MSE Exam

Mechanical Properties

The Candidacy Examination is not only a test of the student's comprehension of the field, but also of allied areas of study, of the capacity to undertake independent research, and of the ability to think and express ideas clearly. Successful completion of this exam is required before the student may progress to the submission and defense of a doctoral dissertation.


The Candidacy Examination is to be taken within five academic terms of the student's joining the MSE department (an "academic term" is Autumn or Spring). The exam is offered twice per year, in Autumn and Spring.

Minimum prerequisite course work

The PhD Core is divided into two portions, the Primary-P1, P2, P3-and Secondary Core-S1, S2, and one of two S3. For the "S3" course, students may choose between 715/6715 or 756/6756 to satisfy the S3 requirement.

To take the Candidacy Exam, students must take all three Primary and at least one of the Secondary Core, selecting from the S1, S2, or one of the S3 courses. Thus the pre-Candidacy portion consists of at least P1 + P2 + P3 + SX.

Primary Core (all required prior to Candidacy)

P1: 747/6747 Structure and Defects in Materials

P2: 730/6730 Thermodynamics of Materials

P3: 737/6737 Diffusion and Interface Kinetics

Secondary Core (minimum of one required prior to Candidacy; three total prior to graduation)

S1: 765/6765 Mechanical Behavior of Materials

S2: 777/6777 Electronic Properties of Materials

S3: (one of two in this category required)
715/6715 Principles of the Characterization of Materials or
756/6756 Materials Modeling and Simulation

Following the Candidacy Exam, the student must take any remaining Secondary courses needed to total at least three Secondary Core Courses before doctoral graduation. Thus the Core consists of P1, P2, P3, S1, S2, and one of two S3.

Minimum cumulative GPA in the six MSE Ph.D. Core Courses

Students must earn a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 in the Primary and Secondary Core Courses taken in advance of the exam.

Submission of supporting material

A student seeking to take the Candidacy Exam will be asked to provide the following items which will be forwarded to his/her Candidacy Exam Committee by the Graduate Studies Coordinator:

  • Research project abstract. A brief description of the research project that is the basis of the student's doctoral research.
  • Research Summary. This document reports on the student's research progress to date.
  • Critical Literature Review. A comprehensive and critical review of the literature in the student's area of research.

The Critical Literature Review serves as the written portion of the student's Candidacy Exam.

Candidacy Examination

The examination is composed of two parts, a written and an oral portion:

The written portion of the Candidacy Exam consists of the Critical Literature Review. This document should demonstrate to the Examining Committee a thorough and comprehensive understanding of the field.

Oral portion:

The oral portion shall be based on a series of questions intended to examine the student's understanding of the scientific and engineering principles related to the field and one's capacity for clear thinking. The oral portion of the exam consists of questions asked by the Candidacy Exam Committee and the student's responses.

Questions & Petitions

Please contact the Graduate Studies Coordinator, Mark Cooper, with any questions at 614-292-7280, e-mail, or in 143 Fontana Labl. Students may also wish to contact the Graduation Services dept. of the Graduate School at 614-292-6031 and/or view Section VII.4+ of the Graduate School Handbook for general information concerning the Candidacy Exam.

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