PhD and Master’s of Science in Materials Science & Engineering

Graduate Program in Materials Science and Engineering

Materials science and engineering is both a foundational discipline in engineering and a branch of science at the intersection of physics, chemistry, biology, and related disciplines. The University of Wisconsin offers graduate degrees in materials science and engineering, with a primary focus on Ph.D. students, who perform cutting-edge independent research with the support of their advisors and thesis committee members. A Master’s degree is also offered during progress towards the PhD for students enrolled in the PhD program.  Direct admission to the terminal Master’s degree program is unusual.

All students can expect to be supported as fellows, research assistants, or teaching assistants for the duration of their graduate study in materials at the University of Wisconsin.  (See below for more information.)

Coursework, exams, and other requirements for students entering graduate school in Fall 2016 or later can be found here.  Graduate curriculum requirements for earlier programs can be found at the bottom of this page.


Information for Prospective Students

Applicants normally are expected to have a BS in the physical sciences or engineering. Undergraduate studies normally would include mathematics through differential equations, at least one year each of general physics and chemistry, a course in physical chemistry or modern physics, and an elementary course in properties of materials. Applicants may be admitted with deficiencies. These must be made up as soon as possible after entering the program.

Admission to the University of Wisconsin-Madison Graduate School is a prerequisite for admission to study materials science. A minimum GPA of 3.0/4.0 is required. Graduate Record Examinations scores on the General Test are required. Admission is highly selective. Most admitted students have an undergraduate GPA above 3.5. Mean GRE scores in the most recent admission cycle were quantitative: 166, verbal: 163, and analytical writing: 3.5. However, full consideration will be given to all students meeting the UW-Madison graduate school requirements.

Foreign students must submit satisfactory results on the TOEFL or another acceptable English Language Test. Please use institution code: 1846; no department code is necessary. Information about these exams can be obtained from the Educational Testing Service, Princeton, New Jersey 08540 or Berkeley, California 94704.

Please use the online application to begin your application. To be considered for fellowships, all application materials are due by January 1. If you have questions about the application or admissions process, please do not hesitate to e-mail

The graduate school offers a limited number of application fee grants (waivers of all or part of the application fee) that are available in a few specific circumstances.  Further information is available here.

Application deadlines:

Spring semester: October 15
Fall semester: January 1

Various types of financial assistance are available for entering graduate students, including research assistantships, teaching assistantships, fellowships and special grants. Decisions regarding financial support are made on the basis of letters of recommendation, grades, GRE general test scores, and, for research assistantships, the matching of the interests or experience of the applicant to the research programs of individual faculty members. January 1 is the deadline for receipt of fellowship applications. Foreign students are generally not eligible for university fellowships. Applications for other types of support are accepted until mid-February.

Research Assistantships (RAs) are available in any materials science area. These appointments are under the supervision of the major professor directing the research. Students interested in research assistantships in a particular area are encouraged to contact professors whose work is of special interest. The faculty’s research interests are given in the Department of Materials Science And Engineering faculty section. An RA permits the most rapid progress toward a degree. Research assistantships in materials science graduate students are comparable to similar stipends from other institutions. Information about stipends can be obtained from the Director of Graduate Studies.

Teaching Assistantships involve teaching rather than research experience. They pay approximately the same as Research Assistantships. Teaching experience is especially desirable for students considering an academic career.  The Department of Materials Science and Engineering supports a limited number of teaching assistantships, which are allocated after admissions. Applications for teaching assistantship positions for the 2016-2017 academic year are available here.

Herb Fellowships in Materials Science are given out each year. The Herb Fellowship is a one-year full-ride fellowship for incoming graduate students. It is intended to provide especially strong students extra flexibility and independence in formulating their graduate research program.

Fellowships supporting graduate education are also offered on a competitive basis by organizations such as the National Science Foundation, the Hertz Foundation, UW-Madison Graduate School, the U.S. Department of Defense and a number of industries and foundations. Because some of these fellowships have fall application deadlines, early application is necessary. GRE scores for the General Test are required for fellowship applications.

This document contains the requirements for Materials Science and Engineering graduate degrees: MSE Graduate Curriculum. These requirements apply to all students entering graduate school in Fall 2016 or later. A complete, updated handbook will be posted soon.

Information for Current Students

Forms for graduate students in the Materials Science & Engineering program:

PhD students must submit a PhD minor agreement form available here before taking the thesis proposal exam

Before registering for the second semester of courses, students must submit a course plan for all 24 credits, including the core courses, elective courses, and the minor, signed by the student and the advisor: Materials Science & Engineering Course Plan

Graduate students typically enroll for research credits each semester.  The enrollment process is described in an email to students each semester.

Upon graduation, students should complete the graduate program exit interview.

To complete the major milestones towards a graduate degree, students must request a warrant using the forms below:

Terminal MS Warrant Request Form

MS Warrant Request Form

Preliminary Exam Warrant Request Form

PhD Warrant Request Form

Previous Degree Programs

This contains the course requirements for students admitted before Fall 2016 in the Materials Engineering program: Materials Engineering Graduate Handbook. It also contains useful information about resources for learning and research and life as a graduate student in Madison.

Graduate students in the Materials Engineering Program can find your forms here:

MatEng Course Substitution Form

Materials Engineering course plan

Mtls. Engr. PhD committee form

minor form

Upon graduation, students should complete the graduate program exit interview.

These documents contain the requirements for students admitted before fall 2016 in the Materials Science Program: MSP terminal MS requirements and MSP PhD requirements

Materials Science Graduate Handbook

Graduate students in the Materials Science Program can find your forms here:

MS committee member form

MSP Core Course Selection Form

MSP Course Substitution Request

MSP Thesis Proposal Approval Form

PhD Thesis Committee Names Form

RRE approval Form

minor form

Each semester, graduate students should request authorization for research credits to work with your faculty advisor. If your advisor’s primary affiliation is outside of Materials Science & Engineering, you will need to contact him/her to get registered.

Upon graduation, students should complete the graduate program exit interview.