The Ph.D. degree program in MSE aims to develop a strong foundation in materials science through classroom and laboratory experience, and to produce important intellectual achievements from independent research at a frontier in the engineering and science of materials. Degree requirements include satisfactory completion of at least 38 course credits, beyond the BS level and beginning with a required four-course, 12-credit core that includes:
- Thermodynamics and Phase Equilibria of Materials
- Electronic and Crystal Structure of Materials
- Defects and Microstructure in Materials
- Kinetics, Transport and Transformations in Materials
Additional course work includes two credits of MSE seminar and a minimum of 8 three-credit electives beyond this core. Of these 8 courses, four must be at the 5xx, 6xx or 7xx levels in MSE with at least two of these at the 7xx level. The remaining four courses must be selected from MSE, SEAS or UVa-Science/Math courses. The maximum number of 5xx courses allowed is two. The PhD program of course study must be approved by the graduate student’s advisor and Ph.D. advisory committee, as well as the MSE Curriculum Committee. No more than six elective credits may be earned in faculty-supervised independent study and such independent study will not count as the six-required credits of MSE coursework at the 7xx level. A maximum of 24 credits may be applied to the PhD course requirements from an M.S. program in another department, school or university, subject to approval by the MSE Curriculum Committee, and to achieve any part of the core requirement. The Ph.D. candidate’s advisory committee will tailor the program of courses to reflect the importance of both depth and breadth in MSE. Breadth may be cross disciplinary.
The Ph.D. candidate must pass written and oral examinations that include both course-based and research-practice elements. These examinations are taken within 18 to 24 months after the B.S. degree. The student entering the Ph.D. program with an M.S. degree from outside the department will normally take these examinations within 12 to 14 months of admittance. The Ph.D. candidate must write and defend publicly a proposed research plan that is the foundation for his/her dissertation. The Ph.D. dissertation proposal and the public defense of the Ph.D. dissertaion must occur in different semesters. The Ph.D. degree requires at least 24 credits of research, under the supervision of a faculty advisor, culminating in a written dissertation that is presented and defended in a public forum. Students are encouraged to enter the PhD program directly after receiving the BS degree, and may elect to receive the MMSE degree on the path to the Ph.D.