The main objective of this study is to examine the three dimensional surface crack problems in functionally graded coatings subjected to mode I mechanical or transient thermal loading. The surface cracks are assumed to have a semi-elliptical crack front profile of arbitrary aspect ratio. The cracks are embedded in the functionally graded material (FGM) coating which is perfectly bonded to a homogeneous substrate. A three dimensional finite element method is used to solve the thermal and structural problems. Collapsed 20-node isoparametric elements are utilized to simulate the strain singularity around the crack front. The stress intensity factors are computed by using the displacement correlation technique. Four different coating types are considered in the analyses which have homogeneous, ceramic-rich (CR), metal-rich (MR) and linear variation (LN) material composition profiles. In the mechanical loading problems, the composite medium is assumed to be subjected to fixed-grip tension or three point bending. In the thermal analysis, a transient residual stress problem is considered. The stress intensity factors calculated for FGM plates are in good agreement with the previously published results on three dimensional surface cracks. The new results provided show that maximum stress intensity factors computed during transient thermal loading period for the FGM coatings are lower than those of the homogeneous ceramic ones.