ip target image
You are currently browsing our site with content tailored to students in your country

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Materials Science




What will I learn?

The doctoral program in Materials Science consists of taking a series of preparatory classes, followed by an oral candidacy exam, a written thesis, and a final oral thesis defense. The goals of this program are to develop competence in a chosen field of specialization; to develop tools with which to assess problems outside the student's field of specialization; to develop sufficient strength in the physical sciences for self-education beyond formal training; and to cultivate the motivation and foresight to become a productive and influential leader. As such, the graduate program in Materials Science is designed to be a doctoral program and students are only admitted into the doctoral program. There is no separate master’s program in Materials Science, however, a degree of Master of Science in Materials Science can be awarded upon request by students after the fulfillment of course requirements.

The Ph.D. degree in Materials Science is focused on research. Study and research programs for the Ph.D. degree are individually planned to fit the interests and background of the student. A comprehensive research project resulting in an original contribution to the field documented by a dissertation is required.

Residency: A minimum of three academic years in residence as a graduate student are required by the Institute, and two or more additional years are usually needed for preparation of the thesis.

To be recommended for candidacy for the Ph.D. degree in Materials Science, the student must, in addition to meeting the general Institute requirements, do the following:

a. Courses. To continue in the graduate program, the student must maintain a B– average for each term. Advancement to candidacy requires the successful completion of the program listed under “Core Courses” above. Alternatively, if the student has taken equivalent courses elsewhere, he or she may prove competency to the instructor of the equivalent course at the Institute and request a waiver of the required course. With the above course schedule as a guide, students must complete a minimum of 135 units of courses, numbered 101 or above, plus 2 units of MS 110ab, before presenting themselves for the candidacy exam. The coursework towards the Ph.D. degree in applied physics is typically completed within the first two years of residency at Caltech.

  • All units must be taken for grades and passed with a grade of at least a C, except for courses offered only on a pass/fail basis.
  • Only courses in which a student has obtained a grade of C or higher will be counted toward the 135 unit minimum.
  • No more than 27 units of research through MS 200 can be counted toward the 135 unit requirement of candidacy.
  • Students must complete the degree progress report online.
  • Alternate Subjects or Areas
    • Students entering the program with advanced preparation may choose either to substitute more advanced courses in the topical areas shown or to demonstrate competency by successfully passing both the midterm and final examinations.
    • Students may petition the option representative to accept alternate subjects or areas.
    • These changes should retain core materials science knowledge, and should represent sufficient breadth.
    • The approval is not automatic; such petitions must be submitted to the option representative and approved before the student registers for the course.

Which department am I in?

Division of Engineering and Applied Science

Study options

Full Time (Minimum of 135 units of courses)

Tuition fees
US$56,364.00 per year
Under current Internal Revenue Code stipends are subject to income tax, but the tuition portion of an award is not taxable. This fee is for 2021-2022 and it may subject to change for the coming year.
Start date

Expected September 2024


Division of Engineering and Applied Science

1200 East California Blvd,



91125, United States

Entry requirements

For students from United States

Applicants must have completed a bachelor's degree or the equivalent before beginning graduate study.

For international students

Applicants must have completed a bachelor's degree or the equivalent before beginning graduate study.

Applicants whose native language is not English and those who have had no formal instruction in English will be required to take a test to evaluate English proficiency. Please refer to "Required Tests" for a list of the GRE reporting requirements and the English proficiency exams currently accepted. The admissions committee may also consider research papers, publications and other original work.

*There may be different IELTS requirements depending on your chosen course.


Get in touch