Materials Science, Master of Science

Department of Applied Physics and Materials Science

College of the Environment, Forestry, and Natural Sciences

The Master of Science in Materials Science prepares graduates for meaningful and fulfilling careers in materials science or other science/engineering career paths.  In particular, this program is focused on developing skill sets attractive to national lab and industrial partners. 

  • To receive a master’s degree at Northern Arizona University, you must complete a planned group of courses from one or more subject areas, consisting of at least 30 units of graduate-level courses. Many master’s degree programs require more than 30 units.

    You must additionally complete:

    • All requirements for your specific academic plan(s). This may include a thesis.
    • All graduate work with a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0.
    • All work toward the master's degree must be completed within six consecutive years. The six years begins with the semester and year of admission to the program.

    Read the full policy here.

In addition to University Requirements:

  • Complete individual plan requirements.

Minimum Units for Completion 43
Additional Admission Requirements

Individual program admission requirements over and above admission to NAU are required.

Thesis Thesis is required.
Oral Defense Oral Defense is required.
Research Individualized research is required.
Some online/blended coursework Required
Progression Plan Link View Program of Study

Purpose Statement

This graduate program is the first of its kind in Arizona. There is no other Materials Science programs in Arizona  based a scientific foundation, yet funding agencies and institutions are recognizing their intrinsic connections, (e.g. the recent Q-AMASE-i call by NSF that directly targets development of highly transdisciplinary quantum foundries). Within the country the vast majority of Materials Science programs exist as extensions of engineering departments and largely those programs have historically focused on traditional engineering areas of materials science. The proposed MS program in Materials Science will be a foundational program within the new College of Engineering, Informatics and Applied Sciences (CEIAS) and the Department of Applie Physics and Materials Science.

Materials science is inherently a transdisciplinary field and one in which the core fundamentals shift depending on the desired emphasis. Materials science is often considered to be a subdiscipline of engineering and thus programs in this area often closely resemble traditional Engineering discipline programs. In the proposed program, however, the area of emphasis is focused on the use of the physical sciences (chemistry, physics) to describe, understand and synthesize quantum and multi-scaled materials. This area of focus encompasses electronic, photonic, magnetic and mechanical hard and soft materials and involves synthesis and characterization of quantum materials as well as their integration into multi-scaled and adaptive assemblies. Students with B.S. degrees in Physics, Chemistry, Engineering and the Biological Sciences will create this transdisciplinary cohort.

The MS program is designed to create transdisciplinary opportunities while enabling disciplinary rigor. Both are achieved through program designs intended to create graduates with breadth of knowledge and diverse scientific appreciation while simultaneously creating rigorous educational and research training paths. Breadth of knowledge will be achieved through core courses designed to 1) create a common language; and 2) encourage engagement outside of areas of expertise. This is achieved through core course(s) that are team-taught and provide exposure to multiple areas of materials science. The goal is to create a common language and appreciation that encourages students to move beyond their comfort zone. Scientific rigor will be achieved by allowing students to select from a list of acceptable electives combined with their thesis research. Each student’s curriculum will be tailored and created in conjunction with the graduate advisor and APMS faculty advisors. The goal is to create scientists capable of not only contributing to emerging cross-sector opportunities, but actually driving transdisciplinary research. Being trained to work collaboratively with researchers from a multitude of fields, these transdisciplinary scientists will be uniquely positioned to excel as participants in cross-sector research projects and teams. The transdisciplinary nature of this program with the ‘individualized’ curriculum will enable student and faculty participation from CEIAS and CEFNS academic units.

Student Learning Outcomes

  1. Evaluate the major theories, research methods and approaches to inquiry in Materials Science, articulate significant challenges involved in practicing the field of study, elucidate its leading edges, and explore the current limits of theory, knowledge and practice.    
  2. Create, design and execute experiments (theoretical or experimental) and develop necessary analytical skills for interpretation and analysis of data to create data-supported conclusions.
  3. Evaluate and formulate new ideas and recognize unsolved opportunities in their field to demonstrate independent and critical thinking.
    • Recognize the best paths toward publication and 
    • Design experiments (theoretical or experimental) around those ideas for pursuit of meaningful publication.
  4. Compose and engage in highly-effective oral and written communication in Materials Science; demonstrate clear argumentation and logical cohesion for all avenues of scholarly and lay-person dissemination of results.

Additional Admission Requirements
  • Individual program admission requirements over and above admission to NAU are required.

  • The NAU graduate online application is required for all programs. Admission to many graduate programs is on a competitive basis, and programs may have higher standards than those established by the Graduate College.

    Admission requirements include the following:

    • Transcripts.
    • Undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited institution with a 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale ("A" = 4.0), or the equivalent.

    Visit the NAU Graduate Admissions website for additional information about graduate school application deadlines, eligibility for study, and admissions policies.

    Ready to apply? Begin your application now.

    International applicants have additional admission requirements. Please see the International Graduate Admissions Policy.

    • A minimum of a B.S. degree in Physics, Materials Science, Engineering, Chemistry, Biology, or equivalent.
    • Three references (submitted via a web interface)
    • A personal history statement and statement of purpose
    • Resume or curriculum vitae
    • International applicants will be requested to submit official TOEFL IBT/IELTS scores taken within the last two years.
Master's Requirements
  • Milestones: 

    • Advisor Affiliation: Students can choose actively engage with faculty during their first semester through rotations and research overview coursework or select an advisor without rotation.  Once a student decides on a faculty mentor, and that mentor concurs, a formal paperwork will be complete and filed indicating that selection and acceptance within that mentors’ group.  While it is anticipated that most students will select a faculty mentor by the end of their first semester of their first year, all students are required to make that selection by the end of the second semester of their first year.
    • Program of Study Approval, Spring Year one:  In the spring of the first year, the students are actively engaged in research with their faculty mentor and have started to more formally finalize areas of study toward a thesis.  A committee meeting, consisting of the faculty advisor, and two to three faculty within the program will be formed.  Students will present on their topic of research and receive feedback as to their chosen thesis topic and program of study.  Students will receive signature approval for their program or be asked to reevaluate and present again.  Objectives: Early within their career students define a fruitful area of study, which helps the student focus their research and may iron out any student/advisor difficulties.  This early meeting allows the student to determine their path toward achieving an M.S.  Further, this meeting hones their presentation and writing skills. 
    • Thesis Defense: The examination consists of a written thesis, per all requirements of the institution, and oral defense of the thesis to the student’s committee.   The student then defends that thesis to their committee.  The outcomes of this exam will be a Pass or Fail, with ¾ consent of the committee needed for a Pass.  Students that do not achieve a Pass on this exam may elect to re-take the exam within a six-month period from their first attempt. 


Additional Information
  • Be aware that some courses may have prerequisites that you must also successfully complete. For prerequisite information, click on the course or see your advisor.