Materials Science and Engineering PhD

Major: Materials Science and Engineering
Degree Awarded: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Calendar Type: Quarter
Minimum Required Credits: 90.0 
Co-op OptionNone
Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) code: 14.1801
Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) code: 17-2131

About the Program

The PhD program in Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) aims to provide an education which encompasses both the breadth and depth of the most recent knowledge base in the materials science and engineering fields in a format suitable for individuals seeking careers in academia and/or industry.

In addition, the program provides students with in-depth research training through their thesis project.

The graduate student body reflects a broad spectrum of undergraduate backgrounds. Because of the expansion into interdisciplinary areas, qualified physical and biological science graduates, and graduates from other engineering disciplines may also join the program. Students without a degree in Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) are required to take MATE 503  Introduction to Materials Engineering.

Career Opportunities

PhD program graduates go on to careers in engineering firms, consulting firms, law firms, private industry, business, research laboratories, academia, and national laboratories. Materials scientists and engineers find employment in such organizations as Hewlett-Packard, Intel, 3M, Global Foundries, Chemours, Lockheed-Martin, Johnson and Johnson, Merck, AstraZeneca, Arkema, W. L. Gore, Army Research Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Air Products, Micron, and Corning.

Additional Information

For more information about Materials Science and Engineering, visit the Department of Materials Science and Engineering webpage.

Admission Requirements

Applicants must meet the graduate requirements for admission to Drexel University. The graduate student body reflects a broad spectrum of undergraduate backgrounds. Because of the expansion into interdisciplinary areas, qualified non-MSE engineering, physical, and biological science graduates may also join the program.

For specific information on how to apply to this program, visit Drexel University's Materials Science and Engineering Graduate Admissions webpage.

Degree Requirements


A student must have at least the required 90.0 quarter credits for the PhD degree. An MS degree is not a prerequisite for the PhD degree, but can count for 45.0 quarter credits if the courses are approved by the graduate advisor. For students without an MS degree, but with previous graduate coursework, they may transfer no more than 15.0 credits (equivalent to 12.0 semester credits) from approved institutions provided they follow the rules and regulations described in the Materials Requirements of Graduate Degrees. 

 The required 90.0 credits for a PhD degree are tabulated below:

  • Required core courses: 6.0 credits
  • Additional required courses: 7.0 credits (MATE 504 &  MATE 536 [1.0 credit for first 6 terms])
  • Selected core courses: 12.0 credits
  • Optional courses: 9.0 credits
  • Research or additional option courses: 47.0 credits
  • Dissertation: 9.0 credits (MATE 998)
    Total: 90.0 credits

Program Requirements

Required Core Courses: *
MATE 510Thermodynamics of Solids3.0
MATE 512Introduction to Solid State Materials3.0
Additional Required Courses:
MATE 504The Art of Being a Scientist2.0
MATE 536Materials Seminar Series **6.0
MATE 998Ph.D. Dissertation9.0
Selected Core (SC) Courses: Choose 412.0
Structure and Properties of Polymers
Structure, Symmetry, and Properties of Materials
Experimental Technique in Materials
Numerical Engineering Methods
Mechanical Behavior of Solids
Biomedical Materials I
Related MATE courses may be counted as SC as approved by the graduate advisor
MATE Technical Electives (TE):9.0
Introduction to Transmission Electron Microscopy and Related Techniques
Nuclear Fuel Cycle & Materials
Thermal Spray Technology
Nanostructured Polymeric Materials
Materials for High Temperature and Energy
Recycling of Materials
Materials for Energy Storage
Environmental Effects on Materials
Nanostructured Carbon Materials
Soft Materials
Advanced Polymer Characterization
Principles of Polymerization I
Natural Polymers
Special Topics in MATE
Other MATE courses that may be available
Out-of-department courses, as approved by the MSE graduate advisor
MATE 897Research46.0-140.0
Total Credits90.0-184.0

Students must successfully pass degree-required exams including final dissertation defense and submission of the final dissertation.


PhD students must achieve a minimum "B-" grade in each of the required core courses. Waiver of any of the six (6) core courses must be approved by the MSE Department graduate advisor and the student's thesis advisor in advance.


 MATE 536 is a 1.0 credit course that must be repeated 6 times. 

An introductory course, MATE 503, is required for students without an undergraduate materials science and engineering degree.

Additional courses are encouraged for students entering the department with an MS degree. Students choose a doctoral thesis topic after consultation with the faculty.  Students are required to consider topics early in the program. An oral thesis presentation and defense are scheduled at the completion of the thesis work.

In addition to the graduate seminar, which is required of all graduate students, doctoral program students must pass an oral candidacy examination and a thesis proposal defense. The exam is designed to improve and assess the communication skills and the analytical abilities of the student. The following procedures should be followed to complete the PhD.

Candidacy Exam Requirement

All MSE PhD students are required to take the PhD Candidacy Examinations administered by the MSE Department.

Additional Information

For more information, visit the Department of Materials Science and Engineering webpage.

Sample Plan of Study

First Year
MATE 5042.0MATE 5103.0MATE 5361.0MATE 8979.0
MATE 5361.0MATE 5361.0MATE 8972.0 
MATE Selected Core Courses (SC)6.0MATE 8972.0MATE Selected Core Course (SC)3.0 
 MATE Selected Core Course (SC)3.0MATE Technical Elective Course (TE)3.0 
 9 9 9 9
Second Year
MATE 5361.0MATE 5123.0MATE 5361.0MATE 8979.0
MATE 8972.0MATE 5361.0MATE 8978.0 
MATE Technical Elective Courses (TE)6.0MATE 8975.0  
 9 9 9 9
Third Year
MATE 8979.0MATE 9989.0  
 9 9  
Total Credits 90

At least 90.0 credits are required for the PhD degree, which is based on the completion of a dissertation. Typical PhD students complete between 144.0-216.0 credits in the course of their PhD studies.


Biomaterials and Biosurfaces Laboratory
This laboratory contains 10 kN biaxial and 5 kN uniaxial servo-hydraulic mechanical testing machines, a Fluoroscan X-ray system, a microscopic imaging system, a spectra fluorometer, a table autoclave, centrifuge, vacuum oven, CO2 incubators, biological safety cabinet, thermostatic water baths, precision balance, and ultrasonic sterilizer.

Nanobiomaterials and Cell Engineering Laboratory
This laboratory contains fume hood with vacuum/gas dual manifold, vacuum pump and rotary evaporator for general organic/polymer synthesis; gel electrophoresis and electroblotting for protein characterization; bath sonicator, glass homogenizer and mini-extruder for nanoparticle preparation; centrifuge; ultrapure water conditioning system; precision balance; and pH meter and shaker.

Ceramics Processing Laboratory
This laboratory contains a photo-resist spinner, impedance analyzer, Zeta potential meter, spectrofluorometer, piezoelectric d33 meter, wire-bonder, and laser displacement meter.

MAX Phase Ceramics Processing Laboratory
This laboratory contains a vacuum hot-press; cold isostatic press (CIP) and hot isostatic press (HIP) for materials consolidation and synthesis; precision dilatometer; laser scattering particle size analyzer; impedance analyzer, creep testers, and assorted high temperature furnaces.

Mechanical Testing Laboratory
This laboratory contains mechanical and closed-loop servo-hydraulic testing machines, hardness testers, impact testers, equipment for fatigue testing, metallographic preparation facilities, and a rolling mill with twin 6" diameter rolls.

Mesoscale Materials Laboratory
This laboratory contains instrumentation for growth, characterization, device fabrication, and design and simulation of electronic, dielectric, ferroelectric, and photonic materials. Resources include physical and chemical vapor deposition and thermal and plasma processing of thin films, including oxides and metals, and semiconductor nanowire growth. Facilities include pulsed laser deposition, atomic layer deposition, chemical vapor deposition, sublimation growth, and resistive thermal evaporation.  Variable-temperature high-vacuum probe station and optical cryostats including high magnetic field, fixed and tunable-wavelength laser sources, several monochromators for luminescence and Raman scattering spectroscopies, scanning electron microscopy with electron beam lithography, and a scanning probe microscope.

Nanomaterials Laboratory
This laboratory contains instrumentation for testing and manipulation of materials under microscope, high-temperature autoclaves, Sievert’s apparatus; glove-box; high-temperature vacuum and other furnaces for the synthesis of nano-carbon coatings and nanotubes; and electro-spinning system for producing nano-fibers.

Oxide Films and Interfaces Laboratory
This laboratory contains an oxide molecular beam epitaxy (MBE) thin film deposition system; physical properties measurement system for electronic transport and magnetometry measurements from 2 – 400K, up to 9 T fields; and 2 tube furnaces.

 Powder Processing Laboratory
This laboratory contains vee blenders, ball-mills, sieve shaker and sieves for powder classification, several furnaces (including one with controlled atmosphere capability); and a 60-ton Baldwin press for powder compaction.

Soft Matter Research and Polymer Processing Laboratories
These laboratories contain computerized thermal analysis facilities including differential scanning calorimeters (DSC), dynamic mechanical analyzer (DMA), and thermo-gravimetric analyzer (TGA); single-fiber tensile tester; strip biaxial tensile tester; vacuum evaporator; spincoater; centrifuge; optical microscope with hot stage; liquid crystal tester; microbalance; ultrasonic cleaner; laser holographic fabrication system; polymer injection molder and single screw extruder.

Natural Polymers and Photonics Laboratory
This laboratory contains a spectroscopic ellipsometer for film characterization; high purity liquid chromatography (HPLC) system; lyophilizer; centrifuge; refractometer; and  electro-spinning system for producing nano-fibers.

X-ray Tomography Laboratory
This laboratory contains a high resolution X-ray tomography instrument and a cluster of computers for 3-D microstructure reconstruction; mechanical stage, a positioning stage, and a cryostage for in-situ testing.

Materials Characterization Core Facility
The Department of Materials Science & Engineering relies on Materials Characterization Core facility within the University for materials characterization and micro- and nano-fabrication. These facilities contain state-of-the-art materials characterization instruments, including environmental and variable pressure field-emission scanning electron microscopes with Energy Dispersive Spectroscopy (EDS) for elemental analysis and Orientation Image Microscopy (OIM) for texture analysis; a Transmission Electron Microscope (TEM) with STEM capability and TEM sample preparation equipment; a dual beam focused ion beam (FIB) system for nano-characterization and nano fabrication; a femtosecond/ terahertz laser Raman spectrometer; visible and ultraviolet Raman micro spectrometers with a total of 7 excitation wavelengths for non-destructive chemical and structural analysis and Surface Enhanced Raman (SERS);  a Nanoindenter; an X-ray Photoelectron Spectrometer (XPS)/Electron Spectroscopy for Chemical Analysis (ESCA) system; and X-Ray Diffractometers (XRD), including small angle/wide angle X-Ray scattering (SAX/WAX).

More details of these instruments, information on how to access them, and instrument usage rates can be found on the Core Facilities webpage.

Materials Science and Engineering Faculty

Michel Barsoum, PhD (Massachusetts Institute of Technology). Distinguished Professor. Processing and characterization of novel ceramics and ternary compounds, especially the MAX and 2-D MXene phases.
Hao Cheng, PhD (Northwestern University). Associate Professor. Drug delivery, molecular self-assembly, cell-nanomaterial interactions, regenerative medicine and cell membrane engineering.
Yury Gogotsi, PhD (Kiev Polytechnic Institute) Director, A. J. Drexel Nanotechnology Institute. Distinguished University & Charles T. and Ruth M. Bach Professor. Nanomaterials; carbon nanotubes; nanodiamond; graphene; MXene; materials for energy storage, supercapacitors, and batteries.
Yong-Jie Hu, PhD (Penn State University). Assistant Professor. Computational design and evaluation of mechanical, thermodynamic, and electronic properties using first-principles calculations, molecular dynamic simulations, the CALPHAD approach, multiscale modeling, and machine learning approaches.
Richard Knight, PhD (Loughborough University) Associate Department Head and Undergraduate Advisor. Teaching Professor. Thermal plasma technology; thermal spray coatings and education; plasma chemistry and synthesis.
Christopher Y. Li, PhD (University of Akron) Graduate Advisor. Professor. Soft and hybrid materials for optical, energy, and bio applications; polymeric materials, nanocomposites, structure and properties.
Andrew Magenau, PhD (University of Southern Mississippi). Assistant Professor. Structurally complex materials exhibiting unique physical properties designed and fabricated using an assortment of methodologies involving directed self-assembly, externally applied stimuli, structure-function correlation, and applied engineering principles suited for technologies in regenerative medicine, biological interfacing, catalytic, electronic, and optical applications
Michele Marcolongo, PhD, PE (University of Pennsylvania). Professor Emerita. Orthopedic biomaterials; acellular regenerative medicine, biomimetic proteoglycans; hydrogels.
Steven May, PhD (Northwestern University) Department Head. Professor. Synthesis of complex oxide films, superlattices, and devices; magnetic, electronic, and quantum materials; x-ray and neutron scattering.
Ekaterina Pomerantseva, PhD (Moscow State University, Russia). Associate Professor. Solid state chemistry; electrochemical characterization, lithium-ion batteries, energy generation and storage; development and characterization of novel nanostructured materials, systems and architectures for batteries, supercapacitors and fuel cells.
Caroline L. Schauer, PhD (SUNY Stony Brook) Associate Dean, Faculty Affairs College of Engineering. Professor. Polysaccharide thin films and nanofibers.
Wei-Heng Shih, PhD (Ohio State University). Professor. Colloidal ceramics and sol-gel processing; piezoelectric biosensors, optoelectronics, and energy harvesting devices; nanocrystalline quantum dots for bioimaging, lighting, and solar cells.
Jonathan E. Spanier, PhD (Columbia University) Department Head, Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics. Professor. Light-matter interactions in electronic materials, including ferroelectric semiconductors, complex oxide thin film science; laser spectroscopy, including Raman scattering.
Jörn Venderbos, PhD (Leiden University). Assistant Professor. Theory of quantum materials: topological Insulators, topological semimetals, materials prediction and design, strongly correlated electron materials, complex electronic ordering phenomena, unconventional superconductors
Christopher Weyant, PhD (Northwestern University). Teaching Professor. Engineering education
Antonios Zavaliangos, PhD (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) A.W. Grosvenor Professor. Professor. Constitutive modeling; powder compaction and sintering; pharmaceutical tableting, X-ray tomography.

Emeritus Faculty

Roger D. Corneliussen, PhD (University of Chicago). Professor Emeritus. Fracture, blends and alloys, as well as compounding.
Roger D. Doherty, PhD (Oxford University). Professor Emeritus. Metallurgical processing; thermo-mechanical treatment.
Ihab L. Kamel, PhD (University of Maryland). Professor Emeritus. Nanotechnology, polymers, composites, biomedical applications, and materials-induced changes through plasma and high energy radiation.
Jack Keverian, PhD (Massachusetts Institute of Technology). Professor Emeritus. Rapid parts manufacturing, computer integrated manufacturing systems, strip production systems, technical and/or economic modeling, melting and casting systems, recycling systems.
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