Ph.D. Program Admissions

The next application deadline for the MSE Ph.D. program is January 2, 2018. The application deadline is firm. Enrollment begins once a year in fall quarter.

Admissions Criteria

Required Background Knowledge

Most applicants come from a background equivalent to a B.S. degree in Materials Science and Engineering. Since MSE is an interdisciplinary field, the department also accepts students who have earned undergraduate & graduate degrees from various engineering or physical science fields, such as Chemistry and Physics. Upon entry into the program, each students' background knowledge is evaluated; if deficiencies are found, students are advised on how to enhance their knowledge.

Specific program prerequisites, which may be satisfied after entry into the program, are:

  • Knowledge of fundamentals of Materials Science and Engineering equivalent to MSE 170
  • Knowledge of crystallography equivalent to MSE 331
  • Background in materials properties equivalent to MSE 362 and MSE 351
  • Knowledge of kinetics equivalent to MSE 322
  • Understanding of thermodynamics equivalent to the level of MSE 421

See MSE Graduate Course Prerequisites for an outline of admission requirements.


Graduate Record Examination (GRE)

The GRE is required for all applicants. There are no minimum GRE scores required to apply. Official GRE results need to be submitted electronically using institution code 4854. For your reference, the average GRE percentiles for our 2016 Ph.D. cohort were:

  • Quantitative: 89
  • Verbal: 75
  • Writing: 60

The Ph.D. program is our most competitive program since funding support is most often awarded to these students in the form of RA, TA, and fellowship positions.

The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is a general, standardized test that measures verbal and quantitative reasoning and analytical writing skills. The GRE is administered by an independent testing organization.

Grade Point Average (GPA)

There is no minimum GPA required to apply. For your reference, the average GPA from our incoming 2016 cohort was 3.7.

International students must report grades using the U.S. grade equivalency. For help converting grades from an international grading system to the U.S. 4-point scale, see "How do I convert an International Grading System?" on the UW's Admissions FAQs page.

English Language Proficiency

Applicants whose native language is not English must demonstrate proficiency in English by taking the TOEFL and meeting the 92 minimum requirement. Official TOEFL scores need to be submitted electronically using institution code 4854. The TOEFL requirement is waived if you earned your B.S. or M.S. at a U.S. accredited university. However, the applicant must meet a minimum speaking score of 26 to be eligible for a TA position which is often part of the funding offer. Hence, it is recommended for all international applicants to submit recent TOEFL scores. More information can be found via Memo 8: Graduate School English Language Proficiency Requirements

Other Admission Requirements

Information concerning Minimum Admission Requirements and the Citizenship and Visa Status Requirements is available from the UW Graduate School's Understanding the Application Process page under Getting Started.

Application Access

All applicants to the Ph.D. program must complete the UW Graduate School Application, which incorporates all program-specific application materials. No printed materials are required at the time of application. The application fee is $85. If offered admission, additional materials will be requested at that time.

Application Instructions

Graduate School Applicant Profile

Based on the general profile information entered, your application type will be identified (US citizen or international, degree seeking or graduate non-matriculated) and the relevant checklist of application requirements and step-by-step instructions will follow.  Please select the Ph.D. Program when asked to do so.

Application Materials

Résumé/Curriculum Vitae (CV)

The resume or curriculum vitae should include a complete history of academic experience, intern/work experience, membership in professional organizations and/or licenses held, honors received (such as scholarships, awards) and publications (if any). Where appropriate, items listed should be interpreted in terms of their relevance to materials science and engineering.


Three recommendations are required. Recommendations should be requested of individuals who can evaluate your academic, internship or work performance and can evaluate your potential for or commitment to a future in materials science and engineering. They will be emailed a document to complete rating your skills and experience. There will also be space provided to upload a letter or support or complete additional information in a space provided for them.

Statement of Purpose

Tell us, in one page or less:

  • Describe your interest in pursuing graduate studies in Materials Science and Engineering
  • Specialty areas and research interests
  • Degree objectives
  • (Optional) Aspects of diversity you'd bring to the MSE department

Unofficial transcripts must be uploaded for each college/university attended where a degree was earned (bachelor's degree or higher). Your Bachelor's or Master's degree may be in progress at the time of application.  If admitted, the degree will be verified prior to enrollment.

Apply to the UW Graduate School

Once an Offer is Made

If a Ph.D. offer of admission is made, the applicant will receive information about available departmental funding support at that time. There is no separate application to complete for this purpose.