Graduate Programs in Materials Science and Engineering

Master of Science Degree

Candidates for the Master of Science degree in Materials Science and Engineering will follow a program of study formulated in consultation with and approved by a faculty adviser. Thirty points of credit (typically ten three-point courses) are required for the degree. The requirements include:

  • Eighteen (18) points, MSAE 4000-, 6000-, 8000- level courses (max three points of research)
  • Six (6) points, approved electives (see following list), which may not include research points, e.g. MSAE E6723
  • Six (6) points, general electives (which may include three additional points of research.)

Of the 30 points of credit required for the MS degree, 18 points of MSAE4000-, 6000-, or 8000-level courses must be included. Only three points of research (MSAE6273 or other research course) may be used to satisfy the MSAE point requirement. A minimum of six points of MSAE courses must be taken in the first semester. Furthermore, it is expected that 15 of the first 24 points taken will be in MSAE courses; any exceptions must be approved by a faculty adviser.

Six points of restricted electives may be chosen from the following list of approved electives; a course not on the approved list can be counted only with prior, written approval. Research units may not be included.

Six points of electives may be chosen freely. These electives may include MSAE courses, approved electives, other electives, or an additional three points of research, with a maximum of six points of research counted toward the degree requirements. As a reminder, no undergraduate courses (3000-level or below) may be counted toward the degree.

Students interested in a specific focus in metallurgy or other areas in materials science and engineering should consult their faculty adviser for relevant course listings.

MSAE E4000-, 6000- or 8000-level courses, except MSAE E6100
APCH E4080: Soft condensed matter
APMA E4101: Dynamical systems
APMA E4200: Electronic and magnetic properties of solids
APMA E4204: Functions of a complex variable
APMA E4300: Computational mathematics: introduction to numerical methods
APPH E4100: Quantum physics of matter
APPH E4110: Modern optics
APPH E4112: Laser physics
APPH E4200: Physics of fluids 
APPH E4300: Applied electrodynamics 
APPH E4990: Special topics in applied physics
APPH E6081: Solid state physics, I
BMEN E4300: Solid biomechanics
BMEN E4580: Foundations of nanobioscience and nanobiotechnology
CEEM E4113: Advanced mechanics of solids
CEEM E4114: Mechanics of fracture and fatigue
CIEN E4021: Elastic and plastic analysis of structures
CHEN E4201: Engineering applications of electrochemistry
CHEN E4630: Topics in soft materials
CHEN E4880: Atomistic simulations for science and engineering
EAEE E4252: Introduction to surface and colloidal chemistry
ELEN E4193: Modern display science and technology
ELEN E4411: Fundamentals of photonics
ELEN E4944/6945: Principles of device microfabrication
ELEN E6412: Lightwave devices
ELEN E6331/6333: Semiconductor device physics
IEOR E4150: Introduction to probability and statistics
MECE E4212: Microelectromechanical systems
MECE E4213: BioMEMS: design, fabrication, and analysis
MECE E4214: MEMS production and packaging
MECE E4610: Advanced manufacturing processes
MECE E6137: Nanoscale actuation and sensing
STAT GU4001: Introduction to probabality and statistics

All degree requirements must be completed within five years. A candidate is required to maintain at least a 2.5 GPA. Applicants for admission are required to take the Graduate Record Examinations.

Professional Degree; Metallurgical Engineer

The program is designed for engineers who wish to do advanced work beyond the level of the M.S. degree but who do not desire to emphasize research. Admissions requirements include Undergraduate engineering degree, minimum 3.0 GPA, and GRE.

Candidates must complete at least 30 credits of graduate work beyond the M.S., or 60 points of graduate work beyond the B.S. No thesis is required. All degree requirements must be completed within 5 years of the beginning of the first course credited toward the degree. 

Coursework includes five core required courses and five elective courses from a pre-approved list of choices.

Core courses:

  • EAEE E4001: Industrial ecology of earth resources
  • EAEE E4009: Geographic information systems (GIS) for resource, environmental and infrastructure management
  • EAEE E4160: Solid and hazardous waste materials
  • EAEE E4900: Applied transport/chemical rate phenomena
  • EAEE E6255-6: Methods and applications of analytical decision making in mineral industries

Elective courses must be five courses at the 4000- or higher level from within the Earth and Environmental Engineering Department, the Chemical Engineering Department, Materials Science Program, or others as approved by the adviser. These include but are not limited to: EAEE E4150, CHEE E4252, CIEE E4252, EAEE E4256, EAEE E4257, EAEE E6208. Although not required, interested students may choose to complete up to six credits in MSAE E9259-60.

Essential Policies regarding the Metallurgical Engineer Program.


Doctoral Program

At the end of the first year of graduate study in the doctoral program, candidates are required to take a comprehensive written qualifying examination, which is designed to test the ability of the candidate to apply course work in problem solving and creative thinking. The standard is first-year graduate level. There are two four-hour examinations over a two-day period.

Candidates in the program must take the oral examination by the end of the spring semester of their second year. Candidates must submit a written proposal and defend it orally before a Thesis Proposal Defense Committee consisting of three members of the faculty, including the adviser in the spring semester of their third year. Doctoral candidates must submit a thesis to be defended before a Dissertation Defense Committee consisting of five faculty members, including two professors from outside the doctoral program. Requirements for the Eng. Sc.D. (administered by the School of Engineering and Applied Science) and the Ph.D. (administered by the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences) are listed elsewhere in this bulletin.

Areas of Research

Materials science and engineering is concerned with synthesis, processing, structure, and properties of metals, ceramics, and other materials, with emphasis on understanding and exploiting relationships among structure, properties, and applications requirements. Our graduate research programs encompass research areas as diverse as polycrystalline silicon, electronic ceramics grain boundaries and interfaces, microstructure and stresses in microelectronics thin films, oxide thin films for novel sensors and fuel cells, optical diagnostics of thin-film processing, ceramic nanocomposites, electrodeposition and corrosion processes, structure, properties, and transmission electron microscopy and crystal orientation mapping, magnetic thin films for spintronic applications, chemical synthesis of nanoscale materials, nanocrystals, two-dimensional materials, nanostructure analysis using X-ray and neutron diffraction techniques, and electronic structure calculation of materials using density functional and dynamical mean-field theories. Application targets for polycrystalline silicon are thin film transistors for active matrix displays and silicon-on-insulator structures for ULSI devices. Novel applications are being developed for oxide thin films, including uncooled IR focal plane arrays and integrated fuel cells for portable equipment.

Thin film synthesis and processing in this program include evaporation, sputtering, electrodeposition, and plasma and laser processing. For analyzing materials structures and properties, faculty and students employ electron microscopy, scanning probe microscopy, photoluminescence, magnetotransport measurements, and X-ray diffraction techniques. Faculty members have research collaborations with IBM, and other New York area research and manufacturing centers, as well as major international research centers. Scientists and engineers from these institutions also serve as adjunct faculty members at Columbia. The National Synchrotron Light Source at Brookhaven National Laboratory is used for high-resolution X-ray diffraction and absorption measurements.

Entering students typically have undergraduate degrees in materials science, metallurgy, physics, chemistry, or other science and engineering disciplines. First-year graduate courses provide a common base of knowledge and technical skills for more advanced courses and for research. In addition to coursework, students usually begin an association with a research group, individual laboratory work, and participation in graduate seminars during their first year.


Solid-state science and engineering is an interdepartmental graduate specialty that provides coverage of an important area of modern technology that no single department can provide. It encompasses the study of the full range of properties of solid materials, with special emphasis on electrical, magnetic, optical, and thermal properties. The science of solids is concerned with understanding these properties in terms of the atomic and electronic structure of the materials in question. Insulators (dielectrics), semiconductors, ceramics, and metallic materials are all studied from this viewpoint. Quantum and statistical mechanics are key background subjects. The engineering aspects deal with the design of materials to achieve desired properties and the assembling of materials into systems to produce devices of interest to modern technology, e.g., for computers and for energy production and utilization.

Areas of Research

The graduate specialty in solid-state science and engineering includes research programs in metamaterials and infrared optoelectronic devices (Professor Yu, Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics); large-area electronics and thin-film transistors (Professor Im, Henry Krumb School of Mines/Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics); structural analysis and high Tc superconductors (Professor Chan, Henry Krumb School of Mines/Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics); X-ray microdiffraction and stresses (Professor Noyan, Henry Krumb School of Mines/Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics); electronic and magnetic metal thin films (Professor Barmak, Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics); magnetic properties of thin films (Professor Bailey, Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics); the structure of nanomaterials (Professor Billinge, Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics); and electronic structure calculations of materials (Professors Marianetti and Wentzhovitch, Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics).

Program of Study

The applicant for the graduate specialty must be admitted to one of the participating programs: applied physics and applied mathematics, or electrical engineering. A strong undergraduate background in physics or chemistry and in mathematics is important.

The doctoral student must meet the formal requirements for the Eng.Sc.D. or Ph.D. degree set by the department in which they are registered. However, the bulk of the program for the specialty will be arranged in consultation with a member of the interdepartmental Committee on Materials Science and Engineering/ Solid-State Science and Engineering. At the end of the first year of graduate study, doctoral candidates are required to take a comprehensive written examination concentrating on solid-state science and engineering.

The following are regarded as core courses of the specialty:

   APPH E4100: Quantum physics of matter
   APPH E4110: Modern Optics
   APPH E4112: Laser physics
   APPH-MSAE E6081-E6082: Solid state physics, I and II
   CHEM GU4230: Statistical thermodynamics
   CHAP E4120: Statistical mechanics
   ELEN E4301: Introduction to semiconductor devices
   ELEN E4944: Principles of device microfabrication
   ELEN E6331-E6332: Principles of semiconductor physics
   ELEN E6403: Classical electromagnetic theory
   PHYS GR6092: Electromagnetic theory, I
   MSAE E4100: Crystallography
   MSAE E4206: Electronic and magnetic properties of solids
   PHYS GR6018: Physics of the solid state
   PHYS GR6037: Quantum mechanics