Note that all students must satisfy the minimum requirements of the graduate schoolGraduate students are responsible for knowing and meeting these requirements.

All PhD students on appointment (RA or TA-ship) must maintain full-time status each fall and spring semester until graduation (outside of an approved leave of absence). Pro MS students may have more flexibility, but should create a degree plan within their capacity that allows them to meet their graduation goals. All international students on a J-1 or F-1 need to be full time. Please note that only PhD students take dissertation hours. PLEASE NOTE: These requirements may not fulfill full-time status per other grants, fellowships or aid that you may be recieving. Please be sure to check with all other financial aid stakeholders particular to you to make sure you recieve your aid (as applicable) in a timely manner. For example, some grants require 4 credits period (doesn't matter what type) to be considered full time.

Full-time status according to CU Boulder graduate school means:

  • 5 graduate course credit hours each fall and spring semester OR
  • 8 graduate/undergrad combined credit hours (NOTE: undergrad courses cannot count towards the PhD; 6 credits of 4000-level undergrad may count towards the MS) OR
  • 1 dissertation hour pre-comps (recommended enrollment: 1 hour while still taking courses, 3 if taking no courses) OR
  • 5 dissertation hours post-comps

CU Boulder’s Professional Master of Science degree in Materials Science and Engineering provides students with a wide range of knowledge within the broad industry of materials engineering. Students in the professional master's program complete 30 hours of coursework covering cutting-edge industry topics, such as traditional and emerging materials systems, experimental methods and advanced computational analyses.

Requirements

Required Core Courses for All Tracks (9 Credits)

  • MSEN 5470 Special Topics in MSE (Functional Materials Chemistry)
  • MSEN 5370 Materials Thermodynamics
  • MSEN 5919 Special Topics in MSE (Materials Characterization in Engineering)

Specialized Track Courses (12 Credits)

Students must take four approved track-specific courses. Required track-specific courses and approved track-specific electives are listed on the department's Class Information webpage. MS students may also take up to six credits (two courses) of 3000-4000 level undergrad courses which can count towards the degree either as track courses or breadth electives.

Breadth Electives (9 Credits)

Students must select three breadth electives with the approval of the MSE Graduate Advisor. Independent study courses may count as breadth electives. To enroll in an independent study please complete this form, including your signature and the signature of the faculty supervisor, and send via email to the graduate advisor. Only the graduate advisor can sign you up for an independent study. Professional MS students may also take up to 6 credit hours of Engineering Management courses. 

More Information

Complete information on the Ph.D. degree requirements according to the graduate school can be found here.

Requirements

Coursework

Required Core Courses for All Tracks (9 Credits)

  • MSEN 5470 Special Topics in MSE (Functional Materials Chemistry)
  • MSEN 5370 Materials Thermodynamics
  • MSEN 5919 Special Topics in MSE (Materials Characterization in Engineering)

Specialized Track Courses (12 Credits)

Students must take four approved track-specific courses. Required track-specific courses and approved track-specific electives are listed on the department's Class Information webpage.

Breadth Electives (9 Credits)

Students must select three breadth electives with approval of the PhD research advisor and program. Independent study and MSEN 5000 may count as breadth electives. To enroll in an independent study please complete this form, including your signature and the signature of the faculty supervisor, and send via email to the graduate advisor.

Degree Plan

  • A degree plan will be determined in consultation with the MSE staff academic advisor and the student's research advisor/PI. The program will be tailored to the MSE track, the student's research, and any additional interests. The plan should represent a coordinated approach to the attainment of the student’s ultimate goals including classwork, professional preparation, and research.

Preliminary Examination

  • The preliminary exam will normally be given in the spring semester of the student's second year. If the first attempt is failed, a second and final attempt will be scheduled in the following months, ideally prior to the beginning of the third academic year. Students who have a Master’s degree should complete the preliminary exam in the third semester of study. Two successive failures result in a terminal M.S. as the highest possible degree.
  • A committee of three faculty, at least two of which must be MSE Fellows or Affiliates, is assembled for each student. 
  • The exam itself consists of a chalk talk presentation focused on their research plans and preliminary results. The committee may interrupt at any time with questions on the student's research and materials-based funamentals related to the student's work. 
  • Please review complete policy here.

Annual Progress Meeting

  • It is strongly recommended that students meet annually with their research committee with a majority of the committee present. The student should make a 30-minute presentation, followed by 30 minutes of discussion and feedback from the committee members.

Admission to Candidacy and Comprehensive Examination

  • The comprehensive exam normally takes place one year before the final thesis defense.
  • In addition to the graduate school requirements the MSE comprehensive exam requirements are:
    • At least three out of five members of the Comprehensive Examination Committee shall be Fellows or Affiliates of the MSE program.
    • A written proposal, not to exceed 15 pages (1.5-spaced) with 1” margins, must be distributed to the student’s faculty committee two weeks before the exam. Either a PDF file or a paper version should be submitted, depending on which format each committee member prefers. The proposal should include:
      • a discussion of the state of the art;
      • progress to date;
      • details of the remaining proposed study;
      • a tabulated budget estimate for the time remaining (e.g., salary, stipend, tuition, materials and supplies, travel); plan for any remaining thesis hours and proposed graduation semester; and
      • a time estimate for completion of the research and dissertation.
    • The student is expected to deliver a 30 minute summary of the research proposal, after which the student will be questioned by the Examination Committee. The student must be able to demonstrate thorough knowledge of the fundamentals and application of the research field, define an original research problem and show the scientific and engineering basis for a creative, intelligent solution to the proposed research problem. The exam can be open or closed. Students should discuss the benefits of both options with their research advisor. The student should reserve 2 hours for the exam, which in its entirety can last 1-2 hours.
  • Student checklist for comprehensive exam requirements:
    • Assemble committee and set the date, time, and location for the exam.
    • Complete Candidacy Application and submit to the MSE graduate advisor at least two weeks before the exam.
    • Complete Doctoral Examination Report form and submit to the MSE graduate advisor at least two weeks before the exam.
    • Submit written proposal to committee at least two weeks before the exam.
    • Successfully pass comprehensive exam.
      • When the exam is complete, the graduate advisor will collect committee-member signatures by docusign. The student should make sure MSE graduate advisor has the email address of any external members. The completed form will then be emailed to the graduate school along with the candidacy application.

Dissertation and Final Examination

  • In addition to the graduate school requirements the final exam requirements are:
    • At least three out of five members of the Final Examination Committee shall be Fellow or Affiliate members of the MSE program. The final exam committee is normally composed of the same five members as the comprehensive exam committee, but students may substitute members as appropriate in consultation with their research advisor.
  • Student checklist for final exam and graduation requirements:
    • Mark all deadlines for the semester of graduation on your calendar. These deadlines are strict.
    • Apply online to graduate through your Buff Portal by the deadline.
    • Schedule the date, time, and location for the exam.  Exam date must occur at least one month prior to intended graduation date. Make sure to review graduate school deadlines prior to scheduling the exam.
    • Update dissertation title (as necessary) by the deadline.
    • Complete Doctoral Examination Report and submit to the MSE graduate advisor at least two weeks before the exam.
    • Successfully defend dissertation.
      • When the exam is complete, the graduate advisor will collect committee-member signatures by docusign. The student should make sure MSE graduate advisor has the email address of any external members. The form will then be emailed to the graduate school.
    • Submit electronic copy of dissertation by the deadline.
    • Submit Thesis Approval Form (TAF) to collect first and second reader signatures.
    • MSE Graduate advisor will submit final grade card to the Graduate School. Please inform MSE graduate advisor when you have submitted your dissertation.

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PhD students are eligible to apply for a Master’s degree along the way. The requirements are:

  1. Complete all 30 coursework hours
  2. Inform graduate advisor (staff) of your intent to add the MS along-the-way. You need program approval (staff need to fill out and send a form) to add the MS to your profile.
  3. Fill out candidacy application
  4. Return candidacy application to graduate advisor (staff) and they will collect required signatures.
  5. Apply online to graduate through MyCUinfo by the deadline.

The deadlines for this form depends on the semester you want to “graduate" with the Master’s degree.  The dates are posted on the Graduate School website.  For example, if you want to receive the Master’s degree in May, you need to apply online to graduate and complete the forms by February 1st. You will receive the Master’s degree in May and it will appear on your transcript by mid-June.

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