Current Student FAQs


For students getting their pilot’s license we can provide some credit in the form of Tech electives for this endeavor. Students should talk to Professor Carlos Cesnik regarding what credit will be provided.

Aero 341

Aero 481

(rather than 343 and 483)

Aero 343 

Aero 483

(rather than 341 and 481)

Aero 205 or Aero 288 will satisfy the DBTF requirement. 

Also Pete’s Engin 100(section 7) class, but it also requires you take an additional technical elective

Aerosp 288 is equivalent to Aerosp 205 (DBTF requirement)
Aerospace 388 or 488  is equivalent to Aerosp 405 (Senior Project requirement)
Those that take both 388 and 488 will receive credit for Aerospace 405 as well as tech elective credit
*Everyone still needs to take Aerospace 305

We usually suggest Aero 585.  It’s a 1 credit seminar, counts as tech elective

Unfortunately, Economics is considered a Social Science and cannot be used as a Tech Elective.

Aero 285 no longer exists and was replaced with Aero 200. For those still with audit sheets requesting 285, take Aero 200. For those needing Aero 200 credit on their audit and have taken Aero 285, we will direct that course there.

Yes. We count that credit as tech electives. Each project is worth a different amount of credits and is set by MDP, so be sure to check with MDP regarding how many credits you will earn in your desired project.

The college allows you to pass/fail up to 14 credits in your degree (not including Covid course grades that may have been covered). However, you cannot pass/fail any of your major required courses. This means you will most likely be utilizing pass/fail for your intellectual breadth, which includes the 300 level HU requirement. A course that is denoted as pass/fail will not impact your GPA. In order to receive a passing grade (P), you must earn at least a C- in the course. 

If you use any “covered” grades to count towards SUGS, they must have originally been a B or better grade that was covered. They can remain covered on your transcript but Rackham will confirm what grade you had earned in the course in order to verify whether it can be double-counted or transferred to SUGS.

The add/drop deadline is always 3 weeks from the first day of classes each semester. This deadline denotes the last day you can drop a course without a “W” appearing on your transcript as well as the last day to add a class without additional professor permission. 

It is easier to drop a course than it is to add a course (seats are limited and many faculty members will prevent you from joining if you have not been waitlisted and attending the course). Therefore, we recommend registering for all the courses you are considering taking and dropping courses you no longer want to take within this 3-week period. If you drop a course after the add/drop deadline it is called a late drop and will result in a “W” appearing on your transcript and you will not be reimbursed for the class cost. A late drop requires permission from the instructor and advisor approval. 

*Please note, the add/drop deadline for mini courses is earlier than this date due to the accelerated time frame. Please consult your professor for that date if you think you may want to drop the course.

From the Student Center, click Backpack/Registration, then click the Drop tab. Select the course and click Drop Selected Classes. On the confirmation screen, verify you selected the correct class and click the Finish Dropping button. If you are eligible to submit the Late Drop request form electronically, a Request for Late Drop button displays. Click the button to access the form.

A “W” on your transcript denotes that you started a course and did not complete it. Typically, this will not harm you unless you have multiple as it can show a pattern of over committing and not managing your time well. Keep in mind, a “W’ is often better than failing a class which would harm your GPA. Whereas a “W” does not affect your GPA.

In the event that you have an extenuating circumstance and cannot complete your coursework in the allotted timeframe, you can work with your professor to arrange additional time to finish. This will then be denoted on your transcript as an “i” for incomplete and will remain that way until the coursework is completed. Please note, there is a timeframe in which  the remaining coursework will need to be submitted by.

NC – No Credit
I – Incomplete
W – WithdrawP – Pass
F – Fail
NG – No Grade Reported
T – Transfer Credit

It is not uncommon to face unforeseen or difficult experiences during your studies. Although we often recommend withdrawing from a course rather than failing it and impacting your GPA, these situations do occur. If the failed course is required for your major, you will need to retake it. If it is not required, feel free to take other courses and work to bring your GPA back up.

Academic probation occurs when a student’s grade point average for a term is less than a 2.0. A student in this category will need to meet with their academic advisor to create a plan for improvement. Failure to do so will result in an academic hold on his or her account, preventing enrollment in future terms. Probation is a warning that there is a need to improve scholastic performance or further enrollment may be jeopardized.. Below are the classifications a student can hold:

  • Good Standing: 2.00 GPA or better for both the term and the cumulative average.
  • Probation: a deficiency of up to 10 MHP for the term or cumulative average.
  • Enrollment Withheld: a deficiency of 10 MHP* or above for the term or cumulative average; or the third or greater incidence of probation. Students will have to petition for reinstatement in order to continue taking courses.
  • Reinstated on Probation: Students who have been reinstated after being placed on Enrollment Withheld or Mandatory Leave. Enrollment Withheld Continued: Reinstated student who was given two or more semesters to meet conditions. Enrollment Withheld Continued will show on transcript until all conditions have been fulfilled.
  • Mandatory Leave: SSC decision requiring a leave from the College of Engineering based upon unsatisfactory academic performance.  Students will have to petition for reinstatement to return after their required leave has been fulfilled.
  • Dismissal: SSC decision based upon failure to meet the conditions of reinstatement. Student is no longer eligible to enroll in the College of Engineering or petition the Scholastic Standing Committee for reinstatement.

Selecting courses is often referred to as “backpacking” and allows students to plan out their classes before their official enrollment date. This process typically occurs in late October and early November to select courses for the Winter term and in March and April for the Fall, Spring, and Summer terms.

Most students will be taking a full-time course load (12 credits) as financial aid and scholarships tend to require one to be a full-time student in order to maintain funding. A student can take up to 18 credits in a semester without petitioning to take more credits, but it is most common that students take 14-16 credits each semester.

Technical electives are any Natural Science or Math courses at the 300 Level or higher. Some examples include Physics, Chemistry, Material Science, EECS, Stats, etc.

The Intellectual Breadth requirement is composed of 16 credits- 3 credits of a 300 level or higher Humanities course and 13 additional credits of any level Social Science or Humanities course. To search for these courses, please use the Wolverine Access course catalog and look for HU and SS courses.

General Electives allow you to take any course that you are interested in. Your Undergraduate degree is made up of 128 credits and students often need to take additional credits outside of the listed required courses for their major in order to meet the minimum 128 required credits.  Please note that your AP credits and Dual Enrollment credits can count in this area as well.

Everyone’s skills and interests are different, so a course that may be challenging for one person could be easier for another. We recommend discussing the courses with your classmates and assessing your enjoyment/skills in that type of coursework/content. Please be aware of enforced prerequisites as well as advisory prerequisites when selecting courses

Enforced prerequisites will prevent you from registering for a course if you have not taken them. Whereas an advisory prerequisite is a recommended course or concept that will enable you to be more successful in the class.  If you have not taken the courses listed as advisory prerequisites, you will still be able to take the class.


If you are  not eligible for SUGS or if you’re not admitted to the SUGS program, you’re still welcome to apply to the traditional master’s degree program.

Most students will be applying in the Second semester of their Senior year for the January deadline in order to begin in the Fall term. Please note, you will likely be taking graduate level courses in your last semester of undergrad in the hopes that you will be admitted to the program. Once admitted you will officially be a part of Rackham Graduate School. 

In the event you are hoping to start SUGS in the Winter term, you will need to be applying in Fall for the October deadline. Again, it is likely you will be taking Graduate level courses with the hopes of being admitted into the program

*Please note, enrolling in graduate level courses does not guarantee your admission to the SUGS program.


To be admitted you must have a 3.5 GPA, but if you are interested and close to that requirement we encourage you to apply as well. In the event you do not have a 3.5 GPA when you apply, or are just at that GPA cutoff, the department may not admit you immediately to SUGS. You may get waitlisted – so the offer of admission would be based on your final, cumulative GPA after graduation rather than the GPA you have at the time of application. If you’re waitlisted, you’ll find out whether you’re admitted about 10 days after graduation. Be aware that admission to the SUGS program is becoming more competitive.


An updated resume will be required. In the event you need help or want someone to review your resume, please contact the Engineering Career Resource Center (ECRC).

Letter of Recommendation

You will need two letters of recommendation. One should be from a STEM Professor and the other should be either an internship supervisor or another faculty member. 

Please contact your desired references in advance (at least eight weeks prior) in order to ensure they are willing and able to provide a positive reference. We recommend you include details about the program you are applying to as well as your updated resume to ensure they can provide a stellar and accurate recommendation. 

If they do not respond to your initial inquiry about drafting a letter for you, you can give them between one to three weeks and then contact them again with a gentle reminder. Do not ask more than twice for a letter of recommendation. If you have not received confirmation of their willingness to write a letter of recommendation for you, move on to another potential recommender. Remember that recommenders are very busy, and their lack of response to you does not mean they do not like you. Also, if you do request a letter of recommendation from a different person, please let the people you first requested a letter from know that their time is no longer necessary. 

Rackham Admissions Form

When applying to the SUGS program, you will be providing all of the above information to Rackham Graduate School through their Admissions Form. This form will ask you additional questions regarding your qualifications. Please note, you may need to contact your family for some information if you do not know it.

The amount of credits (30) is the same as the Master’s degree. However, it is accelerated in order to complete it in a faster time frame. However, you are not required to stick to this time frame and we will allow up to 5 years to complete the Master’s degree. You will not be able to complete it faster than two semesters though as 18 credits must be taken while officially enrolled in the graduate school.

You can find your SUGS election form here. You’ll need to fill it out and sign it. Do not fill out the farthest right column. Please watch department communications for more information about workshops to learn how to complete the form to your best advantage. You’ll be able to turn it in during the workshop in order to complete the process. The undergraduate program advisor and student services manager both need to sign the form as well. It will then stay in your department records until the department turns it into Rackham Graduate School when you apply to graduate with your master’s degree. It is not used to determine your admission to SUGS.

Please attend a workshop, held several times throughout the year, to figure out which courses you’ll transfer or double-count. In addition, here are some of the parameters to keep in mind:

  • You must earn a B or better grade in any class to double-count or transfer; 
  • Only graduate-level classes are eligible for double-count or transfer credit;
  • You cannot double-count and transfer the same class, only one or the other; 
  • If you need a class for your BSE or a minor, you must double-count that course rather than transferring;
  • Classes outside of AERO are eligible for double-counting and transferring.

No. Both SUGS students and traditional MSE students graduate with the same degree: a master’s of engineering from the Department of Aerospace Engineering.

No. SUGS students do not have additional requirements beyond those required for the traditional master’s degree.


Class sizes vary greatly; some courses have approximately 20 people in the class, and some are up to 100 people. Directed studies (AEROSP 590) are one-on-one with a faculty member. 

In general, 500-level classes will likely have 60-100 people. This will be a mix of master’s degree students and first- or second-year PhD students, and possibly even a few senior undergraduates. Classes at the 600- or 700-level will have much fewer students. 

Our department has approximately 400 undergraduates, 200 master’s degree students including SUGS-MSE students, and 120 PhD students.

No, there is no thesis requirement for students in our master’s degree programs (MEng, MSE or SUGS-MSE). Our master’s degrees are considered coursework-based, professional degrees. There is no requirement for either a thesis, research or practicum experience. In fact, most of our students graduate without completing a thesis or doing any original research.

If you would like to complete a thesis you can do so by enrolling in department 590 courses (e.g., AEROSP 590, ROB 590, NERS 590, etc.). This allows you to develop an idea, do independent research, receive mentorship from a faculty member and turn in an academic paper at the end of the semester. You will receive a grade for this work which will impact your GPA. Your finished paper can be used as a thesis.

All of our PhD students who get admitted are given teaching or research assistantships, and possibly fellowships. This is a guaranteed part of being given an admission offer. Since PhD students are provided full funding for the duration of their doctoral studies, PhD students are given priority when hiring for research projects and classes that need teaching support. There are many fewer openings for master’s degree students. 

That said, every fall and winter semester there are a few opportunities for master’s students to get research or teaching assistantships (at Michigan, we refer to this role as a graduate student instructor, or GSI). 

The important things to remember are that these positions are term-limited which means that a master’s student given a teaching position in one semester cannot count on having one in another semester, and, with so few openings for master’s students, each master’s student absolutely must plan to fund themselves through the entirety of their master’s degree. The chances of getting a research or teaching position are so low that all master’s students must expect to pay for their living expenses and tuition without department funding. 

Here are the steps a master’s student can take to try to gain a research or teaching assistant position:

  • Current Michigan Aero students can watch for an email several months before each semester asking for GSI applications – SUGS students in particular are hired as GSIs for lab courses; 
  • Current or incoming graduate students can keep an eye on this site to learn more about GSI and research assistantships, and apply to any that are appealing (students are eligible to apply to GSI or research assistant jobs in any department at the university);
  • Current or incoming graduate students can email faculty directly with whom you’d like to work, and ask about research opportunities or GSI openings – contact faculty via email just once, no need to continue to email – and let them know you are interested in their work or did well in their class and want to help teach it to others.

Scholarships may help defray at least some costs of the master’s degree. Current and prospective students are responsible for finding and applying to their own scholarships, although the department is always happy to help with documentation as may be required to secure a scholarship successfully. 

Current and prospective students should contact the Office of Financial Aid to learn more about what kinds of student loans are available. International students are expected to have full funding for both tuition and living expenses without the use of student loans. This is a U.S. federal law and not one that the department or university has any discretion to change.

Master’s students usually complete internships through the USA or abroad although they are not required to do so. There are very, very few graduate-level engineering courses in the summer and no aerospace engineering courses during that time. Other students work onsite in a faculty member’s lab – this can be either at aerospace engineering or in another department – or in other department summer programming on campus.

International students can work during the summer and during academic semesters on CPT or OPT. They must contact the International Center and work closely with the AERO student services manager in order to do so while staying in compliance with their visa. Students should review their situation with the International Center to decide whether CPT or OPT is appropriate.

Sept. 30 → deadline to start SUGS, traditional MSE or PhD in January (winter term)

Dec. 15 → deadline to start PhD in September (fall term)

Jan. 15 → deadline to start SUGS or traditional MSE in September (fall term)

The GRE is mandatory for all those applying to our regular master’s degree. 

It is not mandatory for those applying to our SUGS-MSE degree, nor for those applying to our PhD degree. Applicants to our PhD degree track are welcome to provide GRE scores if they wish to do so; these will be considered alongside the rest of their application materials. But it is in no way expected or required.

An English language proficiency test is required for students whose first language is something other than English. However, if you completed either an undergraduate degree or graduate degree at an institution where the language of instruction was in English and this is formally documented somewhere, such as on a transcript, then you do not need to take an English language proficiency test. Current Michigan students applying to a graduate degree program or dual-degree program are not required to submit further language proficiency test scores during the application process.

Only certain tests are accepted to demonstrate proficiency. You can refer to Rackham to learn what tests are accepted. Duolingo is not an accepted language proficiency test for University of Michigan admissions.

No. All our courses for the doctoral and master’s degree tracks are in person. Those interested in online degree options should consider our MEng in Global Aerospace Leadership.

MSE and SUGS-MSE students must earn 30 graduate-level credits in order to graduate with the master’s degree. Of those 30 credits, five courses must be completed at the 500-level or higher in aerospace engineering (AEROSP). Courses which are cross-listed with AEROSP will count toward this requirement. 

Students must also complete any two pre-approved math courses. You can use a checklist to track your courses and note requirements as you complete them.  

Students will need to earn a B or better grade in both the math and 500-level AEROSP courses to count them toward the master’s degree (this means a B- or below will not count toward the five, 500-level classes nor math requirements). 
This leaves students with approximately nine credits which they can complete with additional AEROSP courses at the graduate level, graduate courses in other STEM departments, AEROSP 590 directed study opportunities or up to four credits of pre-approved, non-technical courses from CFE, Ross or ELI also at the 500-level or above.

Students must have a cumulative grade point average of ≥ 3.0 to graduate. It is possible to graduate with a C, C+ or B- on a student’s record provided that they earn an overall GPA of ≥ 3.0. These grades will mean that a student passes that class, which means that the class in which they earn one of those grades can still count toward their overall requirement to complete 30 graduate level credits. 

However, a grade of C, C+ or B- on an AEROSP 500-level course, or a math requirement course, will mean that the student cannot use that class to fulfill that requirement; they will only count as overall credit toward the degree but the student will need to either repeat the class for a new grade or take a different course in order to earn a B or higher in the required courses.

Each of these degree paths leads to a master’s degree. The traditional MSE and SUGS-MSE results in the same degree; students finish with a master’s of science in aerospace engineering. The traditional MSE and SUGS-MSE are also both completed on campus in Ann Arbor. They are highly technical degrees. 

The MEng degree is completed remotely. It is designed for students with work experience, who are planning to continue to work full-time while they are students. It is less focused on technical expertise and more focused on business and organizational psychology.

Students can take courses through the English Language Institute either during the summer before they start school or during the academic year. 

PhD students who wish to take English language proficiency courses during the summer prior to starting their academic studies at Michigan can discuss this plan with their faculty advisors (also called principal investigators, or PIs). Faculty advisors may be willing to pay for English language summer courses for incoming PhD students at ELI.

Yes. You will need to take approximately three classes, or nine credits, in addition to the math and AEROSP classes that are required. This means you can either take extra math and AEROSP classes or take classes outside of AERO. You’re eligible to take classes in other STEM courses, or up to four credits of non-technical classes. Pre-approved non-technical courses include Ross business classes, entrepreneurship classes from the Center for Entrepreneurship, and classes in the English Language Institute. You can also petition to get other non-technical course credit approved, such as public policy classes or law.

No. At this time online MEng courses are solely for students in the online MEng degree track.

We may offer application fee waivers to students who are applying for admission to the PhD. We do not offer these waivers for those applying to the traditional MSE or SUGS. You can contact [email protected] to request a possible waiver.

Every instructor has their own expectations for what auditing will entail; some want students to attend lectures and do homework, some permit auditing students to just attend lectures. Be sure to email the instructor of the class you want to audit to discuss their expectations and get their permission. Then, follow these steps:

  1. Forward the email from the instructor with permission to audit to the university’s Registrar’s Office at [email protected]
  2. Copy Ruthie Freeman, AERO Student Services Manager on that email
  3. Ruthie will reply to the email chain to provide her formal permission to audit a class

You must have your student record formally updated to reflect your auditing status and you will still be charged tuition for auditing a class.

No – an audited class will not count toward your enrollment credits. If you are an F-1 student and need to maintain a full-time enrollment status, auditing a class will not count toward your enrollment credit hours.

Classes that are “not for credit” still require you to go to class and do the homework. They are undergraduate classes that do not count toward your master’s degree. They are typically classes in topics unrelated to engineering that you might have an interest in taking for fun, experience or knowledge.  

Auditing classes are graduate-level courses. Each instructor is allowed to decide what they will expect from students who audit so it’s worth having a conversation with the instructor of a class you want to audit, to decide if their expectations align with yours. You will not get credit for auditing a class, and auditing cannot be used to meet international student visa requirements. People audit classes when they want to understand something more about the topic but don’t want to invest as much energy as they’d need to earn a grade.

You can, either as auditing or a “not for credit” course. These classes will not count towards your degree but you are welcome to enroll. You will still have to pay tuition on these courses.

You need to earn a B or better in the math and AEROSP classes required for your master’s degree. Otherwise, if you earn a C-, C, C+ or B- you can still get general elective credit toward your degree. You will also need to either retake that course or choose another math or AEROSP course to ensure that you meet master’s degree requirements. But a passing grade that is less than a B can still help advance you toward graduation. Finally, it’s important to know that you need to earn a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or greater to graduate.

In engineering, a 590 course is an independent study, also known as a directed study course. Students can take up to six credits of 590 toward their master’s degree. They can do this in any combination of credits during the semester. Students contact faculty in the Department of Aerospace Engineering, or another engineering department, to discuss an idea for a project. It doesn’t have to be a complete idea, but the student must have some idea of the topic or area that they’d like to research. Then, they perform this research and turn in a paper at the end of the semester for grading. This paper can be used as a thesis, for applying to graduate school. 

Watch the weekly newsletters to learn of opportunities that faculty want to advertise to students. Or, students can approach faculty on their own to suggest working together on a 590. Think about the faculty whose classes you’ve most enjoyed, or topics you heard a little about but didn’t get to explore as much as you wanted in class. When you want to contact faculty, email them directly and politely ask to meet. Let them know you’re interested in setting up a 590 project for credit, and ask if they’re available to discuss it further.

International students must be enrolled while they are here on a school visa. If they want to consider taking a semester off for any reason, they should talk with the International Center. It may require them to leave the USA while they are taking a break from school. Students who are US citizens or permanent residents are eligible to to take a semester off without being enrolled in classes. Contact the department’s student services manager to let the department know you’re planning to forgo classes for one semester. Students do not need to provide a reason, but they can only take one semester off before needing to be enrolled again. If they need to take another semester off in the future they’re still allowed to do so. PhD students who want to take some time off must contact the AERO student services manager, since PhD students are required to apply for a leave of absence. PhD students on a leave of absence will not be paid during their leave.