Admission Guidelines & Planning

The aerospace engineering (AERO) graduate programs are part of the Rackham Graduate School. The application process is handled by Rackham, with recommendations made by faculty in the Dept. of Aerospace Engineering. There are two admissions cycles per year: for those wishing to begin in the fall semester, and those wishing to begin in the winter semester.

Learn more about AERO’s application process 

Visit this page for specific information on the Global Aerospace Leadership MEng Program

Graduate Application Deadlines

Applicants are strongly encouraged to submit their application early and not wait until the deadline date. Applications will receive the greatest consideration if all elements of the application (including letters of recommendation, test scores, and official transcripts) have been successfully submitted to Rackham by the deadline. Once the application is submitted, it cannot be modified. 

Academic Calendar

Aerospace engineering classes are not offered during U-M’s summer term.

Our primary admissions cycle is for the fall term (September–December), which is the term for which most faculty recruit incoming doctoral students.

There is smaller admissions cycle for winter term (January–April).

Current and prospective students can view specific term start and end dates through Office of the Registrar’s Academic Calendar.

Fall Term:

PhD deadline: December 15
MSE and SUGS deadline: January 15

Winter Term:

PhD, MSE and SUGS deadline: October 7

Academic Background of Applicants

Engineering degree

Admission for the Master of Science in Engineering (MSE) program requires the equivalent of a Bachelor of Science in Engineering (BSE) at the University of Michigan.

A master’s degree is not required to apply to the PhD program. Many students who go directly into the PhD program get an embedded MSE along the way.

Solid undergraduate preparation in mathematics and engineering is essential. We have found that the lack of an engineering background puts students at a disadvantage during their graduate studies.

We advise applicants without an engineering background to take the mechanical engineering discipline during the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam administered by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES), and to share those scores with the department during the application process.

Scores and grades

Our graduate program is very selective and only approximately 15% of the PhD applicants, and 25% of the MSE applicants to our program are admitted. GPA and GRE scores are very high, and project experience during the undergraduate years is very common.

Recently admitted PhD applicants had a combined GRE score above 320 (Verbal + Quantitative), a minimum Analytical Writing score of 4.0, and a GPA over 3.6.

If my scores and grades are lower will I automatically be denied?

The Graduate Admissions Committee looks at the complete application and is most interested in academic performance, GRE scores (as applicable), research experience, good letters of recommendation, and the academic statement of purpose. If an applicant’s grades and/or test scores are lower in some areas, your application may be considered weaker than that of other applicants’ but not automatically denied.

U-M Master’s Students Applying to the PhD Program

Current U-M master’s students applying to the PhD program must submit a new application for the PhD program by the graduate application deadline.

U-M master’s with faculty advising & funding commitment

Current U-M master’s students with an AERO faculty’s commitment to advise and fund their doctoral program must complete a new Rackham application, request your faculty member submit an online letter of recommendation stating their commitment to advise and fund your doctoral program (only this single letter of recommendation is necessary) and notify Ruthie Freeman, Student Services Manager.

Only applicants with a confirmed faculty advising and funding commitment may use a later application deadline:

  • Fall term: March 1
  • Winter term: November 1

Admission Decisions

Decision Timeline

The Graduate Admissions Committee reviews all fall term applications and begins making PhD decisions in January with final decisions made by April 15. PhD applicants are admitted when there is a match of interest with a faculty member(s). 

Master’s degree admission decisions are made in March.

Admission decisions for our winter term are sent in October.

Applicant Notification

The Graduate Admissions Committee notifies applicants of their decision whether to recommend admission as soon as possible. Applicants recommended for admission are reviewed by Rackham to confirm admission requirements are met. If approved for admission, the applicant will receive an email from Rackham with their official admissions offer and request for any additional application or visa documents.

International Admission Requirements

International students make up about 40% of the aerospace engineering graduate program. 

There are particular requirements for international students during both the application and offer acceptance process. For a complete picture please also see AERO’s admissions guidelines and application process information.



Transcript Services

For non-U.S. institution transcripts, you may use the CertiFile transcript submission service to verify, evaluate and deliver your transcript electronically to Rackham. On page 5 of the online application you can select “CertiFile (Certified Credentials Attachment Service)” service if you choose to use CertiFile. Using CertiFile is entirely optional.


In the online application enter your name exactly as it appears on your passport. If your name appears differently in an application document such as transcript, test report, etc., it is important to note this name in the “Other Names” section of the application form.

English proficiency requirement

Applicants whose native language is not English must demonstrate English language proficiency through language test scores or qualify for an exemption (see Rackham English Proficiency Exemptions).

Test Scores

Applicants who must demonstrate English language proficiency through test scores but do so through either TOEFL or IELTS. Minimum scores for admission are below.

  • The minimum TOEFL score is 84.
  • The minimum IELTS score is 6.5.

Scores are valid for two years.


Rackham Admissions is the U-M office that will prepare immigration documents for international students including the I-20. Please look for emails from Rackham Graduate school and note deadlines. The Rackham admissions team will also be the team reviewing required financial resource statements (FRS). All questions regarding final required documentation should be addressed to the Rackham Admissions Office.

Accept admissions offer

The Department of Aerospace Engineering emails recommendations of admission to applicants. The applicant responds to the offer by emailing the Student Services Manager, Ruthie Freeman.

Rackham reviews AERO’s recommendation for admission and ensures minimum requirements are met.  After Rackham approves admission, an email invites the applicant to respond to the offer in Wolverine Access. This may occur up to a week after AERO’s admissions offer email.

To reserve your place in our graduate program, prospective students must formally respond to the final admissions offer on Wolverine Access.

Visa process

Financial documents

Next Rackham will request the upload of financial documents in Wolverine Access. Do not submit financial information until requested by Rackham. These financial documents may be uploaded in several files.

I-20 status

Rackham will prepare immigration documents (I-20 or DS-2019) using the U.S. Federal Government SEVIS system. You will be able to review your immigration information and track the progress of your immigration document on the “View I-20 or DS-2019 Status” link in Wolverine Access.

See Rackham information on Immigration Documents for International Students


The application review process for our graduate programs is managed by Rackham Graduate School Admissions Office.

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