This program is intended for students who will make extensive use of large-scale computation, computational methods, or algorithms for advanced computer architectures in their doctoral studies. A firm knowledge of the scientific discipline is essential.

This is not a stand-alone degree; it is a joint degree program. Students must be accepted into the PhD program of a home department at the University of Michigan. The actual degree name will have “…and Scientific Computing” appended to the the normal title, e.g., “Ph.D. Degree in Aerospace Engineering and Scientific Computing.”

Students may apply to the program after having completed one term, but we recommend to apply prior to being promoted to candidacy status.

Students in the scientific computing degree program come from many different disciplines. Our current enrollment exemplifies the breadth of departments, schools, and colleges represented by our Ph.D. students.

Explanation of a poster at the 2019 MICDE symposium poster session


The program was established in 1989. Read more about its inception here: micde.umich.edu/educational/phd-in-scientific-computing-history/.

This bar graph represents the numbers of students from different departments at U-M enrolled in the program. Students come from the College of Engineering, School of Kinesiology, College of LSA, Michigan Medicine, College of Pharmacy, Ross Business School, School for Environment and Sustainability, School of Information and the School of Public Health.

Departments include: Aerospace Engineering, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Industrial & Operations Engineering, Macromolecular Science & Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Materials Science & Engineering, Naval Architecture & Marine Engineering, Nuclear Engineering & Radiological Sciences, Applied Physics, Chemistry, Chemical Biology, Earth and Environmental Sciences, Linguistics, Mathematics, Physics, Political Science, Psychology, Biostatistics, Environmental Health Sciences, Epidemiology, Health Behavior & Health Education, Kinesiology, Health Infrastructures & Learning Systems, Neuroscience, Pharmaceutical Sciences, Business and School for Environment and Sustainability.

This list is not exhaustive, and continues to grow.

Information for Prospective Students

Students must complete the normal doctoral requirements of their home departments, as well as additional requirements in scientific computing. The specific requirements will vary by department, but there are some general requirements for all students:

  • nine (9) credit hours in methodologies
  • nine (9) credit hours in computer science and applications in scientific computing outside the home department (this typically includes courses in computer science, parallel algorithms, advanced computer architectures, computational fluid dynamics, or other courses in scientific computation not offered by a student’s home department)
  • an emphasis on scientific computing reflected in doctoral thesis and committee composition
    • at least one preliminary examination question related to scientific computing; if the format of your PhD program’s preliminary/qualifying examination cannot accommodate this requirement, you may submit a 3-5 pages literature review of the computational component of your thesis.

Students are expected to work closely with their academic advisors to develop a plan to meet these requirements.

Examples of course selections for various departments can be seen on our Example Course Choices page.

  1. Talk to your academic advisor about your interest. Your advisor must approve your enrollment in the program.
  2. Complete this Course Audit form.
  3. After the Program Administrator checks your Audit Form, they will contact you to schedule a meeting with the program director, Ken Powell, Arthur Thurnau Professor of Aerospace Engineering. During the meeting, the program administrator and Prof. Powell, will finalize your planned courses to meet the program requirements.
  4. After your meeting with the program’s director, you must complete the Rackham Application Form and submit it to micde-phdapp@umich.edu. You are not considered an “Enrolled Student” if you don’t complete this step.

Students can apply to the program after having completed one term of doctoral work. We encourage students to apply prior to being promoted to candidacy status.

Questions? Contact the Program Administrator at micde-phdapp@umich.edu

Information for Current Students

We track enrolled student’s progress through the  Ph.D. in Scientific Computing Web Progress Form. You have access to see it if you met with Prof. Powell, and agreed to continue the enrollment process. In May 2021 we will request students to fill out the information for the 2020-2021 academic year.

Note that each student has one of the following 5 status:

  1. Enrolled (had an advising appointment with Prof. Powell AND turned in their application form)

  2. Prospective (had an advising appointment with Prof. Powell, but we do not have a record of their application form): please let us know if you are still interested in enrolling in the program so we can finish your enrollment. You can use the portal to see what courses were discussed in your original advising appointment with Professor Powell.

  3. Leave of Absence (you are enrolled in the program, see (1), and currently in a leave of absence from your home program): please let us know if this is not accurate.

  4. Graduated (you graduated from the program on 2015 or later)

  5. Discontinued: please let us know if this is not accurate.

The 2020-2021 form will be launched in May 2021. We will review your form and make any requested changes once you hit the “Submit form” button. However, you will be able to make changes until August 31, when each year’s submission window will close. A new form will be released each spring, with the previous year’s information loaded.  The program administrator will make any needed changes in the interim.

1. Check that your transcript shows you are enrolled in the PhD in Scientific Computing.

2. If your transcript doesn’t show your enrollment in the program, please contact the program administrator (micde-phdapp@umich.edu) to find out your status within the program.

3. If your transcript shows your enrollment in the Scientific Computing program, please review all the information we have on file for you on the Web Progress Form. In particular:

  • Check that you have completed all of the courses required for the Ph.D. in Scientific Computing at least one semester before you plan to graduate.
  • Check that it includes information about the computational component your preliminary/qualifying exam required.

4. During the term you want to graduate, please contact the program administrator  (micde-phdapp@umich.edu) to let them know so they can process your information.

Don’t forget to add the PhD in Scientific Computing program to the title page of your dissertation! For example: (Physics and Scientific Computing)

Q1: Do you have examples of courses that students in my department have used for the program?

A1: Please see this list. Note that they are only samples of what other students have done, but they are not the only choices. Talk to us if you have questions.

Q2: I met with the program director, but I get an error when I try to access the form. What can I do?

A2: Please contact the program administrator (micdephdapp@umich.edu) to inquire about your status.

Q3: Can I change the courses listed on my form?

A3: Yes, but note that any course you want to change, they must be approved by the program director (Professor Powell).

Q4: How often are students required to fill the progress form?

A4: After this initial launch, we will ask students to fill the form annually, by the end of summer each year.

Q5: What if I want to know if a course is approved before the Annual Form is due?

A5: Please contact the program administrator (micde-phdapp@umich.edu) to initiate the approval process. Once approved, they will record it in your form.

Q6: The form lists my status as “PROSPECTIVE” but I think I should be enrolled. What should I do?

A6: Please contact the program administrator (micde-phdapp@umich.edu).

Also note:

  • To access the form you must be logged in with your UMich uniqname and kerberos password.
  • If you are enrolled in the program, but cannot access the form, please contact the program administrator at micde-phdapp@umich.edu.

Please contact the program the administrator (micde-phdapp@umich.edu) for any questions on the Web Progress form, and to process all your paperwork related to the Ph.D. in Scientific Computing.