Earn Your Doctorate From a Innovative Multidisciplinary Program

The PhD degree from the Duke University Program in Materials Science & Engineering offers highly motivated students an opportunity to develop their research skills in close collaboration with world-renowned engineers and scientists in Duke's uniquely multidisciplinary environment.

We provide significant financial support to our PhD students – including stipend, fully-paid tuition, and fee support.

Degree requirements, detailed below, include:

  • 30 units of coursework
  • Materials Science and Engineering Graduate Seminar
  • Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) Training
  • Qualifying exam
  • Preliminary exam
  • Dissertation and defense

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Students participating in the program are first admitted through one of the participating academic departments within the Pratt School of Engineering or Trinity College of Arts & Sciences.

*Please note: department application deadlines


The Duke PhD in a Material Science & Engineering Field

Students participating in the program are first admitted through one of the participating academic departments within the Pratt School of Engineering or Trinity College of Arts & Sciences.

Those considering a PhD should be individuals interested in specialized research. We provide opportunities for students to publish with their faculty adviser, to present research at professional conferences, and to explore their field in a highly collaborative, cross-disciplinary working environment.

Degree Program Details

Our program provides an multidisciplinary educational experience providing exposure to the breadth of materials science, with focus on your chosen research area. In our program, you progress from introductory classes to specialized coursework. As you learn, your focus gradually shifts from coursework to learning advanced research skills.

Detailed Degree Requirements

  1. In the 1st year, four to six courses* must be selected from eight core courses (3 credits each, 18 credits total):

    CHEM 548: Fundamentals of Solid State Materials
    CHEM 544: Statistical Mechanics

    - OR -

    ECE 521: Quantum Mechanics
    NEW: Materials Synthesis and Processing

    NEW: Fundamentals of Soft Matter
    ME 555: Computational Materials Science
    ECE/NANOSCI 511: Foundations of Nanoscale Science and Technology

    - OR -

    ECE 721/ME 711: Nanotechnology Materials Lab/Advanced Materials Lab

    Up to 2 of the six core courses may be replaced by courses deemed critical by advisors and students for their research projects.

  2. For the first three semesters, the Materials Science and Engineering Graduate Seminar is required (1 credit each, 3 credits total).

  3. In the second year, three elective courses (3 credits each, 9 credits total) are required (a maximum of one elective course may be replaced with an independent study to receive course credit for Ph.D. research).

  4. A qualifying exam in the third semester, a preliminary exam after three years, and a final defense exam are required for the Ph.D. degree.

  5. Academic Integrity and Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) training required by The Graduate School at Duke University must be completed within the first three semesters (12 hours).

Credit for Students with Master's Degrees

In the case of PhD students matriculating with a master's degree, course credit requirements are reduced to 21 credits total, and the selection of courses must be approved by the program Director of Graduate Studies.

Fully-Paid Doctoral Study

The Graduate School at Duke provides a competitive package that should provide PhD students with financial support for the majority of the time they are registered and working toward their degree. PhD students are supported in a variety of ways, including funding from their departments, The Graduate School, or other governmental and private sources.

Generally speaking, The Graduate School At Duke provides PhD students with a stipend, payment of tuition, and fee support for their first five (5) years of study, as well as health insurance for the first six (6) years if students are on the Duke student medical insurance plan. After their fifth year, students are responsible for tuition and fees, and most of our students obtain external or departmental funding to cover those costs.

See the Cost to Attend page at The Graduate School website for a detailed breakdown of tuition, fees, and other expenses.