The Doctoral (Ph.D.) degree offered through the Materials Science and Engineering Department is an intensive research and doctoral dissertation degree. Students may directly pursue a Ph.D. degree without first earning a M.S. degree.
MSE PhD Flowchart
After successfully passing the Candidacy Evaluation, PhD students must make an appointment with the MSE Academic Advisor to start building a supervisory committee.
Each supervisory committee consists of five faculty members. The committee chair and the majority of the committee must be tenure-line faculty in the MSE department. One member of the committee must be appointed from outside the student’s major department. The outside member is normally from another University of Utah department. However, the dean of The Graduate School may approve requests to appoint a committee member from another university where appropriate justification and supporting documentation is provided. The supervisory committee is responsible for approving the student’s academic program, preparing and judging the qualifying examinations, approving the dissertation subject and final dissertation, and administering and judging the final oral examination (dissertation defense).
According to the University of Utah Graduate School regulation, “At least one year (i.e., two consecutive semesters) of a doctoral program must be spent in full-time academic work at the University of Utah. When a student proceeds directly from a master’s degree to a PhD degree with no break in the program of study (except for authorized leaves of absence), the residency requirement may be fulfilled at any time during the course of study. A full load is 9 credit hours. Three hours of Thesis Research: PhD (course number 7970) also is considered a full load after the residency requirement is fulfilled.”
Students registered for 9 hours of Thesis Research: PhD for two consecutive semesters will be allowed to fulfill the residency requirement. Students that are not continually registered will have to reapply to the University of Utah before continuing.
Students in the College of Engineering cannot simultaneously be candidates for a PhD in one department and a ME, MS, or PhD candidate in the same or in another department.
Full Time Student Status
Full time status for graduate students at the University of Utah must meet the following conditions:
Registering for 9 credit hours and up to 11 credit hours of approved graduate study courses. For MS and PhD students, some of these credit hours may be for thesis research (MSE 6970 for MS students or MSE 7970 for PhD students.)
Part Time Student Status
Domestic graduate students are allowed to attend graduate school on a part-time basis; however, it is necessary that a part time student be registered for a minimum of 3 credit hours each semester. A letter must be submitted to the Materials Science and Engineering Administrative Office and must be received at the beginning of the student’s first semester advising the Academic Advisor that the student will be part time. This student will remain a part time student until the Materials Science and Engineering Administrative Office is notified otherwise. Part time students still need to satisfy the residency requirement for their perspective degrees.
Domestic students who wish to take a leave of absence for a semester must complete a Request for Leave of Absence form and have it approved by their supervisory committee. The form must then be submitted to the Academic Advisor for further processing. The form must be filled out prior to the semester that will be missed. Leave of absences can be granted for up to one year. International students are not allowed to take a leave of absence.
The only courses that will be graded with a Credit/No-Credit (CR/NC) Grade in the Materials Science and Engineering Graduate Program are MSE 7800 and MSE 7801, (Graduate Seminar) and MSE 6970 or MSE 7970 (Thesis Hours). All other courses on the student’s program of study must be taken for a letter grade.
Students will receive Credit (CR) for satisfactory research progress. If the student is not showing satisfactory progress for their research a grade of No Credit (NC) will be given.
Optional Practical Training (OPT) is the opportunity to apply knowledge gained in the classroom and/or research lab experience to a practical work experience off-campus after graduation. Optional Practical Training is authorized by Immigration Service. This authorization can take several months to obtain so students need to apply well in advance of graduation. The maximum amount of time granted to work in F-1 Optional Practical Training is 12 months.
Working before practical training has been authorized by the Immigration Service constitutes illegal employment that will jeopardize your legal status in the United States. So it is important that students coordinate their OPT request with the International Center.
Graduate students have an option to obtain affordable health insurance coverage through the Graduate School as part of the Tuition Benefit Program. TAs and RAs are generally eligible. If a student prefers a different insurance policy, reimbursement can be obtained up to the cost of the plan available through the Graduate School. See link here.
The MSE Department supports graduate students seeking family medical leave and/or reasonable accommodation as outlined generally under Policy 5-200 Leaves of Absence (health related) of the University of Utah Regulations that cover family medical leave and/or reasonable accommodation for conditions such as illness, pregnancy leave, military leave, foster care, adoption, hardship leave, care for elderly parents, or care for children.
Graduate students in the MSE graduate programs and employed by the MSE Department as either an RA or TA are entitled to up to 12 weeks for a family medical leave of absence beginning within the time of employment. A leave will not extend beyond the time of the thesis defense or other final date marking the completion of examinations needed for the program.
In some cases, a student may not satisfy the requirements and expectations of the MSE PhD program triggering an assessment of the student’s status in the program. These include reasonable rate of progress towards completing the requirements of the degree program. While expectations for scholarly output and rate thereof is left to the judgement of the advisor and supervisory committee, a general guideline is that PhD students in the MSE department are encouraged to present at conferences and workshops and should have at least three first-authored papers accepted to reputable peer-reviewed journals before graduation and multiple conference presentations and papers. The student’s supervisory committee (or a majority thereof) will be the deciding body. The maximum sanction for unacceptable academic performance is dismissal from the Program (see Student Code, University Policy 6-400; http://www.regulations.utah.edu/academics/6-400.html). In cases requiring dismissal from the Program, a “Recommendation for Change of Graduate Classification” form will be filed with the Graduate Records Office. The student may appeal the decision, following the procedure outline in the Student Code (University Policy 6-400).
If any of the criteria listed below are not met, the advisory committee will have discretion to either:
- Dismiss the student from the program immediately.
- Place the student on academic probation for 1 semester. In this case, the student’s committee will provide a list of specific milestones which the student must accomplish in order to be reinstated to good standing. If these milestone are not accomplished within 1 semester, the student will be dismissed from the program.
Criteria Graduate students must:
- Maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0
- Passing all required examinations within specified times limits (e.g. for PhD students the candidacy exam, dissertation proposal, and thesis defense).
- Continuously maintain an official advisor and supervisory committee from the 3rd semester through completion of the program.
- Continually make acceptable progress toward the degree as determined by the supervisory committee + thesis advisor.
A Handbook for Theses and Dissertations contains information on The Graduate School’s policies and procedures for preparing a thesis or dissertation, having it edited by the Thesis Editor, and filing it as the final step in graduation. The Handbook includes an explanation of the University of Utah format, examples of forms and essential pages for the thesis, a list of departmentally-approved style guides, and a discussion of copyright issues. A copy of the Handbook is available here.