General Info

  • Faculty working with students: 31
  • Students: 91 Ph.D., 50 M.S.
  • Students receiving Financial Aid: 100% of Ph.D. Students, 10% of M.S. students
  • Part time study available: No
  • Application terms: Spring, Fall
  • Application deadlines: Spring: October 2; Fall: December 14
Application Info


Program Description

Graduate students in Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science (MEMS) work in close collaboration with world-renowned faculty on state-of-the-art, interdisciplinary research programs. The low faculty-to-student ratio provides a close-knit scholarly community while an active Graduate Student Committee provides peer mentorship and support. The graduate curricula are uncommonly flexible whereby the students can define the academic path that best suits their professional goals. 

Learn more about our faculty, research, and student projects at the departmental website:

Concentrations/Research Specialties

PhD in Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Dynamics, Controls & Robotics
  • Materials Science & Biomaterials
  • Mechanics, Design & Computing
  • Thermal Fluids & Energy


Application Information

Application Terms Available: Spring, Fall

Application Deadlines: Spring: October 2; Fall: December 14

Graduate School Application Requirements
See the Application Instructions page for important details about each Graduate School requirement.

  • Transcripts: Unofficial transcripts required with application submission; official transcripts required upon admission
  • Letters of Recommendation: 3 Required
  • Statement of Purpose: Required (See department guidance below)
  • Résumé: Required
  • GRE Scores: GRE General (Optional)
  • English Language Exam: TOEFL, IELTS, or Duolingo English Test required* for applicants whose first language is not English
    *test waiver may apply for some applicants
  • GPA: Undergraduate GPA calculated on 4.0 scale required

Statement of Purpose

Write a statement (single-spaced, 12-point font) addressing the questions below.

1.    Please describe your past research experience at your college/university, REU, or relevant industry experience (500 words max). What questions were you working to address? What experimental, computational, or theoretical skills did you learn? 

2.    For any grades lower than a B, please explain the circumstances of this grade and any steps you took to make sure you learned the material (50 words max).

3.    Why are you interested in pursuing a PhD? And why at Duke? Which faculty members and research areas are you interested in and why? (200 words max)

4.    Earning a PhD is a challenging and intense experience. Please share a past experience where you have had to overcome challenges and how you addressed the challenges (200 words max).

5.    (Optional) Duke MEMS is a welcoming community of students, faculty, and staff. How will you contribute to this community (100 words max)? Possible examples include past leadership roles in student groups, volunteer work, demonstrated ability to work with teams, teaching and tutoring experience, etc.

6.    (Optional) Please describe your current career goals (100 words max). Duke MEMS prides itself in the success of our PhD students in industry and academia. Many students do internships in industry or national labs during their PhD. In addition, the new Thomas Lord Engineering in Service to Society Fellowship provides funding for PhD internships in government, policy, and non-profits. 

Writing Sample
None required

Additional Components
Masters: Providing a recorded video response is required. The video recording platform is available within the online application.

PhD: Providing a recorded video response is optional. For international students, completion of a video can potentially negate the need for a live language interview later on in the application process. If you choose to include a video, the video recording platform is available within the online application.

We strongly encourage you to review additional department-specific application guidance from the program to which you are applying: Departmental Application Guidance (PhD)