Materials Science and Engineering - M.S. / Ph.D.

The breadth of research in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering is vast, and researchers in the department are advancing many applications within the field, including energy conversion and conservation, electronics, biomedicine, and structures. Opportunities for research also span all families of materials, including soft materials, semiconductors, metals, and ceramics. Our student body is academically diverse, having previously earned B.S./B.A. or M.S. degrees in materials science and engineering, metallurgy, ceramics, polymers, chemistry, physics, math, biology, or one of many different engineering disciplines. We have more than 50 MatSE and affiliated faculty members and approximately 150 graduate students.

State-of-the-art Research Facilities

Penn State is home to numerous research facilities, including the shared laboratory space in Steidle Building, which is home of the department, the Millennium Science Complex, which is home to Penn State's Materials Research Institute. This equipment provides means for materials characterization, nanofabrication, computational design and innovation, and more.

Faculty have interests in many research areas including biomaterials, ceramics, composites and hybrids, computational materials science, electronic and photonic materials, materials chemistry and physics, metals, nanostructured and nanoscale materials, piezoelectrics and ferroelectrics, polymers and soft materials.

M.S. and Ph.D. Degrees

M.S.: A minimum of 30 credits is required for the completion of the M.S. degree. As a culminating experience for the M.S. degree, students may choose to complete either a thesis or a scholarly paper.

  • Thesis Option: Students who choose to complete a thesis must take at least 6 credits of thesis research (MATSE 600). A thesis describing independent research performed by the student must be written and defended at an oral examination.
  • Accelerated Scholarly Paper Option.: The non-thesis track is designed to be completed in 3 semesters, or one calendar year (fall, spring, and summer). Students in this program will be required to begin in the fall semester and be registered continuously until the culminating research experience is completed at the end of the summer. A research adviser will be assigned to students in their first semester. Students in the non-thesis option must write a satisfactory scholarly paper while enrolled in MATSE 596 Individual Studies. 

Ph.D.: General requirements are based upon completing the required course work, passing the candidacy examination, a period of residence, passing the comprehensive examination, the writing of a satisfactory thesis (and its acceptance by the doctoral committee and the Graduate School).


Through formal coursework in small classes and participation in cutting-edge sponsored research, our students enjoy a graduate education that prepares them well for their future careers in industry, academia, or government laboratories.