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This archived information is dated to the 2011-12 academic year only and may no longer be current.

For currently applicable policies and information, see the current Stanford Bulletin.

Master of Science in Materials Science Engineering

The University's basic requirements for the M.S. degree are discussed in the "Graduate Degrees" section of this bulletin. The following are specific departmental requirements.

The Department of Materials Science and Engineering requires a minimum of 45 units for a master's degree to be taken in residence at Stanford. Master's Program Proposal forms should be filled out, signed by the student's academic adviser, and submitted to the department's student services manager by the end of the student's first quarter of study. Final changes to the master's program must be submitted no later than one academic quarter prior to the quarter of expected degree conferral. Stanford Materials Science undergraduates who are pursuing or who plan to pursue a coterminal M.S. degree may have more flexibility in their programs and should consult with their academic advisers regarding appropriate core course and elective choices.

Degree requirements are as follows:

  1. A minimum of 30 units of Materials Science and Engineering (MATSCI) course work, including core and lab courses specified below, taken for a letter grade. Research units, one-unit seminars, MATSCI 299 and courses in other departments (i.e., where students cannot enroll in a class with a MATSCI subject code) cannot be counted for this requirement.
  2. Of these 30 units Materials Science requirements, students must include a or b.
    1. three classes from MATSCI 201-210 core courses and three MATSCI 171, 172, 173 laboratory courses. Student may fulfill one laboratory requirement from another engineering department.
    2. four classes from MATSCI 201-210 core courses and any two MATSCI 171, 172, 173 laboratory courses. Student may fulfill one laboratory requirement from another engineering department.
  3. 15 units of approved course electives that result in a technically coherent program. Of the 15 units of elective courses:
    1. 12 of the 15 units must be taken for a letter grade (except for those submitting an M.S. report).
    2. a maximum of three units may be seminars.
    3. if writing a master's research report, a minimum of 6 and a maximum of 15 units of Materials Science research units (MATSCI 200) may be counted. M.S. research units may only be counted if writing an M.S. research report. See student services manager for approval.
    4. a maximum of three units may be undergraduate units, but not courses below the 100 level (offered at Stanford University).
    5. a maximum of five units may be used for a foreign language course (not including any remedial English courses or courses in the student's native language if other than English).
    6. the combination of seminar, undergraduate, and language units may not exceed six units total.
    7. the combination of research, seminar, undergraduate, and language units may not exceed 15 units total.
    8. activity units may not be counted toward a graduate degree.
  4. A minimum grade point average (GPA) of 2.75 for degree course work taken at Stanford.

All proposed degree programs are subject to approval by the department's student services manager and the Academic Degree Committee, which has responsibility for assuring that each proposal is a technically coherent program.


Students wishing to take this option must include 6-15 Materials Science research units on their program proposal and the name of the faculty member supervising the research. Students using 15 units of research toward the degree must participate in a more complex and demanding research project than those using fewer units.

The report must be approved by two faculty members of which one must be a faculty member from the department. One faculty member is the student's research adviser. The other faculty member must be approved by the department's student services manager. Three copies of the report (one copy for each approving faculty member and one for the department file), in final form and signed by the two faculty members must be submitted. The report is not an official University thesis but is intended to demonstrate to department faculty an ability to conduct and report directed research. Refer to the Materials Science and Engineering Student Handbook for further clarification concerning this report.

As a general guide line, a 6-9 units of master's research is a normal load for most students. The report should reflect the number of units taken. For instance, 3-4 laboratory reports are required for a 3-unit laboratory course. Accordingly, the level expected for 9 units of research would be at least equivalent to three such courses.

Students are advised to submit their thesis draft to the readers by the end of fifth week of the quarter in which the units are to be assigned to allow time form comments and revisions. A copy of final draft should be submitted to faculty and student services manager by last day of classes. The appropriate grade for satisfactory progress in the research project prior to submission of the report is 'N' (continuing); the 'S' grade is given only when the report is fully approved by both faculty members.

In cases where students decide to pursue research after the initial program submission deadline, they should submit a revised M.S. Program Proposal at least two quarters before the degree is granted. The total combined units of Materials Science research units, seminars, language courses, and undergraduate courses cannot exceed 15. If a master's research report is not to be submitted, units of MATSCI 200 cannot be applied to the department's requirement of 45 units for the master's degree.


Some of the department's graduate students participate in the Honors Cooperative Program (HCP), which makes it possible for academically qualified engineers and scientists in industry to be part-time graduate students in Materials Science while continuing professional employment. Prospective HCP students follow the same admissions process and must meet the same admissions requirements as full-time graduate students. For information regarding the Honors Cooperative Program, see Graduate Programs in the "School of Engineering" section of this bulletin.


Students admitted to the graduate program are admitted specifically into either the M.S. or the Ph.D. program. A student admitted to the M.S. program should not assume admission to the Ph.D. program. Admission to the Ph.D. program is required for the student to be eligible to work towards the Ph.D. degree.

A student in the M.S. program may petition to be admitted to the Ph.D. program by filing an M.S. to Ph.D. Transfer Petition. This petition must be accompanied by a one-page statement of purpose stating the reasons why the student wishes to transfer to the Ph.D. program, an updated transcript, and two letters of recommendation from members of the Stanford faculty, including one from the student's prospective adviser and at least one from a Materials Science faculty member belonging to the Academic Council. The M.S. to Ph.D. Transfer Petition is due to the student services manager by the end of the second week of Spring Quarter during the student's first year in the M.S. program. Only students enrolled in the 200 series core course sequence are eligible to petition, and a grade point average (GPA) of 3.5 or better in the core courses is required.

Transferring to the Ph.D. program is a competitive process and only highly qualified M.S. students may be admitted. Faculty consider the student's original application to the graduate program as well as the material provided with the transfer petition.

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