Skip Navigation
search: People | Departments | Penn State | Web
Penn State mark
Penn State mark
University Bulletin
Graduate Degree Programs

Materials Science and Engineering (MATSC)

Program Home Page

Susan B. Sinnott
Department Head
Professor of Materials Science and Engineering
111 Research Unit A

Chair of the Intercollege Graduate Degree Program in Materials Science and Engineering
Professor of Materials Science and Engineering and Electrical Engineering
N-209 Millennium Science Complex


Degrees Conferred:

  • Ph.D in Materials Science and Engineering
  • M.S. in Materials Science and Engineering


The Graduate Faculty


The Program

The Intercollege Graduate Degree Program in Materials Science and Engineering offers comprehensive graduate education in the fundamentals of materials science (synthesis-structure-property-performance relationships). Faculty have interests in many research areas including biomaterials, ceramics, composites and hybrids, computational materials science, electronic and photonic materials, materials chemistry and physics, metals, nanostructured and nanoscale materials, piezoelectrics and ferroelectrics, polymers and soft materials. Students may choose to study across the major themes of materials today including materials in energy applications, nanotechnology, materials in medicine, materials in communications, materials for sensor applications, structural materials, etc., by using a combination of MATSE courses and a myriad of materials-related courses offered in the science and engineering departments at Penn State.

Admission Requirements

Requirements listed here are in addition to requirements stated in the GENERAL INFORMATION section of the Graduate Bulletin. Applicants apply for admission to the program via the Graduate School application for admission.

Applicants with baccalaureate degrees in the physical sciences and engineering with a Junior/Senior grade point average of 3.2/4.0 or higher will be considered for admission.

Scores for the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) are required for admission. Applicants with verbal and quantitative GRE scores 303 or higher will be considered.

The language of instruction at Penn State is English. English proficiency test scores (TOEFL/IELTS) may be required for international applicants. Consult the English Proficiency section of the Graduate Bulletin Application and Admission Procedures page for more information.

Master's Degree Requirements

Requirements listed here are in addition to requirements stated in the DEGREE REQUIREMENTS section of the Graduate Bulletin.

A minimum of 30 credits is required for the completion of the M.S. degree. At least 18 credits must be at the 500 or 600 level, and the remaining credits may be at the 400 or 800 level. There are 12 credits required in the following core courses: MATSE 501 (3 cr.), MATSE 512 (3 cr.), either MATSE 542 or MATSE 503 (3 cr.), MATSE 582 (1 cr.), and MATSE 590 (2 cr.). Depending on the culminating experience chosen, either 6 credits of thesis research or 6 credits of non-thesis research is required. The remaining elective credits may be chosen from a list of approved electives maintained by the program office.

As a culminating experience for the M.S. degree, students may choose to complete either a thesis or a scholarly paper. Students who choose to complete a thesis must take at least 6 credits of thesis research (MATSE 600). A thesis describing independent research performed by the student must be written and defended at an oral examination. Bound copies will be made available for the University Libraries and the thesis adviser. A thesis committee will administer the final oral examination of the thesis. The committee must consist of at least three Graduate Faculty members. The thesis must be accepted by the committee members, the head of the graduate program, and the Graduate School, and the student must pass the thesis defense.

The non-thesis track is designed to be completed in 3 semesters, or one calendar year (fall, spring, and summer). Students in this program will be required to begin in the fall semester and be registered continuously until the culminating research experience is completed at the end of the summer. A research adviser will be assigned to students in their first semester. Students in the non-thesis option must write a satisfactory scholarly paper while enrolled in MATSE 596 Individual Studies. A total of 6 credits of MATSE 596 will be taken, 1 credit each in the fall and spring, and 4 credits in the summer. It is expected that the scholarly paper will be submitted and approved at the end of the summer semester. Students who need more time to complete the final paper will be allowed to complete the paper, and have it reviewed and approved after the third semester has ended. Students are not required to remain in residence while they complete the final paper. However, extensions granted to students in this program must comply with the Graduate Council policy on deferred grades.

Doctoral Degree Requirements

Requirements listed here are in addition to requirements stated in the DEGREE REQUIREMENTS section of the Graduate Bulletin.

A doctoral program consists of a combination of courses, seminars, and research that fulfills the minimum requirements of Graduate Council and is approved by the doctoral committee for each individual student. A master's degree is not a prerequisite for the doctorate. However, the first year of graduate study leading to the Ph.D. may be the same as that provided for the M. S. degree. Acceptance into the Ph.D. program is based on the student's performance on the Ph.D. candidacy exam, which is administered by a graduate candidacy exam committee of the department.

A minimum of 18 credits of 500-level courses is required for completing a Ph.D. degree in Materials Science and Engineering, including 9 credits in required core courses: MATSE 501 Thermodynamics of Materials (3 cr.), MATSE 503 Kinetics of Materials Processes (3 cr.), and MATSE 512 Principles of Crystal Chemistry (3 cr.). Ph.D. students are also required to take 2 credits of MATSE 590 Colloquium each year, and complete MATSE 582 Materials Science and Engineering Professional Development (1 cr.); credits for MATSE 582 and MATSE 590 will not count towards the minimum 18 credits required. Additional specific course requirements are determined by the student and the adviser in consultation with the student's doctoral committee. A student with an M. S. degree from Penn State can use credits earned during his or her M. S. study to fulfill the Ph.D. course requirements. Upon approval by the doctoral committee and the graduate program coordinator, some or all of the course requirements may be waived for students holding an M. S. degree from another institution.

Student Aid

Graduate assistantships available to students in this program and other forms of student aid are described in the STUDENT AID section of the Graduate Bulletin. Students on graduate assistantships must adhere to the course load limits set forth in the Graduate Bulletin. Graduate assistantships will not be available to students in the non-thesis MatSE M.S. track.


Graduate courses carry numbers from 500 to 699 and 800 to 899. Advanced undergraduate courses numbered between 400 and 499 may be used to meet some graduate degree requirements when taken by graduate students. Courses below the 400 level may not. A graduate student may register for or audit these courses in order to make up deficiencies or to fill in gaps in previous education but not to meet requirements for an advanced degree.



Last Revised by the Department: Spring Semester 2017

Blue Sheet Item #: 45-04

Review Date: 1/10/2017

Faculty linked: 6/27/14; chair updated: 7/30/14


Look up course abbreviations

Course descriptions are stored in LionPATH, the University-wide student information system. Please visit the LionPATH Course Catalog to access current course descriptions. At that point, you will be leaving the University Bulletin website.

Skip Popular Searches
  1. Graduate Course Descriptions
  2. Graduate Programs
  3. Doctoral Degree Requirements
  4. Master's Degree Requirements
  5. Application and Admission Procedures
  6. Credit Certificate Programs
  7. General Information
  8. Tuition and Cost
  9. Intercollege
  10. Academic Information and Procedures