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University of Pittsburgh    
2017-2018 Graduate & Professional Studies Catalog 
  Jun 24, 2024
2017-2018 Graduate & Professional Studies Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Materials Science and Engineering, PhD

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Requirements for the PhD Degree

A minimum of 72 credits is required for the PhD. Of the total of 72 credits required for the PhD degree a minimum of 36 credits must be coursework beyond the Bachelor of Science (BS) degree. PhD students must maintain a minimum QPA of 3.3 (B+) in this coursework. The coursework consists of (I) a materials core (six required courses students must take in the first year of enrollment), (II) a group of courses tailored for each student’s research and as required technical broadening beyond the MSE focus, (III) courses to address mathematical/numerical skills, and (IV) PhD Research and Dissertation credits. The student’s advisor must approve the course sequence selection.

The 18 credits core course component must be taken within the first year of the program. Typically, PhD students will carry a course load of three courses per term until their coursework is completed. If a student’s background is insufficient for a given graduate course, the student must prepare by attending appropriate undergraduate courses or through independent study. This should be arranged in consultation with the student’s faculty advisor and the lecturing faculty of the relevant course(s).

A total of up to twelve (12) credits may be taken in relevant science, math, engineering disciplines outside of the MSE designation of graduate level courses and in different departments than MEMS. The selection of courses, in general, must be acceptable to the student’s advisor.

Minimum credit requirements include:


Students must score at least a B (3.0) in each of these six classes. If a student does not get at least a letter grade of B, the class must be taken a second time. These classes must be successfully completed before the student can apply for admission to PhD Candidacy.

Advanced Courses

A student must take advanced courses and technical electives. These are comprised of at least two courses (6 credits) selected by the student and his or her advisor as the best advanced preparation for research in the area of the dissertation, and two courses, as a broadening experience, to complement the student’s PhD specialization and contribute significantly to career preparation.

Mathematics Courses

The student is required to take two mathematics/numerical courses for six (6) credits beyond those required for the materials science and engineering Bachelor of Science degree. They can be satisfied by many courses. This requirement may be waived if it was met in a previous program.

PhD Research and Dissertation Credits

Each student must also have:
At least six (6) credits of MSE 3997  (PhD Research);
At least 12 credits of MSE 3999  (PhD Dissertation);

Please note that registration for MSE 3999  is allowed only after the student has passed the Comprehensive Examination and defended the PhD Proposal, which qualifies the student for the status of PhD Candidacy.

The course requirements described in these guidelines are a minimum requirement. The minimum requirement of 72 credits of graduate work must be satisfied by combinations of research, course work and transfer credits for the award of a PhD degree. Students are allowed to take additional courses with the agreement of their advisors. In some cases, these courses may be suggested by the PhD Committee for better preparation for a given research area. Note that completion of the PhD degree and admission PhD candidacy require a GPA of B+ or better (≥3.3).

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