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Program in Materials Science and Engineering

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Student Affairs: Engineering Building 2, Room 153

All courses, faculty listings, and curricular and degree requirements described herein are subject to change or deletion without notice.

Materials science and engineering is concerned with the structure, properties, and applications of materials. The university-wide Program in Materials Science and Engineering (MATS) at UC San Diego aims to provide fundamental knowledge in the understanding of materials with the objective of predicting, modifying, and tailoring the properties of materials to yield enhanced material performance.

The foundations of materials science are the basic sciences of physics, chemistry, mathematics, and engineering principles. The interdisciplinary nature of the program at UC San Diego is ideally suited to address this requirement. The graduate students in the Program in Materials Science and Engineering benefit from the unique and broad combination of faculty members and research facilities existing at UC San Diego in the Jacobs School of Engineering, the School of Physical Sciences, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, the School of Medicine, and Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.

Particular emphases within the program include a study of microstructure-property relationships; design of electronic, superconducting, magnetic, and nanomaterials for electronic and high-tech device and energy applications; optical and chemical materials for telecommunications and display applications; biomaterials and medical device materials for biotech applications; experimental investigation and theoretical modeling of the mechanical behavior of materials; and advanced composite materials for civil structures.

The Graduate Program

The Program in Materials Science and Engineering at UC San Diego is interdisciplinary, with participation of faculty members from the Jacobs School of Engineering, the School of Physical Sciences, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, the School of Medicine, and Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.

Undergraduate preparation for pursuing the MS and PhD in materials science and engineering at UC San Diego would normally include a degree in materials science, or in engineering or physical sciences, such as physics, chemistry, biology, geology, and related disciplines. Students are expected to have an adequate mathematics, physics, chemistry, and related basic sciences background.

Master’s Degree Program

The master’s program is intended to extend and broaden an undergraduate background and/or equip practicing engineers with fundamental knowledge in the field of materials science and engineering. The degree may be terminal or obtained on the way to the doctoral degree. The master’s degree is offered under both the Thesis Plan I and the Comprehensive Examination Plan II.

MS Time Limit Policy: Full-time master’s students are permitted seven quarters in which to complete all requirements. While there are no written time limits for part-time students, the department has the right to intervene and set individual deadlines if it becomes necessary.

Master’s Plan I—Thesis Defense

This plan of study involves both course work and research, culminating in the preparation of a thesis. A total of thirty-six units of credit is required: twenty-four units (six courses) must be in course work, and twelve units must be in research (MATS 299). The student’s master’s program is arranged with prior approval of their MATS faculty adviser.

Students must maintain at least a B average (3.00 GPA) in the courses taken to fulfill the degree requirements. All required courses for a degree must be taken for a letter grade with the exception of MATS 299 research units, which are taken as S/U only. A thesis based on the research is written and subsequently reviewed by the student’s MATS faculty adviser and two other members of the student’s defense committee appointed by the Division of Graduate Education and Postdoctoral Affairs. The review is normally an oral defense of the thesis.

The thesis committee must adhere to the requirements outlined in the Division of Graduate Education and Postdoctoral Affairs doctoral and master’s committee’s web page.

Master’s Plan II—Comprehensive Examination

This plan of study involves course work only and includes specific comprehensive examination components. These comprehensive examination components are typically incorporated into the student’s final exam for that specific course (See the MATS MS website for more information.). A total of thirty-six units of credit (nine courses) are required. Students must maintain at least a B average (3.00 GPA) in the courses taken to fulfill the degree requirements. All required courses for a degree must be taken for a letter grade.

Change of Degree: Upon completion of the requirements for the master’s degree, students admitted as MS only or MS candidates are not automatically eligible for admission to the doctoral program. MS only candidates who subsequently wish to pursue a doctorate must review this opportunity with their MATS faculty adviser (a faculty adviser is required to be eligible for MS to PhD transfer).

Questions about change of degree aim (MS to PhD) requests should be sent to:

The PhD Program

The MATS doctoral program is intended to prepare students for a variety of careers in research and teaching. Therefore, depending on the student’s background and ability, research is initiated as soon as possible. Students are required to complete the master’s program, including successfully defending a master’s thesis or passing the comprehensive examination (or meet equivalent requirements to the master’s program) to be admitted to or continue in the doctoral program.

All students, in consultation with their MATS faculty advisers, must develop a course plan that will prepare them for the MATS qualifying examination (Senate exam) and for their dissertation research. The doctoral program of study and research must be planned to meet the time limits established to advance to doctoral candidacy and to complete the requirements for the doctoral degree. Details can be found in the Program in Materials Science and Engineering website.

Doctoral Examinations: A MATS doctoral student is required to pass three examinations. The first is the comprehensive exam which is scheduled during the spring quarter. PhD students must obtain a passing grade of 70 percent. Typically, students take the exam after one year of full-time enrollment. This exam may only be retaken once before the end of the second year of study. The second exam is the qualifying examination (Senate exam), which is intended to determine the candidate’s ability to successfully pursue a research project at a level appropriate for the doctorate. This exam must be taken within the first six quarters of registration as a graduate student. The Senate exam is an oral examination by a committee of four persons (two of which must be affiliated with the Program in Materials Science and Engineering) and is based on material taught over thirty-six units of course work as described in the program’s website. Students should work with their faculty adviser and their committee members to identify suitable courses that will prepare them to make meaningful research contributions. The course plan must be approved by the faculty adviser and the committee members.

Obtaining an MS: Doctoral students may obtain the master’s degree by completing the thirty-six units of course work requirements described on the MATS website and by passing the MATS comprehensive exam.

The Senate exam: In preparation for the Senate exam, students must have obtained a faculty research adviser, have identified a topic for their dissertation research, and have made initial progress. At the time of application for advancement to candidacy, a doctoral committee responsible for the remainder of the student’s graduate program is appointed by the Graduate Council. The doctoral committee conducts the Senate exam, during which students must demonstrate the ability to engage in dissertation research. This involves the presentation of a plan for the dissertation research project. The doctoral committee may ask questions directly or indirectly related to the project and general questions that it determines to be relevant. Upon successful completion of this examination, students are advanced to candidacy.

The dissertation defense is the final doctoral examination. Upon completion of the dissertation research project, the student writes a dissertation that must be successfully defended in an oral examination and public presentation conducted by the doctoral committee. A complete copy of the student’s dissertation must be submitted to each member of the doctoral committee approximately four weeks before the defense. It is understood that the copy of the dissertation given to doctoral committee members will not be the final copy, and that the doctoral committee members may suggest changes in the text at the time of the defense. This examination may not be conducted earlier than three quarters after the date of advancement to doctoral candidacy. Acceptance of the dissertation by the Division of Graduate Education and Postdoctoral Affairs and the university librarian represents the final step in completion of all requirements for the PhD.

PhD Time Limit Policy: Precandidacy status is limited to four years. Doctoral students are eligible for university support for six years. The defense and submission of the doctoral dissertation must be within seven years.

Evaluations: In the spring of each year, faculty advisers evaluate each doctoral student’s overall performance in course work, research during the past academic year, and prospects for financial support for the next year. A written assessment is given to the student. If a student’s work is found to be inadequate, the faculty adviser may determine that the student cannot continue in the doctoral program and will recommend dismissal to the dean of the Division of Graduate Education and Postdoctoral Affairs.