Jul 24, 2024  
2024-2025 Catalog 
2024-2025 Catalog

Materials Science & Engineering, M.S.

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Program Director:     Dr. Jerry Downey

                                    (406) 496-4578

                                    ELC 215




The M.S. Degree in Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) program has a distinct interdisciplinary culture that provides students with the depth and breadth of knowledge that leads to successful careers in fields such as aerospace, automotive, biomaterials, chemicals, electronics, energy, metals, and telecommunications. MSE bridges the basic sciences and the engineering disciplines. Program graduates specialize in relationships between the properties, structure, processing and performance of metals, ceramics, polymers, and composite materials. Materials engineers design, operate, and optimize technologies to produce materials and energy, and to improve the environment.




The MS/MSE program offers thesis track and non-thesis track alternatives. Thesis-track students are required to complete a minimum of 30 semester credit hours comprising 10 core course credits, 12 elective credits, 2 seminar credits, and 6 thesis credits. Non-thesis track students must complete a minimum of 36 semester credit hours comprising 10 core course credits, 18 elective credits, 2 seminar credits, and 6 independent study (practicum). Both alternatives are available to conventional on-campus students and to off-campus students through distance-learning.

Subject to the following stipulations, off-campus thesis research is encouraged to enable distance learning students to enter the thesis-track and conduct their M.S. research at their place of employment.

  • The student must be employed by a company, national laboratory, or government agency or department (the Employer) prior to admission to the program and, to enter the thesis track, the proposed research must be approved in writing by an authorized representative of the Employer, the student’s academic advisor, and the Vice Chancellor of Research and Dean of the Graduate School.
  • The thesis research project must be well defined and acceptable to the graduate student’s advisory committee. The thesis may be based on either fundamental or applied research that involves (original) computational and/or experimental research to investigate a current problem of interest to the field of materials science and engineering.
  • Where possible, a qualified representative of the Employer will serve as an on-site thesis committee member; to qualify, the Employer representative must hold an earned M.S. or Ph.D. degree in materials science and engineering or a closely related field.
  • The student must be on-campus in person for the thesis defense.
  • The student must register every semester that he or she is working toward fulfillment of the degree requirements.


Thesis track students must prepare and submit a research-based thesis and pass a formal thesis defense examination, which will be conducted by the student’s research advisor and committee. The final examination for the thesis-option students consists of an oral presentation and defense of the thesis. The presentation is open to all interested parties, but the thesis defense examination is only open to the members of the graduate committee. Committee members may ask questions pertaining to the thesis and to any of the graduate courses applied toward the M.S. degree.  

In the final year of their program, non-thesis track students must complete a culminating experience or “practicum” that entails a substantial materials-related project of approximately six months duration and participation in a one-week summer laboratory session at Montana Tech. The practicum project topic, scope, and objectives must be approved in advance by the student’s academic advisor, the MS/MSE program director, and the Montana Tech graduate school. To conclude the practicum, the student submits a comprehensive technical report and delivers a presentation to an audience of MSE faculty and students.

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