Nanoscale Sciences Program Leading to the Doctor of Philosophy Degree

The purpose of NSE’s Ph.D. programs is to prepare the student for a career as a skilled, productive research scholar in nanosciences or nanoengineering. The programs are intended for students with career interests in industrial research and development, academic scholarship and research, or government research agencies.

The Ph.D. programs are designed to develop the student's ability to discover fundamental knowledge pertaining to:

  • The design, growth, and properties of nanomaterials, including metals, semiconductors, polymers, and chemical and biological materials
  • The integration, processing, testing, and qualification of these materials in nanocircuitry, nanosystems, nanosensors, and integrated nano-optical systems

Significant emphasis within each discipline is placed upon the science and technological know-how for atomic scale material modeling, characterization, and metrology to develop the fundamental skills necessary for independent and original research.

Students accepted into one of the NSE Ph.D. programs are strongly recommended to construct a preliminary program of graduate study with the assistance of their academic advisor at the completion of the first year of study. This preliminary program will consist of the student's choice of concentration (specialization) and a preliminary concentration course curriculum.

NSE's Nanoscale Science program provides the critical theoretical and experimental skill base and know-how for knowledge creation in the areas of nanoscale materials, structures, and architectures.

Nanoscale Science tracks for Ph.D. degree program:

Molecular Materials and Architectures: Fundamental material properties of molecular dots, wires, and crystals, quantum confinement and ballistic transport-based device structures, and the integration of molecular/electronic materials in nanodevice geometries. Advanced theoretical and computer simulation treatments of nanoscale optical, electronic, elastic, and thermodynamic properties.

Optoelectronic Materials and Architectures: Compound semiconductor material properties and fundamentals of compound semiconductor ultra-thin-film growth for optical and optoelectronic applications. Quantum confinement-based optical and optoelectronic properties. Optical and optoelectronic device architectures using single and compound semiconductors.

Spintronic Materials and Architectures: Compound semiconductor material properties and fundamentals of compound semiconductor thin-film growth for spintronic applications. Magnetic and nanomagnetic device architectures using single and compound semiconductors.

Ultra-Thin Film Single and Multilayered Nanomaterial Structures: Self-assembly, deposition, modification, and integration of single and multilayered thin film materials. Fundamental functionality relationships between nanoscale structures and dimensions and resulting film properties.

Nanoscale Materials Characterization, Analysis, and Metrology: Advanced nanoscale photon, ion, and electron based microscopic and spectroscopic analytical techniques and process metrologies for atomic and molecular-level material properties of ultra-thin films, nanomaterials and nanoscale devices and systems.

Nanomaterials for Nanotechnology: The science of design, deposition, and integration of atomic and molecular-level nanoengineered materials for nanotechnology-based applications.

Economic Impacts of Nanoscale Science and Nanotechnology: In-depth technical analysis of educational, workforce, and economic impacts of emerging nanoscale systems and architectures. Theoretical modeling and simulation studies of the technical impact of emerging nanoscale science concepts and disruptive nanotechnologies.

Admissions Requirements

The following are required for the admission application:

  • Official transcripts from colleges previously attended
  • Three academic or professional  letters of recommendation
  • Personal statement
  • Resume
  • Submission of a GRE General Test score is strongly recommended but not required. NSE evaluates all aspects of the application therefore a minimum score is not identified.


Departmental Assistantship Consideration

  • Fall: Feb 1
  • Spring: October 1

Applications received after these dates will be reviewed on an individual basis. Financial Support for M.S. students is dependent on availability of funding.

International applicants are required to submit the following additional materials:

  • A minimum TOEFL score of 95 on the internet based exam (or its equivalent) is required of all international applicants with the exception of those who have completed four full-time semesters of study within a four-year time frame from time of application and maintained at least a B average at a college or university in the United States or a country where English is the official language.
  • Complete financial affidavit form with appropriate certification.

Degree Requirements of the Ph.D. in Nanoscale Sciences

1. Students admitted with an appropriate Bachelor's degree shall complete 60 credit hours of academic coursework in partial fulfillment of the Ph.D. degree requirements:

1.a. Thirty-six (36) credit hours of NSE coursework at the 500 level or higher with the following provisions:

1.a.i. Completion of the 12 credit-hour (four-course) "Foundations of Nanotechnology" sequence.

Nanotechnology is highly interdisciplinary, building upon core competencies from many traditional disciplines, including materials science, chemistry, physics, biology and electrical engineering. As a consequence, and because the undergraduate backgrounds of NSE students are equally diverse, a "one size fits all" approach to course content and design is neither practical nor desirable.

To address these issues, a sequence of modular core courses, "Foundations of Nanotechnology," sequence (NSE 504, 506, 507, 508 and 509) has been designed to provide students with unified core competencies, as well as to prepare them for their more specialized advanced coursework and individual research in the various Nanoscale Science and Nanoscale Engineering tracks. Each course consists of coordinated modules specifically designed and sequenced by NSE faculty to provide the fundamental academic acumen and core competencies necessary for students entering the fields of Nanoscale Science and Nanoscale Engineering.

1.a.ii. Completion of at least 9 credit hours of 600 or higher level coursework as advised relevant to a NSE Nanoscale Science track.

1.b. Nine (9) credit hours of seminar/external courses.

1.c. Fifteen (15) credit hours of Ph.D. dissertation research.

2. Students admitted with an appropriate Master's degree shall complete 36 credit hours of academic coursework in partial fulfillment of the Ph.D. degree requirements.

2.a. Fifteen (15) credit hours of NSE coursework at the 500 level or higher with the following provisions:

2.a.i. Completion of that portion of the "Foundations of Nanotechnology" course sequence for which the student did not receive course equivalency upon matriculation into the Nanoscale Science Ph.D. program.

2.a.ii. Completion of at least 6 credit hours of 600 or higher level coursework as advised relevant to a NSE Nanoscale Science track.

2.b. Six (6) credit hours of seminar/external courses.

2.c. Fifteen (15) credit hours of Ph.D. dissertation research.

3. Preliminary Written Examination for formal admission to the Nanoscale Science Ph.D. program:

Admission to the Nanoscale Science Ph.D. program requires successful completion of a preliminary written examination covering fundamental topics in Nanoscale Science. The exam will be offered yearly and must be passed within two attempts to maintain academic standing in the Nanoscale Science Ph.D. program.

4. Preliminary Oral Examination for completion of the Nanoscale Science Ph.D. degree:

Normally, within 2 semesters of passing the preliminary written examination, students in the Nanoscale Science Ph.D. program must take and pass a preliminary oral examination relevant to a Nanoscale Science track. Successful completion of the preliminary oral examination is determined by a five-member oral examination committee. This committee consists of at least three members of the NSE faculty (including the student's advisor who serves as chair) and at least one outside member (faculty outside NSE, or NSE research partner). Upon passing this examination the student advances to candidacy for the Nanoscale Science Ph.D.

5. Submission and successful defense of a formal Ph.D. Dissertation:

Within one semester of passing the preliminary oral examination, the candidate must submit to his or her Ph.D. dissertation committee a proposal outlining an original Nanoscale Science research project constituting a Ph.D. dissertation topic. The candidate must describe the motivation and background for the dissertation; the critical milestones for completing relevant research tasks; and a statement of work outlining a specific research plan. The five-person Ph.D. dissertation committee consists of at least three members of the NSE faculty (including the candidate's advisor) and at least one outside member (faculty outside the NSE, or a NSE research partner).

Upon timely completion of the Ph.D. dissertation research project the candidate prepares a dissertation and submits the final draft to the dissertation committee. The committee ascertains the suitability of the draft and recommends amendments which the candidate must complete before the final defense is scheduled. Once approved by the committee, permission is granted for the candidate to present and defend his or her dissertation in a public seminar.

6. Ph.D. Publication Requirement:

For successful completion of the Ph.D. degree requirements, students are also required to be the first author on a minimum of two scientific publications that have already been accepted for publication in recognized peer-reviewed technical journals that are related to their concentration area. Exceptions to the publication requirement may be made with appropriate justification and upon recommendation by the Thesis committee, Department Chair, and Dean.

Admission to Candidacy

A student is admitted to candidacy for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy upon the following:

  • Satisfactory record in course and seminar study (36 credits minimum for students pursuing the 60 credit program; 24 credits minimum for students pursuing the 36 credit program)
  • Completion of University residence requirements;
  • Satisfactory completion of the research requirement;
  • Satisfactory completion of the doctoral qualifying examination and preliminary doctoral qualifying examination
  • Completion of the Publication requirement.


Please note: This program may offer an internship, field experience, study abroad component, or clinical experience in the course listing as an option to fulfill course requirements. Students who have previously been convicted of a felony are advised that their prior criminal history may impede their ability to complete the requirements of certain academic programs and/or to meet licensure requirements for certain professions. If you have concerns about this matter please contact the Dean’s Office of your intended academic program.