Doctoral Program

The Ph.D. Program is designed to prepare students for a career in research and/or teaching in their area of specialization. After completing the M.S. Degree (or meeting equivalent requirements) and meeting the minimum standard on the Comprehensive Examination (a written exam for 6 classes that the student has taken during the first year at UCSD), or successfully defending a written thesis, to be admitted to or continue in the Ph.D. program, a student must:

  • Meet all the University's residency and other requirements.
  • Successfully complete three advanced graduate courses (in addition to those required for the M.S. degree) approved by the student's dissertation advisor.
  • Enroll in MATS200, as required; see course descriptions for requirements.
  • Pass the Literature Review Examination. This requirement must be successfully completed within one year after passing the Comprehensive Examination.
  • Pass the Ph.D. Qualifying (Senate) Examination to advance to Ph.D candidacy.
  • Successfully complete and defend a dissertation which, in the opinion of the dissertation committee, contains original work that should lead to publication of at least one significant article in an appropriate referred journal.

Students who transfer with some graduate credit or an M.S. from another institution will have their records reviewed by a faculty advisor, and an appropriate individual course of study may be approved.

To have your records reviewed, please complete the MATS Course Waiver Request Form, and review Graduate Division policies

Comprehensive Examination
The examination will consist of twelve questions, two from each of the six core courses. A passing grade is 60% for the Master's degree, and 70% for the Ph.D. The examination will not exceed six hours in duration. The examination is usually administered a week after spring quarter finals week in June. Typically, students take the exam after one year of full-time enrollment. This exam may only be retaken once before the end of the second year of study.

Literature Review Examination
The examination will consist of a presentation by the student on literature search and interpretations on a research subject directly or indirectly related to the student's thesis topic, in the presence of the student's thesis advisor. This exam must occur within one year of the student having passed the Comprehensive Examination.  Student must submit signed Literature Review Exam Form and the review (paper or presentation) to MATS Graduate Advising office for completion of requirement.

Senate Examination (Qualifying Examination)
The Ph.D. Qualifying Exam is an oral examination of the student's research proposal. The examining committee may consist of five faculty members associated with the Materials Science and Engineering Program, with at least two departments represented; one member must be tenured and from a department other than the committee Chair's department. The student must notify the graduate coordinator of their committee approximately four weeks prior to the exam via submission of MAE/MATS Exam Form. A written proposal of the student's research topic must be submitted to the examining, committee at least one week before the oral exam. This exam is typically taken at the end of the third year of study, but not later than the end of the fourth year.

Thesis Dissertation Defense
The Dissertation Defense is the final Ph.D. examination. Upon completion of the dissertation research project, the student writes a dissertation that must be successfully defended in an oral examination and public presentation conducted by the doctoral committee. The student must notify the graduate coordinator of the exam approximately four weeks prior to the exam via submission of MAE/MATS Exam Form.  Student will also need to schedule two appointments with Graduate Division - one for before the defense, and one (preferably one week) after the defense.