Ph.D. Program

There is no comprehensive course requirement for the Ph.D. degree; only a few courses are mandatory. The faculty recommends that the student take a minimum of 36 units of graduate or upper-division course work covering all five areas of study in Materials Science and Engineering:

  • Thermodynamic Foundation of Materials (MSE 201-209)
  • Crystal Structure and Bonding (MSE 210-219)
  • Materials Characterization Techniques (MSE 220-229)
  • Functional Materials (MSE 230-239)
  • Materials Synthesis and Processing (MSE 240-249)

Students must enroll in MSE 200 the first time it is offered during their residency. Students must enroll in MSE 250 during all quarters of residency and must obtain a letter grade in an MSE 250-259 course once during each academic year of residency except for the first one.

The courses may include graduate course work used for the M.S. degree. The course of study needs to be approved each quarter by the research advisor (when determined) and the MSE graduate advisor. Students may need to take considerably more than the courses indicated above to prepare for and conduct their Ph.D. research.

  • Preliminary Examination

    The purpose of the preliminary examination is to screen candidates for continuation in the doctoral program. The examination is administered by the graduate program committee jointly with the M.S. comprehensive examination. Candidates must solve at least one problem in each of the five years of study in Materials Science and Engineering. Plan II M.S. candidates who took the combined M.S. comprehensive and Ph.D. preliminary examination and successfully passed at the Ph.D. level are given credit for having passed the Ph.D. preliminary examination.

  • Dissertation Proposal and Oral Qualifying Examination

    After passing the preliminary examination at the Ph.D. level, doctoral candidates must prepare and submit a dissertation proposal to their qualifying examination committee at least one month before the qualifying examination.

    The format of the proposal is flexible, but the proposal should clearly indicate the proposed problem under study, demonstrate substantial knowledge of the topic and related issues, state the progress made toward a solution, and indicate the work remaining to be done. The new approaches and methods to be used in the research should also be discussed. An extensive bibliography for the problem under study should be attached to the proposal.

    Within one week after submission, the student is informed whether the proposal meets the standards and the student is permitted to proceed to the oral exam. The oral qualifying examination focuses on the dissertation problem. It includes considerable depth in the student’s area of specialization, as required for a successful completion of the dissertation. The examination is a three-hour session, which begins with the student’s presentation of the dissertation of the dissertation topic and is followed with questions and suggestions by the doctoral committee.

  • Dissertation Examination and Defense

    A doctoral dissertation should be an original and substantial contribution to knowledge in the student’s major field. The dissertation must demonstrate the student’s ability to carry out a program of independent advanced research and to report the results in accordance with standards observed in recognized scientific journals. When the doctoral committee determines that a suitable draft of the dissertation has been presented, a dissertation examination and defense for the student is scheduled. The defense consists of a public seminar followed by questions from the committee members and the audience.

  • Normative Time to Degree

    12 Quarters (15 quarters for students without an M.S. in materials Science and Engineering)

  • Preparation for Careers in Teaching

    All doctoral students are encouraged to serve as teaching assistants for at least three quarters during their graduate career. The program offers a Teaching Practicum in Materials Science and Engineering (MSE 301).