Earn your doctorate with MSE

Meet our facultyResearch Areas

Students wishing to pursue a Ph.D. in materials science must complete a minimum of 45 credits. Courses are categorized as Core Courses, Additional Graduate Courses, Seminar, and Thesis Research. The Core Courses are mandatory—all students must complete them. Students may apply directly to the Ph.D. program without first obtaining a Masters degree.

Min. Credit Requirements
Core Courses
Additional Graduate Courses
Thesis Research


Course Requirements

All of the following core courses must be taken by all full and part time Ph.D. students:

  • ENMA 650: Nanostructure of Materials
  • ENMA 660: Thermodynamics in Materials Science
  • ENMA 661: Kinetics of Reactions in Materials Science
  • ENMA 671: Defects in Materials * or
    ENMA 620: Polymer Physics *

    * Students wishing to study polymers or biomaterials are strongly urged to take ENMA 620. This choice must be approved by your research advisor.

In addition, all students must take:

  • ENMA 688: Materials Science and Engineering Seminar
    Attendance to the Department's Seminar course for three (3) semesters is required for all students except by special consent of the Department. 
  • ENMA 899: Doctoral Dissertation Research

Additional Policies and Requirements

  • To remain in the Ph.D. program, and ultimately be admitted to the Ph.D. Proposal Defense, the student must complete 4 of the core courses with a minimum of 2 grades of A- or higher and 2 grades of B- or higher.
  • Each core course can only be repeated once, unless there is a special circumstance. In this rare instance the student is required to petition the Graduate Studies Committee to be allowed to take a core course a third time.
  • The approved additional courses may be in Materials Science and Engineering, Mathematics, Chemistry, Physics, Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Reliability Engineering and Nuclear Engineering. Courses taken at the 400 level may not be used to satisfy the Materials course requirements.
  • Ph.D. students can count up to 3 credits of ENMA 698 XXX (XXX is the individual advisor section) coursework toward the 12 credits of additional courses (beyond core courses) with the requirement that all 3 credits of ENMA 698 XXX are associated with the same advisor.
  • Completion of the equivalent of three full years (36 credits) of study beyond the B.S. degree is also required. Materials courses at the 400 level may not be counted as part of the 36 credits.
  • All Ph.D. students are required to carry out one semester of teaching assistantship (TA) duties, working with a faculty instructor, as a part of their educational requirements*. The suggested timing for fulfilling this requirement is by the end of the second year. A second semester of TA duties may be required by the Department Chair under certain conditions. TA duties may include grading, writing and delivering lectures, running discussion sections and/or review sessions, as required by the faculty instructor who will provide mentoring in these activities.
    *Note that TA policy exceptions may be granted by the Department Chair, under unusual circumstances.
  • Ph.D. Qualifying Exam (QE): Students must pass a combined written and oral Qualifying Exam, after completing two semesters in the program. The exam is offered twice a year, and each student will be allowed two attempts. More details of the exam can be found here: Overview of the Ph.D. Qualifying Exam.
  • Ph.D. Proposal Defense: Within 12 to 18 months of passing the QE, students need to select a Ph.D. Thesis Examination Committee and schedule their Ph.D. Proposal Defense. The Ph.D. Proposal Defense consists of 1) a written part and 2) an oral presentation to the Ph.D. Thesis Examination Committee. More details of the exam can be found here: Overview of the Ph.D. Dissertation Proposal Defense
    • The dissertation is the major portion of the Ph.D. program. It must be based on an original research project approved by the student's advisor and the committee approved by the Graduate School. The Ph.D. candidate must defend his/her dissertation prior to the final approval in an oral examination. This process includes a public presentation as a departmental seminar and a private oral examination. See UMD Graduate School Doctoral Degree Policies for more information.
  • Ph.D. students who would like to receive a M.S. non-thesis option "along the way" may use their Ph.D. proposal as their scholarly paper, but must still register and complete ENMA 797.