Participants from Berea College, Howard University, Kennesaw State University, and Morehouse College spent a week at the University of Michigan College of Engineering Robotics Department participating in the Distributed Teaching Collaborative Summer Session in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The program, which began with the course Robotics 101 being remotely taught to Morehouse and Spelman College students, enables instructors from different institutions, including Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs), to benefit from open-source resources available for new course development at R1 institutions.

U-M Robotics has been formed for innovation, building on the foundation of U-M Engineering and furthering the spirit of “Robotics with Respect.” Michigan Robotics aims to meet undergraduate and graduate intellectual needs by inspiring students from their first day on campus and cultivating equitable opportunities for a diverse world. Our society has a growing and unmet demand for people skilled in robotics. Our objectives are to equip students with the foundational skills and knowledge they need to meet these challenges, affect positive systemic change, and prepare future generations for a highly dynamic innovation ecosystem.

In building the discipline of robotics, our principles organize around the definition of embodied intelligence provided by the National Science Foundation–essentially the idea that robots must sense, reason, act, and work with people to improve quality of life and productivity equitably across society. The study of robotics requires knowledge of how a robotic system sees its surroundings, how and what it can move around, how doing so will affect its surroundings, and how its actions impact the humans with whom it interacts. 

While specific research questions in robotics can become much more technical, at the top level, they fall within the broad categories of how robots sense, reason, and act–on their own, or while working with or around people. The requirements and learning objectives for our undergraduate and graduate programs are organized around these principles of embodied intelligence. We are confident this learning framework will help students thrive as roboticists and enable them to continuously grow throughout their careers.

Michigan Robotics currently offers an undergraduate major, launched in Fall 2022, and Master’s and Ph.D. degrees, which have been flourishing since their creation in Fall 2014. The program combines a rigorous set of core classes, giving students the needed technical foundation, with a wide set of electives, allowing students the flexibility to specialize in different areas within robotics. Our near-term goals include expanding the program to offer a Robotics minor and SUGS program.

The M.S. and Ph.D. programs share a common set of course requirements. Ph.D. students must additionally complete a set of qualifying exams to become Ph.D. candidates, and then complete a thesis.

The academic mission and programs of Michigan Robotics are instantiated into the following core Robotics technical areas that build up embodied intelligence:

  • Sensing of the environment, external agents such as other robots or humans, and internal body information to infer and perceive the state of the world
  • Reasoning with estimated models of the world to make decisions to accomplish tasks, satisfy goals, and learn from experience and interaction
  • Acting upon its body and environment to produce motion or other outputs that enable the robot to achieve desired effects on the physical world and interact with people
  • Understanding human and social dynamics, both quantitatively and qualitatively, for robots to effectively work with people and evaluate their impact on society

Each of these areas may be considered threads of emphasis for coursework and research study. 

Course Guide

Robotics Courses



General Email: [email protected]

Undergraduate & Graduate Programs: [email protected]


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Michigan Robotics continually strives to realize a collaborative and inclusive community of scholars that uplifts the discipline of robotics through advancing and teaching its organizing principles of embodied intelligence – the idea that robots must sense, reason, act, and work with people to improve quality of life and productivity equitably across society.


The department aims to foster technical aptitude in robotics hardware, robotics software, and how robots relate to people, their environment, and their greater impact, all while growing skills in collaboration and communication that are necessary for students to become successful roboticists in industry, academe, and society. Roboticists from Michigan will become leaders in technical expertise and integrity in a field with transformational potential for societal change.


Michigan Robotics will graduate students who are highly competent in the following areas:

  • Foundational Learning Objectives:
    • Computational fluency to express ideas through coding –“coding is believing”
    • Design, Maker, and Shop competency for realizing systems that can function in the physical world
    • Linear algebra to structure, process, and manipulate data at scale
    • Human and social dynamics to work in teams and develop solutions for people
    • Technical communication and project management to understand and meet the needs of stakeholders in a professional and conscientious manner
  • Intermediate Robotics Concepts: Sound understanding in at least 3 of the following core areas of robotics:
    • Localization and mapping for autonomous navigation under uncertainty
    • Reasoning, kinematics, and simulation for robots performing autonomous mobility and dexterous manipulation tasks
    • Mechanical design and dynamics for fabrication and sensorimotor control of physical robot systems
    • Electrical sensors and signals for the design of robot circuitry and embedded systems
    • Human-robot interaction for measuring and quantifying robot efficacy
  • Advances and applications in Robotics:
    • Explore and extend cutting-edge knowledge across the sensing, reasoning, acting, and human-centered dimensions of robotics


The following objectives describe what Robotics graduates are expected to achieve within several years of graduation:

  • The graduates of Michigan Robotics will have the necessary intellectual tools and technical skills to take on careers of leadership in the development of new robotics technologies spanning the breadth of sensing, reasoning, acting, and working with people
  • Graduates will have a solid foundation in robotics and achieve success in graduate education and a broad range of career opportunities
  • Our graduates will become dynamic and inclusive team leaders, respectful collaborators, and have the critical thinking skills to successfully innovate and address open-ended problems
  • Michigan Robotics graduates will become effective communicators of technical and professional information in written, oral, visual, and graphical form
  • Our graduates will distinguish themselves by both their high awareness and positive practice of moral, ethical, legal, and professional obligations, including how robotics integrates with all aspects of society

Enrollment and Graduation Data

The University Registrar publishes the number of students enrolled annually in this program, and the number of degrees granted each term by this program.

Undergraduate Degree Program

Sample Schedule

B.S.E. in Robotics 

Please see the PDF version of the sample schedule. Additional information can be found on the Robotics Department website.

Designing your Degree

The Robotics BSE is designed to allow students a high degree of flexibility in creating their undergraduate experience. Students can select different combinations of core classes and electives in order to focus on different elements or topics within robotics.  While we do not offer official concentrations, we have provided several examples of how students can select classes that will enable them to focus on different areas.  The Undergraduate Program Guide contains four eight-semester (four-year) sample schedules to help students envision how requirements may fit together over their time at Michigan. Each plan is only a sample of what is possible.  These sample schedules are intended to represent several common interest areas but are not the only areas on which students can focus. It is not necessary to follow the sample schedules exactly, but your degree progress must respect the prerequisite chains.  

These sample schedules provide four different pathways for a Robotics Major: 

These different pathways arise from the choice of courses taken among the intermediate (300-level) Robotics courses.  Robotics majors must complete at least 3 out of 5 of these courses, with the flexibility to take all five. This structure of the intermediate level of the degree allows students to customize for either breadth or depth in robotics, taking inspiration from the threaded approach to curriculum design for computing. Students can begin to specialize at the intermediate level while gaining sufficient overlap with the core of the discipline. More specifically, Robotics majors will have touch points into at least two of the three major groupings of core robotics topics.

Each sample schedule emphasizes different dimensions of robotics.  A student striving to be a well-rounded roboticist can take all five intermediate-level courses, where two can serve as upper-level electives. A student looking to specialize can complement their learning at the intermediate level with upper-level elective courses. Both breadth and depth pathways through the intermediate level provide a suitable foundation for further exploration in upper-level courses, as well as continued learning into other core areas of robotics.

Graduate Degrees 

  • Master of Science (M.S.)  in Robotics
  • Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Robotics

M.S. in Robotics 

The Robotics Master’s (M.S.) Degree program requires completion of 30 credits of letter-graded coursework including 3 to 6 credits of directed study. 

The Michigan Robotics graduate program consists of three main technical areas, which converge as students produce functioning robots:

  • Sensing of the environment, external agents, and internal body information to determine state information
  • Reasoning with that information to make decisions for guidance, control, and localization
  • Acting upon the body and environment to produce motion or other outputs that enable the robot to locomote or interact with the environment

MS students must take courses from all three of these areas as part of their degree program with the goal of assisting them to become well-rounded and technically proficient roboticists.

For more details on the MS degree requirements, please see our Grad Program Manual, located on our Current Student Resources page. 

Ph.D. in Robotics

The Robotics Ph.D. degree program requires completion of at least 36 credits of letter-graded coursework, with courses drawn from across the areas of Sensing, Reasoning, and Acting.  All Ph.D. students are admitted into a specific research lab led by a Robotics faculty member, under whom they will conduct their Ph.D. studies and research. 

Ph.D. students complete several common milestones throughout their degree, including: 

  1. Research and coursework
  2. Comprehensive Qualifying Examination (CQE Exam)
  3. Advancement to candidacy
  4. Dissertation proposal examination
  5. Thesis dissertation (written) and defense (oral)

For more details on the Ph.D. degree requirements, please see our Graduate Program Manual, located on our Current Student Resources page.