Mechanical Engineering Graduate Programs

Contact Person: Dr. Saeed Niku

(Last edited 01/09/2018)

Cal Poly mechanical engineering department offers a masters degree as well as a blended masters degree for continuing Cal Poly students. We do not offer any particular concentration within the degree. There are certain required categories of classes as described below, but by the approval of the graduate coordinator, the candidate may select classes within these categories to suit the student's areas of interest.


New Deadlines for applications for masters degree:

For Masters Degree:

  • Admission is granted for Fall quarter only. The deadline for applications for Fall 2018 is January 1, 2018. All required documents must be present by this date.
  • The application is submitted through University's website at
  • GRE is required. All official GRE scores must be submitted directly to the Cal Poly Admissions Office. Applicants are to self-report GRE scores through their Cal State Apply application and the system will verify if the GRE scores have been sent to Cal Poly.
  • Unofficial transcripts MUST be uploaded by all applicants (including Cal Poly undergraduates) through Cal State Apply; Official transcripts MUST be sent to the Cal Poly Admissions Office.
  • All applicants MUST provide the required number of letters of recommendation through Cal State Apply: Program Materials-Evaluations. Evaluations/letters of recommendation may not be sent directly to the coordinator of the program. Applications that are not complete by the deadline cannot be reviewed and no decision can be made.

Deadlines for Blended (4+1) applicants:

The Blended (4+1) program is for continuing Cal Poly students only.

  • For Change of Objective effective Winter: October 6, 2017.
  • For Change of Objective effective Spring: February 1, 2018.
  • For Change of Objective effective Fall: May 1, 2018.
  • Letters of recommendation for the blended program may be sent through email or printed and delivered to the coordinator
  • GRE is required for Blended program (4+1).

The only difference between the above two programs is that in the blended program, up to 8 units of undergraduate technical electives may be double-counted towards the masters requirements (only 5 units are double-counted if course option is chosen). Other differences between the two programs are only internal and relate to the processing of application and financial aid. In the Blended program the undergraduate degree is not awarded until requirements for both BSc and MSc are satisfied.

CSU now requires that you change your objective when you have 180-196 units towards graduation (out of about 200 required depending on your catalog). The Graduate Writing test (GWR) MUST be taken and satisfied before Change of Objective is submitted.

The Blended program is applicable only to Cal Poly continuing students. CSU now requires that the students change their objective close to, but before, 180 units are accomplished towards graduation. The Blended program is accomplished by changing the objective of the student from BSc degree to MSc degree. Please also request 3 letters of recommendation be sent to the graduate advisor. After you are admitted, by submitting the Change of Objective form, your status changes to a graduate student with its new fee requirement, changes in financial aid, as well as priority registration. You will not get your undergraduate degree until all requirements for both degrees are satisfied. Therefore, both degrees will be conferred simultaneously. You may change your objective back to BSc if you change your mind. In the Blended program, up to 8 units of ME-400 level senior electives may be double-counted towards your masters degree. The graduate advisor must approve all courses.

Admission Requirements

We require a minimum GPA of 3 (exceptions possible), the online application, three letters of recommendation uploaded into the application, your uploaded transcripts, plus GRE scores (having the minimum GPA required does not guarantee admission). The application for masters degree must be submitted electronically through the University website with the admissions office at . Official transcripts and GRE scores must also be sent to the admissions office. Please note that the University does not grant deferred admission. You will have to re-apply for the next Fall term. The following link might answer some of your questions regarding the application process:

For the Blended BMS program applicants, a paper application (available from the graduate coordinator) must be delivered to the graduate coordinator (transcripts are not required for the BMS candidates). For the blended program only, letters of recommendation must be sent directly to the graduate coordinator to the following address:

Dr. Saeed Niku
Mechanical Engineering Department
Cal Poly State University
San Luis Obispo, CA 93407-0358

A copy of the Letter of Recommendation Form may be found here.

 Non-ME applicants please note:

The University has restricted the total number of required remedial classes for students whose degree is not in mechanical engineering to 12 units only. Therefore, if you miss more than 12 units of undergraduate classes, you will need to take those classes in community colleges or other institutions. Mechanical Engineering Department does not have a list of minimum required classes. The expectation is that you will have to work with the graduate coordinator to figure out what classes you will need to have in order to progress through the graduate classes of your formal study plan. If your degree is not in a closely-related field, you will have difficulty with taking advanced classes without the knowledge of the fundamentals that are learned in undergraduate classes. Taking classes before applying does not guarantee admission.


Cal Poly's masters program includes 45 units of course work including a thesis or coursework and an exam. The same philosophy and emphasis on best teaching practices, hands-on education with classes and labs taught by faculty, apply to the masters program as well. Our program is still more hands-on than most other schools, especially when a thesis is involved.

As of now, we offer both a thesis oriented program as well as coursework oriented program. The thesis (9 units) is conducted by the student under the advice of a committee of three faculty members. Alternately, 12 units of ME-500 level courses and a comprehensive exam may be taken in lieu of the thesis.

It is required that you have a GPA of at least 3 in your formal study plan to receive your masters degree.

The following categories of courses are required for your degree.

Core Courses

A combination of 17 Units

  • ME 599 (Thesis) 9 units, or courses from Recommended Restricted Units (See below) AND a comprehensive examination, 12 units total.
  • Approved courses chosen from MATH or CSC courses (such as ME 501, ME 540, Math 501, 502, 408, 409, 418,..) 8 units total. At least one course must be at 500-level.

Recommended Restricted Units

A minimum of 12 units

  • ME 501 Linear Elasticity (4)
  • ME 503 Inelastic Stress Analysis (4)
  • ME 504 Stress Analysis (4)
  • ME 506 System Dynamics (4)
  • ME 507 Mechanical Control System Design (4)
  • ME 517 Advanced Vibrations (4)
  • ME 518 Rotor Dynamics (4)  
  • ME 540 Viscous Flow (4)
  • ME 541 Advanced Thermodynamics (4)
  • ME 542 Dynamics of Compressible Flow (4)
  • ME 552 Conductive Heat Transfer (4)
  • ME 553 Convective Heat Transfer (4)
  • ME 554 Computational Heat Transfer (4)
  • ME 579 Fluid Power Control (4)

Approved Technical Electives

A minimum of 16 units

  • (400-500-level ME or non-ME courses; maximum of 12 units of 400-level courses allowed. Up to 8 units in this category may be double counted in the blended BMS program).

Total Units Required for the M.S. Degree in Mechanical Engineering: 45 Units

Continuous Enrollment Requirement

Until a student completely finishes all requirements and a thesis is uploaded, he or she must be continuously registered. Therefore, if a student is finished with his or her required classes, but continues to work on a thesis, he or she must continually register for 1 unit of GS-S597 course through Continuing Education Department, regardless of whether or not he or she is on campus. The only exception is summer quarters, unless the student finishes during summer quarter. In that case, it is required that he or she be registered even for the summer quarter.