Materials Science and Engineering Ph.D.
The Department of Materials Science and Engineering is recognized as a leader and innovator in materials research and education. Faculty members and students have received many top awards in their research fields, the educational program has produced leaders both in industry and in academia, and the University is ranked among the top five in the United States.
Program Highlights: The Laboratory for Research on the Structure of Matter (LRSM), is one of the nation’s largest and is funded as a National Science Foundation (NSF) Materials Research Science and Engineering Center.
The cornerstone of the program is flexibility, and its hallmarks are excellence and collaboration. Our graduate students hold undergraduate degrees in many majors, and students can tailor their education according to their interests and goals to create an individualized curriculum.
In 1960, Penn became one of the first universities to establish a center for materials research. That center, the Laboratory for Research on the Structure of Matter (LRSM), is now one of the nation's largest and is funded as a National Science Foundation (NSF) Materials Research Science and Engineering Center. Faculty members also lead the NSF-supported Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center (NSEC), the Center on Molecular Function at the Nano-Bio Interface, and Pennsylvania's Nanotechnology Institute, which focuses on the research, development, and commercialization of real-world nanotechnology applications. Research interests of our faculty span all types of materials and phenomena, and joint research programs exist with many other schools and departments, including Physics, Chemistry, Electrical Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Bioengineering, and the Medical School.
Thanks to the long tradition of support from the NSF, on-site facilities have outstanding core techniques—such as electron and scanning probe microscopy— as well as unique capabilities for structural and compositional analysis. Because of Penn's location, students have ready access to National Laboratories and their facilities, including synchrotron radiation and neutron sources.
Materials Science and Engineering Ph.D. Requirements
All Ph.D. candidates in Penn Engineering must complete a minimum of 20 course units (CU), including graduate-level courses, independent-study courses, and research. Specific to Materials Science and Engineering, 10 course units in graduate-level courses are required, where 1 CU = 1 graduate-level course. Typically, these include three core courses, including Structure, Thermodynamics and Phase Transformations. The other seven courses are chosen to strengthen an individual in necessary materials science topics as well as for depth in the candidate's research area.
Oral Qualifying Exam
To receive permission to take the qualifying exam, students must have a GPA of 3.25 for seven approved courses taken during the first year of study. The exam is administered at the end of May and includes both a written document and a short oral presentation investigating a current topic in materials science and engineering. This exam tests the student's knowledge of fundamental topics, ability to interpret research papers, and critical thinking skills.
For more detailed information, visit the Materials Science and Engineering website.