​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​MATERIAL SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING PROGRAM ACADEMICS

The Material Science and Engineering Program is designed to equip students with fundamental and applied knowledge of materials. Its goal is to prepare them to tackle grand challenges in sustainability and alternative energy, nanotechnology and nanoelectronics, biomaterials, materials characterization, and low-power computing.​​​​

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

​​​MSE Degree Summary PNG.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 Timeine PNG.png


Master's Assessment Test

  • Students are admitted to KAUST from a wide variety of programs and backgrounds. In order to facilitate the design of an appropriate study plan for each individual student, all MS and MS/PhD incoming students will be required to take an assessment during orientation week. There is no grade for the assessment. The purpose of the assessment is to determine whether students have mastered the prerequisites for undertaking graduate level courses taught in the program. The Advisor uses the results of the assessments to design, if necessary, a remedial study plan with a list of courses aimed at addressing content areas that may impede a student from successful completion of the degree requirements.

    Students are encouraged to prepare for the assessment by refreshing the general knowledge gained from their undergraduate education before arriving at KAUST.

    Material Science and Engineering Assessment Test Subjects

    Material Science and Engineering students will be tested on the following subjects:

    • Basic Principles of General Chemistry
    • Basic Principles of Physics 
    • Engineering Mathematics
    • Linear Algebra
    • Ordinary Differential Equations


    1. Basic Principles of General Chemistry

    Topics included in the General Chemistry assessment test:
    • Physical and Chemical Properties of Matter 
    • Principles of atomic structure 
    • Periodic variation in physical and chemical properties of the elements
    • Chemical bonding: Formal charge and Lewis structure, Polarity, Molecular geometry and hybridization of atomic orbitals
    • Intermolecular forces
    • Chemical Kinetics & Equilibrium
    • Acids and bases
    • Electrochemistry
    • Stoichiometry

    Recommended References:



    2. Basic Principles of Physics

    Topics inluded in the Principles of Physics assessment test:
    • Newtonian Physics:
      • Kinematics (motion with constant acceleration in one and two dimensions). 
      • Dynamics (Newton's Laws of motion).
      • Work-Energy theorem, potential energy and energy conservation.
      • Momentum, impulse and collisions. 
    • Electromagnetism: 
      • Electric fields, Coulomb's law, electric potential and potential energy, electric flux (Gauss's law). 
      • Direct-current circuits, resistors and capacitors is series and in parallel, theory of metallic conduction, power distribution systems. 
      • Magnetic field, motion of charged particles within uniform magnetic fields, magnetic force on current-carrying conductors, forces between parallel conductors. 
      • Electromagnetic Induction: Faraday's and Lenz's Laws, motional electromotive force, induced electric fields. 
    • Quantum Physics: 
      • The photoelectric effect.
      • Wave particle duality, probability and uncertainty.
      • Electron waves, de Broglie wavelength.
      • Atomic spectra, energy levels and the Bohr model of the atom. 
      • Wave function interpretation. 
    • Thermodynamics:
      • Calorimetry and phase changes.
      • Equations of state, molecular properties of matter.
      • Kinetic-molecular model of an ideal gas.
      • Work done during volume changes.
      • Paths between thermodynamics states .
      • Kinds of thermodynamic processes.
      • 1st law of thermodynamics and Internal Energy.
      • 2nd law of thermodynamics. Carnot cycle and entropy. 
    • Oscillations and Waves:
      • Mathematical description of a wave.
      • Energy in wave motion.
      • Speed of waves.
      • Superposition of waves.
      • Standing waves.
      • Reflection, Refraction, critical angle and total internal reflection.
      • Diffraction from a single, double slits and around objects. Interference patterns including double-slit interference. 

    Recommended References:



    3. Engineering Mathematics 

    Topics included in the Engineering Mathematics assessment test:
    • Limits
    • Derivatives
    • Anti-derivatives and definite integrals.
    • The classes of functions used to develop these concepts are: polynomial, rational, trigonometric exponential and logarithmic.
    • Integration (by parts, substitutions, partial fractions, approximation of integrals and improper integrals)
    • Infinite sequences and series
    • Convergence tests
    • Power series
    • Taylor polynomials and series
    • Taylor's Remainder Theorem

    Recommended References:
    • J. Robinson, An Introduction to Ordinary Differential Equations, Cambridge University Press, ISBN: 978-0521533911.
    • J. Polking, A. Boggess, D. Arnold, Differential Equations with Boundary Value Problems, Pearson, ISBN: 978-0131862364.
    • M. Tenenbaum, H. Pollard, Ordinary Differential Equations, Dover Publications, ISBN:  978-0486649405.
    • J. Robinson, Differential Equations, Cambridge University Press, ISBN: 978-0521533911.



    4. Linear Algebra

    Topics included in the Linear Algebra assessment test:
    • Vector spaces and linear mappings between such spaces 
    • Introduction to vector spaces 
    • Basis and dimension 
    • Rank of a matrix
    • Determinants
    • Inverse of a matrix 
    • Eigenvalues and diagonalization
    • Similarity
    • Positive definite matrices
    • Orthogonal and unitary matrices and transformations 
    • Orthogonal projections
    • Gram-Schmidt procedure 
    • Solving systems of linear equations
    • Cramer's rule
    • Linear transformations
    • Isomorphism
    • Parallelepipeds

    Recommended References:
    • Linear Algebra and Its Applications, David C. Lay, Addison-Wesley/Pearson, ISBN: 978-0321385178.
    • Linear Algebra: Concepts and Methods, Martin Anthony & Michele Harvey, Cambridge University Press, ISBN:978-0-521-27948-2.



    5. Ordinary Differential Equations 


    Topics included in the ODE assessment test:
    • Solving simple ordinary differential equations
    • Classification by order
    • Linearity and homogeneity
    • Autonomous differential equations
    • Asymptotic behavior
    • Equilibrium points and stability
    • Solutions by numerical schemes
    • Euler's method

    Recommended References:
    • J. Robinson, An Introduction to Ordinary Differential Equations, Cambridge University Press, ISBN: 978-0521533911.
    • J. Polking, A. Boggess, D. Arnold, Differential Equations with Boundary Value Problems, Pearson, ISBN: 978-0131862364.
    • M. Tenenbaum, H. Pollard, Ordinary Differential Equations, Dover Publications, ISBN:  978-0486649405.
    • J. Robinson, Differential Equations, Cambridge University Press, ISBN: 978-0521533911.

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. Students must select nine (9) credits (3 courses) from the list of core courses below. Students must also complete either MSE 200 or any AMCS courses to fulfill the remaining three (3) credits.

    List of MSE Core Courses:

    • MSE 221 - Crystallography and Diffraction 
    • MSE 225 - Electronic Properties of Materials 
    • MSE 226 - Thermodynamics and Equilibrium Processes 
    • MSE 227 - Applied Quantum Mechanics 
    Individual courses require a minimum of a ‘B-‘to earn the course credit.

Elective Courses

  • ​The elective courses are designed to allow each student to tailor his/her educational experience to meet individual research and educational objectives.

    The number of credits required to fulfill the elective courses requirements varies depending on the Master’s degree option M.S. student choose to pursue, Master’s non-Thesis or Master’s Thesis.

    • Master’s non-Thesis option: The number of credits required for the Master’s non-Thesis option is eighteen (18) credits (6 courses). With the consent of the Academic Advisor, MSE courses, courses from other academic programs, and up to six (6) credits of IED courses will count toward elective requirements. Replacing elective courses with research credits or internship credits is not allowed. 
    • Master’s Thesis option: The number of credits required for the Master’s Thesis option is twelve (12) credits (4 courses). With the consent of the Academic Advisor, MSE courses and courses from other academic programs will count toward elective requirements. Replacing elective courses with research credits, internship credits, or IED courses is not allowed. 
    You will find the list of MSE elective courses under Program Courses and Descriptions.

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

Graduate Seminar

  • ​All students are required to register MSE Graduate Seminar course (MSE 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

  • ​The number of credits required to fulfill the research experience requirements varies depending on the Master's degree option M.S. student choose to pursue, Master's non-Thesis or Master's Thesis. 

    • Master's non-Thesis option: the number of credits required for this track is six (6) credits.
    • Master's Thesis option: the number of credits required for this track is twelve (12) credits.

    More details in the following sections.

Master's Non-Thesis

  • ​Students wishing to pursue the non-thesis option must complete a minimum of six (6) credits of Directed Research (MSE 299). Summer internship credits may be used to fulfill the research requirements. Summer internships are subject to approval by the student’s academic advisor and the Division.

Master's with thesis


  • Students wishing to pursue the thesis option must complete a minimum of twelve (12) credits of Thesis research (MSE 297). Students are permitted to register for more than twelve credits of M.S. thesis research as necessary and with the permission of the thesis advisor. 

    Apply to Master’s Thesis Option

    By default Master’s student is enrolled in the Master’s non-Thesis track. Students wishing to change to Master’s Thesis track must submit the M.S. Thesis application to change track. Click to download the form.

    M.S. student can apply to change to Master’s Thesis track as early as their second semester. The student must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.2 to apply


    Designation of Thesis Advisor

    Students can work on an M.S. Thesis under the supervision of program affiliated faculty members. The list of affiliated faculty members with MSE program on Material Science and Engineering program main page, click here.

    Students may choose to do thesis research with a non-affiliated faculty member. The potential non-affiliated thesis supervisor must become a project-affiliated supervisor for this specific thesis project. Any student would like to request to work with a non-affiliated faculty member must submit the following documents to the Graduate Program Coordinator (GPC) for program approval. 
    • Master’s Thesis application. Click to download the form.
    • 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.

    The application is subject for approval by the student's home program. The program’s GPC will communicate the program decision to the student and the potential Thesis Supervisor once the decision is made.


    M.S. Thesis Timeline and Extension

    The M.S. Thesis Supervisor and the student need to define the thesis timeline at the time the application is submitted. The student is expected to complete the M.S. with Thesis degree requirements by the end of their second fall semester (fourth semester). 

    Students may apply to extend into the spring semester (fifth semester) by submitting the Request for Time Extension to Complete M.S. Thesis form to their GPC. Click to download the form. The request for time extension requires the Dean's approval.


    Thesis Defense and Submission

    Students pursuing the Master’s Thesis track are expected to give an oral defense and submit a written Thesis to fulfill the degree requirements.

    Students are required to complete the following steps to defend and submit their Thesis:

    1. Writing the Thesis Document

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

    The students are advised to seek the assistance of the Writing Center as early in their writing process as possible. The Writing Center provide consultations and support sessions to imporove the students academic writing. Students can request to schedule an appointement with the center by sending an email to Skills Lab, skillslab@kaust.edu.sa.

    2. Formation of the Thesis Committee

    Once the student and supervisor agree that the thesis is ready to be examined/defended, the student has to form a Thesis examination committee and set the date for the oral defense. 

    The division recommends that the student 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. 

    The student has to submit the Thesis Formation Committee form to the GPC at the beginning of the semester in which the student intends to defend the thesis. Click to download the form

    Thesis Committee Members' selection criteria:

    The Thesis Committee must consist of at least three members, and typically includes no more than four members.

    Member
    Role
    Program Status
    ​1
    Committee Chairperson (M.S. Thesis Advisor)Within Program or Affiliated
    ​2
    KAUST Faculty Member
    Within Program
    ​3
    Faculty or Approved Research Scientist
    Outside Program
    ​4
    Additional Faculty (Optional)
    Inside or outside KAUST

    • Members 1-3 are required. Member 4 is optional. 
    • Co-Chairs may serve as Members 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. 

    3. Thesis Defense

    An oral defense of the M.S. Thesis is required, although it may be waived by the Dean’s Office under exceptional circumstances. A requirement of a public presentation and all other details are left to the discretion of the Thesis Committee.

    Thesis Defense Date

    The oral thesis defense must be completed two weeks before the last day of classes of the graduating semester. The student must set the date of the Thesis Defense with the committee members by the time the student submits the Thesis Committee Formation form. 
     
    Booking a Venue of the Thesis Defense

    It is the student's responsibility to book a room and make the necessary IT arrangements for the Thesis Defense. Room booking is done thru the student portal under Service Request Management. 

    Thesis Defense Announcement

    As stated above, the requirements of public presentation is left to the discretion of the Thesis Committee. If the committee decided to announce the defense, student must send the following information to GPC two week prior to defense date. 
    • Thesis title 
    • Abstract 
    • Start time and end time of the defense
    • Location of the defense

    Oral Defense Guidelines

    As a general guideline the defense is expected to be a 45-minute presentation followed by 15 minutes of general Q&A then a closed-door Q&A session with the committee. The format of the presentation is left to the discretion of the Thesis Committee.

    Thesis Defense Evaluation

    The student defending his/her 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 student fails. 

    In case of Pass, the student is required to send a copy of the MS Thesis Approval form within two days after the Thesis defense to GPC. Click to download the form.

    In the case of Fail, the Thesis Supervisor must inform the program GPC immediately to take the necessary action. 
    4. Thesis Submission 

    Before Submitting the final draft of the Thesis to GPC, the student is required to send the thesis document to the Graduate Thesis Advisor. The Graduate Thesis Advisor will make sure the student comply with the university Thesis and Dissertation guidelines.  

    Once the post-examination corrections required by the Thesis Committee and format changes are carried out, the student is required to do the following:
    1. Upload the final draft of the Thesis document to Turnitin through Blackboard under the course titled "Semester"_”Year"_THES (e.g. Fall_2018-2019_THES) available on the list of Courses: Quick View.
    2. Inform the GPC after uploading the file. 
    3. Submit the M.S. Thesis Final Approval form signed by Thesis Committee members and the Graduate Thesis Advisor to GPC.
    4. Submit the Copyright form available on KAUST Library website to GPC.

    Once all required documents are submitted, the GPC will take the following actions to complete the Thesis submission: 
    1. Run the Turnitin similarity report and send it to the Thesis Advisor to confirm the originality of the student’s work. The supervisor will inform the student about any necessary adjustments to the thesis document. In this case, the student is required to re-upload the Thesis after applying the required corrections into Blackboard.
    2. The GPC will submit the final draft of the Thesis document, the M.S. Final Approval form, and the Copyright form to the Library Archive.
    3. The library will send the tracking number of the Thesis document to GPC.
    4. GPC will notify the Registrar Office and confirm the completion of the M.S. Thesis degree requirements. A copy of the email will be sent to the student.
    5. The registrar office will start the graduation and exit processes at this stage.




Program Courses and Descriptions

  • List of MSE Courses​


    Core Courses

    • MSE 221 - Crystallography and Diffraction
    • MSE 225 - Electronic Properties of Materials
    • MSE 226 - Thermodynamics and Equilibrium Processes
    • MSE 227 - Applied Quantum Mechanics
    • MSE 200 - Engineering Mathematics


    Elective Courses

    • MSE 200 - Engineering Mathematics
    • MSE 201 - Fundamentals of Materials Science and Engineering
    • MSE 228 - Biomaterials
    • MSE 229 - Polymeric Materials
    • MSE 230 - Materials and Energy
    • MSE 305 - Kinetics and Phase Transformations
    • MSE 307 - Materials Characterization
    • MSE 311 - Soft Materials
    • MSE 313 - Functional Oxides
    • MSE 314 - Ab-initio Computational Methods
    • MSE 315 - Thin Film Science and Engineering
    • MSE 316 - Magnetic Materials
    • MSE 318 - Nanomaterials
    • MSE 320 - Solar Cell Materials and Devices
    • MSE 321 - Optical Properties of Materials
    • MSE 322 - Semiconductor Materials
    • MSE 392 - Advanced Topics in Materials Science I
    • MSE 393 - Advanced Topics in Materials Science II
    • MSE 394 - Advanced Topics in Materials Science III

    Research Courses

    • MSE 295 - Internship
    • MSE 297 - Thesis Research
    • MSE 299 - Directed Research
    • MSE 395 - Internship
    • MSE 397 - Dissertation Research
    • MSE 398 - Graduate Seminar
    • MSE 399 - Directed Research


    MSE Courses Description​


    MSE 100 - Basic Principles of Physics (3-0-0)
    Prerequisite: None.
    This course is a review of physics content normally taught at the senior undergraduate level. The course will cover electric field and potential, DC and AC current circuits, magnetism, magnetic induction, electromagnetic waves and optical phenomena (transmission, reflection, diffraction, interference, etc). Further topics will include Blackbody radiation, photoelectric effect, atomic line spectra, Bohr hydrogen atom, de Broglie waves, Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, free particle, particle in a box, particle on a ring, simple harmonic oscillation, quantum numbers and angular momentum. Finally, an overview of the first, second, and third laws of Thermodynamics along with heat capacity, enthalpy, thermal conduction is presented.

    MSE 199 - Directed Study in Materials Science (3-0-0) (variable credit up to a maximum of 12 credits) 
    Prerequisite: None.
    A course of self-study in a particular topic as directed by faculty and approved by the division.

    MSE 200 - Engineering Mathematics (3-0-3) 
    Prerequisite: None.
    This course presents basic mathematical methods for engineers including: differentiation and integration, Taylor's expansion, linear systems resolution and matrix formalism, partial differential equations, Laplace, Fourier and Legendre transforms, statistics and probability.

    MSE 201 - Fundamentals of Materials Science and Engineering (3-0-3) 
    Prerequisite: None.
    This course is intended for students who do not have a materials science and engineering background. The course will cover four major topics including: fundamental concepts, microstructure development and phase equilibria, material properties and fabrication methods and applications. The course will cover atomic structure, atomic bonding, crystal structures, defects and diffusion in materials. It also will cover phase transformations and phase equilibria and how they impact microstructure development. The electrical, magnetic, optical, thermal and mechanical properties of materials will also be reviewed. The course will also highlight modern fabrication technologies and applications of metals, ceramics, semiconductors, and polymers.

    MSE 221 - Crystallography and Diffraction (3-0-3)
    Prerequisite: None.
    The objective of this course is to present the basic concepts needed to understand the crystal structure of materials. Fundamental concepts including lattices, symmetries, point groups, and space groups will be discussed and the relationship between crystal symmetries and physical properties will be addressed. The theory of X-ray diffraction by crystalline matter along with the experimental x-ray methods used to determine the crystal structure of materials will be covered. Application of X-ray diffraction to proteins, electron diffraction and neutron diffraction will be briefly discussed.

    MSE 225 - Electronic Properties of Materials (3-0-3)
    Prerequisite: Basic knowledge of quantum mechanics, electromagnetism and solid state physics.
    The objective of this course is to present the fundamental concepts of structural, electrical and optical properties needed to understand the behavior of the materials.   The course includes a brief description of crustal structure of solids and the basics of x-ray diffraction theory; free electron theory in metal and band theory will be addressed.   A brief review of thermal and lattice vibration properties will be presented.   A brief introduction on key electronic devices based on homo p-n junctions and hetero-junctions.   A brief description of dielectric materials.

    MSE 226 - Thermodynamics & Equilibrium Processes (3-0-3)
    Co-requisite: MSE 200 or any AMCS Course
    The course offers a modern fundamental understanding of the main concepts and practical applications of thermodynamics in materials science.   The following major topics are discussed: review of the laws of classical thermodynamics, introduction to statistical thermodynamics phase equilibria, including phase diagrams, theory of solutions, chemical reactions involving gasses and condensed matter, Elligham diagrams, surface and interfacial phenomena and thermodynamics at the nanoscale.

    MSE 227- Applied Quantum Mechanics (3-0-3)
    Co-requisite: MSE200 or any AMCS Course
    Introduction to non-relativistic quantum mechanics.  Summary of classical mechanics and electrodynamics.  Postulates of quantum mechanics, wave functions, operator formalism and Dirac notation.   Stationary state problems, including quantum wells and tunneling.   Harmonic oscillator.   Time evolution.   Approximation methods for time-independent as well as time-dependent interactions.

    MSE 228 - Biomaterials (3-0-3)
    Prerequisite: None.
    This course offers a basic understanding of the concepts underlying the design and selection of materials for use in biological applications. It focuses on both hard and soft tissue materials. The class addresses modern topics including biosensors, surface and interface functionalization. Further topics include: A brief introduction to relevant tissue types: anatomy, biochemistry and physiology; concepts of biocompatibility, host response, material degradation, testing and selection criteria; an overview of current research on biomechanics and its relevance to prosthesis design and tissue engineering; basic concepts of drug delivery and molecular biomechanics.

    MSE 229 - Polymeric Materials (3-0-3)
    Prerequisite: None.
    This course describes polymerization processes; polymer solutions (Flory-Huggins model and application to polymer blends); polymer chain conformations; calculation of end-to-end distribution function W(r) for short range interacting chains; rotational isomeric state scheme and temperature dependence; chain with long range interactions (excluded volume effect); radius of gyration; the crystalline and amorphous states of polymers; the glass transition (configurational entropy model); mechanical, electrical and optical properties and characterization of polymers.

    MSE 230 - Materials for Energy (3-0-3)
    Prerequisite: None.
    This course is intended as a review of the challenges facing materials scientists working in renewable energy and sustainability science and technology.  It aims to give the student a birds-eye view of the current topics in energy harvesting and storage materials.   The potential of various energy harvesting approaches will be discussed in the context of energy needs facing the world.   This will be done with particular focus on materials innovations required to improve the state of the art.   After this thorough introduction, the course will discuss solar power and electrochemical energy storage in more depth.

    MSE 295 - Internship (6 credits)  
    Master's-level summer internship.

    MSE 297 - Thesis Research (variable credits)
    Master's-level thesis research.

    MSE 299 - Directed Research (variable credits)
    Master's-level supervised research.

    MSE 305 - Kinetics and Phase Transformations (3-0-3)
    Prerequisite: MSE 226.
    The course offers a modern and fundamental understanding to the main concepts and practical applications of Kinetics and Phase Transformations in materials science. The following major topics are discussed within the frame of this course: kinetics of homogenous chemical reactions, thermodynamics of irreversible processes including an introduction to the Onsager postulates, mathematical description of Diffusion in Materials (Fick's Laws and an atomistic description via random-walk process). Basic concepts of phase transformation theories, including homogeneous and heterogeneous nucleation and growth, spinodal decomposition and Landau theory of phase transformation.

    MSE 307 - Materials Characterization (3-0-3)
    Prerequisite: None.
    This course will introduce the basic principles of materials characterization and the common characterization techniques available at KAUST. It will cover the following topics: Diffraction methods: basic principles, interaction of radiation and particle beams with matter, XRD, scattering techniques; Spectroscopic methods; Imaging: optical including confocal microscopy, scanning, transmission electron, scanning tunneling and field ion microscopy; Microanalysis and Tomography: energy dispersive, wavelength dispersive, Auger Processes, Electron, Ion and Atom Probe Tomography, SIMS, photoelectron spectroscopy; thermal analysis: DTA, DSC. Lab visits and demonstrations will be scheduled to the class to discuss some case studies.

    MSE 311 - Soft Materials (3-0-3)
    Prerequisite: None.
    This course covers chemical and physical aspects of soft materials such as gels, polymers, lipids, surfactants and colloids; physical chemistry of soft materials; phase transformations and self-assembly; the role of intermolecular and surface forces in determining morphology and hierarchy. Membranes, catalysis, drug delivery, flexible and stretchable materials and devices.

    MSE 313 - Functional Oxides (3-0-3)
    Prerequisite: MSE227
    Fundamental concepts relevant to functional oxides will be reviewed, including common structures, defect chemistry and reactions, Brouwer diagrams, Ellingham diagrams, Heckman diagrams, ionic and electronic transport and tensor notation. The physics, materials, and applications for the following classes of functional oxides will be covered: linear dielectrics, ferroelectrics, multiferroics, piezoelectric, pyroelectrics, electro optics, thermoelectrics and semiconducting oxides. Selected technological applications will be reviewed including sensing, actuation, energy harvesting, and oxide electronics.

    MSE 314 - Ab-Initio Computational Methods (3-0-3)
    Prerequisite: MSE 227
    Introduction into the theory and application of materials modeling techniques.  Comparison of analytical and numerical methods. Introduction into basic numerical algorithms. Fundamentals of density functional theory. Band structure approaches for crystalline solids.  Introduction into commercial and freeware computer packages. Advanced applications of ab-initio computational techniques.

    MSE 315 - Thin Film Science & Engineering (3-0-3)
    Prerequisite: None.
    Thin films and coatings are the material building blocks of many modern and pervasive technologies ranging from electronics to optics and photovoltaics and from anti-counterfeiting to glazings and hard coatings. The fundamentals and atomistics of thin film growth are discussed in detail. Deposition techniques for thin films and coatings are presented, including physical and chemical vapor depositions, molecular beam epitaxy, atomic layer deposition and low-pressure plasma processes. Organic thin film deposition. Solution-processing and printing of inorganic and hybrid organic-inorganic thin films. Artificially structured and chemically modulated layered and nanocomposite materials. Ex-situ/in-situ characterization of thin films and coatings. 

    MSE 316 - Magnetic Materials (3-0-3)
    Prerequisite: None.
    This course introduces fundamental concepts in modern magnetic materials together with the electronic properties of magnetic hybrid structures. (i) Diamagnetism, para-magnetism, ferromagnetism and anti-ferromagnetism will be introduced and the microscopic origin of magnetism will be addressed (metals, semiconductors, oxides, insulators, etc.). (ii) Experimental techniques to investigate magnetism and magnetic behavior will be mentioned (X-ray dichroism, Magneto-Optical Kerr effect, etc...). (iii) Advanced applications of modern magnetic materials will be presented and the electronic properties as well as magnetization dynamics of magnetic hybrid structures will be covered.

    MSE 318 - Nanomaterials (3-0-3)
    Prerequisite: None.
    This course describes the most recent advances in the synthesis, fabrication and characterization of nanomaterials. Topics to be covered: Zero-dimensional nanomaterials, including nanoparticles, quantum dots and nanocrystals; one dimensional materials including nanowires and nanotubes; two (2)-dimensional materials: including self-assembled monolayers, patterned surfaces and quantum well; three (3)-dimensional nanomaterials: including Nano porosity, nanocomposites, block copolymers and supra-crystals. Emphasis on the fundamental surface and size-related physical and chemical properties of nanomaterials; and their applications in bio sensing, nanomedicine, catalysis, photonics and Nano electronics.

    MSE 320 - Solar Cell Materials and Devices (3-0-3)
    Prerequisite: None.
    This course will provide the students with an up-to-date basic knowledge of the physical and chemical principles of materials used in solar cells of various kinds including but not limited to technologies such as: 1) silicon-based solar cells, 2) CIGS, CIS and other inorganic thin film solar cells, 3) multi-junction solar cells, 4) nanoparticles and quantum dots solar cells, 5) organic and hybrid solar cells and 6) thermal and concentrator solar power generation.

    MSE 321 - Optical Properties of Materials (3-0-3)
    Prerequisite: Basic knowledge of quantum mechanics, electromagnetism, and solid state physics.
    Introduction to optical coefficients and optical materials, classical propagation of light, Interband absorption processes and photodetectors, excitons, light emission including photoluminescence and electroluminescence, quantum confined structures, free electrons and plasmons, optical properties of molecules and polymers, color centers, phonons, polaritons, polarons and inelastic light scattering, introduction to nonlinear optical properties of materials including second and third order nonlinearities. 

    MSE 322 - Semiconductor Materials (3-0-3)
    Prerequisite: None.
    The course covers the physico-chemical and electronic properties of advanced semiconductor materials other than Si and GaAs. The materials that will be covered include elemental semiconductors such as Ge and carbon (in the form of carbon nanotubes and graphene), compound semiconductors such as III-V and II-VI compounds, and wide-band gap semiconductors such as carbides and nitrides. Special classes of semiconductors such as oxides, chalcogenides, and polymeric semiconductors will be included. In each material category, the material processing and fabrication of select devices will be discussed including 1-dimensional and 2-dimensional devices. Measurement protocols for the devices will be presented.

    MSE 390B – Electronic Processes in Organic Semiconductors (3-0-3) 
    Prerequisite: None.
    This course offers an introduction to electronic processes in organic materials including small molecules and polymers, nowadays used in many optoelectronic devices such as light-emitting diodes and organic solar cells.  Theoretical basics of electronic transitions and excited state dynamics are discussed, specifically emission spectra of single molecules, molecular aggregates, and bulk samples as well as concepts of energy transfer, charge transport, and photo physical processes in conjugated polymers and organic photovoltaic devices. Furthermore, the course offers an introduction to analysis of experimental data from (ultrafast) transient laser spectroscopy and modeling of excited state dynamics using different tools, for instance multivariate curve resolution analysis of complex spectra consisting of several components.

    MSE 392 - Introduction to Spintronics (3-0-3) 
    Prerequisite: None.
    This course aims at introducing the field of spin electronics to advanced graduate students.   This course will cover fundamentals of magnetism and magnetization dynamics, spin transport in hybrid magnetic structures, magnetoresistance, spin transfer torque and spin pumping, spin-orbit effects such as spin Hall Effect, Rashba effect and Dzyaloshinskii-Moriya interaction.   The current-driven magnetization dynamics of magnetic textures such as domain walls and skyrmions will also be covered.

    MSE 394 - Contemporary Topics in Materials Science (3-0-0)
    A course of current interest. Topics are not permanent and the content of the course will change to reflect recurring themes and topical interest. The content will be approved by the division.

    MSE 395 - Internship (6 credits)
    Doctoral-level summer internship.

    MSE 397 - Dissertation Research (variable credits)
    Doctoral-level dissertation research.

    MSE 398 - Graduate Seminar (non-credit)
    MSE Graduate Seminar

    MSE 399 - Directed Research (variable credits)
    Doctoral-level supervised research.

P​H.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: ​

​PHD DEGREE TIMELINE:

PhD Program Timeline PNG.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 MSE faculty members and faculty members affiliated with MSE 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 four courses, two of which must be 300-level courses.
      • Ph.D. students with a relevant B.S. degree must complete minimum of two 300-level courses 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 MSE Qualifying Exam milestone, PhD student must fulfill the following requirements:

    1. Take the final exam of Three (3) Courses from the MSE curriculum, including Two (2) Core Courses and One (1) 300-level Elective Course. The student is not required to register to these three courses, he/she only needs to take the final exam. The student does not need to take all three final exams in the same semester. However, he/she is required to complete all three final exams within the first year after starting the PhD degree.

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

    3. 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 MSE 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 MSE Qualifying Exam and the student will be dismissed from the university.
      • Student 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. Point 4 will explain the format of the Qualifying Exam after the appeal.

    4. The format of the Qualifying Exam after the appeal is as follows.
      • The Qualifying Exam will be an oral exam.
      • The examiners of the three subjects will form an ad-hoc committee to examine the student.
      • The exam will include all three subjects selected for the first attempt regardless of the grades earned before attempting to complete the Qualifying Exam. Passed courses will be included in this exam.
      • The exam will be scheduled within three months after accepting the student's appeal.
      • The Graduate Program Coordinator (GPC) will schedule the third attempt of the Qualifying Exam. Time and location of the exam will be arranged and communicated to examiners and the student by the GPC.

    The student is required to fill out the MSE 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 .

    Fall 2018 Submission Deadlines

    Deadline to submit the Ph.D. Petition for Dissertation Defense Examination form is September 13, 2018.

    Deadline to submit the Ph.D. Dissertation Defense Examination Result form is November 5, 2018.

    Deadline to submit the Ph.D. Dissertation and Final Approval form is November 29, 2018.

    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. ​

​freq​uently used forms:

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