​APPLIED PHYSICS PROGRAM - ACADEMICS

The Applied Physics program for both M.S. and Ph.D. students aims at providing firm knowledge on basic science to comprehend the physics taking place at the nanoscale, and tools to apply this knowledge to nurture technological and scientific breakthroughs in applied physics. The program focuses on device physics, photonics and quantum electronics. Students in this program receive broad training in basic scientific concepts in condensed matter physics, electrodynamics and statistical physics. Students participate in scientific research activities that may include laboratory studies and computational modeling. Ph.D. candidates focus on original research driven to advance the boundaries of knowledge. Employability of Applied Physics graduates ranges from academic research institutions to research and development positions in high-tech industrial or entrepreneurial environments.

SUMMARY OF M.S. AND PH.D. REQUIREMENTS:

AP degree requirements.png

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​M.S. DEGREE REQUIREMENTS:

The Master's Degree (M.S.) is awarded upon successful completion of a minimum of 36 credit hours. A minimum GPA of 3.0 must be achieved to graduate.

The M.S. degree has the following components: 

  • Assessment Test and Prep-courses (100 level courses)
  • Core Courses
  • Elective Courses
  • Graduate Seminar (non-credit)
  • Winter Enrichment Program
  • Research/Capstone Experience

Students are expected to complete the M.S. degree requirements in three semesters and one Summer Session.

It is the sole responsibility of the student to plan her/his graduate program in consultation with her/his advisor.



MS Degree Timeline - MS-MST - 2021 Update.png

Master's Assessment Test

  • AP Master's students are not required to take an assessment test.


Core Courses

  • ​This portion of the degree is designed to provide a student with the background needed to establish a solid foundation in the program area. M.S. students are required to complete twelve (12) credits (4 courses) with success to fulfill the core course requirements. The required courses are:

    • ECE 221 - Electromagnetic Theory
    • MSE 225 - Electronic Properties of Materials 
    • AP 220 - Statistical Physics
    • AP 228 - Advanced Quantum Mechanics 

    Individual courses require a minimum of a 'B-'to earn the course credit.

    List of AP courses

Elective Courses

  • ​The elective courses are designed to allow students to tailor their educational experience to meet individual research and educational objectives with the permission of the academic advisor. Electives can be selected from either AP or any other related program. The following list of courses contains those courses most appropriate to complete the AP degree, organized by themes. Students may select four courses from any 200 or 300 level courses, excluding research credits, internship credits, and IED courses.

    List of AP courses

    Fundamentals in Physics
    • MSE 226 - Thermodynamics & Equilibrium Processes
    • MSE 227 - Applied Quantum Mechanics
    • AP 230 - Condensed Matter Physics
    • ME 308 - Introduction to Plasma Physics and Magneto-hydrodynamics

    Experimental Techniques and Characterization
    • EE 203 - Solid-State Devices Fabrication
    • AP 210 - Spectroscopy of Solids
    • ME 348 - Introduction to Spectroscopy and Laser Diagnostics
    • MSE 307 - Materials Characterization
    • MSE 315 - Thin Film Science and Engineering

    Materials
    • MSE 228 – Biomaterials
    • MSE 229 - Polymeric Materials
    • MSE 230 - Materials and Energy
    • MSE 311 - Soft Materials
    • MSE 313 - Functional Oxides
    • MSE 316 - Magnetic Materials
    • MSE 318 - Nanomaterials
    • MSE 320 - Solar Cell Materials and Devices
    • MSE 322 - Semiconductor Materials
    • MSE 324 – Photophysics of Organic Semiconductors
    • ME 317 A, B – Mechanics of Composite Materials and Structures

    Device Physics
    • AP 320 - Introduction to Nanoelectronics
    • AP 390 – Contemporary Topics in Applied Physics
    • EE 206 - Device Physics
    • EE 306 - Electronic and Optical Properties of Semiconductors

    Optoelectronics and Photonics
    • EE 231 - Principles of Optics
    • EE 208 - Semiconductor Optoelectronic Devices
    • EE 332 - Optical Waves in Crystals
    • MSE 321 - Optical Properties of Materials

    Theoretical and Computational Physics
    • AMCS 201 - Applied Mathematics I
    • AMCS 202 - Applied Mathematics II
    • AMCS 231 - Applied Partial Differential Equations I
    • AMCS 331 - Applied Partial Differential Equations II
    • AMCS 252 - Numerical Analysis of Differential Equations
    • AMCS 255 - Advanced Computational Physics
    • CS 229 – Machine Learning
    • AP 330 - Many-Body Theory in Condensed Matter 
    • MSE 314 - Ab-initio Computational Methods
    • AMCS 353 - Advanced Topics in Wave Propagation
    • ME 305 A, B – Computational Fluid Dynamics
    • ME 319 A, B – Computational Solid Mechanics




Graduate Seminar

  • ​All students are required to register AP Graduate Seminar course (AP 398) and receive a Satisfactory grade for three semesters during the MS degree to complete the degree requirement.

Winter Enrichment Program

  • ​Students are required to satisfactorily complete at least one full Winter Enrichment Program (WEP).

Research/Capstone Experience: Master's Thesis

  • ​The Applied Physics program only allows the M.S. thesis option.

    Designation of Thesis Advisor

    The first step for students planning to apply for thesis is to identify an M.Sc. academic (thesis) advisor. Students are required to select a faculty member affiliated with the program to supervise the thesis research. The list of faculty members affiliated with the AP program is available on the Applied Physics program home page, click here.|

    Students may choose to do thesis research with a non-affiliated faculty member. The potential non-affiliated academic (thesis) advisor must seek for the MSE program's approval to become a project-affiliated advisor for this specific thesis project before commencing the research work.

    To submit a project-affiliation request for the program approval, the following documents must be submitted to the Graduate Program Student Advisor (GPSA):

    • Master's Thesis application
    • Research proposal signed by the Thesis Supervisor providing an over-all research project summary and explaining how the project relates to the student's home program.


    Application for M.Sc. Thesis Track

    Students wishing to do thesis research must submit the M.Sc. thesis application to change to the M.Sc. thesis track. Students can apply to change track as early as their second semester.

    Master's Thesis application


    Thesis Research Requirements
    • Register a minimum of 12 credits of Master's Thesis Research (AP 297)
    • Thesis Document
    • Thesis Defense
    • Submit the final draft of the thesis to KAUST Library

    More details in the following sections.



Thesis Research Requirements: 1. Thesis Credit Registration

  • Thesis students are required to complete a minimum of 12 credits of thesis research (AP 297). Students are permitted to register for more than 12 credits of M.Sc. thesis research as necessary, and with the permission of the academic (thesis) advisor.

Thesis Research Requirements: 2. Thesis Document

  • Students must follow the KAUST Thesis and Dissertation Guidelines available on the KAUST Library website when they write their thesis.

    The division recommends that students submit the thesis to the examining committee no later than two weeks prior to the defense. However, the committee chair sets the final requirement for the submission timeline.

Thesis Research Requirements: 3. Thesis Defense

  • Once the thesis is ready to be examined/defended, students have to form the thesis examination committee and to set the date for the oral defense.

    Thesis Committee Members Selection Criteria

    The thesis defense committee must consist of at least three members and typically includes no more than four members as:

    Member
    RoleProgram Status
    1
    Committee ChairAP affiliated faculty member
    2
    KAUST facultyAP affiliated faculty member
    3KAUST facultyNon-affiliated faculty member
    4Additional faculty or research scientistInside or outside KAUST


    Notes:

    • Members 1-3 are required, member 4 is optional
    • Member 1: committee chair must be MSE faculty member or KAUST faculty member affiliated with MSE program
    • Member 2: must be MSE faculty member
    • Member 3: KAUST faculty member not affiliated with the program
    • Co-chairs may serve as member 2, 3, or 4, but may not be a research scientist
    • Adjunct professors and professors emeriti may retain their roles on current committees, but may not serve as chair on any new committees
    • Professors of practice and research professors may serve as members 2, 3 or 4 depending upon their affiliation with the student's program, they may also serve as co-chairs
    • Visiting professors may serve as member 4

    The petition to form the committee and defend the thesis must be submitted three weeks prior to the date of the defense. M.Sc. Thesis and Ph.D. Defense Petition Form


    Thesis Oral Defense

    An oral defense of the M.Sc. thesis is required, although it may be waived by the dean's office under exceptional circumstances. Public presentation and all other details related to the format of the oral defense are left to the discretion of the thesis committee.

    The oral thesis defense must be completed two weeks before the last day of classes of the graduating semester. Students must set the date of the thesis defense with the committee members by the time they submit their thesis committee formation form.


    Thesis Defense Evaluation

    Students defending their thesis will receive one of these two outcomes, pass or fail. A pass is achieved when the committee agrees with no more than one dissenting vote, otherwise the outcome is a fail. 

    • In case of a pass, students are required to send a copy of the M.Sc. thesis approval form within two days after the thesis defense to the GPSA.
    • In the case of a fail, the thesis supervisor must inform the GPC immediately to take the necessary action.


    The results form must be submitted to GPSA within three days after the defense date. M.Sc. Thesis and Ph.D. Result Form

    Please note all forms must be completed electronically.


Thesis Research Requirements: 4. Thesis Submission

  • Complete the following steps before submitting the final draft of the dissertation to GPSA:

    1. Make the necessary corrections required by the dissertation committee.
    2. Fill out the M.Sc. Thesis and Ph.D. Defense Final Approval Form.
    3. Run the similarity report for your dissertation.
      Steps to run similarity report:
      • Log into Blackboard
      • Click on the Thesis Research course available under your current courses
      • Go to Course Content
      • Click on Draft Turnitin Submission
      • View/Complete
      • Fill in your information and Upload your dissertation document
      • Go to Course Content to view the report.
    4. Send the report and the final approval form to your PhD advisor to review and confirm the originality of your dissertation.
    5. Send the dissertation document and the final approval form to Registrar HelpDesk, RegistrarHelpDesk@KAUST.EDU.SA, for format check.

    The required documents to complete the submission process are: (send all documents in one email)


    Submission to KAUST Digital Archive
    At this point, the student roll in the submission process is completed. The GPSA will do the following to complete the submission:

    • Submit the final version of the thesis, the final approval form, and the copyright form to KAUST Digital Repository.
    • Confirm to the Registrar Office the completion of the degree requirements.

    The exit process will start once the Registrar Office finalizes the graduation process. The university exit policy will apply.

    Please note all forms must be completed electronically.


Master's Thesis Timeline and Extension

  • M.Sc. thesis students and their academic advisors need to define the thesis timeline at the time the thesis application is submitted. Students are expected to complete the M.Sc. thesis degree requirements by the end of their second spring semester (fifth semester).

    M.Sc. thesis students may apply to extend into the summer semester (sixth semester) by submitting the request for time extension to complete M.Sc. thesis.
    Request for Time Extension to Complete Degree

​PH.D. DEGREE REQUIREMENTS:

The Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree is designed to prepare students for research careers in academia and industry. 
It is offered exclusively as a full-time program.

There is a minimum residency requirement at KAUST of 3.5 years for students entering with a B.S. degree and 2.5 years for students entering with an M.S. degree. A minimum GPA of 3.0 must be achieved on all Doctoral coursework. Individual courses require a minimum of a B- to earn course credit.

​Students pursuing Ph.D. degree are required to complete the following degree requirements to earn the degree: ​

PH.D. DEGREE TIMELINE:

MSE PHD Timeline 2019.png

Designation of Dissertation Advisor

  • ​The selected Dissertation Advisor must be a full time program-affiliated assistant, associate or full professor at KAUST. To view the list of AP faculty members and faculty members affiliated with AP click here  and scroll down the page to faculty members.​​

    The student may also select an advisor from another program at KAUST. This advisor can only become project-affiliated for the specific dissertation project with program level approval. Project affiliation approval must be completed prior to commencing research.

    To select a non-affiliated faculty members for a project base affiliation the following documents must be submitted to the program's GPC for the program approval:

    • Change of Advisor Form
    • Research proposal submitted by the supervisor providing an over-all research project summary and explaining how the project relates to the student's home program.

    This application is subject to approval by the student's home project faculty members. The student and supervisor will be informed of the decision by the GPC. ​

Ph.D. Course Requirements

  • ​The required coursework varies for students entering the Ph.D. degree with a B.S. degree or a relevant M.S. degree. Students holding a B.S. degree must complete all program core/mandatory courses and elective courses outlined in the M.S. degree section and are also required to complete the Ph.D. courses below. Students entering with a B.S. degree may also qualify to earn the M.S. degree by satisfying the M.S. degree requirements; however, it is the student's responsibility to declare their intentions to graduate with an M.S. 


    Students entering the Ph.D. degree with a relevant M.S. degree must complete the requirements below, though additional courses may be required by the Dissertation Advisor. 

    Ph.D. Courses

    Ph.D. Coursework

    • Ph.D. students with a relevant M.S. degree must complete minimum of two 300-level courses, including AP 300 - Research Methodology in Applied Physics.
    • Ph.D. students with a relevant B.S. degree must complete minimum of two 300-level courses, including AP 300 - Research Methodology in Applied Physics, in addition to M.S. degree coursework requirements.

    Graduate Seminar 
    Ph.D. students are required to successfully complete four (4) semesters of the MSE Graduate Seminar. The student can achieve the passing grade by attending at least 80% of the seminar sessions scheduled in a semester.

    Winter Enrichment Program
    Students are required to satisfactorily complete at least one full Winter Enrichment Program (WEP) as part of the degree requirements. Students who completed WEP requirements while earning the M.S. Degree are not required to enroll in a full WEP for a second time in the Ph.D. Degree.

    Students entering the program with an M.S. degree from KAUST may transfer unused coursework toward the Ph.D. program requirements subject to program level approval. Students transferring from another university's Ph.D. program may receive some dissertation research and coursework credits on a case-by-case basis for related work performed at the original institution upon approval by the Dean.

Ph.D. Qualifying Exam

  • The purpose of the subject-based Qualifying Exam is to test the student's knowledge of the subject matter within the field of study. 

All students entering the Ph.D. program with a B.S. degree must take this examination within two years of their admission. Students admitted to the program with an M.S. degree must take this exam within one year.



    To complete the AP Qualifying Exam milestone, PhD student must fulfill the following requirements:

    • Take the final exam of all four (4) Core Courses from the AP curriculum. The student is not required to register to these four courses; he/she only needs to take the final exam. The student does not need to take all four final exams in the same semester. However, he/she is required to complete all four final exams within the first year after starting the PhD degree.

    • Score B+ (75%) or higher in the final exam of the four courses. This is considered the first attempt to complete the Qualifying Exam. Student is required to submit the AP Qualifying Exam Evaluation form after the final exam regardless of the outcome.

    • Score below B+ (<75%): course instructor will give another written test to the student one month after receiving the grade for the final exam. The student will be tested in the failed course(s) only. This is considered as the second attempt to pass the Qualifying Exam. Student is required to submit the AP Qualifying Exam Evaluation form after the final exam regardless of the outcome.
      • Failing the second written exam is considered as a failure to complete the AP Qualifying Exam and the student will be dismissed from the university.
      • Should the student obtain a grade above 70%, he/she may appeal the program decision by sending an appeal to Register Office. If the appeal is accepted, the student will get one last chance to complete the Qualifying Exam. The next bullet point explains the format of the Qualifying Exam after the appeal.
    • The format of the Qualifying Exam after the appeal is as follows.
      • The Qualifying Exam will be an oral exam.
      • The examiners of the four subjects will form an ad-hoc committee to examine the student.
      • The exam will include all four subjects for the first attempt regardless of the grades earned before attempting to complete the Qualifying Exam.
    • The exam will be scheduled within three months after accepting the student's appeal.

      The student is required to fill out the AP Qualifying Exam Evaluation form and collect the evaluation of all examiners on the day of the exam. Click here to download the form. The completed form must be sent to program GPC within 24 hours after completing the exam. 


Ph.D. Dissertation Proposal

  • The Dissertation Proposal Defense is the second part of the qualification milestones that must be completed to become a Ph.D. Candidate. The purpose of the Dissertation Proposal Defense is to demonstrate that the student has the ability and is adequately prepared to undertake Ph.D. level research in the proposed area. This preparation includes necessary knowledge of the chosen subject, a review of the literature and preparatory theory or experiment as applicable.

    Ph.D. students are required to complete the Dissertation Proposal Defense within one (1) year after passing the qualifying exam. The proposal defense date will be determined by student and his/her advisor.

    To complete the Ph.D. proposal milestone, Ph.D. students are required to

    1. Submit a request to Form the Dissertation Committee and present the Ph.D Dissertation Proposal.
    2. Defend Ph.D. Dissertation proposal.


    More details in the following sections

Dissertation Committee Formation for Ph.D. Proposal

  • ​Ph.D. students must submit the request to form dissertation committee & present Ph.D. proposal two weeks prior to the Ph.D. proposal defense date. Click here to download the form.


    ​The Dissertation Committee for Ph.D. propsal must consist of at least three faculty members, but no more than five members. The criteria for selecting committee members is as follows: 

    Member
    ​Role
    ​Program Status
    1​​Chair
    Within the Program or Affiliated​
    2​Faculty​Within the Program
    ​3
    Faculty​Outside the Program​
    ​4
    Additional Faculty​ or Approved Research Scientist
    Inside KAUST​
    ​5
    ​Additional Faculty​
    Inside or Outside KAUST​


    • Members 1-3 are required. Member 4 & 5 are optional.
    • Co-Chairs may serve as Members 2 or 3. 
    • Professors of Practice and Research Professors may serve as Members 2 or 3 depending upon their affiliation with the student’s program. They may also serve as Co-Chairs. 
    • Adjunct Professors, Professors Emeriti, and Research Scientist may serve as member 4 or 5.

    The Dissertation Committee must be approved by the Program Chair and the Dean.  Once constituted, the composition of the committee can only be changed with the approval of both the Dissertation Advisor and the Dean.


Ph.D. Dissertation Proposal Defense

  • ​The Dissertation Proposal Defense includes two aspects: a written research proposal and an oral research proposal defense. 

    • The written research proposal document should be 3000 words (+/- 10%).
    • The oral defense should be 1.5 hours long (30 min presentation, 60 min questions)

    Ph.D. Proposal Defense Evaluation

    There are four possible outcomes from this Dissertation Proposal Defense:

    Pass: A pass is achieved when the committee agrees with no more than one dissenting vote, otherwise the student fails.

    Pass with conditions: In the instance of a Pass with conditions, the entire committee must agree on the required conditions and if they cannot, the Dean decides. The deadline to complete the conditions is one month after the defense date, unless the committee unanimously agrees to change it.

    Fail with retake: The deadline to complete the retake is six months after the defense date, unless the committee unanimously agrees to reduce it.

    Fail without retake: In the instance of a Fail without Retake, the decision of the committee must be unanimous. Students who fail the Dissertation Proposal Defense, or who fail the retake, will be dismissed from the University.

    The Dissertation Proposal Evaluation form​ must be submitted within 48 hours after presenting the dissertation proposal.

    Upon passing the Proposal Defense, student must submit the change to Ph.D. candidate status form.​

Dissertation Defense and Submission

  • Ph.D. Dissertation Defense

    The Dissertation Defense is the final milestone of the degree. This part requires acceptance of the Dissertation and the passing of the final defense. The final defense is a public presentation that consists of an oral defense followed by questions.​

    To complete this part Ph.D. student is required to complete the following:

    • Form Ph.D. Dissertation Committee and petition for Ph.D. dissertation Defense examination .
    • Defend the dissertation and submit the results.
    • Submit Ph.D. Dissertation and the Final Approval form.

    Note:

    Students must follow the KAUST Thesis and Dissertation Guidelines available on the library website when they write their dissertation.



Petition for Ph.D. Dissertation Defense

  • Petition for Dissertation Defense Examination

    Ph.D. student is expected to declare his/her intention to defend the Ph.D. Dissertation by forming the dissertation committee and submitting the Ph.D. Petition for Dissertation Defense Examination form to the GPC. The student must submit the form to the GPC by the end of the second week of the semester the student intends to defend.

    It is advisable that the student submits her/his dissertation to committee members six weeks prior the defense date.

    Dissertation Committee

    The PhD Dissertation Defense committee for the final defense must consist of at least four members, and typically includes no more than six members. At least three of the required members must be KAUST faculty and one must be an examiner who is external to KAUST. The Chair plus one additional faculty member must be affiliated with the student’s program.

    The External Examiner must hold a Full or Associate Professor position at a university other than KAUST. The External Examiner will review the dissertation and send a report within three weeks sharing his/her recommendations and questions prior to the final defense. Beyond the External Examiner, up to two additional members can be added. All committee members must attend the final defense, by videoconference if necessary.

    Member Role & Program Status:

    ​Member

    Role​

    Program Status​

    ​1

    ​Chair

    ​Within Program

    ​2

    ​Faculty

    ​Within Program

    ​3

    ​Faculty

    ​Outside Program

    ​4

    ​External Examiner

    ​Outside KAUST

    ​5

    ​Approved Research Scientist

    ​Inside KAUST

    ​6

    ​Additional Faculty

    ​Inside or outside KAUST

     
    Notes: 

    • Members 1 – 4 are required. Members 5 and 6 are optional.
    • Co-chairs may serve as either Member 2, 3 or 6. 
    • Adjunct Professors and Professor Emeriti may retain their roles on current committees, but may not serve as chair on any new committees. 
    • Professors of Practice and Research Professors may serve as Members 2, 3 or 6 depending upon their affiliation with the student’s program. They may also serve as co-chairs. 
    • Visiting Professors may serve as Member 6, but not as the external examiner.​​​


Oral Defense and Results Submission

  • The Dissertation Defense is the final milestone of the degree. This part requires acceptance of the Dissertation and the passing of the final defense. The final defense is a public presentation that consists of an oral defense followed by questions and may last a maximum of three hours.

    Evaluation

    There are four (4) possible outcomes for Final Defense: 

    • Pass without conditions

    • Pass with conditions

    • Fail with retake

    • ​Fail without retake

    A pass is achieved when the committee agrees with no more than one dissenting vote, otherwise the student fails. 

    In the instance of a Pass with Conditions, the entire committee must agree on the required conditions and if they cannot, the Dean decides. The deadline to complete the conditions is one (1) month after the defense date unless the committee unanimously agrees to reduce it. 

    In the instance of a Fail without Retake permitted, the decision of the committee must be unanimous. Otherwise one retake is permitted. The deadline to complete the retake is four (4) months after the defense date unless the committee unanimously agrees to reduce it. Students who fail the Final Dissertation Defense or who fail the retake will be dismissed from the university.

    Ph.D. student is required to submit the Ph.D. Dissertation Defense Examination Result form to the GPC within three days after the defense examination.​

Submission of Dissertation and Final Approval Form

  • ​Dissertation Document:

    Students must follow the KAUST Thesis and Dissertation Guidelines available on KAUST Library website when they write their dissertation. The student will be contacted by Thesis Checker in the Registrar office to make sure the student is following the guidelines.

    The Writing Center provide editorial assistance to students writing their thesis. Students can book a time by sending an email to Skills Lab, skillslab@kaust.edu.sa.

    Submission of Dissertation:

    Once the post-examination corrections to the final dissertation document and the format of the dissertation are completed, the Ph.D. student must submit the final draft of the dissertation document to Turnitin through Blackboard. And, submit the Final Approval and Copyright Availability forms to GPC.

    The Student can also use the Turnitin tool in Blackboard to check the dissertation document for plagiarism.​

    Steps to submit the dissertation and run the plagiarism report:

    • Log into Blackboard.

    • Click on the course titled (“Year”_”Semester”_DISS) available on the list of Courses: Quick View.

    • Click on View/Complete under Originality-Check.

    • Fill in your information and Upload your Thesis document.

    • ​Click on Go to Assignment Inbox.

    • Click on the similarity percentage next to your Thesis Title.

    To run the report at a later time:

    • Log into Blackboard.

    • ​Click on the course titled (“Year”_”Semester”_DISS) available on the list of Courses: Quick View.

    • Click on Course Tools.

    • Click on Turnitin Assignments.

    Submission to KAUST Library:

    • The GPC will send the Turnitin Plagiarism report to the supervisor for authentication.

    • The GPC will archive the final dissertation to the library on behalf of the student once the following documents are submitted: 

    • ​​The GPC will inform the Registrar Office once the submission is confirmed by the Library. ​

​FREQUENTLY USED FORMS

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