Materials Science

Graduate programs

Master of Science, Materials Science

Kartik Ghosh, Graduate Director
Kemper Hall, Room 103G; Phone 417-836-6205 

Program Description

The Materials Science degree is designed to provide the graduate with a suitable background for employment in the exciting field of electronic materials.  Specifically, students will receive experience in high-technology materials synthesis and characterization, including the operation and design of the equipment used to make integrated circuits.

This degree was designed for students with good experimental skills, but little practical knowledge of specific instrumentation.  Graduates will be prepared for employment in areas of semiconductor manufacturing, materials synthesis and testing, and other industries where high technology processing and development are required.

The program requires 15 hours of required course work, 6-9 hours of electives, 6-9 hours of research and 1 hour of seminar, for a total of 31 hours.  Interdisciplinary courses taught in other departments may be used for electives if approved by the department head in advance.

At the beginning of the first semester, students’ background will be evaluated to determine the student’s optimum path of study.  Based on the results of the students’ initial evaluation, poorly prepared students may be required to take some additional course work that will not apply to the degree. Later in the first semester, the student will interview with faculty members to choose an area of thesis research.

A comprehensive examination is required usually one semester prior to graduation.  The comprehensive examination is used to monitor the progress of each student through the program.  At the end of the thesis project, the student will present his or her results in the form of a public thesis presentation or defense.

Entrance requirements

Students admitted to the program in full standing must meet the following requirements.

  1. A Bachelor of Science degree in any science or engineering discipline which includes:
    1. a calculus sequence and differential equations;
    2. a calculus-based physics sequence; and
    3. two semesters of physical chemistry or thermodynamics and modern physics.

      For example, the following would constitute adequate preparation:
      MTH 261 Analytical Geometry and Calculus I
      MTH 280 Analytical Geometry and Calculus II
      MTH 303 Differential Equations
      PHY 203 Foundations of Physics I
      PHY 204 Foundations of Physics II
      PHY 343 Thermodynamics OR CHM 506 Physical Chemistry I
      PHY 375 Modern Physics OR CHM 507 Physical Chemistry I

      Applicants with some deficiency in the courses listed in (1) above, may be admitted, but may have additional course work added to their program. This additional course work may not count toward their graduate degree.
  2. Candidates for admission to the program are required to have a GPA of at least 3.00 on a 4.00 scale on the last 60 hours of course work.
  3. Submission of Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores from the General Test is required.
  4. Three letters of reference.

Students who do not meet the GPA or GRE standards described in (3) and (4) above may be granted conditional admission to the program.  Conditionally admitted students will be required to complete a minimum of nine hours of specified course work with a GPA of at least 3.00 to be advanced to full standing in the program.

Retention requirements

The student is expected to demonstrate effective communication skills while enrolled in the program. Evaluation of communication skills will be done in accordance with the student’s background. These abilities will be evaluated for graduate assistants based on their teaching performance and by the MAT 798 Seminar course.

For students who are not graduate assistants, evaluation will be done in the MAT 798 Seminar course. For the student who uses English as a second language, there may be additional requirements.

The student must also demonstrate progress toward graduation in the following ways:

  1. satisfactory performance in the comprehensive exam, given approximately one semester before graduation;
  2. maintenance of a 3.00 GPA in the core courses;
  3. satisfactory progress in thesis research.

Degree requirements (minimum of 31 hours)

  1. For the student who has not received a “C” or better in a quantum mechanics course or its equivalent prior to admission to the program, satisfactory completion of PHY 675 Introduction to Quantum Mechanics is required. (This course does NOT count towards the 31 hour total)
  2. Required core - 15 hrs:
    • MAT 640 Thermodynamics of Materials
    • MAT 651 Introduction to Materials Science
    • MAT 681 Structure of Solids
    • MAT 760 Experiments in Physical Characterization
    • MAT 770 Vapor Synthesis of Materials
  3. 6-9 hours, with at least 6 hours at the 700 level or above, chosen from the following:
    • Any 600 or 700 level PHY or MAT course
    • Interdisciplinary Courses approved by the department head for elective credit. Examples: BMS 614, Scanning Electron Microscopy or CHM 614 Polymer Chemistry
  4. Seminar. 1 hour of seminar, MAT 798.
  5. Research. 6-9 hours of research, MAT 799. For both options, the student is required to give an oral presentation of his/her work to the Department.
    • Thesis Option. Satisfactory completion of an approved thesis and an oral thesis defense to the student's faculty advisor and a committee of graduate faculty is also required. 6-9 hours of MAT 799 may be counted toward this degree under this option.
    • Non-thesis Option. In extraordinary circumstances, a student may choose a non-thesis option with the permission of graduate committee and department head. This requires the completion of a minimum of 2 degree papers, each of which shall require an extensive paper or major creative work. 6 hours of PHY 799 may be counted toward this degree under this option.
  6. Comprehensive Examinations. A passing grade on the comprehensive examination, taken approximately one semester before graduation.

Accelerated Master's option

Undergraduate Physics majors may wish to enroll in the Accelerated Master of Science degree program in Materials Science. Students who successfully complete this program can obtain a Physics (with Materials Science Option) Bachelor of Science degree and a Master of Science in Materials Science degree within five years.

This challenging option is for students who have a strong interest in becoming experts in electronic materials. This includes the fields of Solid State Physics, Photonics, Opto-electronics, Nanotechnologies, Electrical Engineering, and computer Engineering.

While not essential for eventual admission to the program, it is strongly recommended that, as freshmen, students contact the department head for permission to become involved in the program. This will allow for appropriate advisement during the undergraduate years.

Students may be admitted to the program after completing 60 hours with a 3.00 cumulative GPA, including the physics core courses with a 3.50 cumulative GPA.

Students seeking this option must:

  • Obtain admission to the Master of Science in Materials Science accelerated program by applying to the Graduate College prior to their senior year.
  • Pass the Master of Science in Materials Science comprehensive examination in the first semester of their fifth year.

Before enrolling in a course to be counted as both undergraduate and graduate credit and to count the courses towards the masters degree, an undergraduate student must be accepted into the accelerated program and receive prior approval from the graduate program advisor, department head of the undergraduate program, and the dean of the Graduate College. Acceptance into the program and all approvals must be completed prior to the end of the Change of Schedule Period for the course(s). See the Graduate College for further information.

Nine hours of course work may be counted toward both the undergraduate and the masters degree. These courses are MAT 640, MAT 651 and MAT 681.

Students who successfully meet all the requirements would receive a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics at the end of their fourth year, and a Master of Science at the end of their fifth year.