Current Materials Science Engineering Graduate Students

The department offers programs of study that lead to a Master of Science, Doctor of Philosophy, and Masters of Engineering in Mechanical Engineering or a Master of Science or a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph. D.) in Materials Science and Engineering.

Master of Science

Credit Hour Requirements

  • 20 From MSE Approved Courses
  • 12 From Core Courses
  • 10 Minimum Research Credit Hours

*30 Minimum Credit Hours Total

Current Materials Science Engineering Graduate Students

Thesis Credit Hour Requirements

  • 10 Minimum Credit Hours for Thesis Based M.S.

Core Courses

  • Advanced Thermodynamics (MTEN-7035)
  • Mechanical Behavior of Materials II (MTEN-6097)
  • Kinetics of Materials Processing (MTEN-6020)
  • Phase Transformations in Solids (MTEN-6071) Polymers
  • Advanced Thermodynamics (MTEN-7035)
  • Introduction to Polymer Science (MTEN-7094)
  • Properties of Polymers (MTEN-6034)
  • Polymer Analysis/Characterization (MTEN-7032C)
  • Thesis: No page requirement.
  • A successful oral defense of the thesis before the student’s chosen committee is a degree requirement.
  • Copies of the thesis must be submitted to the Thesis Committee members at least one week prior to the oral defense.
  • The oral examination will start with a formal presentation (20-30 minutes) by the student, followed by questions from the members of the thesis committee and members of the audience.
  • The entire examination may not exceed 2 hours.

*Your Research Advisor should suggest and help coordinate with possible committee members

Master of Engineering

Project Completion

3 Credit hour course. This is not a research thesis. The student will apply knowledge gained through course work to a project topic agreed upon by the student and the student’s advisor. Use Appendix A from MEng Handbook to submit the proposal. Follow and submit Appendix B from the MEng handbook along with the completed project.

MEng Capstone Evaluation

This is a 0 credit hour capstone (make sure to fulfill the 30 credit hour requirement). Determined by the Program, the student will take a written exam, perform an interview, or write a summary encompassing knowledge gained through all Core, Track, and Elective Courses.


Minimum time for a capstone internship is 400 hours. If a capstone is not secured by the 5 th semester of the program, the student must then complete a project or paper. Submit Appendix C from the MEng handbook. Students submit a final report per Appendix E from the MEng handbook.

Written Paper

A project topic is submitted using Appendix A from the MEng handbook. Once agreed upon by the advisor, the student will write a paper on the chosen topic using knowledge gained through their course work. The paper will be graded based on thoroughness, accuracy, formatting, and grammar. Follow and submit Appendix B from the MEng handbook along with the paper.

*Verification of Completion of Chosen Capstone is Completed through Appendix F in the MEng Handbook

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Credit Hour Requirements

  • 30 Course Work Credit Hours
  • 24 From MSE Courses
  • 15 From Core Courses
  • 6 From Approved Courses
  • 60 Minimum Research Credit Hours

*90 Minimum Credit Hours Total

Required Courses


  • Advanced Thermodynamics (MTEN-7035)
  • Mechanical Behavior of Materials II (MTEN-6097)
  • Kinetics of Materials Processing (MTEN-6020)
  • Phase Transformations in Solids (MTEN-6071)
  • Diffraction Theory (MTEN-7048)
  • Advanced Materials Techniques (MTEN-7010C)


  • Advanced Thermodynamics (MTEN-7035)
  • Introduction to Polymer Science (MTEN-7094)
  • Properties of Polymers (MTEN-6034)
  • Polymer Analysis/Characterization (MTEN-7032C)
  • Diffraction Theory (MTEN-7048)
  • Advanced Materials Techniques (MTEN-7010C)

*PhD Candidacy: Students must maintain at least a 3.0 GPA in courses at UC and within the MSE Program.

I. Written Part

  1. The MSE Ph. D students are required to take the written qualifying exam one academic year (4 semesters) after they are enrolled in the Materials Science & Engineering program at University of Cincinnati with a M.S. prior to enrollment or within 7 semesters with a B.S. prior to enrollment in the Ph. D program. 
  2. The written exam consists of two main fields in materials science, namely: Polymer Science and Metals/Ceramics. Students may choose either Polymer Science or Metals/Ceramics for the written part of the qualifying exam. Regardless of the main field chosen, relevant thermodynamics must be included as a portion of the written exam. Specifically, for Polymer Science, the exam topics include: thermodynamics, polymer characterization, polymer physics and properties, and polymer chemistry and synthesis, a total of 4 topical areas. For Metals/Ceramics, the exam topics include thermodynamics, physical metallurgy, mechanical metallurgy, and Ceramics, a total of 4 topical areas. 
  3. The written exam committee is composed of The Chair and 3 other primary MSE faculty members. 
  4. Each faculty on the committee develops a set of problems in each field, Metals/Ceramics for example: thermodynamics, structures of metals/ceramics, mechanical/physical properties, and materials processing. These exam problems should be constructed at the levels of the first year graduate and senior year of undergraduate courses in materials science. Each topical area is worth 100 points; 400 points for the entire written exam. 
  5. The committee chair compiles these problems for the written exam. The committee chair proctors the exam at a designated location. The exam is open book. The maximum exam time is 6 hours within 1 day. 
  6. After the exam, the committee chair distributes the worked problems to the faculty members who have developed them for grading individually. 
  7. A Pass is awarded if at least a 60 % average overall in the chosen field is earned. 
  8. Anonymities of students and their supervisors are kept for the entire qualifying exam (including grading). Therefore, students only provide their assigned Qualifying Exam Number on the test. 
  9. Students who fail the Written Part are required to retake the Written Part during the next offered exam. A maximum of two times to take the Written Part is allowed.

II. Oral Part

The oral part of the exam is to be given by the Ph. D Qualifying Oral Exam Committee. The Oral Exam Committee is chaired and organized by the student’s dissertation advisor. It is recommended that the Oral Exam Committee becomes the Dissertation Committee upon student passing the qualifier. The Committee should include at least two other Graduate MSE faculty members along with the dissertation advisor. The student submits a written report, called: Research Proposal based on his/her proposed research topic with a 15-page limit, excluding references. The Research Proposal consists 4 parts: Introduction, Literature Review, Background/Motivation, and Proposed Research. The report must be submitted to all committee members two weeks prior to the Oral Exam in both electronic and printed forms. The format of the Research Proposal should follow that of the journal: Advanced Materials. The Oral Part is limited to 2 hours maximum. The formal presentation of the Research Proposal during the Oral Part is limited to the first 40 minutes (uninterrupted, except for brief clarifications) of the examination. The use of viewgraphs, power point or other visual aids, is recommended. The student must prepare a high quality professional/technical presentation. The remaining time is reserved for Oral Exam Committee members to ask questions related to the literature review and critique the student's experimental results and analysis. Students who fail the Oral Part are required to reschedule the Oral Part with their Committee by the following semester. A maximum of two times to take the Oral Part is allowed.

Written Qualifying Exam Fields

  • Metals/Ceramics
  • Polymer Science

Topical Areas


  • Thermodynamics
  • Physical Metallurgy 
  • Mechanical Metallurgy 
  • Ceramic Engineering 

Polymers Science

  • Thermodynamics 
  • Polymer Physics and Properties 
  • Polymer Characterization 
  • Polymer Synthesis and Chemistry

Note: Suggested subtopics of each field can be found below. These subtopics listed below are the major topics under the fields indicated but the actual qualifier problems may not be exclusively confined to these subtopics. The Written Part is open book.



  • Structure of ceramics 
  • Point detects 
  • Kroger-Vink Notation 
  • Grain growth 
  • Synthesis and processing of ceramic powders 
  • Binders, dispersion, hot pressing, Sol Gel, vapor deposition 
  • Weight-out and calcination 
  • Sintering of ceramics 
  • Microstructure features of fracture in ceramics and composites 
  • Fracture mechanics 
  • Weibull statics for failure strength analysis

Textbooks Recommended for Ceramics

  • Physical Ceramics (Chiang) 
  • Fundamentals of Ceramics (Barsoum) 

Physical Metallurgy

  • Lattice, basis, unit cells, and crystal structures 
  • Points, directions, and planes in the unit cell 
  • XRD for crystal structure analysis 
  • SEM, TEM, Electron diffraction, EDS 
  • Phases and phase diagrams 
  • Nucleation and growth 
  • Diffusion Mechanisms 
  • Thermally activated processes (Arrhenius expressions)

Mechanical Metallurgy

  • Dislocations, slip systems, Schmid’s Law 
  • Elasticity and elastic properties 
  • Plastic deformation of single crystals, polycrystals, order-disorder/superlattices 
  • Strain hardening and annealing 
  • Precipitation hardening 
  • Dispersion strengthening 
  • Heat treatment and TTT diagram 
  • The stress-strain diagram 
  • Fatigue test 
  • Creep, stress rupture, and stress corrosion 

Textbooks Recommended for Metallurgy and Ceramics

  • Physical Metallurgical Principles (Reed-Hill) 
  • Fundamentals of Physical Metallurgy (Verhoeven) 

Polymer Physics and Properties

  • Transitions: melting, crystallization kinetics, glass transition, viscosity, diffusion 
  • Bulk properties: rubber elasticity, strength and fracture, dynamic mechanical properties 
  • Solution properties: methods of determining molecular weights, Theta temperature and excluded volume effect, solution thermodynamics

Polymer Characterization

  • Spectroscopy (ESCA, XPS, XRD, Auger, IR, light, etc.) small angle diffraction, Thermal analysis, Mechanical properties

Polymer Synthesis and Chemistry

  • Addition polymerization 
  • Step reaction polymerization 
  • Ionic polymerization 
  • Living polymerization 
  • Radical chain growth copolymerization 
  • Molecular weight averages and distributions 
  • Crosslinking and gelation 

Textbooks Recommended for Polymer Science

  • The Physics of Polymers (Strobl) 
  • Fundamental Principles of Polymeric Materials (Brazel and Rosen) 
  • Principles of Polymer Systems (Rodrguez) 
  • Polymer Science and Technology (Freid) 
  • Polymers: Chemistry and Physics of Modern Materials (Cowie) 


  • Basic principles governing phase equilibria 
  • The regular solution model for liquid and solid alloy phases 
  • Calculations of enthalpy and entropy balances 

Textbook Recommended for Thermodynamics

  • Thermodynamics of Materials (Ragone)

Students, along with their research advisor, shall initiate and schedule their Progress Review with their established Dissertation Committee. • Students are encouraged to complete their first Progress Review as early as possible but no later than two years after passing the PhD qualifying examination. The Committee will decide if further reviews are required. • The Review consists of two components:

I. Written

Submit a maximum of 35 pages, double-spaced, to the Committee at least two weeks prior to review date. The written report consists of: Background/Introduction, Statement of Objective and Scope of Work, Summary of Work Done, and Time-line for Completion of PhD Degree. Include figures, tables, etc.

II. Oral

30-40 minute presentation to the Committee based on the written material. The Committee will conduct a questions and answers dialogue on the significance of the research findings, overall merit, and research direction. The Oral exam is expected not to exceed two hours. Following, the Committee will suggest if further reviews are needed and recommend the steps required to graduate.

  • An Academic Advisor should be selected by the student within the first semester of graduate school to provide assistance with structuring course based credit hours. The Academic Advisor does not necessarily need to meet the student’s research interests but must belong to the MSE program. 
  • A Research Advisor (Thesis Advisor) should be selected within the first semester that meets the student’s research interests. The Research Advisor will guide the student through the research based credit hours and may belong to another program with the approval of the Graduate Studies Director. 
  • The Academic and Research Advisors may be different faculty. Only the Academic Advisor must belong to the MSE department.

For additional information

Headshot of Julie D. Muenchen

Julie D. Muenchen

Director Academic, CEAS - Graduate Studies



Headshot of Donglu Shi

Donglu Shi

Professor, CEAS - Materials Science & Engineering

493 Rhodes Hall


Dr. Donglu  Shi conducted his dissertation research at MIT Francis Bitter Magnet Laboratory on critical current density of Nb-based metallic superconductors under high magnetic field of 23 T. His research was foucused on design of alloys, melt spinning, structural transformations, crystallization mechanisms, mechanical and physical properties of rapidly solidified metallic glasses and A-15 superconductors. After receiving PhD, he moved on to study high-temperature ceramic superconductors as a Staff Scientist (first year as postdoc) in the Materials Science Division of Argonne National Laboratory for a period of eight years. His research efforts were focused on investigating the vortex state dynamics and flux pinning mechanisms of type II superconductors for achieving high critical current density in energy storage and power transmission. At Argonne, he was a Principal Investigator for a Department of Energy program on electronic materials during this time.

Dr. Donglu Shi served as Chair and Graduate Director of Materials Science and Engineering between 2013 and 2023. He is presently the Director of Energy Materials and Nanomedicine Laboratories in the College of Engineering and Applied Science. Dr. Shi has conducted research across diverse fields such as nanoscience, energy materials, biomedical engineering, precision medicine, and condensed matter physics. His efforts have led to over 300 peer-reiewed journal publications with a Google Scholar h-index of 75. Some of his papers have appeared in leading journals like Nature, Nature-Communications, Physical Review Letters, Advanced Materials, and ACS Nano. He was a visiting scholar at  Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Grenoble, France and a Fellow at Fitzwilliam College, University of Cambridge conducting research on high-Tc superconducitng RF resonators for wireless telecommunications. Additionally, Dr. Shi is a Fellow of ASM International and a Graduate College Fellow at the University of Cincinnati. He has so far supervised a total of 50 graduate students.

NSF research programs on energy materials 

NSF research on plasma virus disinfection

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