New Graduate Students

Welcome new Michigan Roboticists!

As you begin your graduate studies at the University of Michigan in 2024, we wanted to highlight a few key information items.

As always, if you have any questions, please reach out to Robotics advisors and coordinators in the Robotics Student Services Office at

How to Register

  • Process: Actual course registration takes place on the Wolverine Access system in the ‘Student Business Section’. In ‘Enrollment’ you will find all the tools you need to formally register for courses. You are able to add and drop classes without penalty all summer and through the first three weeks of the Fall 2024 term.
  • Please keep in mind that you may need to join a waitlist for many, if not all, of the courses you would like to take Fall term (especially EECS courses). It may be nerve wracking because it may seem like you won’t get into courses. What typically happens is students will add many courses to their schedule while trying to decide which course(s) they’ll stay in. That makes it look like the course is full when in reality many students end up dropping the “extra” courses, thereby opening up seats! I know it is hard, but please be patient. The EECS Department has their own enrollment site that may be helpful when figuring out waitlists and registration for those courses.
  • Please follow the instructions in each course description for how to add yourself to the waitlist. Different courses have different procedures. Most courses use the regular Wolverine Access waitlist. Our website and the Registrar’s Office website have helpful registration instructions.

Course Recommendations for First-Year MS and PhD Students

  • Basics: All first year MS and PhD students are advised to take 2-3 courses their first semester.
    • ROB 501: Math for Robotics (4 credits) is offered both Fall and Winter terms. It must be taken by both PhD and MS students in one of their first 2 semesters.
    • ROB 502: Programming for Robotics (3 credits) is only offered Fall term. This course is optional. Please read below to find out if this course is recommended for you.
    • ROB 550: Robotics Systems Lab (4 credits) is offered both Fall and Winter terms. It must be taken by both PhD and MS students in one of their first 2 semesters.
    • As ROB 501, ROB 502, and ROB 550 are all time intensive, be sure to select a non-lab course for the third course (if applicable).
  • Additional courses: If taking 2 of the 3 courses listed above you may need to take a third course related to your primary area of interest if desired or if required to maintain full time status.
  • Second term: In the second term, students are advised to take 2 -3 courses or 2 courses plus Directed Study (ROB 590). It is okay to wait until year 2 to take ROB 590.

Registering for ROB 501, ROB 502, or ROB 550

  • You will need to add yourself to the waitlist for these courses, but don’t worry! We will have spots in ROB 501, ROB 502 and ROB 550 for all incoming Robotics MS and PhD students. The courses are on lockdown so we can ensure you a spot! 
  • On June 1 or shortly thereafter your registration appointment, please add yourself to the waitlist for ROB 501. Please also add yourself to the waitlist for either ROB 502 OR ROB 550 (NOT both!).
  • Once every incoming student has done so we will start to issue permissions. You will get an email in your U-M inbox notifying you when you have received permission to enroll. The email will contain an enrollment link that is active for a limited amount of time. Please make sure you are checking your U-M email account so you don’t miss this email!

Course Specifics

  • ROB 502: ROB 502 “Programming for Robotics” was first offered in Fall 2019. One of the reasons this course exists is because many past robotics students have shared that they didn’t feel prepared for the computer science content of ROB 550. This meant that they relied (sometimes uncomfortably) on lab teammates to successfully complete projects. Furthermore, a lot of companies that you might interview with include programming as part of the interview process. If you can only write a few lines of code (and with help) you will not pass this type of screening. Past robotics students have indicated these jobs would have been more accessible with a solid computer science course tailored to robotics–ROB 502 is our response to this feedback. Please note that ROB 502 can only be taken before ROB 550.
  • ROB 502 or ROB 550: If you have a computer science major or minor, or you have completed an UPPER-LEVEL computer science course with a substantial coding project, please register for ROB 550. Otherwise please keep reading… ROB 502 is not just a “coding course”. It is a course where you transition from knowing how to “write a few lines of code” to understanding algorithms, data structures, interfaces, and being comfortable with substantive coding. If you complete ROB 502 before you take ROB 550 (in Winter) you will be able to easily comprehend algorithms, not just simple code, and will be a strong contributor to your team’s software development efforts throughout the term. Please think hard and honestly about your background. If you can write a few lines of code and call a library function but don’t have any computer science education beyond self-taught coding, please consider taking ROB 502. Please do not register for ROB 550 solely because you think you will be behind if you don’t take it in your first semester. MS students can still graduate in 3 semesters (if this is your goal) if you take ROB 550 second semester. ROB 502 will count as an elective.
  • Waiting to take ROB 550: Even if you are not taking ROB 502, you can wait to take ROB 550 your second term. Most students will take ROB 550 their first term (unless taking ROB 502) but if you would prefer to postpone and take it Winter 2025, that absolutely is okay! But, you must take it one of your first 2 semesters.
  • ROB 590: Even if you want to begin research immediately, we do not recommend taking ROB 590 your first semester. We recommend getting acclimated, getting to know your peers, faculty, and the different labs and perhaps spend Fall term trying to find a lab in which to complete your ROB 590 your second or third semester. Additionally, we will be holding a ROB 590 Faire in November where we try to match students and labs for 590 projects for Winter term.
  • Robotics special topics courses, 498 and 599: Special topics courses change year by year and all begin with “ROB 498” or “ROB 599”. 498 sections are reserved only for undergraduates, so all graduate students should register for 599 sections. Please register for 599 sections even if there are open seats in 498 sections. These seats are reserved for our undergraduates. If we do not fill all the undergraduate seats, we will open up more seats in the 599 section to allow more graduate students to register.

Full-Time Enrollment and Tuition

  • Credits: Full time for tuition purposes is 9 credits. If taking fewer than 9 credits you are charged per credit. If you are being funded, please refer to your funding letter for details on your particular registration requirements.
  • Charges: To find the cost of attending the Robotics Department program, visit this Registrar’s site, and confirm the years of attendance and term, while making sure the College/School is “College of Engineering” and Level of Study is “Graduate”. The cost for Robotics students is located in the Rackham table, the third table on the site. See Section 2.1 of Rackham’s Academic Policies for more information on full-time study.

Before arrival

  • U-M Uniqname and email setup
    • You should have received an email with instruction on how to create your U-M uniqname.  This uniqname will become your University’s email address.  All official correspondences from us will be sent to your University’s email address. Make sure to check it throughout the summer.
    • If you haven’t received an email, set up your uniqname here.
  • Join student Slack and follow the department social media
    • Graduate students have a Slack group, please look in your U-M email for the invitation link.
    • Follow the Department social media on LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter.
  • Find housing
  • Review the Robotics Graduate Student Manual
    • The Manual is your guide to the policies and procedures of the Graduate Program.

After arrival

  • Get your MCard: This is your official University of Michigan identification card. Bring a photo ID to verify who you are. You can pick this up at on North Campus at Pierpont Commons, Room B430 or on Central Campus, Student Activities Building (SAB), room 100.
  • Update Wolverine Access: It’s important to keep your current personal information (address, phone number, emergency contact) up-to-date. Go to Wolverine Access now.
  • Learn the bus system: It will make getting around campus a lot easier. Click here for more information.
  • For International Students: Make sure to read your emails from the International Center. They provide a lot of information to assist new students with the transition to the University.
    • International Center’s Pre-Arrival Guide
    • SEVIS Check-in: Mandatory for all students on a F-1 or J-1 visa status. Failure to attend can result in immigration issues. This is an information session to review your obligations and responsibilities as an international student as well as provide the University with all necessary documents. Learn more.
  • June 1, 2024: Class Registration Begins. You should receive an email from the Registrar’s Office stating your exact registration appointment. Once you are able to register for classes, we recommend that you do so ASAP!
  • August 23, 2024:
    • 10am to noon: Robotics Department Orientation.
    • Rackham Graduate School Fall Welcome (details to come).
    • CoE WOW New Student Kick-off & Block Party (details to come).
  • August 26, 2024: First day of classes.