Applied Physics M.Sc. Program

The Master of Science (M.Sc.) degree is awarded upon successful completion of a minimum of 36 credit hours with a minimum of 3.0 cumulative GPA. Individual courses require a minimum of a B- for course credit. Students are expected to complete the M.Sc. degree in four semesters. Satisfactory participation in every KAUST summer semester is mandatory.

It is the sole responsibility of students to plan their graduate program in consultation with their academic advisor. Students should be aware that most core courses are offered only once per year.

M.Sc. Degree Requirements

The M.Sc. degree has the following components:

  • Core courses (12 credits)
  • Elective courses (12 credits)
  • Graduate seminar (AP 398) (non-credit)
  • Completion of one Winter Enrichment Program (WEP)
  • Research/capstone experience (12 credits)

Core Courses (12 credits)

The AP core courses are designed to provide students with the background needed to establish a solid foundation in the program area. M.Sc. students are required to complete 12 credits (four courses) to fulfill the core requirements. Students must take the following four courses:

AP Core Courses

AP 220Statistical Physics


AP 228Advanced Quantum Mechanics


ECE 221Electromagnetic Theory


MSE 225Electronic Properties of Materials


Elective Courses (12 credits)

The elective courses are designed to allow students to tailor their educational experience to meet individual research and educational objectives with the permission of the academic advisor. Electives can be selected from either AP or any other related program.

The following list of courses contains those courses most appropriate to complete the AP degree, organized by themes. Students may select four courses from any 200 or 300 level courses. Research credits, internship credits, and IED courses will not count toward electives.

Fundamentals in Physics

AP 230Condensed Matter Physics


MSE 226Thermodynamics of Materials


MSE 227Applied Quantum Mechanics


Experimental Techniques and Characterization

ECE 203Solid-State Devices Fabrication


AP 210Spectroscopy of Solids


ME 348Introduction to Spectroscopy and Laser Diagnostics


MSE 228Materials Characterization



ME 317Mechanics of Composite Materials and Structures


MSE 229Polymeric Materials


MSE 310Energy Storage Materials and Devices


MSE 318Nanomaterials


MSE 320Materials and Devices for Energy Conversion


MSE 322Semiconductor Materials


MSE 324Photophysics of Organic Semiconductors


Device Physics

AP 320Introduction to Nanoelectronics


ECE 206Device Physics


ECE 306Electronic and Optical Properties of Semiconductors


Optoelectronics and Photonics

ECE 208Semiconductor Optoelectronic Devices


ECE 231Principles of Optics


ECE 332Optical Waves in Crystals


Theoretical and Computational Physics

AMCS 201Applied Mathematics I


AMCS 202Applied Mathematics II


AMCS 231Applied Partial Differential Equations I


AMCS 252Numerical Analysis of Differential Equations


AMCS 255Advanced Computational Physics


AMCS 331Applied Partial Differential Equations II


AMCS 353Advanced Topics in Wave Propagation


AP 330Many-Body Theory in Condensed Matter


CS 229Machine Learning


ME 305AComputational Fluid Dynamics


ME 305BAdvanced Computational Fluid Dynamics


ME 319Computational Solid Mechanics


MSE 314Ab-Initio Computational Methods


Graduate Seminar (AP 398)

M.Sc. students are required to register in three AP graduate seminars and receive a satisfactory grade to fulfill the seminar requirements for M.Sc. degree.

Winter Enrichment Program

Students are required to satisfactorily complete at least one full Winter Enrichment Program (WEP).

Research/Capstone Experience (12 credits)

Designation of Academic Advisor

The first step for students is to identify an M.Sc. academic (thesis) advisor. Students are required to select a faculty member affiliated with the program to supervise the thesis research. The list of AP-affiliated faculty members is available on the Applied Physics program main page, click here.

Students may choose to conduct thesis research with a non-affiliated faculty member. The potential non-affiliated academic (thesis) advisor must request the program’s approval to become a project-affiliated advisor for the specific thesis project before commencing the research work.

Thesis Credits Registration

Students are required to complete a minimum of 12 credits of thesis research (AP 297). Students are permitted to register for more than 12 credits of M.Sc. thesis research as necessary and with the permission of the academic (thesis) advisor.

M.Sc. Thesis Timeline and Extension

M.Sc. students and their academic advisors need to define the thesis timeline at the time the thesis application is submitted. Students are expected to complete the M.Sc. thesis degree requirements by the end of their second fall semester (third semester). 

M.Sc. students may apply to extend into the spring semester (fourth semester) by submitting the request for extension to complete the M.Sc. thesis. 

Thesis Defense and Submission

M.Sc. students are expected to form a thesis examination committee, submit a written thesis document, and defend their thesis to complete the thesis research requirements.

M.Sc. Thesis Committee Formation

Once the thesis is ready to be examined/defended, students have to form the thesis examination committee and set the date for the oral defense. 

Students are required to submit the thesis formation committee form at the beginning of the semester in which they intend to defend their thesis. 

Thesis Committee Members Selection Criteria

The thesis defense committee must consist of at least three members and typically includes no more than four members as:

Member Role Program Status
1 Committee Chair Affiliated faculty member
2 KAUST faculty Affiliated faculty member
3 KAUST faculty Non-affiliated faculty member
4 Additional faculty or research scientist Inside or outside KAUST


  • Members 1-3 are required, member 4 is optional
  • Member 1: committee chair must be an AP faculty member or a KAUST faculty member affiliated with AP program
  • Member 2: must be an AP faculty member
  • Member 3: KAUST faculty member not affiliated with the program
  • Co-chairs may serve as member 2, 3, or 4, but may not be a research scientist
  • Adjunct professors and professors emeriti may retain their roles on current committees, but may not serve as chair on any new committees
  • Professors of practice and research professors may serve as members 2, 3 or 4 depending upon their affiliation with the student’s program, they may also serve as co-chairs
  • Visiting professors may serve as member 4

Thesis Defense

An oral defense of the M.Sc. thesis is required, although it may be waived by the dean’s office under exceptional circumstances. Public presentation and all other details related to the format of the oral defense are left to the discretion of the thesis committee.

The oral thesis defense must be completed two weeks before the last day of classes of the graduating semester. Students must set the date of the thesis defense with the committee members by the time students submit their thesis committee formation form.

Thesis Document

Students must follow the KAUST Thesis and Dissertation Guidelines available on the KAUST Library website when they write their thesis.

The division urges students to submit the thesis to the examining committee no later than two weeks prior to the defense. However, the committee chair sets the final requirement for the submission timeline.

Thesis Defense Evaluation

Students defending their thesis will receive one of these two outcomes, pass or fail. A pass is achieved when the committee agrees with no more than one dissenting vote, otherwise the outcome is a fail.

In case of a pass, students are required to send a copy of the M.Sc. thesis approval form within two days after the thesis defense to the GPC.

In the case of a fail, the academic (thesis) advisor must inform the GPC immediately to take the necessary action.