cannot establish California residency and therefore are assessed non-resident supplemental tuition until they pass their qualifying exam and advance to candidacy. Some students on other visas may qualify for California residency after 12 months, but full time student status may violate visa provisions. All visa questions should be referred to Services for International Students and Scholars (

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I’m thinking of applying and I’d like to visit.

I’d like to visit the department before I apply, how can I make arrangements?

We strongly believe one of our best recruiting tools is a visit to our campus, so we welcome visitors! We encourage all prospective applicants to visit UC Davis any time of the year. In order to make the most of your visit, we encourage you to reach out to faculty well in advance of your visit to see if they will be available to meet with you. Faculty information can be found here.

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I’ve just been admitted and I have questions.

I’d like to visit campus before I decide if I want to attend UCD. How do I arrange a visit?

We encourage all prospective students to visit UC Davis. In order to make the most of your visit, we encourage you to reach out to faculty well in advance of your visit to see if they will be available to meet with you. Faculty information can be found here.

When should I plan to arrive in Davis?

Most leases in Davis begin the first of September, but the academic quarter does not begin until the end of September. Graduate student orientations usually begin in mid-September, so plan on being in Davis in time for orientation. You will need time to settle into your new home, find a bicycle, and figure out where things are before classes begin.

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Who should I contact if I still have questions?

Lisa Ronco
Graduate Program Coordinator

Paul Erickson
Faculty Advisor for Graduate Admissions