Admissions & Programs


Admission Overview

Applicants normally have a BS, MS or equivalent degree in the physical sciences or engineering. Most graduate students are admitted in the fall semester.

The application deadline for fall admissions is January 15. Admission decisions for fall semester will be mailed by March 31 to all applicants whose files are complete by January 15. If an offer for financial assistance accompanies the decision letter, that offer will expire April 15.

First year students are typically supported as teaching assistants for 9-months and transfer to research assistantships. Several types of financial support are available for students including teaching assistantships, research assistantships, and graduate fellowships.

TA teaching loads generally consist of teaching MSE 232, Strength of Materials in the fall semester and MSE 150, Materials Science I in the spring semester. On average, this load requires twelve hours of TA duty per week. These initial nine months allows the students to interview with faculty to determine a research direction.


Materials Science Master's Degree Requirements

The M.S. degree in Materials Science requires a minimum of 24 semester hours of formal course work plus a thesis. These semester hours shall be distributed as follows:

- 9 semester hours must be chosen from the core offerings
- 3 semester hours must be chosen from the list of research roations

The Core Curriculum is defined as:

Chem 350, Materials Chemistry
Phys 223, Thermodynamics
MSE 310, Atomic Arrangements in Solids
Phys 254, Physics of Condensed Matter

Selection of Thesis Advisor
Students will select a thesis advisor at the completion of the research rotation.

Submission of the Thesis
A thesis must be written and accepted in accordance with the rules of the Graduate School. Students will make an oral presentation on his/her research to the Materials Science students, faculty and community. Two copies of the signed thesis should be submitted to the Graduate School in accordance with the Graduate School Policy. One copy of the signed thesis should be submitted to the Program Office.

Transfer Students
All questions pertaining to transfer students are to be decided in accordance with the policies published in the current edition of The Bulletin of Vanderbilt University.


Materials Science Ph.D. Degree Requirements

Degree Requirements
The interdisciplinary Ph.D. degree in Materials Science requires a minimum of 24 hours of formal course work, of which 12 hours will be from the materials science core. (Students must complete each course with a B or higher).

MSE 310, Atomic Arrangements of Solids CHEM 350, Materials Chemistry PHYS 223, Thermodynamics PHYS 254, Physics of Condensed Matter

The remaining hours will be a combination of research rotations and electives.

Research Rotations

First year students will participate in a series of three research rotations. Each research rotation will last 10 weeks with the expectation that ~ 9 hours per week should be devoted to working with the particular research group. Since the semesters are almost 15 weeks in length, the second rotation would span the end of the fall and the beginning of the spring semesters. A short proposal stating the goals of the research will be submitted at the start of the rotation with a final report required upon completion of the 10 week rotation.

Selection of a Thesis Advisor

At the end of the three research rotations, the graduate students expected to select an interdisciplinary research project that will continue in subsequent semesters ultimately culminating in the Ph.D. dissertation. All students will select two Co-Advisors from two different departments.

Ph.D. Preliminary Examination
To obtain candidacy for the PhD degree, there are two requirements for demonstration of proficiency. The primary focus is on the degree of the students preparation in the fundamentals of Materials Science.

a.) Candidates must complete core courses with a grade of B or better in each of the four core courses. Failing a B (or better), the student must repeat the course(s) at the next offering(s). A second failure of B (or better) will result in restricting the student to the MS program.

b.) The second requirement may be fulfilled in one of two ways.

1. Completion of the thesis for the M.S. degree in Interdisciplinary Materials, an oral presentation of the work in a program seminar format, and receiving a passing grade in an accompanying oral examination. The examination can encompass areas both directly and indirectly related to the thesis.

2. Submission of a research paper to a refereed journal, an oral presentation of the work in a program seminar format, and receiving a passing grade in an accompanying oral examination. The examination can encompass areas both directly and indirectly related to the paper.

The requirement will be administered by a committee appointed by the programs Director of Graduate Studies. This committee will consist of five faculty of the program, including the students advisors, selected from at least three of the disciplines represented in the program.

The thesis/paper should be submitted to the committee no later than 24 months after beginning their graduate study. The presentation and oral examination should follow within one month of submission. For students who have transferred from another graduate institution, submission of the thesis/paper will be established on an individual basis. If a student fails the thesis/paper oral exam, it must be retaken within 3 months. A second failure will result in termination from the PhD program.

Qualifying Examination
The Qualifying Examination will be given in accordance with the regulations of the Graduate School. It will consist of a written dissertation proposal, an oral presentation of the proposal, and defense of the proposal. The oral segment may include an examination of concepts both directly and indirectly related to the dissertation proposal. Students should complete the Qualifying Examination within 42 months of beginning graduate study in the IGPMS. For students with any other prior graduate work, the timeline for Ph.D. qualifying exam can be established on an individual basis.

Transfer Students
All questions pertaining to transfer students are to be decided in accordance with the policies published in the current edition of The Bulletin of Vanderbilt University.


Materials Science Minor Degree Requirements

To qualify for a "materials minor" within a Ph.D. program of another discipline, completion of twelve hours of the core program courses will be required; within an M.S. degree program, six hours of the core program courses will be required. It is expected that the students’ research will be materials oriented and that the students will have the opportunity to use the facilities and resources of the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Materials Science. These students will receive a "certificate of recognition" from the program signifying their fulfillment of the materials science minor.


Part-time Studies

Students may pursue the MS and Ph.D. degrees on a part-time basis. Part-time candidates are required to satisfy the same degree requirements, as those required of our full time students, with the exception of the degree timelines.

In addition to the normal admissions process, the Graduate School provides a Special Student category. Special Students are permitted to register for graduate courses and earn up to 6 credits that may be applied to their graduate degree requirements. This category is appropriate for students who require additional time in order to complete their applications, or to satisfy the requirements for admission into the program.