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Science of Advanced Materials, Ph.D.

College of Science and Engineering

Ms. Jessica Lapp

Brooks Hall 219, 989-774-4401

Course Designators:

SAM - Science of Advanced Materials

Minimum Totals for Graduation: 60 hours

The science of materials combines elements of chemistry, physics and biology, and requires a solid background in mathematics. The CMU Science of Advanced Materials (SAM) Ph.D. program is designed to create a correspondingly interdisciplinary environment that will train effective researchers without erecting artificial boundaries between disciplines. The formal coursework focuses on the scientific framework for studying materials and is organized around the themes of modeling, characterization, and synthesis. These are the key methodologies employed in materials research and the SAM program emphasizes the synergy among them.

The curriculum for the SAM program includes the following components: core research training that establishes a solid foundation in the science of materials; elective courses in a number of specialized areas; a seminar course focusing on the current SAM literature and developing essential skills in scientific communication; and the dissertation.

Students may enter the program with diverse backgrounds, but a Master's degree in a relevant field is required.

Admission Requirements, Retention & Termination Standards

Admission Requirement Snapshot:

Entrance Exam: GRE
Application Deadline: February 1
See Admission Requirement Details Below

Applicants already holding a Master's degree in a materials-related area may apply for entry into the program. Students with a bachelor's degree in physics, chemistry, biochemistry, biology, geology, engineering, mathematics, or other relevant areas of science may wish to pursue a Master's degree at CMU before applying to the SAM program. Complete applications submitted for the February 1 deadline each year will receive full consideration. Applications received outside this window, or during the summer and fall semesters, will only be considered upon the specific written request of a SAM faculty advisor. Applicants are encouraged to contact specific SAM faculty members prior to submitting the application.

Applications must include:

- transcripts of previous undergraduate and graduate studies,
- GRE scores,
- a statement outlining your interest in the SAM program and identifying the faculty mentor with whom you've already been in contact,
- a cv/résumé, and
- three letters of recommendation.

International students must meet the requirements for regular admission to Graduate Studies at CMU. For English proficiency, see the CMU English Proficiency Standards in the current graduate bulletin. These materials will be used in evaluating candidates for admission. A completed M.S. thesis on a materials-related topic may be counted toward the directed research credits required for the SAM Ph.D. degree. Although some courses may be transferred or waived based on prior graduate work, no more than 15 credit hours can be transferred. Successful completion of the Ph.D. requires satisfactory completion of a minimum of 60 credit hours beyond the bachelor's degree.

Program Requirements

Students normally will begin directed research work no later than during the first semester of residence. Students will meet with their research advisor as early as possible, and form a dissertation committee consisting of at least four members by the end of the first year. The committee chair (research director) and two other members will come from the program faculty. One of these will have research expertise outside the student's immediate area of specialization. One additional committee member may come from an institution external to CMU, including industrial labs, as appropriate. A student's progress through the program will be monitored by an annual review of his or her overall performance by the program director or dissertation committee.

During the second year, Ph.D. students will take a comprehensive examination to demonstrate competence in their area of specialization and the science of advanced materials more generally. The exam will be based on coursework, the current scientific literature in the area, and other appropriate material. Students passing the comprehensive exam will attain dissertator status. Students who fail will be terminated from the program.

During the second year, students will prepare an original research proposal, present it as a seminar to program faculty and students and defend it before the dissertation committee. Students will carry out the bulk of their doctoral research in years 2-4 of the program. The final requirements will be the preparation and public oral defense of a scholarly dissertation that presents the results of the student's dissertation research. The oral defense and the dissertation must be approved by the dissertation committee and by the Office of Graduate Studies. A minimum expectation for graduation is at least one publication accepted for a main contributor in a peer-reviewed, indexed journal for each student.

Degree Requirements


Required Courses I (9 hours)

SAM 701Research Experience in Materials Science


Note: The student may enroll in SAP 701 multiple times until 9 credits are earned.

Required Courses II (4 hours)

Current Topics Seminar

SAM 685Current Topics in the Science of Advanced Materials


Note: The student may enroll in SAM 685 multiple times until 4 credits are earned.

Research (20-29 hours)

SAM 796Directed Research in the Science of Advanced Materials


Dissertation (12 hours)

SAM 899Dissertation


Electives (6-15 hours)

The student may enroll in 6-15 credit hours of elective graduate courses selected in consultation with and approved by the program advisor or graduate coordinator.

Total: 60 semester hours