Graduate Advising

GOALS, EXPECTATIONS, AND SCHEDULE FOR GRADUATE STUDENTS

 

MASTER OF SCIENCE IN MATERIALS SCIENCE & ENGINEERING 

Goals:The intended outcome of M.S. studies is for the student to master the knowledge, enhance professional skills, and gain the experience necessary to become a professional scientist/engineer or to obtain a solid foundation for further education in science and engineering.

Schedule and expectations for a student who progresses at the expected rate through the program. While individual schedules may vary, if you anticipate a significant deviation from the schedule below (e.g., time to graduation significantly beyond 2 years), please contact the Director of Graduate Studies to make sure that administrative problems can be avoided.

Year 1

  • Design a program of study in consultation with your advisor.
  • Take MSE 500if you plan to continue on to Ph.D. study.
  • Take about 5 or 6 classes that (i) provide background in the fundamentals of MatSE which you may be missing, and (ii) build your knowledge in the topics central to your studies.
  • Select an area of concentration or fulfill course requirements for future Ph.D. study.
  • Complete annual review of graduate students.

Year 2

  • Take additional classes and satisfy coursework requirements.
  • Be active in planning your career.
  • Find a great job or a Ph.D. program.

 

DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY IN MATERIALS SCIENCE & ENGINEERING 

Goals: The intended outcome of Ph.D. studies is for the student to master the knowledge, acquire the skills, and develop the experience necessary to become a leader in science and engineering.

Schedule and expectations for a student who progresses at the expected rate through the program (starting from a B.S. degree).  Please see the MatSE graduate handbook for a complete description of rules and procedures.  While individual schedules will inevitably vary, if you anticipate a significant deviation from the schedule below (e.g., time to graduation beyond 5 – 6 years), please contact the Director of Graduate Studies to make sure that administrative problems can be avoided. 

Year 1

  • Choose an advisor & begin research.
  • Pass MSE 500 with B or better.
  • Take about 5 or 6 classes that (i) provide background in the fundamentals of MatSE which you may be missing, and (ii) build your knowledge in the topics central to your Ph.D. studies.  Think ahead about classes with relevance to qualifying exams.
  • Read and keep up with relevant literature, attend group/individual meetings and discuss with your advisor about research topics and approaches that may become the center piece of your thesis. These activities will, of course, continue through the end of your Ph.D. studies. 
  • Complete annual review of graduate students.

Year 2

  • Complete about 4 classes that continue to build your knowledge. Coursework requirements can be completed during the second year, but it is also possible to take the final 1–2 courses in the third year.   
  • Pass 2 oral qualifying exams
  • Continue research at a higher pace and present it at a graduate student seminar or a conference.  
  • If possible, publish in a peer-reviewed scientific journal (Time to first publication will vary depending on project, research group, etc.). 
  • Complete annual review of graduate students.

Year 3

  • Continue research and present the results at a professional society meeting and/or publish the results in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.
  • Setup PhD Committee.
  • Pass Preliminary Exam.
  • Complete annual review of graduate students.

Year 4

  • Continue research (conferences & publications).
  • Keep in contact with PhD committee.
  • Complete annual review of graduate students.

Year 5

  • Continue research (conferences & publications).
  • Keep in contact with PhD committee.
  • Defend your PhD.
  • Get a great job!

 

ADVICE ON CHOOSING AN ADVISOR

Choosing the professor who will direct your thesis research is arguably the most important single decisionthat a graduate student will make in his/her program of study. The following notes are intended to provide new students with some guidance.  Becoming an effective researcher is a complex and subtle process that is still taught by apprenticeship in a professor’s research group. Keeping in mind that the ultimate goal for a Ph.D. graduate is to become fully capable of carrying out independent research, below are some important aspects that you should consider carefully in choosing an advisor. 

  • Overlap of your research interests with those of the group’s (you should be excited about and eager to get started on a project).
  • Relevance of the research topic and the group’s level of expertise and productivity in that area (start with the group’s list of publications – read at least some of them).
  • Availability of the advisor (How much direction will the advisor give? How frequent are individual and group meetings? etc.).
  • What your responsibilities will be.
  • To what degree you will be involved in formulating the research problem (this may change over time).
  • Stage(s) at which you will be sent to present your work at national/international conferences.
  • The advisor’s standards and expectations on the quality of the thesis.
  • Number and quality of publications and the average time to obtain a degree.
  • Current group members: 
    • How many students/postdocs in the group?
    • Topics of their research
    • How they view their projects, their roles in the group, the advisor, etc.
  • What have recent graduates of the group have gone on to do?