Material Science and Engineering 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 three semesters. Satisfactory participation in every KAUST summer session is mandatory.

Before students start creating their study plan, students will be required to take the program assessment test.

Assessment Test

Students are admitted to KAUST from a wide variety of programs and backgrounds. To facilitate the design of an appropriate study plan for each individual student, all M.Sc. and M.Sc./Ph.D. incoming students will be required to take an assessment during orientation week. There is no grade for the assessment. The purpose of the assessment is to determine whether students have mastered the prerequisites for undertaking graduate level courses taught in the program. The academic advisor uses the results of the assessments to design a study plan with a list of courses aimed at addressing content areas that may impede students from successful completion of the degree requirements. More information regarding the assessment test is available on MSE Academics webpage.

M.Sc. Degree Requirements

The M.Sc. degree has the following components:

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

Core Courses (12 credits)

The MSE 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 (4 courses) to fulfill the core requirements. Students must select 9 credits (3 courses) from the following list of core courses. The remaining 3 credits must be obtained by successful completion of MSE 200- Mathematics for Material Science and Engineering or an AMCS 200/300-level course.

It is the 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.

MSE Core Courses

MSE 200Mathematics for Material Science and Engineering


MSE 221Crystallography and Diffraction


MSE 225Electronic Properties of Materials


MSE 226Thermodynamics of Materials


MSE 227Applied Quantum Mechanics


MSE 228Materials Characterization


AP 220Statistical Physics


AP 228Advanced Quantum Mechanics


AP 230Condensed Matter Physics


Elective Courses (12 credits)

The elective courses are designed to allow students to tailor their educational experience to meet individual research and educational objectives. M.Sc. students are required to successfully complete 12 credits (4 courses). With the consent of the academic advisor, MSE courses and courses from other academic programs will count toward the elective requirements. However, a minimum of 6 credits equivalent to two elective courses must be obtained from MSE courses. Research credits, internship credits, and IED courses will not count toward electives.

MSE Elective Courses

MSE 201Fundamentals of Materials Science and Engineering


MSE 229Polymeric Materials


MSE 300"Green" Optoelectronics


MSE 310Energy Storage Materials and Devices


MSE 314Ab-Initio Computational Methods


MSE 318Nanomaterials


MSE 320Energy Conversion Materials and Devices


MSE 322Semiconductor Materials


MSE 324Photophysics of Organic Semiconductors


MSE 326/BioE 326Biosensing Materials


MSE 331/AP 331Advanced Nanoelectronics


MSE 394B/BioE 394Contemporary Topics in Materials Science


Research and Seminar Courses

MSE 295Master's Internship


MSE 297Master's Thesis Research


MSE 299Master's Directed Research


MSE 395Doctoral Internship


MSE 397Doctoral Dissertation Research


MSE 398Graduate Seminar


MSE 399Doctoral Directed Research


Graduate Seminar (MSE 398)

M.Sc. students are required to register in three MSE graduate seminar series offered each semester and receive a satisfactory (S) grade to fulfill the seminar requirements for the 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)

The research/capstone experience requirements varies depending on the master's degree option M.Sc. students choose to pursue, master's non-thesis or master's thesis.

M.Sc. Thesis

Designation of Thesis Advisor

The first step for students planning to apply for thesis 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 faculty members affiliated with the MSE program is available on the Material Science and Engineering program home page, click here.

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

Application for M.Sc. Thesis Track

Students wishing to do thesis research must submit the M.Sc. thesis application to change to the M.Sc. thesis track. Students can apply to change track as early as their second semester. However a minimum of 3.2 cumulative GPA is required to apply.

Thesis Credit Registration

Thesis students are required to complete a minimum of 12 credits of thesis research (MSE 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. thesis 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. thesis students may apply to extend into the spring semester (fourth semester) by submitting the request for time extension to complete M.Sc. thesis.

Thesis Defense and Submission

M.Sc. thesis students are expected to form a thesis examination committee, defend their thesis, and submit a written thesis document 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 to 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 the 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 MSE affiliated faculty member
2 KAUST faculty MSE 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 MSE faculty member or KAUST faculty member affiliated with MSE program
  • Member 2: must be MSE 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 they 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 recommends that students 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 thesis supervisor must inform the GPC immediately to take the necessary action. 

M.Sc. Non-Thesis

The non-thesis option requires students to complete a total of 12 research/capstone credits. A minimum of 6 credits of directed research (299) are required. Summer internship credits may be used to fulfill the research requirements.

Students must complete the remaining credits through one or a combination of the options listed below:

  • Broadening experience courses: courses that broaden a student’s M.Sc. experience
  • Ph.D. level courses: courses denoted as 300 level

M.Sc. non-thesis students are required to take 200 or 300 level courses to complete the remaining 6 credits (two courses). Any course offered by the university, including IED courses, will count toward the requirements. Replacing the courses with research or summer internship credits is not permitted.