Frequently Asked Questions

Answers to Your Questions about Our Program

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General Questions about Admissions

  • Can you give me an idea of my chances for admission?
  • We do not pre-evaluate applications to our graduate program. Please read these Admissions FAQs to help you determine if you meet the requirements for admission. Please remember that in a large and competitive applicant pool, many applicants who meet all requirements will not be offered admission.

    Out of 375 applications for admission in fall 2021 (125 Ph.D. applications and 250 M.S. applications), about 50 percent of the Ph.D. applicants and 60 percent of the M.S. applicants were offered admission. The average undergraduate GPA of admitted applicants to our graduate program varies from year to year, but it is typically around 3.5 for both the M.S. and Ph.D. program. Average GRE scores for admitted applicants to both the M.S. and Ph.D. program vary from year to year, but are typically as follows: Verbal ~157, Quantitative ~163 and Analytical ~4.5. Average TOEFL scores for admitted students (when applicable) are typically around 90 on the iBT.
  • Do I need a M.S. to be eligible to apply to the Ph.D.?
  • No. If you intend to pursue a Ph.D. degree, you should apply directly to the Ph.D. program, even if you have not yet obtained an M.S. degree.
  • I have a B.S. degree in a different major. Can I still apply?
  • The MAE admissions committee is primarily looking for individuals who have demonstrated excellent academic achievement in mechanical and aerospace engineering. However, outstanding applicants with an undergraduate major in a related field (electrical engineering, mathematics, physics, etc.) can also be successful in our program, so you can still apply.
  • Can I contact faculty?
  • Yes. First, please be sure to visit the faculty contact information webpage and research those faculty with whom you wish to contact. In your initial contact with them, please be specific about your interest in their research or laboratory. Professors receive a large number of inquiries about admissions each year and may not reply if they do not have any available positions.

Questions about Application Materials

  • How do I submit an online application?
  • The online application is available at the Graduate Studies website.
  • How do I pay the application fee?
  • The fee may be paid by credit card. The fee must be paid before the application is considered complete, and it must be paid for each application submitted, if you are applying for more than one graduate program. The application fee is $120 for domestic applications and $140 for international applications. 

    Note: students who have participated in or are affiliated with certain programs (e.g. CAMP, LSAMP, UC LEADS, McNair Scholars) may be eligible for a fee waiver. See the Graduate Studies website for details.
  • How do I submit transcripts?
  • UC Davis requires academic records from each college-level institution you have attended. You will be instructed to upload scanned copies of your transcripts after you have submitted your online application. For more details on how to submit transcripts click here. DO NOT send transcripts or other material via mail unless specifically asked.
  • What should I include in my statement of purpose?
  • The statement of purpose plays a critical role in the review of an application. It should define your background and the interests and experiences that qualify you for graduate study. It must explicitly state your areas of interest for graduate study and detail how the program at UC Davis will help you attain your educational and research goals. The statement should also reflect that you understand the ongoing research in Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering at UC Davis and explain why you are qualified to contribute to that research. Make sure it is well-written and free of technical errors. You can find general guidelines on writing the statement of purpose as well as the personal history and diversity statement here.
  • How do I submit letters of recommendation?
  • Letters of recommendation must be submitted electronically through the online application. Once the online application is submitted, it will automatically notify the referee and provide them with instructions on how to submit their letter. Hard copies of letters of recommendation will not be reviewed.
  • How many letters of recommendation can I submit?
  • Three letters of recommendation are required to complete your application. We are unable to accept more than three letters of recommendation, and an application with less than three letters of recommendation will be considered incomplete and will not be reviewed.
  • Do all letter writers need to be from academic sources?
  • We highly recommend that at least two letters of recommendation are from professors or instructors who are familiar with your academic potential.

Questions about GPA, TOEFL and IELTS Scores

  • What are the GPA requirements?
  • If you are applying to our M.S. program, our GPA criteria are those of the Office of Graduate Studies“A minimum 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale (or equivalent) from the institution where you have earned or will earn your bachelor’s degree.”

    If you are applying to our Ph.D. program, you should have a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.50 on a 4.0 scale (or the equivalent), as well as a minimum graduate GPA of 3.50 on a 4.0 scale (or equivalent) if applicable.
  • Are admission decisions made only on the basis of GPA and GRE scores?
  • No. Students are reviewed based on their entire application, including their statement of purpose, personal history and diversity statement, letters of recommendation, GPA, GRE scores and TOEFL/IELTS scores. All academic achievements and qualifications as measured by GPA and GRE scores bear significant weight, but the admissions committee will occasionally recommend admission for an applicant whose GPA and/or GRE scores would not normally warrant admission. This may happen if other aspects of the applicant’s background that are not reflected in the GPA and/or GRE scores strongly indicate a potential for success in our graduate program, such as an extensive and relevant work experience with excellent performance.                                            
  • Am I required to take a GRE subject test?
  • No. Only the general test is required.
  • How do I submit GRE scores?
  • GRE scores must be sent electronically directly from Educational Testing Services (ETS) to UC Davis. Please use the following Institution Code: 4834.                    
  • What are the minimum GRE scores required for the MAE program?
  • We do not have a minimum score for the GRE, since applications are reviewed holistically. However, poor performance on the GRE can be detrimental to an application.
  • How long are my GRE scores valid?
  • GRE scores are acceptable for 5 years after the date of examination.
  • Do I need to submit TOEFL scores?
  • Applicants whose native language is not English must take the TOEFL, unless they have earned, or will be earning, a bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degree from a regionally accredited U.S. college or university or a foreign college of university that provides instruction only in English. See the Graduate Studies website for more information.
  • How do I submit TOEFL scores?
  • TOEFL scores must be sent electronically, directly to UC Davis using the following Institution Code: 4834.
  • What are the minimum TOEFL scores required?
  • The minimum overall TOEFL score required for admission to graduate study at UC Davis is an 80 on the TOEFL internet-based test (iBT).
  • How long are my TOEFL scores acceptable?
  • TOEFL scores are acceptable for 2 years after the date of examination.
  • Can I submit an IELTS score instead of a TOEFL score?
  • Yes.
  • How long are my IELTS scores valid?
  • IELTS scores are valid for 2 years after the date of examination.
  • What are the minimum scores required on the IELTS?
  • A minimum BAND score of at least 7 on a 9-point scale is required for admission. Official scores must be sent by mail directly from IELTS to the graduate program.

Information for International Students

  • Are there additional requirements to serve as a teaching assistant (TA) at UC Davis?
  • Yes. You must have a TOEFL speaking subset score of 26 in order to serve as a TA with no additional testing. If you have a score of less than 26, you should plan to take a language proficiency exam once you arrive on campus. For information about the exam, visit International and Academic English
  • Will I need to take additional language proficiency courses once I arrive in Davis?
  • If your TOEFL score is 104 or below or your IELTS score is a 7.0 or below, you will be required to enroll in an English language course (either UWP 225 or UWP 226) before taking your qualifying exam. You may be exempted if your TOEFL writing subset score is 24 or higher and your TOEFL speaking subset score is 23 or higher. 
  • I am an international student and have questions about my visa, where should I go?
  • Please visit the Services for International Students and Scholars (SISS) website. A major role for SISS is to assist international students and scholars with visa and immigration issues while they are at UC Davis. In addition to preparing the necessary documents to apply for a U.S. visa, SISS assists international students and scholars in maintaining their legal status while in the United States. SISS also provides orientation, assistance, information and referrals to international students, faculty and researchers regarding financial, personal, cultural and academic concerns.
  • Should I send in my financial paperwork for my visa with my application materials?
  • No, please do not send any financial paperwork to the MAE department.  We do not process the financial paperwork at the department level. 

Funding Your Degree

  • Do you support all of your incoming students?
  • We strive to provide financial support to our graduate students, but it is not always possible. You might obtain financial support in a Graduate Student Researcher (GSR) position arranged with individual faculty members, depending on if the research is funded and if the grant/contract permits it. You might also obtain financial support as a Teaching Assistant (TA) position, depending on the availability of positions and student qualifications. Financial support is contingent on academic record, abilities in teaching and/or research and the availability of funds.
  • What type of funding is available to new students?
  • First-year graduate students may receive financial support from Department and Internal Campus Fellowships, Graduate Student Researcher (GSR) positions, Teaching Assistantships (TA) and Readerships. Not everyone is funded.
  • What is a department fellowship?
  • Students who demonstrate scholarship and the promise of outstanding academic and professional achievement may be awarded departmental fellowships. These fellowships are competitive and vary regarding the type (stipend and/or tuition support) and amount of support they offer. You will automatically be considered for department fellowships if you complete and submit your admission application by January 5th. No separate application is necessary.
  • What is a Graduate Student Research (GSR) position and how do I get one?
  • GSR positions are arranged with individual faculty members and are based on research grant funding. Applicants who are interested in a GSR position should contact individual faculty members in their areas of interest (see the list of graduate program faculty) to discuss possible research funding opportunities. GSR appointments of at least 25% provide full remission of fees and Non-Resident tuition, along with a monthly salary.
  • What is a Teaching Assistantship (TA) position and how do I apply for one?
  • TA responsibilities include running discussion sections, supervising laboratory experiments, grading, etc. These positions are typically 25% appointments that include partial remission of in-state fees and a monthly salary. TA positions are assigned for the upcoming academic year from a competitive pool of applications consisting of both current and new students. Once you have been admitted to the program, the department will send you a TA application (typically in July) for fall TA positions.
  • What is a Readership position and how do I apply for one?
  • Readers grade homework, labs, exams, etc. These positions are typically 25% appointments that include partial remission of in-state fees and a monthly salary. When you apply for a TA position, you will be automatically put in the running for a readership. There is no separate application process.
  • Do I need to submit a FAFSA?
  • All applicants who are U.S. citizens, permanent residents or immigrants should submit a FAFSA as early as possible. The FAFSA is used to assess your eligibility for financial assistance from federal sources. It should be submitted even if you are not applying for any federal grants yourself, as the department sometimes has fellowship aid from federal sources that you might be eligible for if you submit a FAFSA. Failure to file the FAFSA by the deadline automatically disqualifies you from receiving any federal aid.
  • What are the estimated yearly expenses for a graduate student?
  • UC Davis Financial Aid and Scholarships provides estimated yearly costs of attendance for graduate students
  • Tuition and Fees
  • Cost of Attendance
  • Is there funding available for non-resident supplemental tuition (NRST)?
  • Students who are not California residents are required to pay NRST. For international and non-California students, NRST often poses the greatest financial difficulty. For international Ph.D. students, the NRST is reduced after you advance to candidacy for the degree. U.S. citizens and permanent residents often become California residents after one year of study.
  • How do I establish California residency?
  • Domestic students (U.S. citizens and permanent residents) may be eligible for California residency after one year if certain requirements are met. After residency is established, a student is no longer required to pay non-resident supplemental tuition. All questions regarding California residency must be directed to the Residency Deputy in the Office of the Registrar. For information, visit:

    Certain non-resident students may qualify for in-state fees and a waiver of non-resident tuition if they attended at least three years and graduated from a California high school. International students on F-1 or J-1 visas cannot establish California residency, and therefore are assessed non-resident supplemental tuition until they pass their qualifying exam and advance to candidacy. Some students on other visas may qualify for California residency after 12 months, but full time student status may violate visa provisions. All visa questions should be referred to Services for International Students and Scholars (

I’ve just been admitted and I have questions

  • I’d like to visit campus before I decide if I want to attend UC Davis. How do I arrange a visit?
  • We encourage all prospective students to visit UC Davis. In order to make the most of your visit, we encourage you to reach out to faculty well in advance to see if they will be available to meet with you. Faculty information can be found here.
  • I have been offered admission into the program. When do I need to submit my Intent to Register (SIR)?
  • We ask that you SIR yes or no by June 1. At the bottom of the admission letter, there is a link that will allow you to let us know if you are accepting or declining our admission offer. If you plan on accepting, completing the SIR will allow you to see what other steps you must take to enroll as a graduate student at UC Davis. Even if you plan on declining your admission offer, we’d appreciate it if you complete the SIR to let us know.
  • When should I plan to arrive in Davis?
  • Most leases in Davis begin the first of September, but the academic quarter does not begin until the end of September. Graduate student orientations usually begin in mid-September, so plan on being in Davis in time for orientation. You will need time to settle into your new home, find a bicycle and figure out where things are before classes begin.
  • Who should I contact if I still have questions?
  • The Graduate Program Coordinator is available to answer questions. Please email your questions to