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Graduate Program

PhD in Materials Science

Credit Hours

Entering with a BS Degree

A typical program for a materials science (MSC) PhD student entering with a BS degree consists of:

  • A minimum of 24 credit hours of MSC graduate courses, excluding reading courses
  • Eight credit hours of other related courses
  • 58 credit hours of research

Entering with an MS Degree

A typical program for a MSC PhD student entering with an MS degree consists of:

  • A minimum of 24 credit hours of MSC graduate courses
  • Plus 36 credit hours of research
  • Successful completion of an oral defense of their thesis

Exams and Dissertation

A preliminary examination in materials science is normally taken by all PhD students at the end of the spring semester, following two semesters of coursework.

At the beginning of the spring semester, the student is given three research papers in materials science to study and is asked to prepare a written report on the topic of this research. The examination consists of an oral presentation on the same topic before a faculty committee.

Students are required to pass this exam (along with course grades and research aptitude) to continue in the PhD program. Research conducted by the student during the summer is also expected.

Students who pass the preliminary exam and faculty evaluation are expected to take an oral PhD qualifying exam in their third year of graduate study. This exam is on a research topic that should lead to the dissertation. It also requires a written report and a presentation to a faculty research advisory committee. Passing this exam officially admits students to PhD degree candidacy.

The remaining time (typically one year or more, but at least six months) is spent completing the dissertation research and the written PhD thesis. The thesis is defended in the final oral examination.