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Meeting many of the most critical challenges facing modern society requires advances in the materials that underpin new technologies. Examples include providing carbon-free and renewable energy, clean water, advanced medical treatments and devices, and sustainable materials manufacturing. New materials are also required for continued economic growth in areas as diverse as aerospace, computing, and sensors.

Materials scientists and engineers at UW–Madison work toward solutions to these problems via research in a wide variety of areas.  Research areas include ceramics, computational material science; composites; corrosion; electrical, optical, magnetic materials; growth and synthesis; joining; materials for energy; metals; materials characterization and microscopy; nanomaterials; phase transformations; photonics; polymers and biomaterials; materials for nuclear energy; quantum computing; self-assembly; semiconductors; structural materials and mechanical properties; surfaces and interfaces; sustainability; thin films; and wear.

More broadly, the field of materials science and engineering is in the middle of a revolution in how we design and deploy new materials. The old way is by trial and error, which involves laboratory testing of hundreds or thousands of candidate materials, which is costly and can take decades to develop a new materials and deploy it in practical technologies. The emerging new method leverages advances in computational materials science; materials databases, data science, and machine learning; and high throughput materials synthesis and characterization to achieve true design of materials. The goal is to develop and deploy new materials much more quickly and much lower cost than ever before. Materials design is a major theme of materials research on campus, organized around the areas of materials design via atomically controlled thin film systems, modular design of nanomaterials, and integrated experimental and computational materials engineering. Materials design and these themes cut across the research and application areas list above.

Materials research extends across campus, well beyond the boundaries of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, so graduate students in materials can pursue research with a large number of affiliate faculty. Faculty emphasize the cross-cutting, interdisciplinary nature of materials research, which is also reflected by the diverse undergraduate backgrounds of the student body, many of whom do not have undergraduate degrees in materials.

Materials research benefits from major campus facilities, including the Materials Science Center, the Wisconsin Microscopy and Characterization Center, Wisconsin Center for Applied Microelectronics, and the Soft Materials Laboratory. Research is supported by major centers, including the National Science Foundation Materials Research Science and Engineering Center and the Grainger Institute for Engineering.

Materials graduates from Wisconsin find long-term success in careers in private industry, national laboratories, and academia in the US and around the world.

Please consult the table below for key information about this degree program’s admissions requirements. The program may have more detailed admissions requirements, which can be found below the table or on the program’s website.

Graduate admissions is a two-step process between academic programs and the Graduate School. Applicants must meet the minimum requirements of the Graduate School as well as the program(s). Once you have researched the graduate program(s) you are interested in, apply online.

Fall Deadline December 15
Spring Deadline September 1
Summer Deadline December 15
GRE (Graduate Record Examinations) Not required.
English Proficiency Test Every applicant whose native language is not English or whose undergraduate instruction was not in English must provide an English proficiency test score and meet the Graduate School minimum requirements (
Other Test(s) (e.g., GMAT, MCAT) n/a
Letters of Recommendation Required 3

Applicants normally are expected to have a B.S. in the physical sciences or engineering. Undergraduate studies normally would include mathematics through differential equations, at least one year each of general physics and chemistry, a course in physical chemistry or modern physics, and an elementary course in properties of materials. Applicants may be admitted with deficiencies. These must be made up as soon as possible after entering the program.

Required Application Materials:

Admission to the University of Wisconsin–Madison Graduate School is a prerequisite for admission to study materials science. A minimum GPA of 3.0/4.0 is required. Admission is highly selective. Most admitted students have an undergraduate GPA above 3.5. However, full consideration will be given to all students meeting the UW–Madison graduate school requirements. 

International students must submit satisfactory results on the TOEFL or another acceptable English Language Test. Please use institution code: 1846; no department code is necessary. Information about these exams can be obtained from the Educational Testing Service, Princeton, New Jersey 08540 or Berkeley, California 94704.

Please use the online application to begin your application. To be considered for fellowships, all application materials are due by December 15th. If you have questions about the application or admissions process, please do not hesitate to send an email to

The graduate school offers a limited number of application fee grants (covers of all or part of the application fee) that are available in a few specific circumstances.  Further information is available here.

Application deadlines:

Spring semester: September 1
Fall semester: December 15
Summer: December 15

Graduate School Resources

Resources to help you afford graduate study might include assistantships, fellowships, traineeships, and financial aid. Further funding information is available from the Graduate School. Be sure to check with your program for individual policies and restrictions related to funding.

Program Resources


Various types of financial assistance are available for entering graduate students, including research assistantships, teaching assistantships, fellowships and special grants. Decisions regarding financial support are made on the basis of letters of recommendation, grades, GRE general test scores, and, for research assistantships, the matching of the interests or experience of the applicant to the research programs of individual faculty members. December 15th is the deadline for receipt of fellowship applications. International students are generally not eligible for university fellowships. Applications for other types of support are accepted until mid-February.


Research assistantships (RAs) are available in any materials science area. These appointments are under the supervision of the major professor directing the research. Students interested in research assistantships in a particular area are encouraged to contact professors whose work is of special interest. The faculty’s research interests are given in the Department of Materials Science And Engineering faculty section. An RA permits the most rapid progress toward a degree. Research assistantships in materials science graduate students are comparable to similar stipends from other institutions. Information about stipends can be obtained from the Associate Chair of Graduate Studies,

Teaching assistantships involve teaching rather than research experience. They pay approximately the same as research assistantships. Teaching experience is especially desirable for students considering an academic career.  The Department of Materials Science and Engineering supports a limited number of teaching assistantships, which are allocated after admissions. 


Herb Fellowships in Materials Science are given out each year. The Herb Fellowship is a one-year full-ride fellowship for incoming graduate students. It is intended to provide especially strong students extra flexibility and independence in formulating their graduate research program.

Fellowships supporting graduate education are also offered on a competitive basis by organizations such as the National Science Foundation, the Hertz Foundation, UW-Madison Graduate School, the U.S. Department of Defense and a number of industries and foundations. Because some of these fellowships have fall application deadlines, early application is necessary. GRE scores for the General Test are required for fellowship applications.


If you choose to attend UW–Madison and plan to pursue funding on your own, the following sites could be very helpful:

Minimum Graduate School Requirements

Review the Graduate School minimum academic progress and degree requirements, in addition to the program requirements listed below.

Major Requirements


Face to Face Evening/Weekend Online Hybrid Accelerated
Yes No No No No

Mode of Instruction Definitions

Accelerated: Accelerated programs are offered at a fast pace that condenses the time to completion. Students typically take enough credits aimed at completing the program in a year or two.

Evening/Weekend: ​Courses meet on the UW–Madison campus only in evenings and/or on weekends to accommodate typical business schedules.  Students have the advantages of face-to-face courses with the flexibility to keep work and other life commitments.

Face-to-Face: Courses typically meet during weekdays on the UW-Madison Campus.

Hybrid: These programs combine face-to-face and online learning formats.  Contact the program for more specific information.

Online: These programs are offered 100% online.  Some programs may require an on-campus orientation or residency experience, but the courses will be facilitated in an online format.


Minimum Credit Requirement 51 credits
Minimum Residence Credit Requirement 32 credits
Minimum Graduate Coursework Requirement 26 credits must be graduate-level coursework. Details can be found in the Graduate School’s Minimum Graduate Coursework (50%) policy (
Overall Graduate GPA Requirement 3.00 GPA required.
This program follows the Graduate School's GPA Requirement policy
Other Grade Requirements n/a
Assessments and Examinations Students entering without a previous master's degree:
  • Students must pass a qualifying exam in Materials Science and Engineering. The exam must be attempted within 13 months of the start of the student’s first semester enrolled. If the first attempt is not passed, a second attempt is required within four months.
  • Students must pass a preliminary exam / thesis proposal exam. This exam is typically undertaken by the end of the fourth semester enrolled and must be undertaken by the end of the fifth semester. If the first attempt is not passed, a second attempt is required within three months. Students may earn the M S & E Master's degree the semester they pass their preliminary exam.
  • Students must prepare a doctoral dissertation, present it in a public seminar, defend it in closed examination by their doctoral committee, and deposit it with the Graduate School.

Students entering with a master's degree:
  • Students on this track must pass the qualifying exam, thesis proposal exam, and thesis defense as described above, on the same schedule with respect to their matriculation date. Students who fail one of these exams will have the opportunity to earn a terminal Master’s degree in M S & E, even if they have been granted a course substitution.
Language Requirements None.
Graduate School Breadth Requirement All doctoral students are required to complete a doctoral minor or Graduate/Professional certificate. If students choose a distributed minor (Option B), they must select a topic or theme and three courses around that theme. At least one course must be graduate level (numbered 700 or above or has Graduate Course Attribute). There are no other restrictions on the course department or topic.

Required COURSES

Courses for Students Starting from a Bachelor's Degree and Enrolling Directly in the Ph.D. Program

All course requirements are subject to modification or substitution to better serve the research needs of the student. To request a change, submit a letter to the department Graduate Coordinator signed by the student and advisor proposing a change and explaining how the change will better suit the student’s needs, especially as it pertains to their research. Course substitutions and other curriculum variances are decided by the department's director of graduate studies, subject to appeal to the department's Graduate Governance Committee and the grievance procedure.

Materials research seminar 12
Materials Research Seminar
Materials core courses 29
Advanced Polymeric Materials
Thermodynamics of Solids
Structure of Materials
Advanced Materials Science: Phase Transformations
Graduate level math course (students may only count one of the following as materials core course)
Engineering Analysis I
Intermediate Problems in Chemical Engineering
Methods of Applied Mathematics 1
Methods of Applied Mathematics-2
Theoretical Physics-Electrodynamics
Materials electives courses 36
Additional coursework and/or research credits 425
Breadth requirement9
Total Credits51

Take two consecutive semesters. 


Take three materials core courses, chosen from these options.


Electives must be selected from the list of Materials Elective Courses.

  1. Before earning the Master’s degree, students should register for M S & E 790 Master's Research or Thesis.
  2. After earning the Master’s degree, they should register for M S & E 890 Pre-Dissertator's Research.
  3. Once they have achieved dissertator status, they should register for M S & E 990 Research and Thesis.

Materials Elective Courses

M S & E 401 Special Topics in Materials Science and Engineering1-3
M S & E/​CHEM  421 Polymeric Materials3
M S & E/​N E  423 Nuclear Engineering Materials3
M S & E/​N E  433 Principles of Corrosion3
M S & E 434 Introduction to Thin-Film Deposition Processes3
M S & E 441 Deformation of Solids3
M S & E 448 Crystallography and X-Ray Diffraction3
M S & E 451 Introduction to Ceramic Materials3
M S & E 456 Electronic, Optical, and Magnetic Properties of Materials3
M S & E 460 Introduction to Computational Materials Science and Engineering3
M S & E 461 Advanced Metal Casting3
M S & E/​M E  462 Welding Metallurgy3
M S & E 463 Materials for Elevated Temperature Service3
M S & E 465 Fundamentals of Heat Treatment3
M S & E/​CIV ENGR/​G L E/​GEOSCI  474 Rock Mechanics3
M S & E 521 Advanced Polymeric Materials3
M S & E 530 Thermodynamics of Solids3
M S & E/​E M A  541 Heterogeneous and Multiphase Materials3
M S & E 550 Materials Fundamentals3
M S & E 551 Structure of Materials3
M S & E 553 Nanomaterials & Nanotechnology3
M S & E 560 Fundamentals of Atomistic Modeling3
M S & E 570 Properties of Solid Surfaces3
M S & E 648 Advanced X-ray Scattering Methods in Materials Science and Engineering3
M S & E 660 Mesoscale Modeling of Materials3
M S & E 748 Structural Analysis of Materials3
M S & E 750 Imperfections and Mechanical Properties3
M S & E 752 Advanced Materials Science: Phase Transformations3
M S & E 756 Structure and Properties of Advanced Electronic Materials3
M S & E 760 Molecular Modeling of Materials3
M S & E 803 Special Topics in Materials Science1-3
B M E/​PHM SCI  430 Biological Interactions with Materials3
B M E/​M E  615 Tissue Mechanics3
BIOCHEM/​CHEM  704 Chemical Biology3
CBE 540 Polymer Science and Technology3
CBE 747 Advanced Colloid and Interface Science3
CHEM 652 Chemistry of Inorganic Materials3
CHEM 653 Chemistry of Nanoscale Materials3
CHEM 654 Materials Chemistry of Polymers2-3
CHEM 664 Physical Chemistry of Macromolecules2-3
CHEM 721 Instrumental Analysis3-4
E C E 745 Solid State Electronics3
GEOSCI 765 Crystal Chemistry3
PHYSICS 415 Thermal Physics3
PHYSICS 551 Solid State Physics3
PHYSICS 715 Statistical Mechanics3
PHYSICS 751 Advanced Solid State Physics3

Additionally, the student’s research advisor must sign a form available from the department Graduate Coordinator approving the five courses taken to fulfill the materials core and materials electives requirements.

Courses for Students Starting from a Master's Degree and Enrolling Directly in the Ph.D. Program

These requirements cover students who (1) have already earned a master's degree in M S & E or a related field and (2) do not wish to earn an M S & E master's from UW.

Students must enroll in the introductory seminar, M S & E 900 Materials Research Seminar, for their first two semesters of enrollment.

Students must satisfy all of the course requirements for the Ph.D. given in the preceding section. However, they may request that courses taken as part of a previous master’s degree at another institution serve to satisfy a portion of the requirements. Students will have one month after matriculation to identify that they wish to follow this track to their Ph.D. and to submit all their course substitution requests. Course substitutions will not be considered later in the student’s Ph.D. studies.

To make such a request, the student should submit a request to the department Graduate Coordinator describing (1) the course from a previous institution; (2) the UW course equivalent; (3) the M S & E course requirement that will be satisfied. The request must include sufficient information to determine if the courses are equivalent. Typically, a syllabus listing the course textbook and lecture topics is sufficient. A course catalog description is typically insufficient. Courses taken while enrolled as an undergraduate student at another institution will not be considered for substitution. This includes courses at the graduate level taken while the student is enrolled as an undergraduate.

If a request is not approved, the student must fulfill the corresponding requirement at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

If one or more course substitutions are accepted, the student will not earn a master’s degree in Materials Science and Engineering from UW–Madison as part of their Ph.D. studies.

Graduate School Policies

The Graduate School’s Academic Policies and Procedures provide essential information regarding general university policies. Program authority to set degree policies beyond the minimum required by the Graduate School lies with the degree program faculty. Policies set by the academic degree program can be found below.

Major-Specific Policies

Prior Coursework

Graduate Work from Other Institutions

With program approval, students are allowed to count up to 9 credits of graduate coursework from other institutions toward the minimum graduate degree credit requirement and the minimum graduate coursework (50%) requirement. No credits from other institutions can be counted toward the minimum graduate residence credit requirement. For additional requirements, consult the program. Students who count credits of graduate coursework from other institutions toward their M S & E Ph.D. degree credit requirements cannot earn a M S & E Master's degree. 

UW–Madison Undergraduate

Typically, no UW-Madison Undergraduate student credits may be counted toward graduate program requirements. However, with program approval, students are allowed to count up to 7 credits numbered 300 or above toward the minimum graduate degree credit requirement when taken in excess of the undergraduate degree requirements. If that coursework is numbered 700 or above it may be used to satisfy the minimum graduate coursework (50%) requirement.  No credits can be counted toward the minimum graduate residence credit requirement.

UW–Madison University Special

Typically, no UW-Madison University Special student credits may be counted toward graduate program requirements.  However, with program approval, students are allowed to count up to 15 credits of coursework numbered 300 or above taken as a UW–Madison Special student toward the minimum graduate residence credit requirement, and the minimum graduate degree credit requirement. If that coursework is numbered 700 or above it may satisfy the minimum graduate coursework (50%) requirement.


This program follows the Graduate School's Probation policy.


This program follows the Graduate School’s Advisor policy and the Graduate School’s Committees policy.

Students without an advisor at the end of their first year enrolled are in danger of failing to make adequate progress towards their degree.  Students can be suspended from the Graduate School if they do not have an advisor.


15 credits

Time limits

The Ph.D. is typically completed within six years.  A candidate for a doctoral degree who fails to take the final oral examination and deposit the dissertation within five years after passing the preliminary examination may be required to take another preliminary examination and to be admitted to candidacy a second time.

This program follows the Graduate School's Time Limits policy.

Grievances and Appeals

These resources may be helpful in addressing your concerns:

MS&E Grievance Procedures

Students who feel they have been unfairly treated or otherwise have a grievance related to the policies and procedures for graduate study in the Materials Science and Engineering Department may choose to submit a formal grievance to the department. Before taking this step, however, students are encouraged to discuss their grievance directly with the person or persons involved. Respectful, professional, direct communication can often reach a more satisfactory resolution to an issue more quickly than a formal grievance procedure.

To pursue a formal grievance, the student should submit a letter describing the issue in detail to the department Associate Chair of Graduate Studies within 60 days of the precipitating incident. (Should the grievance involve the Director of Graduate Studies, the letter should be submitted to the department Chair.) The Director (or Chair) will convene a committee of not fewer than three department faculty. The committee will obtain a written response from the person or persons who are the subject of the complaint. The committee will then decide a course of action in response to the grievance. The response from the subject of the complaint and the committee course of action will be communicated in writing to the student within 15 working days of submission of the grievance. The course of action will be implemented no later than 10 working days of the communication.

If the departmental procedure does not resolve the grievance, the student may appeal to the College of Engineering or the Graduate School. The College grievance procedures are currently available at, and the Graduate School procedures are available at

The Assistant Dean for Graduate Affairs ( provides overall leadership for graduate education in the College of Engineering (CoE), and is a point of contact for graduate students who have concerns about education, mentoring, research, or other difficulties.



Graduate School Resources

Take advantage of the Graduate School's professional development resources to build skills, thrive academically, and launch your career. 

Program Resources

Find information about professional development from the College of Engineering at the following webpage:

  1. Demonstrate an ability to synthesize knowledge from a subset of the biological, physical, and social sciences to help frame problems critical to the future of their discipline.
  2. Conduct original research.
  3. Demonstrate an ability to create new knowledge and communicate it to their peers.
  4. Fosters ethical and professional conduct.


Michael Arnold, Sue Babcock, Chang-Beom Eom, Paul Evans, Padma Gopalan, Sindo Kou, Rod Lakes, Dane Morgan, John Perepezko, Kumar Sridharan, Donald Stone, Izabela Szlufarska, Dan Thoma, Paul Voyles, and Xudong Wang

Associate Professors:

Jason Kawasaki

Assistant Professors:

Dawei Feng, Jiamian Hu, Fang Liu, Hyunseok Oh, Daniel Rhodes, and Jun Xiao

Assistant Teaching Professors:

Franklin Hobbs

See also Materials Science and Engineering Faculty Directory.