Materials Science & Nanoengineering

Materials Science & Nanoengineering

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Department of Materials Science and NanoEngineering (MSNE)

Phone: 713.348.3698

Requirements for the PhD degree

Full-time students seeking the PhD degree are expected to complete all the requirements for the degree within five calendar years, following entrance into the program.  Continuation in the program beyond this time limit will require special approval by the Department.

Candidates for the PhD degree are required to complete at least 90 credit hours of advanced relevant study, of which at least 18 credit hours must be for coursework.  Graduate credits are not given to MSNE graduate students for courses that are required for a B.S. degree in MSNE at Rice, except for MSNE 401. However, if a student has used MSNE 401 to meet the undergraduate degree requirement at Rice, this course cannot count towards the graduate credit hours again.

Course Requirement:

  1. Coursework courses:  
    • Core courses: MSNE 502, MSNE 503, MSNE 506 and MSNE 535.
    • Elective courses: MSNE 500+ or 600+, or course(s) from other departments upon approval from their advisors or one member of the Departmental Graduate Committee.
  2. Non-coursework courses: Credit received for Graduate Seminar (MSNE 500) and Research and Thesis (MSNE 800) will not be counted toward coursework. They will count toward the degree total credit requirements  (90 credit hours for PhD).
    • MSNE 500 "Materials Science Seminar": PhD students must attend at least 10 of the 13 MSNE seminars per semester for the duration of their study.
    • MSNE 501 "Graduate Student Seminar": PhD students must attend at least 9 of the 13 MSNE seminars per semester for the duration of their study.
    • MSNE 800 "Research & Thesis": PhD program is full-time, with a minimum of 9 credit hours per semester, and required to earn an "S"(satisfactory) grade.

Instructional Assistance (TA/grader):  PhD students are required to perform such duties for at least 4 semesters but no more than 6 semesters.

Research and Thesis:
  Active research should begin in the first year.

Annual Performance review:  PhD students in MSNE must complete an annual review in conjunction with their advisors.

Preliminary Candidacy Evaluation (PCE):   Entering PhD students will be subject to a preliminary evaluation of their candidacy for the PhD degree program.  The evaluation will be conducted by the end of the first year of enrollment, and will be based on a review of the academic performance up to the time of evaluation, including: performance in coursework, research progress and other relevant information.  Students are responsible for working with their advisor in order to ensure that their PCE is conducted in a timely fashion. A panel of 3 MSNE faculty members selected by the advisor. Once preliminary evaluation is completed, the reviewed material will be made available to the students.  Students not progressing sufficiently within the first year will be dismissed from the program.  For more information, please go to MSNE handbook.

Oral Qualifying Examination: By the end of the third year of enrollment in the graduate program in the MSNE department, the student must pass an oral qualifying examination. The purpose of this examination is to determine whether the student is qualified to conduct independent research at the technical level required for the PhD thesis. The student’s grasp of fundamental concepts in his/her field and related fields of interest will be examined. A committee consisting of 3 MSNE faculty members will administer the examination. The result of this examination will be the principal factor in the department’s decision as to the student’s admission to candidacy for the PhD program. Should the student fail in this examination, he/she may be allowed to repeat it once only with the recommendation of the examining committee. For more information, please go to MSNE handbook.

Petition for PhD Candidacy:
  Achieving candidacy for the PhD implies that a graduate student has:
     1.  Completed 45 hours.
     2.  GPA 3.0.
     3.  Passed required coursework exams to demonstrate his/her comprehensive grasp of the subject area.
     4.  Demonstrated the ability for clear oral and written communication, and shown the ability to carry on scholarly work in his/her subject area.

The graduate student is highly recommended to talk to the Graduate Administrator for the qualification before he/she plans to file the Petition. Petition for Approval of PhD Candidacy form is submitted to the Graduate Administrator with the current unofficial transcript, and checklist of courses before the start of the fall semester of the 5th year.  Additionally, if a student plans to defend and submit a thesis for the next degree conferral, students must file their petitions for approval of PhD candidacy at the Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies before the deadline, please go to, and  

Oral Defense:  Students may schedule to take the final oral examination in defense of their thesis only after the Dean of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies approves their candidacy.  A committee consisting of at least 3 members will conduct the defense.  The committee included your advisor (the committee chair), a faculty member from MSNE and one from another department within the university.  The members of the committee will be announced early enough so that the candidate may discuss with them the nature of the thesis research and the contents of the thesis. The thesis must be made available to the members of the examining committee at least two weeks before the examination date. Although the examination will be concerned primarily with the candidate's thesis, the questioning may also cover other areas. The oral defense may be scheduled at any time except during official examination periods. Public announcements of the oral examinations for the doctoral degree must be made at least two weeks in advance.

THESIS DEADLINE: Students must observe the deadlines set by the Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies for submission of the final thesis to receive their degree for either January or May conferral. Otherwise students have six months from the date of defense to submit their final thesis to the Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies.

Residency:  The minimum residence requirement for the PhD degree is four semesters (fall/spring) of full-time study at the university.
Check list (courses)
Preliminary Candidacy Evaluation (End of first year)                               Oral Qualifying Examination Schedule (End of third year)
Doctoral Candidacy Petition
Request for Extension of Time to Candidacy