Skip to main content

Current Students

Ph.D. Course Requirements

The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree requires proficiency in MSE knowledge and demonstrated ability for independent work and original thought. To qualify for the degree, the graduate student must:

  • Demonstrate general scholastic proficiency in the field of materials science and engineering and related areas through a program of approved courses and special examinations
  • Successfully complete a research program that makes a contribution of knowledge and demonstrates the student's ability to complete an independent research investigation
  • Prepare a written dissertation which is based on the research program and which meets acceptable standards of writing skill

Credits and course of study

To earn a Ph.D. degree in MSE, students must earn a minimum of 90 credits, as follows:

  • At least 18 500-level (or approved 400) academic course credits, all numerically graded on the U.S. 4-point scale. Generally, the 18 credits are met by:
    • 9 credits MSE core credits. You must earn a minimum grade of 3.0 for each core course and earn a minimum 3.2 GPA across the courses.
      • Autumn MSE 510 - Bonding, Crystallography, and Symmetry-Related Properties of Materials (3 credits)
      • Winter MSE 541 - Defects in Materials (3 credits)
      • Spring MSE 525 - Kinetics and Phase Transformations (3 credits)
    • 9 credits MSE elective courses (or approved non-MSE courses)
  • 6 credits of MSE 520 seminar
  • 30 credits of MSE 600 or 700 Research (see MSE 600 and 700 notes)
  • 36 credits of MSE 800 Dissertation (see note about MSE 800)

Credits from a master's degree

You can use master's degree coursework from the UW or another institution for 30 credits of enrollment; you must earn at least 60 credits at the UW for graduation. Coursework outside of the UW must be approved by the department and will not waive the 18 graded credits requirement.

General requirements

All students entering the MSE Program are expected to develop a background equivalent to a BS degree in Materials Science and Engineering. This is evaluated upon entry; students receive guidance on means to enhance their knowledge in areas where there may be deficiencies. Specific program pre-requisites, which may be satisfied after entry into the program, are:

  • Knowledge of fundamentals of materials science and engineering equivalent to MSE 170
  • Knowledge of crystallography equivalent to MSE 331
  • Background in materials properties equivalent to MSE 362 and MSE 351
  • Knowledge of kinetics equivalent to MSE 322
  • Understanding of thermodynamics equivalent to the level of MSE 421

MSE 520 - Graduate student seminars

Graduate students are expected to attend the MSE department seminars on Monday afternoons during autumn, winter and spring quarters. The weekly seminars address a broad range of interests, industries, and professions. See the MSE 520 Seminar Series for the current quarter's scheduled speakers.

MSE students are welcome to attend other departments' seminars, especially Bioengineering, Chemical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering Nanotechnology, Chemistry, and Physics.

Scheduling conflicts

If your teaching assistant responsibilities conflict with the scheduled MSE 520 seminars, you are excused for those time periods but are still expected to satisfy the six-credit seminar requirements. Work with your faculty adviser to make sure you are fulfilling the seminar requirement and meeting educational goals.

Research credits: MSE 600, MSE 700, and MSE 800

Upon entering the Ph.D. program, you enroll in MSE 600 to earn research credits. Your faculty adviser will help you determine how many research credits to enroll in each quarter. Until you have passed the qualifying exam, you receive an N grade for all MSE 600 credits, signifying a continuing course. Grades will be assigned for these credits after you pass the qualifying exam.

After you pass the qualifying exam, you continue to earn research credits but enroll in MSE 800.

  • MSE 600
    • Research credits for entering graduate students. An N grade is usually given each quarter until the dissertation is complete. N signifies a continuing course.
  • MSE 700
    • Students with scholarships or special cases that require a master's thesis should enroll in MSE 700 instead of MSE 600.
  • MSE 800
    • For students who have passed the Ph.D. qualifying exam and have officially established their Ph.D. supervisory committee with the graduate school.


MSE 520 - Seminars for Grad Students

Graduate students are expected to attend the MSE department seminars on Monday afternoons autumn through spring quarters. The weekly seminars address a broad range of interests, industries, and professions. See MSE 520: Seminar Series for the current quarter's scheduled speakers.

To receive credit for attendance, graduate students should register for MSE 520.

Many other departments and programs on campus also have regular seminars at which MSE students are welcome, especially Chemistry, Nanotechnology, Chemical Engineering, Physics, Bioengineering, Mechanical Engineering and Electrical Engineering. Many are posted in the department; information is also available on the departments' websites.