Graduate Admission FAQs

General MAE graduate admission questions should be directed to mae_gradadmission@ncsu.edu. Ready to apply? Visit our How to Apply page for admission deadlines and procedures.

 

How do I apply to the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (MAE) department?

All graduate admission applications are submitted directly to the Graduate School. Check out our How to Apply page for details about required application materials.

What are the basic admission requirements?

Due to the large number of applications, pre-screening is not performed. You will have to formally apply before an assessment of your admissibility can be made. There are a few guidelines, however, which are listed below. Please note that there are a wide variety of factors that are considered and there are exceptions to these guidelines, but they must be justified.

GPA – a Graduate School minimum Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale)

TOEFL/ IELTS – a required minimum TOEFL Internet-based Test (iTB) score for international students whose native language is not English of 18 on each part and a total score of at least 80. We also accept the IELTS exam (minimum score of 6.5 on each section).

GRE  GRE minimum scores are: verbal – 146, quantitative – 155, analytical writing 3.5.

 

Do I qualify if my undergraduate degree is not in ME or AE?

Students with undergraduate BS degrees in other areas of engineering, physics, and math may be admitted to our department. These students are often expected to take one to three remedial courses to make up for any deficiencies depending on his/her area of interest and background. These courses are typically taken in the first two semesters alongside first semester courses or before the student begins taking the graduate courses.

 

What if I have a technology degree?

The primary difference between an Engineering Technology degree and an Engineering degree is the level of mathematics on which the courses are based. This can be confusing when looking through a transcript, since some course names may be similar between the two degrees, while the actual content is not.

In order to be fully accepted in the graduate program, we require that applicants have an accredited BS degree in Mechanical or Aerospace Engineering or a closely aligned field which includes undergraduate courses in differential and integral calculus, differential equations, and calculus-based physics, statics and dynamics. Depending upon the research interest area, calculus-based fluid mechanics, thermodynamics, strength of materials, and controls may also be required. In the event that one or two of these basic courses are absent, the MS applicant may take the prerequisites critical to his/her degree area of interest. For example, physics majors may have already completed courses equivalent to engineering statics, engineering dynamics and thermodynamics and thus would not need to re-take those courses.

Even with an undergraduate degree in Engineering Technology there are several courses that would need to be taken at the undergraduate level prior to applying for the graduate program. Therefore, we recommend looking at options for completing an undergraduate Engineering degree before pursuing our graduate degree programs.

 

When are the application deadlines?

Our department’s graduate admission deadlines are available on our How to Apply page. There are three significant deadlines to consider for applications:

The Financial Aid Priority Deadline

This deadline should be used by applicants applying for Fall enrollment, both international and domestic applicants. Funding opportunities are only available for our on-campus thesis track graduate programs; Distance Education master’s degree programs are not eligible for departmental funding and do not need to use this deadline. NOTE: Applying by this deadline does not guarantee departmental funding, but only that you will be considered for funding opportunities.

The Final Application Deadline for International Students (including those already in the U.S.)

Date by which international students, even those already living in the United States, need to have their applications fully submitted in order to be considered for admission for the respective semester.

The Final Application Deadline for U.S. Citizen Students (including those with permanent residency)

Date by which United States citizen students (and those with permanent residency) need to have their applications fully submitted in order to be considered for admission for the respective semester.

 

What is the ETS Code for NC State University?

The ETS code for NC State University: 5496

 

May I send hard copy material?

The MAE department does not accept hard copy material as part of the application. All material associated with the application process must be uploaded through the application program, ApplyYourself, found here.

Must I specify my technical area of interest in the application?

Yes, we ask that you declare your concentration area, or “Area of Interest” as part of your application. On the application form, you will be prompted to complete the section called “Sub-Plan/Area of Interest”. This information is used by the MAE Admissions Committee to get an idea of what your studies would involve during your time at NC State. If you are admitted to NC State, you will not be locked into this choice for the entire duration of the program. We understand that your interests may evolve and change, and your Area of Interest may change as well. There is no formal process to change your Area of Interest selection after you join the MAE program. If you make an error on your application and need to change your Area of Interest, or if you have questions about the Area of Interest, please email the Graduate Services Assistant at mae_gradadmission@ncsu.edu for assistance.

 

Should I visit before I apply (and will that help my chances of being admitted)?

Typically no. You may wish to visit the campus and the department to help you decide if you wish to attend, but it does not tend to improve one’s chances of admission. Please also be aware that the Director of Graduate Programs and most faculty members will typically not make meetings with prospective students until after they have applied and been offered admission.

 

I applied for admission to your department last semester and was denied due to my low tests scores. If I presented you an updated higher score, do I have to submit a new application and pay a new application fee again?

Yes. Applicants cannot use the same application after they have been denied in the same department. If you have been denied admission into a program, and would still like to pursue that degree later, you can apply again for a future semester. To do this, you need to submit a new application and pay a new application fee.

 

How much are the tuition and fees?

Tuition and fee rates are subject to change. Please see details here.

 

I have submitted all of my application materials. Why does the application status say “incomplete” and that you have not received all of my materials?

There are several possibilities.

  1. Allow the college 2-4 weeks to enter all the application material into our system and indicate that it is complete.
  2. Your TOEFL scores have not been received by our main admissions office. TOEFL scores are submitted from ITS only once per month, so they may have not yet been submitted to our University. If you have questions concerning the receipt of your TOEFL scores you will need to contact the main graduate school (contact information below). Our Admission Committee can use your unofficial scores for their admission process, however you would still need to make sure ITS sends your official TOEFL scores. Your online application will say incomplete until we receive the official scores.
  3. You are requesting a waiver from the TOEFL exam based on your attendance at a U.S. institution. Your application status will remain incomplete until we receive approval to waive the TOEFL exam score from the NCSU Graduate School. The fact that we do not have approval of your wavier will not affect or delay your admission to our program. The only issue you will experience is that your online status will say incomplete until we receive approval for the waiver.
  4. We have not received your official transcripts. Our Admission Committee will use your unofficial transcripts during their decision making process. The fact that we do not have your official transcripts will not affect or delay your admission to our program. The only issue you will experience is that your online status will say incomplete until we receive your official transcripts. If your admission is approved you will need to send your official transcripts to the address below:

The Graduate School
North Carolina State University
1020 Main Campus Drive,Room 2300A
Raleigh, NC 27695-7102

 

How many students are currently in the program?

The Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at NC State has an enrollment of about 1000 undergraduates and about 400 graduate students. This does change semester to semester and certain programs and degrees (Mechanical and Master’s) are larger than others (Aerospace and PhD).

My former school will not send me transcripts in sealed envelopes to enclose with the rest of my application materials. What should I do?

Most schools will issue documents in sealed envelopes directly to the student. If your school will not, please have your transcript sent directly to our graduate school. The address is:

The Graduate School
North Carolina State University
1020 Main Campus Drive,Room 2300A
Raleigh, NC 27695-7102

If you have questions about your transcript, please reach out to the Graduate School Admissions Office: graduate-school@ncsu.edu or 919-515-2872.

 

I took one course during the summer from a different university. Do I have to send the transcript for that one class?

Yes. All transcripts are required.

 

My transcripts are from a foreign country and I cannot have the originals sent. What should I do?

You may have certified copies of your foreign transcripts sent if you are not able to send original official copies. Please have them certified by your university, education/foreign affairs ministry or, if they are on file at another institution, by a member of that institution’s records staff. We do NOT accept certifications from Notary Publics or credential agencies. If the originals are not in English, a literal English translation must be supplied as well. Please be advised, if admitted, you will be required to submit original copies of your transcripts to The Graduate School before you will be permitted to enroll in classes.

 

May I send my supplemental materials to NCSU before I submit my online application?

No. All supplemental material should be uploaded electronically with your personal statement as part of your application.

 

My name has changed since taking a required test for admission. What should I do?

It is extremely important that the name used on your application exactly matches with the name used on your test score reports. If the name on your application and test score reports are not exactly the same we will not receive your test scores. If your name has changed since taking a required admission test, be sure to indicate your original surname in the space provided on the online application. It is also recommended that you reach out to the Graduate School to make them aware of the name change so that they can properly match your test scores:

Email: graduate_applications@ncsu.edu

or mail:

The Graduate School
North Carolina State University
1020 Main Campus Drive,Room 2300A
Raleigh, NC 27695-7102

Recommendation letters

I have been out of school for several years and there is no one left who can write an academic recommendation for me. May my employer write one?

The purpose of submitting letters of recommendation is to give program faculty and the Graduate School an indication of your ability to do scholarly research. It is recommended that current or former professors in your major-field courses be asked by you to submit your recommendations, as they would have the best idea of your research potential. If, however, such persons are no longer available to ask, anyone who you think can best assess your potential for graduate study can be asked to write the letter.

 

I want to send more than the required number of letters of recommendation because I feel this will enhance my chances of being offered admission. Is this true?

It is not how many you send but the information contained in those letters that contributes to your overall admissibility. Send the required number, but choose these recommenders well. Does the faculty in the program to which you are applying know your letter writers? Will they write fair and thoughtful recommendations for you? Can they speak to your academic research and accomplishments and your potential for graduate study?

 

Transcripts

My former school will not send me transcripts in sealed envelopes to enclose with the rest of my application materials. What should I do?

Most schools will issue documents in sealed envelopes directly to the student. If your school will not, please have your transcript sent directly to our graduate school. The address is:

The Graduate School
North Carolina State University
1020 Main Campus Drive,
Room 2300A
Raleigh, NC 27695-7102

If you have questions about your transcripts, please reach out to the Graduate School Admissions Office: graduate-school@ncsu.edu or 919-515-2872.

 

I took one course during the summer from a different university. Do I have to send the transcript for that one class?

Yes. All transcripts are required.

 

My transcripts are from a foreign country and I cannot have the originals sent. What should I do?

You may have certified copies of your foreign transcripts sent if you are not able to send original official copies. Please have them certified by your university, education/foreign affairs ministry, or if they are on file at another institution, by a member of that institution’s records staff. We do NOT accept certifications from Notary Publics or credential agencies. If the originals are not in English, a literal English translation must be supplied as well. Please be advised, if admitted, you will be required to submit original copies of your transcripts to the Graduate School before you will be permitted to enroll in classes.

 

What should I do if my transcripts are in my maiden name or the name on my transcripts is written differently than the name on my submitted application?

If your name on your transcript is written differently than the way you entered it into your application, the Graduate Admissions Office may have trouble matching your transcript to your online application. If you believe that your transcript is not attached to your submitted application for this reason, you can email the Graduate Services Assistant at mae_gradadmission@ncsu.edu, or you may reach out to the Graduate School Admissions office directly at graduate_applications@ncsu.edu to explain the situation. We strongly suggest that you upload an unofficial copy of your transcript to your application prior to submission.

 

GRE and TOEFL

Do I have to take the GRE?

The GRE is a required test for students applying to the following MAE programs:

  • On-Campus Master’s (MS)
  • Doctoral (PhD)
  • Direct to PhD (dPhD)

 

The GRE is NOT a required test for students applying to the following MAE programs:

  • Distance Education Master’s (DE MS or MSZ)
  • Accelerated Bachelor/Master’s (ABM)

 

Do I have to take the GRE Subject test?

Applicants are not required to submit a GRE Advanced subject exam score.

 

Do I have to take the TOEFL exam?

The TOEFL is required of students whose native language is NOT English and whose undergraduate degree was not earned in the United States. However, international applicants who have attended an accredited U.S. institution and received a post-secondary degree from an accredited US institution/university can waive the TOEFL requirement.

The TOEFL test is not required from applicants who are from a country where English is both an official language and the language of instruction in higher education. The Graduate School uses this list of countries. If you feel that your country should qualify but is not on this list, please contact the Graduate School directly at graduate_applications@ncsu.edu.

Note: If you feel you meet the qualifications to waive the TOEFL score requirement, please email graduate_applications@ncsu.edu to request a TOEFL waiver. They will then make a note on your application that you would like to request a TOEFL waiver. Your application status will remain incomplete until we receive approval to waive the TOEFL exam score from the NCSU Graduate School. The fact that we do not have approval of your wavier will not affect or delay your admission to our program. The only issue you will experience is that your online status will say incomplete until we receive approval for the waiver.

 

What is the recommended TOEFL score?

A successful applicant will normally have a competitive TOEFL score of 18 or higher in each section with a total score of 80 in all four sections. These scores are also the minimum requirement set by the NCSU Graduate School. For more details about the English Language Proficiency requirement, please see here.

 

If I take the GRE in November, will my scores arrive in time for fellowship/scholarship competition?

The only answer we can give is “maybe”. There have been years when the scoring by the Educational Testing Service (ETS) was delayed and the score reports were received too long after the deadline for files to be considered for financial aid. It is best to take the test three to four months before the application deadline.

 

I am a foreign student. My TOEFL/IELTS score is more than two years old, so the Educational Testing Service will not send official scores to you. Will you accept a photocopy?

No. TOEFL and IELTS tests must be taken no more than two years before the desired semester of entry. Photocopies are not acceptable evidence of your TOEFL or IELTS score.

 

I am in the process of completing my degree from an English speaking institution. Do I need to submit a TOEFL score?

International applicants who have attended an accredited U.S. institution and received a post-secondary degree from an accredited US institution/university are waived from submitting a TOEFL score. To request a TOEFL waiver please email graduate_applications@ncsu.edu. They will then make a note on your application that you would like to request a TOEFL waiver based on your attendance at a US college or university. Your application status will remain incomplete until we receive approval to waive the TOEFL exam score from the NCSU Graduate School. The fact that we do not have approval of your wavier will not affect or delay your admission to our program. The only issue you will experience is that your online status will say incomplete until we receive approval for the waiver.

 

What are the basic test score admission requirements?

Due to the large number of applications, pre-screening is not performed. You will have to formally apply before an assessment of your admissibility can be made. There are a few guidelines, however, which are listed below. Please note that there are a wide variety of factors that are considered and there are exceptions to these guidelines, but they must be justified.

GPA – a Graduate School minimum Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale)

TOEFL/ IELTS – a required minimum TOEFL Internet-based Test (iTB) score for international students whose native language is not English of 18 on each part and a total score of at least 80. We also accept the IELTS exam (minimum score of 6.5 on each section).

GRE  GRE minimum scores are: verbal – 146, quantitative – 155, analytical writing 3.5.

 

What if my GPA is not on a 4.0 scale?

NC State University does not have a converter available to help convert a non-U.S. GPA to the 4.0 scale. As a resource, Texas Southern University hosts a GPA converter; you can find it here. This should only be used as a guide. In general, we will use a basic conversion tool (i.e. GPAs on a 10.0 scale will be divided by 2.5 to convert to a 4.0 scale).

Do I need to fill out an application for departmental/university financial aid?

No. There are no separate financial aid forms for departmental support. If financial support is necessary simply indicate this in the appropriate location on the application. If you are applying for Fall admission, please submit your application by the Financial Aid Priority deadline to be considered for the first round of department funding.

 

What types of financial support are available through the department/university?

Students admitted to the Graduate School may be awarded financial support in the form of an assistantship or fellowship (sometimes referred to as a traineeship). Please see details here.

Research and Teaching Assistantships are the two most common ways graduate students receive financial support during their studies. Both our Research Assistantships and Teaching Assistantships are extremely competitive.

A Research Assistantship (RA) is given at the discretion of the research faculty member– using available research funding in order for you to focus on conducting research.

A Teaching Assistantship (TA) uses departmental funds and carries with it obligations associated with the teaching mission (such as grading homework, teaching undergraduate labs, etc). There are a limited number of teaching assistantship each semester (fall/spring). Only MAE Faculty can nominate an applicant for this position, and applicants are notified directly if offered.

The important thing to remember is that financial support is not guaranteed in either form. The best way to secure funding is to have an advisor and discuss with them the potential of RA funding or getting a recommendation for a TA position.

 

Could you provide me with additional funding sources outside of the department?

Other sources of financial support available to graduate students are fellowships and Grants, which unlike Research or Teaching Assistantships, are dedicated to the graduate student, and are the responsibility of the student if they wish to apply. Fellowships and Grants provide the student with more opportunities than a traditional assistantship. Many fellowships and grants are intended for students just beginning their graduate studies, so there is much to be gained by applying for these sources of funding early. To see a list of potential fellowships, please see here.

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is an application to the Department of Education for Federal Student Aid. In order to be eligible for Federal Student Aid, the student must complete a FAFSA, and submit it to the Department of Education, as well as NCSU. For more information on Federal Student Aid, as well as the application, please see here.

 

Could you provide me with information about the NC Space Grant?

The NC Space Grant offers a Graduate Student Fellowship Program which can provide up to $8,000 of additional support to the recipient. This is not to be used as a primary source of funding, but to act as a supplemental to other funding. For more information, please see here.

 

Could you elaborate more on Research and Teaching Assistantships?

Research and Teaching Assistantships are the two most common ways graduate students receive financial support during their studies. Both our Research Assistantships and Teaching Assistantships are extremely competitive. A Research Assistantship (RA) is given at the discretion of your advisor from their available research funding in order for you to focus on conducting research. A Teaching Assistantship (TA) uses departmental funds and carries with it obligations associated with the teaching mission (such as grading homework, teaching undergraduate labs, etc.). The important thing to remember is that financial support is not guaranteed in either form. The best way to secure funding is to have an advisor and discuss with them the potential of RA funding or getting a recommendation for a TA position.

 

What are TA rules and the appointment hierarchy?

  • Some new students are offered a TA position as a recruiting mechanism. Otherwise students are not considered for TA positions unless they have an advisor.
  • Non-thesis MS students are not supported with TAs unless they possess needed special skills.
  • MS students are not supported on a TA for more than two semesters.
  • TAs are not provided to students who do not qualify for the GSSP (explained in following sections).
  • No GSSP exceptions for MS students.

Priority for TA positions is as follows:

  1. PhD candidates near completion (in last semester) whose RA funding has recently ended.
  2. PhD candidates whose advisor supplies 1⁄4 time RA funding for shared TA/RA position.
  3. MS candidates whose advisor supplies 1⁄4 time RA funding for shared TA/RA position.
  4. PhD then MS candidates whose advisor guarantees RA funding the next semester.
  5. PhD candidates with advisor endorsement.*
  6. MS candidates near completion (in last semester) whose RA funding has recently ended*.
  7. MS candidates with advisor endorsement.

*Note: Faculty advisors are limited to “x” TA positions for their students where “x” is determined by current policy and funding conditions.
TA positions are not guaranteed or permanent and should not be considered your sole source of financial assistance for your entire student career.

 

What are RA/TA expectations?

A TA or RA is an appointment with a specific start and end date. If you have a TA or RA you should be on campus and available to work for the department during the full time of your appointment. Any variation from this requires permission from the Graduate Office (for TAs) or your advisor (for RAs).

With Research Assistant positions, it is expected that you will focus on conducting research. Be sure both you and your advisor have a clear understanding of what is expected for milestones and final products of your research. Semester milestones may include: problem solving, data collection, a presentation, or conference/ journal papers. It is a good idea to get a clear outline of what is expected of you, in writing if possible (an email perhaps), since research is always changing and your advisor’s expectations may change with them. Agreed upon goals will protect you from having requirements added to your research when you are nearing completion.

If you receive a Teaching Assistantship, you will be assigned a course or courses for which you will be expected to provide assistance. Once you have received the list of courses in which you will be responsible, it is necessary for you to contact the course instructor immediately. The course instructor will set the details of your responsibilities. Typical responsibilities of a TA may include: holding office hours, grading assignments, teaching a lab section, or assisting in other course work. Each instructor and course may have different responsibilities associated with them, so it is important to get a clear definition of the instructor expectations. Office hour meetings with undergraduate students are held in room 3257 EB III. If you are a TA and you do not have a work space assigned in your lab, please contact the Graduate Office (3113 EB III) about having a desk assigned to you in one of the Teaching Assistant suites.

 

How many students are currently in the program?

The Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at NC State has an enrollment of about 1000 undergraduates and about 400 graduate students. This does change semester to semester and certain programs and degrees (Mechanical and Master’s) are larger than others (Aerospace and PhD).

 

What are the PhD program requirements?

Visit our PhD Graduate Program page for details.

 

May I apply to the PhD Program without a MS degree?

The MAE department does have a Direct-to-PhD program (d-PhD program). This degree program is a more efficient path than the traditional BS, then MS, and then PhD. Essentially, the student is classified as a PhD student upon admission, but completes the non-thesis MS and the PhD requirements under a single PhD advisory committee.

The requirements for admission to the MAE Direct-to-PhD program are more stringent– it requires a minimum GPA of 3.5 and associated experiences that suggest ability to conduct high-level research. Additional information can be found here.

 

I just finished my undergraduate work. Should I apply to a Master’s program first as preparation for my PhD work

If your eventual goal is to complete a PhD, then you should apply directly to our Direct-to-PhD program (that is, if you meet the requirements). The Master’s non-thesis programs are intended for students who want to deepen the skills necessary for professional practice in the various MAE related careers. The Master’s thesis programs are intended for students who intend to go into professional practice but want an independent research experience, or those students who are interested in pursuing research but do not have the 3.5 GPA required for the enroute PhD program and would therefore like to use the thesis as an entrance exam for the PhD program. Note, that many financial support opportunities are only open to PhD students, so applying to the enroute-PhD program gives students more opportunities for funding support as well.

 

If I am not admitted into a MAE PhD program will I be automatically considered for admission in the corresponding Master’s program instead

No. Because of the different educational goals of each program, their admissions processes are separate.

 

What are the Master’s Degree Thesis and Non-Thesis options?

Visit our Masters of Science Degrees page for an overview of the MS options we offer.

 

May I apply to the PhD Program without having an MS degree?

The MAE department has a direct path from BS to PhD. It is a more efficient path than the BS to MS to PhD. The student is classified as a PhD student but completes the non-thesis MS and the PhD requirements under a single PhD advisory committee. The MS degree is awarded when the MS requirements have been satisfied. The requirements for admission to the direct path from BS to PhD are more stringent. The direct path from BS to PhD requires a minimum GPA of 3.5 and associated experiences that suggest ability to conduct high-level research.

May DE Master’s students do either the thesis or non-thesis option?

Students in the distance MS program are restricted to the non-thesis MS option.

 

As a DE student, are there other things I need to be aware of?

Yes, see the below:

  1. You are restricted to the non-thesis MS option. On your Plan of Work (POW), you should select MS Non Option B.
  2. You will follow the same course planning procedures as on-campus students.
  3. You are restricted to DE-only courses.
  4. You must apply to graduate inside the MyPack Portal, just like on-campus students.
  5. You are welcome to attend the on-campus graduation ceremonies.
  6. Email your course-selection questions to the Director of Graduate Programs, Dr. Kara Peters, at kjpeters@ncsu.edu. We frequently add courses to our DE program. All of them are permissible in your Plan of Work.
  7. Make sure you provide all necessary information and meet any deadlines required of you, just like an on-campus student would.

 

What is the difference between Engineering Online and Distance Education?

Distance Education (DE) is a general term that refers to any students at NC State who are in online programs. It can also refer directly to the online courses. DE Programs are available in many areas of study such as communication, psychology, or engineering. Engineering Online (EOL) is a platform for Distance Education students who are enrolled in engineering programs. Engineering Online houses many engineering programs such as Mechanical Engineering, Aerospace Engineering, and Computer Engineering. EOL also has their own certificate programs and professional development courses.

As a student in the online MS program in MAE, you will be considered a Distance Education (DE) student and you will use Engineering Online (EOL) as your platform. Learn more on EOL’s Mechanical Engineering Online and Aerospace Engineering Online page

I’ve been admitted, now what?

To accept or decline an offer of admission to the Graduate School, please login to your online application with your email and password. The decision letter that is listed in your applicant portal will have a link that states “Enrollment Intention Form” regarding your offer of admission. Login and complete this process.

 

What information do I need to know as a newly admitted graduate student?

Newly admitted graduate students should visit the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (MAE) New Graduate Student website for additional information about the structure of the MAE Graduate Office, and the requirements of your specific MAE graduate program.

 

When can I start using my NCSU student email address? 

You can access your NCSU student email account as soon as you receive the required credentials and details from the Graduate School. We encourage you to check your student email address often, as you will receive important notifications and instructions immediately following the submission of your “Enrollment Intention Form”. These notifications will be sent from the Graduate School, the MAE Graduate Office, and for international students, the Office of International Services (OIS).