Frequently Asked Questions
- What is the typical educational background of a student admitted into the Materials Science & Engineering program?
Students typically have a background in Materials Science Engineering, Metallurgy, Ceramics, Chemistry, Physics, Chemical Engineering, Mechanical and Electrical Engineering.
- What can I do with a PhD in Materials Science & Engineering?
Materials Science & Engineering deals with the study of relationships between the structure, processing, property and performance of all classes of materials including metals, ceramics, polymers, semiconductors, biomaterials and composites. These have applications in a range of products: from computer chips and aircraft turbines to biomedical devices such as artificial joints and limbs. Materials engineers are involved in the development, processing and testing of such materials.
For more information about career opportunities with a PhD in MSE, please refer to: https://www.careercornerstone.org/matscieng/matscieng.htm
WashU IMSE PhDs are also working in diverse fields in industry, national laboratories and academia. Within industry, IMSE alumni are working for companies manufacturing advanced alloys for aerospace applications, solar cells, computer chips, biomedical startups, data science solutions. Some of them move on to postdoctoral positions at other universities and national laboratories, to faculty positions, eventually.
- Why should I choose to study at Wash U?
IMSE at WashU is an interdisciplinary organization that brings together more than 50 faculty from McKelvey Engineering, Arts & Sciences, and the School of Medicine with interest in materials research and education. This allows students to easily work across departmental boundaries and take courses from different departments. IMSE also provides a range of materials characterization and fabrication facilities — that the students use on a day-to-day basis.
- How long does it take to earn a PhD?
While there is no fixed time to complete a PhD, most students finish in approximately five years.
- How do I choose a lab/professor to work with?
Upon joining the IMSE program at WashU, students have to do two rotations during the fall and the spring semester of their first yr. These rotations can be done with any IMSE graduate program faculty based on mutual interests. By the start of the second year of study, the student must identify a faculty member willing and able to support their dissertation research as the PhD dissertation adviser.
- How do I find housing?
There are a number of resources offered by the Graduate School in regard to housing, transportation and support for both domestic and international students. All students have access to a free UPass which provides free, unlimited rides on the St. Louis metropolitan region’s public transit system. The University assists graduate students with finding suitable off-campus housing through quadrangle.wustl.edu.
- Is St. Louis safe?
Overall, St. Louis is a safe city, with crime rates that are typical of medium-sized U.S. metropolitan regions. St. Louis, like other major cities, faces social disparities and inequities, and some neighborhoods are safer than others. WashU is committed to promoting systemic change and keeping students safe.
IMSE is centrally located on WashU’s Danforth Campus. Adjacent to campus you’ll discover a rich cultural life that supports your time outside of the classroom: the coffee shops and music venues of the Delmar Loop, as well as the museums and trails of nearby Forest Park, voted “Best City Park” by USA Today. The campus is served by several MetroLink light rail stations and bus lines, making the area easy to navigate. Go to police.wustl.edu for statistics and information recommended for safety precautions. Learn more about St. Louis.
- What is the amount of time required weekly for research?
Students are expected to commit 40 hours/week towards the program. This includes time for both academic coursework as well as research.
- Will I have time to have a social life?
You will have as much time for a social life as you would in any other full-time job.
- What does it mean to be “fully-funded”?
We provide monetary support for living expenses, tuition and a portion which you will apply to health insurance and fees. This stipend is adjusted each year for living expenses.
- Will I be able to obtain outside scholarships?
Yes. Information on the various outside scholarships and how to apply for them is available at provost.wustl.edu/vpge/fellowships-funding-and-support, engineering.wustl.edu/academics/graduate-admissions/tuition-financial-assistance/funding-support.html.
- Are there resources on campus that support PhD students?
Yes, Habif Health and Wellness offers medical and mental health services for graduate students. The Liberman Center offers a variety of clubs, seminars and workshops specifically geared toward graduate students. AGES is the Association of Graduate Engineering Students and all IMSE PhD students are members. AGES offers networking and social events. In addition, McKelvey Graduate Student Services office offers support for IMSE students for a variety of issues.
- Can I contact a graduate student with questions?
Yes, you can connect with a Graduate student ambassador.