Master of Science Program

Rice University offers a Master of Science (MS) degree in materials science and nanoengineering — a research graduate program that includes a thesis.

For a non-thesis degree tailored for professionally-focused students looking to expand their engineering knowledge to further their careers, check out our Professional Master's Program.

MS students looking to continue into our PhD Program must reapply.


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

Course Requirements

Students pursuing the MS degree in the field of Materials Science and NanoEngineering must complete:

  • A minimum of 30 credit hours of study,
  • Of which at least 18 credit hours must be completed through coursework;

For current and detailed core, elective and non-coursework requirements, go to our General Announcements.

Research & Thesis

Active research should begin in the first year.

Annual Performance Review

MS students in MSNE must complete an annual review in conjunction with their advisers.

Preliminary Candidacy Evaluation

Entering MS students will be subject to a Preliminary Candidacy Evaluation (PCE) of their candidacy for the MS 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 three MSNE faculty members selected by the adviser. Once the 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 see MSNE handbook.

Petition for MS Candidacy

Achieving candidacy for the MS degree implies that a graduate student has:

  • Completed core courses
  • GPA 3.0
  • Passed required coursework exams to demonstrate their comprehensive grasp of the subject area
  • Demonstrated the ability for clear oral and written communication, and shown the ability to carry on scholarly work in their subject area

It is highly recommended that the graduate student talks to the graduate administrator for the qualification before he or she plans to file the petition. The petition for approval of MS candidacy is submitted to the graduate administrator with the current unofficial transcript and checklist of courses before the end of the spring semester of the first year. Additionally, if a student plans to defend and submit a thesis for the next degree conferral, he or she must file their petition for approval of MS candidacy at the Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies before the deadline.

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 three members will conduct the defense. The committee includes the student's adviser (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 Master of Science degree must be made at least one week 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.