University of Texas at El Paso
Grad Catalog

Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering

Materials Research and
Technology Institute (MRTI)
M-201 Engineering
(915) 747-5468


The field of materials sciences and engineering is central to the technological, industrial, and economic development of Texas, the United States, Mexico, and other industrialized countries. The UTEP Ph.D. program is a multi-disciplinary program to prepare scientists and engineers to contribute to this vital field, with a range of skills linking structure, properties, synthesis and processing, and performance of materials. Students develop a research focus in a specialized area using one or more of these skills to study some class or classes of materials, including metals, polymers, ceramics, semiconductors, superconductors, composites, and other materials systems.

Students in the program take a common core:

  • Advanced Concepts in Materials Sciences and Engineering
  • Materials Applications and Engineering
  • Microchemical and Microstructural Characterization of Materials
  • Instrumentation and Modeling Short Courses
  • Doctoral Research Symposium I & II


Requirements for Admission

Admission to the Ph.D. program in materials science and engineering with a BS or MS degree in a related field (Physics, Chemistry, Electrical and/or Electronic Engineering, etc.) requires a minimum 3.0 GPA and a minimum TOEFL score of 550 for applicants from countries where English is not the principal language. GRE scores will also be considered for all applicants.


Requirements for Degree

All students who enter the program are required to take 4 core courses and three hours of research symposia for a total of 17 credit hours. Students who enter with an M.S. degree may receive credit for up to 30 credit hours. The core and elective courses (discussed below) are traditional lecture or seminar courses. The student will take a minimum of 6 credit hours of Doctoral Dissertation, and additional credit hours of Advanced Study, Graduate Research, Independent Study, or Dissertation. A minimum of eighty-five (85) credit hours are required.

The number and subject area of elective courses in advanced topics are determined by the student and his/her research advisor in consultation with the student’s Dissertation Committee; although generally 12 hours of advanced topics (beyond the core) will be required. Depending on the background and preparation of the student, and/or the nature of the student’s research, the student’s mentor and/or the Dissertation Committee, acting together with the student, may suggest additional courses not chosen from the list of electives.

The UTEP MASE program currently does not offer a terminal Masters degree. However, MASE Ph.D. students may choose to complete a Masters degree in an appropriate science or engineering department, or in MSIS, Masters Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies. Requirements for these M.S. degrees can be found elsewhere in the catalog.

Students are required to pass an oral Qualifying Examination administered by their Research Committee. This examination consists of defending a written Dissertation Proposal and answering questions of either a broad or specific nature in relationship to preparation to conduct dissertation research. This examination is usually administered after a minimum of 2 semesters of work. Students may not register for dissertation credits until after the Qualifier Examination has been passed. Research undertaken prior to passing the examination can use appropriate graduate research projects or independent study courses.

At the conclusion of the research program, the student will make a public presentation of the dissertation. This will also constitute a Final Oral Examination or Dissertation Defense with questions from both the Research (Dissertation) Committee and the general public.

A copy of the dissertation in PDF or Word electronic format must be submitted to the Graduate School for format check prior to the scheduled defense date. The dissertation, including an abstract not to exceed 350 words, must be prepared according to the Graduate School’s thesis and dissertation guidelines available at the Graduate School website. The student will receive email confirmation from the Graduate School after the format has been approved. The final Graduate School approved dissertation must be submitted to the Graduate School in PDF electronic format on a CD in a case by the deadline as published in the Class Schedule along with a hard copy of the signature page with original signatures of the dissertation committee members. The signature page must be included in the PDF file but it should not be signed.

Doctoral candidates are also required to submit the Graduate School approved dissertation at the University Microfilms International website for on-line publication, Dissertations are regarded as publications and will be made public once they are approved and submitted. On-line publication does not preclude subsequent publication of the dissertation, in whole or in part, as a monograph or in a journal. Copyright at the author’s expense may be arranged through University Microfilms International. In order to protect patent or any other rights, the Graduate School may be requested to delay publication for a period of one year. This request must be supported by a written recommendation of the supervising professor.


Materials Science and Engineering (MASE)


5340   Advanced Failure Analysis (3-0)

An advanced study of structural failure processes to include topics in fracture mechanics, fatigue, and environmental assisted cracking. Analysis of failures using metallographic, electron microscopy, and microanalytic techniques will be covered. Fracture of specific materials: steels, nonferrous alloys, composites, and nonmetallics will be included.


5343   Advanced Materials and Composites (3-0)

Properties and structures of composite materials and design of composite systems to yield desired combinations of properties. Metal, ceramic, and polymer composite systems as well as high-performance alloy systems or microcomposites. Applications of materials and composite fundamentals to manufacturing and processing. Offered in alternate years. Prerequisite: MME 5401, MME 5303 or equivalent, or instructor approval.


5344   Interfacial Phenomena in Materials Systems (3-0)

Thermodynamics of solid interfaces and interfacial equilibria. Interfacial free energy concepts and measurements. Structure of interfaces: solid surfaces, grain boundaries, phase boundaries, and system interfaces. Properties of interfaces and their role in materials performance. Offered in alternate years. Prerequisites: MME 5401, MME 5303, MME 5304, and MME 5305 or equivalent, or instructor approval.


5372   Advanced Optoelectronic Devices (3-0)

Theory and application of advanced photonic devices including injection lasers, photodiodes, infra-red detectors, solar cells, and electroluminescent displays. Prerequisite: MASE 5371 or equivalent.


5390   Special Topics in the Chemistry of Materials (3-0)

Synthesis of polymers and advanced materials by condensation, addition, and other types of polymerization. Solution methods of characterization. Solid state properties and their structural basis. May be repeated for credit when topic varies. Prerequisite: Instructor approval.


5392   Special Topics in Materials Engineering (3-0)

Selected topics in materials engineering including advanced materials and processes, structure and properties of advanced materials, advanced materials performance, etc. May be repeated for credit when topic varies.


*6103  Instrumentation and Modeling Short Courses (0-1)

Each short course will provide detailed instruction and hands-on experience in the use of one instrument (TEM or SEM/EDS, or XPJ/LEEDS/Auger, etc.) or a cluster of related instruments (DTA and DSC and DMA, for example) or an advanced software package for modeling or simulation of materials.


6191   Individual Studies (0-0-1)

6291      Individual Studies (0-0-2)

6391   Individual Studies (0-0-3)

Independent studies in materials science and engineering.


*6195  Doctoral Research Symposium I & II (0-0-1)

MASE 6195 involves formal presentations and discussion by research students in the program (first year). MASE 6196 taken in subsequent semesters or years, where students make presentations and occasionally outside speakers make presentations on related topics to materials science and engineering. Prerequisite: Take MASE 6195 first, then MASE 6196 at least twice.


*6196  Doctoral Research Symposium I & II (0-0-1)

MASE 6195 involves formal presentations and discussion by research students in the program (first year). MASE 6196 taken in subsequent semesters or years, where students make presentations and occasionally outside speakers make presentations on related topics to materials science and engineering. Prerequisite: Take MASE 6195 first, then MASE 6196 at lease twice.


6294      Graduate Research Projects (0-0-2)

6394   Graduate Research Projects (0-0-3)


6390   Contemporary Topics in Materials Science and Engineering (3-0)

Selected topics from materials science and engineering. Course may be repeated twice for credit as topic varies.


6398   Dissertation (0-0-3)

Initial work on the dissertation.


6399   Dissertation (0-0-3)

Continuous enrollment required while work on the dissertation continues.

Prerequisite: MASE 6398.


*6400  Advanced Concepts in Materials Science and Engineering (4-0)

A blend of topics on contemporary solid state physics and chemistry emphasizing structure and properties including processing (synthesis) and performance, and illustrated by various classes of materials: structural, electronic, magnetic, photonic, and superconducting. Fundamental issues and applications will include: crystal structure and crystal chemistry; disorder/order imperfections; phase equilibria, phase diagrams, phase transformation; reaction rates, kinetics, thermodynamics; microstructures in processing and performance; materials design/materials by design.


*6401  Materials Applications and Engineering (3-1)

A series of investigations in the application of scientific and engineering principles to practical materials systems. The course emphasizes the complexity of successful materials applications, and the interplay between processing and performance. Three to four investigations will be performed during the semester. Each investigation begins with introductory reading, discussion, and planning (including application of qualitative and quantitative experimental design concepts). Then the class performs process experiments, followed by characterization of product microstructure and performance. Students will be evaluated on the basis of their team contributions (to discussions, design of investigations, performance of the investigations, and communication of the results) as well as their individual knowledge and understanding of fundamental principles and techniques (as proven on tests).


*6402  Microchemical and Microstructural Characterization of Materials (3-3)

The structure and composition of materials can be investigated at a variety of levels utilizing a variety of analytical techniques. It is imperative that the principles and applications of a range of these techniques be presented to students examining classes of materials. Techniques which can allow microscopic and macroscopic characterization should be presented as well as techniques for bulk, surface, and related interfacial characterization. This course will focus on a variety of microscopy and spectrometry techniques--optical, electron, acoustic, and ion. As many microanalysis areas as possible will be demonstrated by having students visit facilities on the campus which constitute a materials characterization and analysis network. Principal microanalysis areas will include: x-ray diffraction, electron microscopy (scanning and transmission), electron probes, surface and near surface microanalysis, and optical and acoustic microscopy.


*  Core