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 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 titled as the Comprehensive Exam which is to be given by the Comprehensive Committee within the following academic semester of a student passing the Written Part. The Comprehensive Exam committee is essentially the dissertation committee, chaired by the student’s dissertation advisor. It should include at least two other primary MSE faculty members along with the dissertation advisor. The student submits a written report, called: Research Proposal based on his/her current research data with a 20 page limit. The report should be submitted to all committee members two weeks prior to the Oral Exam in both electronic and printed forms. In this report, the student proposes his/her research with rigorous literature review of the field and justifies the proposed topic (~1/3 of the report). The student also presents his/her current research data and provides in-depth analysis (~ 2/3 of the report) in the Research Proposal. The format of the Research Proposal should follow that of Advanced Materials.

The student will take the Comprehensive Exam in the same semester as the written exam (two weeks following successful passing of the written part). In the oral exam, the student will give a 40 min PPT presentation of his/her Research Proposal. The committee members will ask questions related to the literature review and critique student’s experimental results and analysis. The oral exam is to be completed within two hours. The committee discusses the outcome of the oral exam and gives a pass/fail grade. The result will be submitted to the UC Graduate School.

Students who fail the Oral Part are required to reschedule the Oral Part with their Comprehensive 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 the MSE department.

For additional information

Headshot of Julie D. Muenchen

Julie D. Muenchen

Dir Academic, CEAS - Graduate Studies & Research

665B Baldwin Hall


Headshot of Donglu Shi

Donglu Shi

Professor, CEAS - Materials Science & Engineering

493 Rhodes Hall


Dr. Donglu Shi is currently the Chair and Graduate Director of the Materials Science and Engineering Program and a Graduate School Fellow at the University of Cincinnati. For Dr. Shi's research programs, please visit: