PhD in Materials Science & Engineering

The Division of Materials Science & Engineering offers post-bachelor’s and post-master’s PhD degrees. Doctoral studies may be pursued in areas actively researched by division faculty.

Students admitted to the post-bachelor’s PhD program must complete the course requirements for the MS in Materials Science & Engineering. They are required to take a minimum of 64 credits during their program of study. The remaining required PhD credit hours remain unstructured, provided they have some engineering, science, or engineering management content.

Post-bachelor’s doctoral students will be awarded the MS degree upon completion of MS degree requirements and the PhD Prospectus Exam.

There are no structured course requirements for post-master’s PhD students, but such students are required to complete 32 credits applicable to the degree, all of which must be at the 500 level or higher. It is, however, strongly suggested that the post-master’s PhD student take appropriate core courses to pass the PhD qualifying examination.

Post-bachelor’s PhD students are required to take a minimum of 16 credits of research/dissertation coursework. Post-master’s PhD students are required to take a minimum of 8 credits of research/dissertation coursework.

Doctoral students must maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.00 to remain in good academic standing and to graduate. All graduate courses are counted in the GPA. Only grades of B− or better fulfill PhD curricular requirements. This requirement applies to post-bachelor’s or post-master’s PhD students.

Doctoral students must satisfy a residency requirement of at least two consecutive academic-year semesters of full-time graduate study at Boston University. They must demonstrate sufficient competency in mathematics. For further information, email


Upon entry into the Materials Science & Engineering program, each student will be appointed an academic advisor from the MSE faculty. The advisor will act as the student’s primary academic advisor until the student selects a research advisor(s).

Qualifying Examinations

Doctoral students must demonstrate competency in applied mathematics and pass the materials PhD qualifying examination by the end of their second year. The qualifying examination is derived from the courses listed in the core curriculum (see above), and has a written and an oral component. It is strongly suggested that students complete their prospectus defense within two years of advancing to PhD candidacy. This examination consists of an oral examination defending a research prospectus developed by the student. The Prospectus Defense Committee will typically also later serve as the PhD Dissertation Committee.

Residency Requirement

Doctoral students must satisfy a residency requirement of at least two consecutive academic-year semesters of full-time graduate study at Boston University.

Language Requirement

There is no foreign language requirement for the Materials Science & Engineering degree. However, basic mastery of spoken and written English as determined by oral presentations, written reports, and publishable manuscripts, is a requirement for the PhD.


The PhD candidate is expected to carry out original research under the guidance of a research advisor(s), who will monitor progress toward the degree. Doctoral students must defend a written dissertation before a Dissertation Committee by the end of the fifth year of candidacy. A minimum of a one-year gap between the prospectus defense and final dissertation defense is strongly recommended. In any case, the prospectus defense and the final dissertation defense cannot be completed in the same semester. The Dissertation Committee must have a minimum of five members, including the chair. At least two members of the committee must be affiliated with the Division of Materials Science & Engineering, and at least two members must be affiliated with the College of Engineering.

Admission and Financial Aid

PhD graduate students may obtain financial aid in the form of competitive teaching fellowships or research assistantships available from grants or contracts held by faculty members. Annual (12 month) stipends are approximately $30,000. Other traineeship funding may also be available to US citizens and permanent residents.