Mechanical Engineering: Polymer Science

Education to Advance Your Career

The plastics industry ranks as the third largest manufacturing industry in the U.S., with plastics production on the rise1This, combined with increasing consumer and industry demands as well as competitive pressures, highlights the need for continued education and advancement in the area of polymer engineering. 

The Master of Engineering: Polymer Science program will prepare you to face the many challenges that plastics companies and industry encounter every day, and will introduce you to traditional plastics as well as the the latest innovations in specialty polymers with growing applications in the biomedical and pharmaceutical fields, and in electronics and nanotechnology.

Earn Your Degree from a Top-ranked Program 

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have long been interested in the creation and characterization of polymeric materials and a greater understanding of structure-property relationships.

This program provides an opportunity to learn from UW-Madison experts. The University of Wisconsin-Madison is internationally recognized for its research and teaching in polymer engineering and science, as well as its expenditures in research and development activities. 

UW-Madison’s online Polymer Science graduate degree is a world-class program, ranked by U.S. News & World Report in the Top 10 Online Engineering Graduate Programs in 2016, for the fifth year in a row.


1. data from the Society of the Plastics Industry.

Alex Kobryn

"As a practicing engineer wanting to pursue a Masters degree but unable to take the time away from work do so, I found that the program provided a very easy and convenient means to pursue a degree that would not have been possible otherwise."

Program Advantages

1In this program you will gain the skills needed to advance your engineering skills and learn the most recent technology developments in polymer science and engineering. 

You will learn from faculty involved with the Rheology Research Center and the Polymer Engineering Center, a university and industry-government collaborative initiative to create, integrate, transfer and apply knowledge of polymer engineering and processing.

Apply Breakthroughs in Polymer Technology

The Polymer Engineering Center is a member of a multi-university Industry/University Cooperative Research Center, backed by industry sponsors and the National Science Foundation.

UW-Madison’s Master of Engineering in Polymer Science reflects the goal of the Polymer Engineering Center members to further and consolidate advanced training for polymer and plastics engineers. The Center’s research endeavors give faculty and students access to cutting edge advancements in polymer science and its industrial applications.

No matter what your interests or learning needs are—materials, processes, geometry, or tools, the Polymer Science program will prime you to become a leader in your field, and an indispensable part of your organization.


Ranked in the Top 10 Online Engineering Graduate Programs in 2016, for the fifth year in a row



Ranked No.5 Online Engineering Graduate Programs for Veterans in 2016


Designed for working professionals, the Mechanical Engineering: Polymer Science program will benefit engineers looking to advance in the field of polymer engineering and science.

The distance-learning design of this program allows you to learn off campus at times convenient to your full-time work schedule and allows you to plan around other family and work obligations. Topics may include issues or problems related to your work interests or career goals.


Course curriculum is designed by leaders in the field of polymer engineering and science.

Throughout your studies, you will focus on building a solid understanding of fundamental polymer processing, the analysis of composite materials and methodologies related to computational fluid dynamics. 

Degree Requirements

The University of Wisconsin’s Master of Engineering: Polymer Science program requires 30 credits for completion. 

For more information on program degree requirements, please contact Daryl Haessig, Student Services Coordinator.

Degree Requirements

The University of Wisconsin’s Master of Engineering: Polymer Science program requires 30 credits for completion. 

For more information on program degree requirements, please contact Daryl Haessig, Student Services Coordinator.

The polymer science curriculum is designed to provide you with technical skills in polymers, composite materials, and design applications to increase your knowledge of the plastics industry. This Master of Engineering degree requires

  • 30 credits minimum
  • A minimum of 15 ME 400+ credits required; including required ME417, ME418, at least one 700-level ME course. ME 699 is recommended.
  • Remainder of credits must be relevant graduate-level electives chosen by the student with approval from their faculty advisor


Introduction to Polymer Processing
This course provides a fundamental understanding of polymer processing, including descriptions of the physical, thermal, mechanical, and rheological properties of polymeric materials relevant to their processing behavior. You also will review basic transport phenomena equations and an analysis of various processing operations for the manufacture of polymeric articles.
3 Credits
Engineering Design with Polymers
This course introduces you to the commonly used polymeric materials and the structure and general properties of polymers.
3 Credits

Required: at least one ME 700 Level Course

Advanced Composite Materials
Gain advanced training in the analysis, response/behavior, design, selection, repair and recycling of anisotropic and/or composite materials-including societal and fiscal considerations.
3 Credits
Advanced Polymer Processing
Further advance your understanding of polymer processing in this course by looking at the advanced analysis and modeling of plastics extrusion, injection molding, and other processes.
3 Credits
Modeling and Simulation in Polymer Processing
This course is designed to acquaint the student with computer simulation technology used for the engineering of polymer processes, such as compression molding, injection molding, extrusion, blow molding and many others. The course will show how the finite difference technique and the finite element and boundary element methods are used to simulate flow, heat transfer and structural development in polymer processing operations.
3 Credits


Independent Study (612-699)
1-3 Credit

Electives: from ME Program

Fundamentals of Injection Molding
All major aspects of injection molding with emphases on design, processing, process physics, computer-aided engineering (CAE), troubleshooting, and advanced molding processes. Field trip, video presentation, case studies, term project with oral presentation, and hands-on sessions using commercial CAE simuulation software.
3 Credits
Composite Materials
Delve into the physical properties and mechanical behavior of polymer, metal, ceramic, cementitious, cellulosic and biological composite systems. This includes micro- and macro-mechanics; lamination and strength analyses; static and transient loading; fabrication; recycling; design; analytical-experimental correlation; applications.
3 Credits
Experimental Mechanics
Experimental methods for design and analysis of mechanical components, structures and materials. Electrically and optically recorded stress, strain and deformation data; computer aquisition/reduction/presentat techniques; applications to static and transient events, sensors, transducer design, NDT, fracture and residual stresses.
3 Credits
Computational Fluid Dynamics
In this course you will develop an understanding of the major approaches and methodologies used in computational fluid dynamics, the interplay of physics and numerics, and the methods and results of numerical analysis. This is accomplished by analyzing and implementing.
3 Credits


Faculty members in the polymer science curriculum are experts in their field and offer students an engaging educational experience that is convenient, accessible, and engaging, no matter where they are located.

Tim Osswald, PhD

Tim Osswald

Osswald is professor of Mechanical Engineering and director of the Polymer Engineering Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Osswald teaches polymer processing and designing with polymers and researches in the same areas. He has published over 200 papers, several books, and is the editor for the Americas of the Journal of Polymer Engineering and the English language editor for the Journal of Plastics Technology. Osswald has been consulted by several industries, is one of the co-founders of The Madison Group, and is in the Technical Advisory Board of several companies. Osswald has PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in Polymer Processing.

Robert E. Rowlands, PhD

Robert E. Rowlands

Rowlands is a professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at UW-Madison. He has worked in R&D for experimental mechanics, stress analysis, and composites at IIT Research Institute in Chicago. Rowlands served as director of the Wisconsin Structures and Materials Testing Laboratory for six years. His current research includes using infrared thermography, Doppler interferometry, and microscopy for stress and fracture analysis. Rowlands teaches experimental stress analysis/mechanics, composites and photomechanics, and mechanics of materials. He has a PhD from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

Lih-Sheng Turng, PhD

Lih-Sheng Turng

Turng is Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Turng is recognized for his research into the science and engineering of polymer and microcellular injection molding. In fact, he has recently been selected to join the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery (WID) at UW-Madison and lead an interdisciplinary team to develop innovative tissue engineering scaffolds that restore, maintain, or improve the function of diseased or damaged human tissues. He is also the University of Wisconsin–Madison Principal Investigator for the DOD Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute (DMDII) project, one of President Obama’s National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) institutes. Turng holds a doctoral degree from Cornell University.

Philip O'Leary, PhD, PE

photo of Phil O'Leary

Department Chair
O'Leary directs the technical outreach program for the College of Engineering at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. In this capacity he oversees the delivery of more than 400 continuing education courses each year in a wide range of technical specialties. The program, which serves a national audience, delivers training at multiple locations throughout the US and also over the Internet. His area of professional interest is solid waste management, hazardous waste control, groundwater quality protection, and related environmental topics. His landfill design seminar has been attended by thousands of people who are now responsible for developing, permitting and operating landfills throughout the US and Canada. O'Leary also has extensive international waste management experience. He has been Department Chairman since July 1995. His engineering and land resources degrees are from the University of Wisconsin–Madison

Wayne P. Pferdehirt, MS, PE

photo of Wayne Pferdehirt

Online Degree Director
Pferdehirt is the director of distance degree programs for the College of Engineering and director of the Master of Engineering Management program at UW-Madison. He also co-teaches the Master of Engineering Management program's Technical Project Management and Foundations of Engineering Leadership courses. Prior to joining UW-Madison, Pferdehirt directed the Midwest solid waste consulting services of an international environmental consulting firm and led energy conservation research projects for Argonne National Laboratory. He has a bachelor’s degree in engineering from Carnegie-Mellon University and a master’s degree in civil engineering with an emphasis in regional planning from Northwestern University. He is a frequent speaker and author on continuing education for engineers, and is a member of the College of Engineering’s Education Innovation Committee.

Daryl Haessig, MA

Graduate Program Coordinator
Haessig serves as the graduate programs coordinator for students in online programs in the Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Civil & Environmental Engineering Departments in the College of Engineering. She manages the admissions and advising for graduate students in these departments, and serves as a resource for students in working with offices across the university, the enrollment process, and graduation requirements. Haessig works closely with students to ensure they meet department course requirements, and acts as an advocate for student needs in the Departments, College of Engineering and larger campus community.  She also collaborates with program directors, faculty and staff on all student related matters.

Admission Requirements

Admission requirements for the Master of Engineering: Polymer Science program are listed below.

Exceptions to standard admission requirements are considered by the admissions committee on an individual basis.

  • A BS degree from a program accredited by the ABET or the equivalent.*
  • A minimum undergraduate grade-point average (GPA) of 3.00 on the equivalent of the last 60 semester hours (approximately two years of work) or a master’s degree with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00. Applicants from an international institution must have a strong academic performance comparable to a 3.00 for an undergraduate or master’s degree. All GPAs are based on a 4.00 scale. We use your institution’s grading scale; do not convert your grades to a 4.00 scale.
  • Applicants whose native language is not English must provide scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). The minimum acceptable score on the TOEFL is 580 on the written version, 243 on the computer version, or 92 on the Internet version.
  • International applicants must have a degree comparable to an approved U.S. bachelor’s degree. 
  • Applicants are required to submit scores from the Graduate Record Examination (GRE).

*Equivalency to an ABET accredited program: Applicants who do not hold a bachelor’s degree from an ABET accredited program may also qualify for admission to the program. Such applicants must have a BS in science, technology, or a related field with sufficient coursework and professional experience to demonstrate proficiency in engineering practice OR at least 16 credits of math and science coursework. Registration as a professional engineer by examination, if achieved, should be documented to support your application. 

All applicants are advised to determine whether this program meets requirements for licensure in the state where they live. See the National Society of Professional Engineers website for contact information for state licensing boards

Application Overview

The admissions process has been designed to conduct a holistic review of your likelihood of success in the program. Decisions are based on your academic and professional background.

Applications are accepted for admission during the Fall term. To start the process, please read the admission requirements to determine your eligibility. If you have questions about your eligibility, please request an eligibility review by e-mailing Daryl Haessig at This e-mail should include a copy of your current resume and informal transcripts.

Admission is competitive and selective. 

Application deadline is April 1

Steps to Apply Now 

Email the admissions committee chair and state your intent to apply and to which program. Attach your current resume or CV to your Intent to Apply email.

Your resume/CV should include at least:

  • Educational history (including GPA, awards and honors received).
  • Professional work experience (including specific details on your engineering experience, technical training, and responsibilities).
  • Listing of professional association memberships, advanced training (such as a PE license) and other noteworthy, personal- or engineering-related details.
In the application be sure to:
  • Upload a pdf version of your current resume/CV
  • Upload a pdf version of your “Reasons for Graduate Study” essay
  • Upload a pdf version of your transcripts
  • Enter contact information for at least three professional recommendations, including at least one from a direct supervisor
  • Important: Complete the application by submitting the application fee. Applications submitted without paying the fee cannot be reviewed and will not be acted on.

Arrange to have one copy of your official transcripts sent directly from your previous educational institutions to the Department of Engineering Professional Development. Transcripts should be sent directly by the educational institution to the CoE Online Admissions Office.

We will accept transcripts via any delivery method options (including pdf) offered by the educational institutions you have previously attended. However, transcripts issued to students are not sufficient for admission to the Graduate School.

To avoid processing delays, have your transcripts sent directly to:

CoE Online Admissions Office
Attn: Daryl Haessig
432 N. Lake Street, Room 701
Madison, WI  53706

(For pdf’s, use the following email address:

After all of your application materials have been received, the admissions committee chair will schedule a phone interview with you. Once completed, your application will be presented to the Admissions Committee for evaluation at the next scheduled meeting. 

Admission decisions are made on applications in the order received. The Admissions committee will make one of the following decisions:
  • Recommend admission to the UW-Madison Graduate School
  • Request additional information before evaluating further 
  • Decline further consideration of your application
After a decision has been made on your application, the admissions committee chair will contact you by email to inform you of the decision and to schedule a time to discuss the decision and your next steps.
The admissions committee provides admission recommendations to the Graduate School. The Graduate School is the formal admitting office for graduate students and retains ultimate authority on all admissions decisions.

Tuition and Financial Aid

Tuition Costs

$1,600 per credit (based on 2015-16 tuition rates), payable at the beginning of each semester.

Tuition Includes
  • Technology costs for Internet course delivery
  • Library use
Total Tuition

Total tuition for this program is $48,000* (based on 2015-16 tuition rates).

*This total does not include textbooks, or course software. Software required for courses is typically available in educational versions at substantial discounts.

Federal Loans

Students who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents are eligible to receive some level of funding through the federal direct loan program. These loans are available to qualified graduate students who are taking at least four credits during the Fall and Spring semesters, and two credits during Summer. Private loans are also available. Learn more about financial aid at

Employer Support

Many students receive some financial support from their employers. Often, students find it beneficial to sit down with their employer and discuss how this program applies to their current and future responsibilities. Other key points to discuss include how participation will not interrupt your work schedule.

The Polymer Science program is committed to delivering the highest quality and best value in engineering education. Your organization will immediately benefit as your employees apply new strategies and tools, ultimately improving real projects and processes.

Through participation in this program your employees will be able to:
• Attend courses with peers from other top employers and gain knowledge as you work together 
• Tailor coursework to apply to your specific industry 

No Interruption to Employees’ Availability 

This program is designed for full-time, working professionals. The format enables your employees to pursue world-class graduate engineering studies without interruption to work schedule or hindering availability for travel. Students continue their studies from anywhere in the world they can connect to the Internet.
Proven Program from a Top-Ranked University 
The UW–Madison degree your employee will earn via distance learning has the same high-quality standards and academic status as a degree earned on-campus. The only difference is that UW’s Polymer Science program is conveniently delivered online for working professionals.

Course Dashboard

The course dashboard is your community and support site, as well as where you will find all of your current and past courses.


The MyWisc portal is your home for searching and registering for classes, looking at your tuition bill and financial aid, updating your profile information, and checking your email and calendar.


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Tell Us About Your Achievements

Nothing makes us prouder than hearing about your personal and professional achievements. We love to get the word out about the great work Badgers do in their organizations and communities. Tell us about your career advancements here and let us recognize the impact you’re making! Use social media to post updates about life events and accomplishments and view notes posted by classmates and fellow alumni.


Like the EPD Facebook page to see photos, news, and upcoming events.


Stay up to the moment on related news by following our Twitter account.

Moving? Changing your last name?

Keep your info up-to-date. Contact with any updates so you don’t miss out any chances to grow your career network and stay in touch with UW-Madison. 

Refer Colleagues

Do you know somebody who could benefit from our educational offerings? Refer your network to us at and help us grow the Badger family.

Tell Us About Your Achievements

Nothing makes us prouder than hearing about your personal and professional achievements. We love to get the word out about the great work Badgers do in their organizations and communities. Tell us about your career advancements here and let us recognize the impact you’re making! Use social media to post updates about life events and accomplishments and view notes posted by classmates and fellow alumni.

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