PhD students are prepared to innovate, conduct research, and perform at the highest level in academia and the private sector.PhD students are prepared to innovate, conduct research, and perform at the highest level in academia and the private sector.

Graduate Study
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Programs
PhD Programs

McCormick’s PhD students work with our world-class faculty to research advanced topics in engineering. Upon graduating, our students are prepared to innovate and perform at the highest level both in academia and the private sector.

How to Apply

Each McCormick department handles its own recruitment and admissions processes for PhD students. Follow the links on this page for more information about specific programs and departments.

All departmental PhD applicants use the same online application.

Download our Graduate Application Instructions

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Departmental PhD Programs

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Biomedical Engineering

The Department of Biomedical Engineering (BME) at McCormick provides students with the opportunity to conduct cutting-edge research in a wide variety of areas such as neural engineering, cardiovascular and pulmonary engineering, materials and tissues, and imaging and biophotonics.

The department believes that students should be trained to do both theoretical and experimental work, and most PhD theses include both components.

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Chemical and Biological Engineering

Emphasizing both core chemical engineering training as well as interdisciplinary research on the cutting edge of the field, the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering provides students with the tools, experience, and adaptability to prosper in research and development in industry or government, or as faculty members at colleges and universities.

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Civil and Environmental Engineering

The Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) provides graduate students with individual mentorship and an exceptional range of opportunities in areas such as geotechnics, mechanics of materials and solids, structural engineering and infrastructure materials, and more. CEE prepares its PhD students to become the next generation of leaders able to address a wide variety of social, economic, and physical challenges in constructing and managing the industrial and public works infrastructure.

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Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

The Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS) has an internationally renowned faculty, advanced research equipment, and the considerable resources offered by a great university. The department's degree options include an MS or PhD in computer science, computer engineering, or electrical engineering.

Graduate research areas in EECS cover the spectrum from photonics, graphics, and interactive media to signals and systems. The department is home to several interdisciplinary centers that lie at the core of 21st century product design and knowledge discovery.

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Engineering Sciences and Applied Mathematics

The applied math department solves complex science and engineering problems using mathematical models.

ESAM’s PhD program prepares students for independent research and helps them adapt their research areas to current career opportunities. Graduates can go on to teach at the university/college level or continue PhD-level research at national and industrial laboratories or similar environments.

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Industrial Engineering and Management Sciences

The IEMS PhD program is an excellent choice for analytically talented students interested in developing theoretical and practical tools that can be used to solve problems in industry and government. IEMS does not offer a terminal MS degree.

Our IEMS faculty members have been honored with awards and fellowships from leading professional societies such as INFORMS, IIE and ASA. Many hold appointments to the editorial boards of flagship journals in their fields. Their research is supported by grants from the Department of Energy, National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, Office of Naval Research, and many industrial corporate sponsors.

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Materials Science and Engineering

Since it was established more than 50 years ago as the first materials science academic department in the world, the Department of Materials Science and Engineering has continued to lead the field.

As a PhD student, you will work closely with your adviser to engage in pioneering materials research. You’ll have the opportunity to contribute to joint projects with other McCormick departments, Northwestern’s chemistry, physics, and geological sciences departments, the Feinberg School of Medicine, and national laboratories such as Argonne National Laboratory.

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Mechanical Engineering

The Department of Mechanical Engineering provides graduate students with an exciting array of coursework and research, blending fundamental skills with cutting-edge science and technology. Faculty and students develop novel technologies and capabilities across a host of technically challenging areas such as nanotechnology, robotics, virtual design and manufacturing, tribology, composite materials, and more.

The graduate program focuses primarily on the discovery of new knowledge and technologies. Doctoral students are expected not only to pursue a rigorous course of study, but also to demonstrate scholarly distinction by advancing the state of knowledge in their chosen fields.

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Interdisciplinary Programs

Technology and Social Behavior

Northwestern’s doctoral program in technology and social behavior recruits students from a variety of backgrounds and gives them rigorous training in:

  • humanities
  • social sciences
  • human-computer interaction
  • computer science methodologies

This innovative study of technology and social behavior prepares students to bridge different disciplines, putting you in the strongest possible position for today’s academic and industry research jobs.

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Theoretical and Applied Mechanics

Theoretical and Applied Mechanics (TAM) is an interdisciplinary, interdepartmental graduate degree program. Adaptable to the specific needs and abilities of its students, TAM allows qualified students of engineering, mathematics, physics, or an allied science to pursue their PhD in solid mechanics or fluid mechanics.

Some specific research areas for TAM PhD students include:

  • computational mechanics
  • mechanics in biology and fluids
  • micro/nanomechanics
  • multifunctional materials
  • geomechanics
  • structural reliability and nondestructive characterization

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Applied Physics Graduate Program

This program serves as a hub for collaborative research and innovation among faculty and students in:

  • physics & astronomy
  • molecular biosciences
  • chemistry
  • earth & planetary sciences
  • electrical engineering & computer science
  • materials science & engineering

This program offers interdisciplinary PhD research opportunities for prospective graduate students with a strong undergraduate background in physics. The program prepares graduates for professional careers in science and technology, either in academics or in industry.

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PhD Research Clusters

McCormick supports a range of interdisciplinary research clusters, such as Segal Design Institute's Design Cluster and the Predictive Science & Engineering Design (PS&ED) cluster, that enable graduate students and faculty from different departments and schools to work together to advance research in various fields.