Doctoral Degree (Ph.D.)

Penn State’s Intercollege Graduate Degree Program in Materials Science and Engineering (iMatSE) offers Ph.D. students one-on-one mentorship by professors from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering and many other departments in the College of Engineering and Eberly College of Science. Currently, more than 50 faculty members advise more than 180 Ph.D. students. Our doctoral students hold prior degrees in materials science and engineering, metallurgy, ceramics, polymers, physics, chemistry, engineering science, chemical engineering, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, and in other STEM fields. Students have the opportunity to pursue core coursework offered by the Department of Materials Science and Engineering as well as many elective courses offered by various departments across campus. Students also benefit from outstanding user facilities run by the Materials Research Institute and in other specialized laboratories. Upon graduation, Penn Stater graduates land coveted positions in industry, national laboratories, and academia.

Our doctoral program consists of a combination of courses and research that fulfills the requirements of the Graduate School, and is approved by the student’s doctoral committee. 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 for the M.S. degree. Acceptance into the Ph.D. program is based on the student's performance on the Ph.D. qualifying exam, which is administered by a graduate qualifying exam committee.

Ph.D. Requirements

iMatSE program requirements

Grade and Credit Requirements
Minimum GPA: 3.00
The iMatSE program requires a minimum of 18 credits of 500-level courses. The instructional program includes three required graduate core courses in materials:

  • Thermodynamics of Materials (MATSE 501),
  • Kinetics of Materials Processes (MATSE 503) or approved substitute.
  • Principles of Crystal Chemistry (MATSE 512).

Two credits per year of MatSE 590 seminar is also required. Additional courses are determined by the student and the advisor, in consultation with the student’s doctoral committee. A student with a M.S. degree from Penn State can use the 500-level credits earned during his or her M.S. study to (partially) fulfill the course requirement.

Research Doctoral Degree (Ph.D.) – Residency Requirement


Scholarship and Research Integrity (SARI)

The Graduate School requires that all candidates for advanced degrees complete training in Scholarship and Research Integrity (SARI). The SARI requirements for the iMatSE program include completion of an online Responsible Conduct of Research training program and a 1 credit Professional Development course (MATSE 582). Students should complete the SARI requirements by the end of their first year of study.

Comprehensive Exam, Thesis, and Defense

Upon completion of coursework, a comprehensive exam will be administered by the student’s Doctoral Committee. The comprehensive exam consists of a written progress report and thesis proposal, and its defense, to the student’s Doctoral Committee.