McCormick School of Engineering, Northwestern University
A PhD from McCormick means the chance to work with world-class faculty members researching advanced topics in engineering: nanotechnology and materials, transportation, networks and complex systems, computer science, engineering and medicine, energy, design, and countless others.
McCormick PhD graduates are prepared to perform at the highest level both in academia and the private sector. The school fosters a culture in which innovation is not only encouraged but expected. Through a consistent commitment to interdisciplinary study, McCormick has become a place where technical skills are deep, but are accompanied by creativity and humanistic depth. We are committed to training whole-brain™ individuals who can address the most pressing problems facing society today.
Each of McCormick’s eight departments handles its own recruitment and admissions process. For specific information about PhD programs, please visit the departmental web sites listed below.
All departmental PhD applicants use this electronic application. Please see this document for more detailed instructions on applying for departmental PhD programs.
Departmental PhD Programs at McCormick
- Biomedical Engineering
- Chemical and Biological Engineering
- Civil and Environmental Engineering
- Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
- Engineering Sciences and Applied Mathematics
- Industrial Engineering and Management Sciences
- Materials Science and Engineering
- Mechanical Engineering
- Technology and Social Behavior
- Theoretical and Applied Mechanics
The Department of Biomedical Engineering at McCormick is consistently ranked among the top biomedical engineering programs in the country. With cutting-edge research in neural engineering, cardiovascular and pulmonary engineering, materials and tissues, and imaging and biophotonics, the department attracts top faculty and graduate students alike. Students in the program study engineering, life sciences, and mathematics while participating in revolutionary research.
The biomedical engineering community at Northwestern University is centered in the biomedical engineering department but includes faculty appointed in 12 departments (at last count) within engineering, medicine, arts and sciences, and speech. The breadth of faculty members’ research interests affords students a wide variety of research opportunities.
Chemical and Biological Engineering
The Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering is nationally recognized for its leadership in modern engineering research and education. The department’s goal is to provide students with tools, experience, and adaptability to prosper in research and development in industry or government, or as faculty members at colleges and universities.
The graduate program is one of the highest-ranked programs of its kind in the nation, and emphasizes both core chemical engineering training as well as interdisciplinary research on the cutting edge of the field. Relative to many peer institutions, Northwestern places a great deal of emphasis on interdisciplinary and cross-school research interactions. Of the department’s research-active faculty, over half have formal associations with other departments through full, joint or courtesy appointments, and half of these advise graduate students from other departments.
Civil and Environmental Engineering
The Department of Civil Engineering (CEE) at Northwestern is a premier research and academic department ranked among the top CEE departments in the nation. With approximately 30 faculty members, CEE provides graduate students with an exceptional range of opportunities to advance their knowledge and careers in a scholarly community small enough to assure individual attention and effective mentoring.
CEE prepares students to become the next generation of leaders in research, academic, corporate, and public service settings. Students work with their advisers to construct study plans suited to their unique interests. These include extensive options for courses outside civil and environmental engineering that address a wide variety of social, economic, and physical challenges in constructing and managing the industrial and public works infrastructure.
Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
The Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science has an internationally renowned faculty, state-of-the-art research equipment, and the considerable resources offered by a great university. Research areas span the spectrum from photonics to graphics and interactive media to signals and systems, and the department is home to several interdisciplinary centers that lie at the core of 21st century product design and knowledge discovery.
Many of the department’s award-winning faculty members have cross-disciplinary appointments in fields like music and social policy, and, as shown by both the graduate and undergraduate programs’ high rankings, faculty members have an uncommon commitment to students.
Engineering Sciences and Applied Mathematics
The Department of Engineering Science and Applied Mathematics takes science and engineering problems and solves them using mathematical models. When confronted with an engineering or scientific problem, applied mathematicians either formulate a mathematical model of that problem or determine how to modify a suitable existing model. They then solve the equations of the model and analyze the solution to compare with experimental or observational data.
Thanks to its award-winning faculty members, the PhD program prepares students for independent research, emphasizes flexibility in adapting research areas to current opportunities, and is suitable for students interested in teaching at the university/college level or those interested in PhD-level research at national and industrial laboratories and other similar environments.
Industrial Engineering and Management Sciences
The PhD program in Industrial Engineering and Management Sciences is an excellent choice for analytically talented students who are interested in developing theoretical and practical tools that can be used to solve problems in industry and government.
Faculty members are world-renowned in their areas of research and 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, including the chief editorship of Naval Research Logistics. Their research is supported by grants from the Department of Energy, National Science Foundation, National Security Agency, National Institutes of Health, Office of Naval Research, and many industrial corporate sponsors.
Materials Science and Engineering
The Department of Materials Science and Engineering is recognized throughout the materials community for its educational and research accomplishments. Since it was established as the first materials science academic department in the world more than 50 years ago, the department has continued to lead the field and be ranked among the top programs in the country.
Faculty members have been honored around the world for pioneering research. Their interests span the entire spectrum of materials research, making for one of the broadest materials science academic programs in the nation. The department carries out joint research projects with most Northwestern engineering departments, the chemistry, physics, and geological sciences departments, the Feinberg School of Medicine, and national laboratories, especially Argonne National Laboratory, with its neutron radiation facilities and the world’s newest synchrotron light source. Students are able to work on research projects that match their interests while interacting with faculty and students in other disciplines.
The Department of Mechanical Engineering provides students with an exciting array of coursework and research, blending fundamental background with cutting-edge science and technology. Northwestern’s tradition of interdisciplinary research offers exciting opportunities in novel research projects to provide the best education for a future career.
The discovery of new knowledge and technologies is the primary focus of the graduate program in mechanical engineering. Faculty members and graduate students are partners in this endeavor, working in a close mentor relationship that often continues well beyond the final degree. Doctoral students are expected to not only pursue a rigorous course of study, but also to demonstrate scholarly distinction by advancing the state of knowledge in their chosen fields.
Technology and Social Behavior
The study of technology and social behavior involves many disciplines, but until now it has been rare to find graduate training that prepares students to bridge several of those disciplines in the way that is so demanded by both academic and industry research jobs of today. The Northwestern TSB doctoral program recruits students from a variety of backgrounds and gives them rigorous training in humanities, social sciences, human-computer interaction and computer science methodologies to allow them to understand and participate in technological developments in their broadest possible contexts.
Theoretical and Applied Mechanics
Graduate study and research in Theoretical and Applied Mechanics Program is conducted through the interdisciplinary efforts of the members of several departments in McCormick. Qualified students of engineering, mathematics, physics, or an allied science may pursue the MS or PhD in solid mechanics or fluid mechanics through the program, which is administered by an executive committee of professors.