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University Bulletin
Graduate Degree Programs

Acoustics (ACS)

Program Home Page

VICTOR W. SPARROW, Chair of the Graduate Program in Acoustics
201C Applied Science Building
Phone: 814-865-6364; Fax: 814-865-3119

Degrees Conferred:

Ph.D., M.S., M.Eng.

The Graduate Faculty

 

The Program

The aim of this program is to enable the student interested in acoustics to obtain an integrated program covering acoustical science and engineering applications of acoustics.

Student curricula are individually tailored and integrated through a selection of core and elective courses in areas such as basic acoustics, physical acoustics, underwater acoustics, signal processing, optics, architectural acoustics, medical ultrasonics, aeroacoustics, vibrations, wave propagation, speech, physiological acoustics, psychoacoustics, thermoacoustics, hydroacoustics, and computational acoustics. The courses are offered by the Graduate Program in Acoustics and by other participating University departments, including Aerospace Engineering, Architectural Engineering, Bioengineering, Electrical Engineering, Engineering Science and Mechanics, Mechanical Engineering, Meteorology, Geosciences, Physics, and Communication Sciences and Disorders.

Admission Requirements

Requirements listed here are in addition to general Graduate School requirements stated in the GENERAL INFORMATION section of the Graduate Bulletin.

Entering students should hold a bachelor's degree in physics, engineering, mathematics, or a closely related field that would provide substantial preparation in mathematics (a minimum of two semesters of calculus-based physics and mathematics to include complex variables and differential equations). In addition, an undergraduate knowledge of statics and dynamics, linear algebra, and electronic circuit analysis, and the ability to use mathematical analysis software is expected. Students with a 3.00 junior/senior average (on a 4.00 scale), appropriate course backgrounds, and a B+ or better average in mathematics, physical science, and engineering courses will be considered for admission. The best-qualified applicants will be accepted up to the number of spaces that are available for new students. An individual with nontechnical background may also apply, but acceptance into the program will depend significantly on the applicant's undergraduate background and motives to pursue advanced study in acoustics. Exceptions to the minimum 3.00 grade-point average may be made for students with special backgrounds and abilities.

Scores from the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) are required. As English is the language of instruction, English proficiency test scores (TOEFL/IELTS) are required for all international applicants. Please see the English Proficiency requirements listed in the Graduate Bulletin. In addition, the Acoustics Program requires a minimum speaking score on the TOEFL internet based test (iBT) of 25 or a minimum acceptable composite score from the International English Language Testing System of 6.5.

Admission to the Ph.D. program is a two-step process. First, the candidate must apply to the Acoustics Program via the Graduate School application for admission as a Ph.D. student, and the application is reviewed by the Admissions Committee. Admission will permit the student to begin working toward a doctoral degree. However, the student is not a doctoral candidate until he or she has passed the candidacy examination and been admitted to Candidacy.

Degree Requirements

The Masters of Engineering (M.Eng.) degree is a non-thesis professional master’s degree, and it may be earned by resident students at University Park or through distance education. The Master of Engineering degree is based on graduate course work and a written paper or a developmental study must be submitted to the Acoustics Program. Normally, such a paper represents a study of a particular topic that is more limited than that necessary for a thesis. The paper is free of any formal requirements of the Graduate School, but it is expected that the student will use the Thesis Guide as an example of the appropriate format. The total number of credits required for the M. Eng. degree is 30 of which 18 credits must be from 500-level approved core courses in Acoustics. The 12 non-core course credits may be selected from the "Required and Approved" list of courses issued by the Acoustics Program Office. Students may take more than one credit of Colloquium (ACS 590) and more than six credits of Individual Study (ACS 596), but such additional credits cannot be applied to the total number of course credits required. Master of Engineering students may not apply research credits (ACS 600) to the total number of course credits required. The expected duration to complete the M.Eng. degree is 2 years for resident students. For additional details, please consult www.acs.psu.edu.

The Masters of Science (M.S.) degree program is based on a combination of graduate course work and research training that is documented and culminates (a) in a Master of Science thesis or (b) in a scholarly paper. The M.S. degree in Acoustics is only available for resident students at University Park. For track (a) both the course selection and research are directed by an adviser. When the student is working on the thesis research, at least two other faculty members, upon the adviser's suggestion, will be recommended to the Program Chair who will approve the thesis committee. The total number of credits required for the M.S. degree is 30, and at least 20 of those credits must be taken at University Park. 24 course credits are required, of which 18 must be from approved 500-level acoustics core courses. 6 Thesis Research credits (ACS 600) are required for students writing a Master of Science Thesis.

The scholarly paper track (b) is only available for students participating in the one-year M.S. program that requires 12-month continuous registration. As part of the one-year M.S. program students must take one credit of Research Topics (ACS 594) in both the fall and spring semesters, and take a special summer course, Contemporary Research Topics in Acoustics (ACS 580). The scholarly paper will be developed in the ACS 594 classes and will normally be completed as part of ACS 580. This paper will typically be a study of a particular topic that is more limited than that necessary for a thesis. The paper is free of any formal requirements of the Graduate School, but it is expected that the student will use the formatting as described in the Thesis Guide. Students in this one-year M.S. program will not take any Thesis Research credits (ACS 600).  The total number of credits required for the M.S. degree is 30, and at least 20 of those credits must be taken at University Park. 24 course credits are required, of which 18 must be from approved 500-level acoustics core courses.

The 6 non-core course credits for either track may be selected from the "Required and Approved" list of courses issued by the Acoustics Program Office. Students may take more than one credit of Colloquium (ACS 590) and more than six credits of Individual Studies (ACS 596) for the paper track or Thesis Research (ACS 600) for the thesis track, but such additional credits cannot be applied to the total number of course credits required for the M.S. degree. The expected duration to complete the M.S. degree with thesis is 2 to 2.5 years and approximately 1 year for students in the one-year resident M.S. program. For additional details, please consult www.acs.psu.edu.

The Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree is conferred in recognition of high attainment and productive scholarship. A candidate for the Ph.D. degree must pass the English proficiency and candidacy examinations, prepare and defend a thesis proposal as part of the comprehensive examination, pass the final oral examination (thesis defense), and the thesis must be approved by the doctoral committee. Ph.D. students are required to take 21 credits of 500-level Acoustics core courses, but the Ph.D. committee may require the doctoral candidate to take specific additional courses. In addition, a Ph.D. candidate must satisfy the University residency requirement by registering for two consecutive semesters, fall and spring, as a full-time student. Post-comprehensive exam, continuous registration is required until the thesis has been approved. Penn State's Graduate School allows eight years from successful completion of the candidacy exam for completion of a doctoral degree. The expected duration to complete the Ph.D. degree is 3 years after the completion of a Master’s degree or 5 years without a Master’s degree. For additional details, please consult www.acs.psu.edu.

Other Relevant Information

In addition to the acoustics courses listed here, the following courses on acoustics and closely related areas are available: AERSP 511, 524, 525; A E 458, 520; BIOE 506; E E 460, 557, 560, 561, 562; E SC 536, 537; E MCH 516, 521, 524A,B,C, 527, 528, 560, 562; M E 471, 554; PHYS 443. This list may change as other departments continue to add new courses relevant to acoustics.

Student Aid

Graduate assistantships 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 policy listed in the Bulletin.

Courses

Graduate courses carry numbers from 500 to 599 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.

ACOUSTICS (ACS) course list

Faculty updated: 5/12/14

UCA Revision #2: 7/30/07

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