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Doctor of Philosophy Aeronautics & Astronautics

The Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) program is an advanced engineering degree that prepares students for leadership roles in academia, industry, and research institutions specializing in aeronautics and astronautics.

Typically, Ph.D. students are admitted post-bachelor’s, meaning they have completed a BS (or equivalent) in the field of aerospace or mechanical engineering. Post-bachelor’s students may pursue a “direct-to-Ph.D.” path or earn a Master of Science in Aeronautics & Astronautics en route to the Ph.D.

However, the department may admit post-master’s students who already hold an MS (or equivalent) degree in an appropriate field. See Post-Master’s admission.

All Ph.D. students identify an area of concentration. Currently, the department offers concentrations in the areas of:

For more information about the Ph.D. program, please visit degree requirements. For funding information, please visit graduate funding.

Previous academic preparation: The Doctor of Philosophy is an advanced engineering degree. It is expected that admitted applicants will hold an undergraduate degree in aerospace or mechanical engineering.

Undergraduate degrees in other fields may be acceptable, as long as the applicant has completed fundamental engineering and math coursework. (For an example of appropriate math and "engineering fundamentals," please see the requirements outlined in our department's Bachelor of Science curriculum).

Professional experience, though highly desirable, is not accepted in lieu of college-level coursework.

Minimum GPA and exam scores: The University of Washington Graduate School requires an applicant to have a minimum 3.0 GPA to be considered eligible for admission. Beyond this, our department does not maintain a fixed minimum for either GPA or exam scores. However, admission to our department is competitive. 

Applicants who hold a master's degree and wish to be considered for "Post-Master's" status should explicitly address this topic in their statement of purpose. Post-Master’s admission is extremely competitive. Post-Master's applicants must demonstrate very strong scholastic ability, previous experience in conducting independent research, and the ability to contribute creatively to advanced developments in engineering.

Post-Master's applicants will not be admitted without a commitment from a member of the department's graduate faculty who will serve as a doctoral advisor. As a general guideline, the department expects that Post-Master's applicants already have or soon will secure at least three years’ worth of funding (either through a commitment from the doctoral advisor or through another source such as NSF, NASA, DoD, DoE, or other funding agency).

Please note that formal Post-Master's status is not conferred until after the student has enrolled and submitted a Petition for Post-Master's Status to the department and the Graduate School.

The department accepts new degree students for autumn quarter only. Completed applications must be submitted by 11:59 pm (Pacific Time) on the deadline date. Late applications will not be accepted.

Autumn 2025 Admission Application Deadline: 11:59 PM (Pacific Time Zone), Sunday, December 1st 2024.

The department does not review any applications until after the deadline has passed. You can monitor the status of your application by logging in to the application system. However, if there are any questions or concerns regarding your application we will contact you.

The department strives to provide decisions within 8-10 weeks of the application deadline. However, the actual date of notification will vary depending on factors such as the size of the applicant pool. Applicants will be notified via email when a final decision has been made.

Applying for admission to a graduate degree program begins with the online application system managed by the University of Washington Graduate School. All materials, including letters of recommendation, will be submitted electronically through this system. Once an applicant submits an application, the application and all supporting materials are routed to the department for review.

Required application materials: The following materials must be provided in order for an application to be considered complete and eligible for review.

  1. Electronic Application 
  2. Resume
  3. GRE scores

    Starting autumn 2022 and beyond, GRE scores will no longer be requested or considered as part of A&A's admissions process. Submitted GRE scores will not factor into our admissions decisions.
  4. Transcripts

    We only want transcripts from institutions where you received (or will receive) a degree or have taken relevant engineering coursework. Please do not mail official paper transcripts.

    Unofficial electronic transcripts should be attached to your electronic application. They should be drawn from documents generated by the institution. A scan of an official transcript is strongly preferred. However, an unofficial transcript generated by an online student portal may also be acceptable.

    Electronic transcripts must clearly show the institution's name; the student's name; a list of all courses taken and all grades received in chronological order; as well as the title and date of any degrees conferred. Transcripts must be in PDF format.

    Anything that appears to be self-generated or otherwise lacking in the information specified above will not be considered valid (this includes "copy and pasting" from a website) and may be grounds for declining an application. Illegible or indecipherable documents may also negatively impact an application. The department admissions committee reserves the right to require further documentation, up to and including an official transcript, prior to reaching a final decision.

    COVID-19 UPDATE: The admissions committee will take into account the significant challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic when reviewing transcripts. In particular, any Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory, Pass/Fail, Credit/No Credit and similar grading options during the pandemic will be reviewed in context and will not negatively affect applicants.

  5. Statement of purpose

    Submit a Statement of Purpose that offers a clear and concise overview of your reasons for pursuing this graduate degree, your previous preparation, your research experience and interests, and your career goals. This statement should convey information not available on your transcripts or resume and be no more than one page single spaced (approximately 500 words).
  6. Two letters of recommendation

    Letters from academic references are preferred but relevant professional references are also acceptable. Strong letters will be substantive, specific, and will address (1) an applicant's technical experience and research ability, (2) the applicant's likelihood of success in graduate-level studies, and (3) the relevance/appropriateness of the PhD program for the applicant's future goals.
  7. English proficiency

    Proficiency in English is required for graduate study at the University of Washington. Any applicant whose native language is not English must demonstrate English language proficiency as determined by the UW Graduate School in Policy 3.2. If you are using an exam to meet the English proficiency requirement, then test scores must be received by the application deadline.

International applicants who hold an appropriate undergraduate degree from an accredited university are eligible to apply to the Ph.D. program. Applicants admitted as full-time, on-campus students will be eligible for a visa, issued through the UW Graduate School, subject to certain restrictions and requirements. Please contact the Graduate School directly for visa information (

When preparing their applications, international students must be certain to provide legible, fully translated copies of their undergraduate transcripts.

For more information see International Applicant Information on the Graduate School site.