As one of the oldest and largest graduate programs in the United States, the University of Michigan Department of Materials Science offers a challenging, well-rounded education at the forefront of materials research. The department is also one of the most technically diverse in the country. Professors in the MSE department work in areas from organic electronics to biomaterials to metallurgy and ceramics.


Graduate enrollment includes 120 students pursuing degrees in MSE, and 20 additional students from other disciplines, advised by MSE faculty who hold joint appointments in other departments and programs.


The graduate program is consistently ranked in U.S. News and World Report as a top 10 graduate program like many other college of engineering departments as well as UM overall, due in large part to its internationally recognized and diverse faculty, high levels of research funding and a diverse and collegial student body. International students and visitors encompass many parts of the globe, coming from countries such as Cameroon, Canada, China, Colombia, Greece, Korea, India, Indonesia, Japan, Kenya, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, Spain, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, Vietnam and Zimbabwe. Women comprise nearly a quarter of the MSE faculty (higher than the national average) and women and underrepresented minorities make up 30 percent of the graduate class.


MSE Faculty

The Department of Materials Science and Engineering includes 25 core faculty plus 12 affiliated faculty, with a highly productive research and education portfolio.  Four of the faculty (John Allison, Steve Forrest, Jyoti Mazumder, and Alan Taub) are members of the National Academy of Engineering.


The majority of the 25-member faculty hold joint appointments in other engineering and scientific disciplines, including macromolecular science and engineering, chemical, biomedical and mechanical engineering, physics, biology and chemistry. Faculty involvement throughout the College of Literature, Science and the Arts and the College of Engineering results in a highly interdisciplinary approach to coursework and research.


MSE Professor Jinsang Kim, who holds joint appointments in Chemical Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, Macromolecular Science and Engineering, and Chemistry, notes that, “Multidisciplinary research through interactive collaboration with faculty members in various disciplines is very common in MSE.”



Yansha Jin
The project I’m working on involves students and scientists from different universities and disciplines. We had collaborators from Stanford, Brown, U of California, Santa Cruz; and here in U of M, two groups in MSE, two in physics and one in mechanical engineering.
Yansha Jin, Graduate Student Research Assistant

Faculty members are renowned not only for research accomplishments; they serve as leaders and hold fellowships in a broad range of professional societies, including the Materials Research Society, the American Ceramics Society, American Chemical Society, American Vacuum Society, American Institute of Chemical Engineers, and ASM.


Kevin Grossklaus, who now works as a process and development engineer for Intel Corp. in Portland, Ore., enjoyed the close interactions with multiple faculty members. In addition to having a close and productive mentor/mentee relationship with his advisor, he was also mentored by or collaborated with several other faculty working on interesting and impactful research. “These other interactions help broaden the scope of my graduate education and helped make me aware of trends in other areas of materials science.”


Susan Gentry, PhD., enjoyed the mentors she developed, even when her research did not directly overlap with the research of the professors. “I found it useful to seek out their advice as I began to plan for my post-graduate career.”


Research Funding

The MSE Department faculty lead a wide range of federally funded multi-disciplinary research efforts, including

  • $11M DoE Software Innovation Center, called the PRedictive Integrated Structural Materials Science Center, or PRISMS, led by MSE Professor John Allison.
  • $13-million National Science Foundation center based at The University of Michigan developing high-tech materials that manipulate light in new ways. The research could enable advances such as invisibility cloaks, nanoscale lasers, high-efficiency lighting, and quantum computers.


Research funding also includes three multi-million-dollar, multi-investigator, interdisciplinary grants from the U.S. Department of Defense, the Department of Education and the National Science Foundation.


Industrial funding is strong and exceeds the College of Engineering average. Companies providing funding include:


  • Dow Corning
  • Ford Motor Co.
  • General Electric
  • General Motors
  • Semiconductor Research Corp.
  • Toyota



Research expenditures are among the highest in the College – nearly $11 million in 2011, demonstrating the focus on not merely keeping abreast of but leading developments in the field.


The department also has a training grant from the Department of Education, providing fellowships for research and studies in areas of national need.



Research Facilities

Kim Lab

The University of Michigan hosts a wide range of state-of-the-art research facilities for advanced materials research.


Five major research areas are:


  • Structural Materials
  • Organic & Biomaterials
  • Electronic Materials
  • Inorganic & Nanomaterials
  • Computational Materials



These competencies are continually expanding with advances in areas such as nanoscience, energy conversion and storage, photonics and sensor design.


Graduate students have high-caliber materials synthesis and characterization facilities at their disposal. The Michigan Center for Materials Characterization (MC)2 includes a state-of-the-art electron microscope and focused ion beam machining equipment. The X-ray Micro Analysis Laboratory (XMAL)  provides nanoscale characterization capabilities to students, faculty and other members of the university community. The Lurie Nanofabrication Facility has equipment for silicon lithography, thin-film deposition, e-beam lithography and electroplating.



Highlighted Research

Fourth-year PhD student Kiersten Batzli, working on the characteristics of protein aggregation and how to make proteins behave in useful ways, notes that the interdisciplinary nature of MSE makes it possible for students to work on many very different projects. “Physics, biology, chemistry and all sorts of engineering disciplines come into the mix,” she says.  “A lot of the work is very cutting-edge and it’s fun to chat with friends about what they’re working on.”


First year graduate student and Rackham Merit Fellow Andre Thompson is working on a project characterizing structural changes that arise in the polyethylene oxide-polypropylene oxide-polyethylene oxide (PEO-PPO-PEO) amphiphilic triblock copolymers (commercially known as Pluronics) as a function of temperature through differential scanning calorimetry (DSC). He also is measuring how adding small amounts of methyl paraben perturb the structure and the driving force for micelle formation in aqueous PEO-PPO-PEO solutions with different block lengths.


During his time as a graduate student in MSE, alumnus Kevin Grossklaus worked on projects centered on semiconductor nanomaterials, including using focused ion beams to create unique semiconductor nanostructures and characterized them using a variety of techniques. “I was able to carry out complex and cutting edge research without having to leave campus, because of the extensive experimental facilities and equipment available and the large number of faculty with varied expertise,” he notes.


Susan Gentry’s MSE research project was in the emerging field of 3D printing, with her research guiding ongoing work at several companies. “The opportunity to closely collaborate with industry provided invaluable professional experience,” says Gentry, who earned her PhD last summer and is now doing postdoctoral research.


Some recent student publications in high-impact journals:


Career Opportunities

Around 300 companies attend the annual U-M Engineering Career Fair, providing a diverse range of jobs for graduate students.


According to Kevin Grossklaus, his U-M MSE education and degree provided the competence and confidence to handle cutting edge and challenging work, giving him the ability to pursue a career at the forefront of his field for Intel Corp.  “I had done a variety of work related to that field, and was able to make a good technical impression during my interview,” he says. “Despite interviewing for an area where I didn’t have a lot of direct experience, I was able to demonstrate I was technically competent enough to learn and do the job.”



Entrepreneurial Opportunities

A spirit of entrepreneurship pervades the program, giving graduate students the chance to work on start-up ventures that spin off from laboratory research.


Graduates are extremely well prepared for a competitive, global workplace, and alumni find positions with the world’s top academic, governmental and corporate institutions.


Lurie BuildingFor example, below are a few of the start-up companies MSE faculty have founded:
  • Adaptive Materials (John Halloran)
  • Arborlight, LLC (Max Shtein)
  • ASIP (now part of Cyoptics) (Stephen Forrest)
  • DDM Systems of Atlanta (John Halloran)
  • Global Photonic Energy Corp. (Stephen Forrest)
  • Mayaterials (Richard Laine)
  • Nanocerox (Richard Laine)
  • Nico Technologies and 3D Biomatrix (Nicholas Kotov)
  • Sensigma LLC (Jyoti Mazumder)
  • Sensors Unlimited (now a division of Goodrich) (Stephen Forrest)
  • Silicium Energy (Akram Boukai)
  • Universal Display Corp. (Stephen Forrest)


Financial Aid Information

All MSE PhD students are offered continuous support for the duration of their studies, through fellowships, research assistantships, teaching assistantships, or some combination of these.

All provide similar funding with a monthly stipend, plus tuition, fees, and health benefits.


Applicants are also considered for various Rackham and College of Engineering fellowships, and are encouraged to apply for nationally competitive fellowships available from NSF, NASA, DoD, and other sources. Students in the MSE department have successfully won NSF GRFP, DoD NDSEG and DoD SMART fellowships.


National Fellowships held by MSE Graduate Students:
Adam Barito - National Science Foundation Fellowship
Katie Sebeck - National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate (NDSEG) Fellowship
Cameron Tracy - National Science Foundation Fellowship
Ban Dong - Vietnam Education Foundation Fellowship
Kevin Fisher - Rickover Fellowship




Graduate students have a variety of options available in and around Ann Arbor, either in private apartments/homes, or through U-M Housing.


The Northwood Community Apartments (NCA) for graduate students and their families are home to a large multicultural and international population.  Residents enjoy a comfortable, safe and welcoming community as well as many educational, social and recreational opportunities.


Life in Ann Arbor

The city of Ann Arbor – aka “Tree Town” for its many parks and green spaces – is small enough for making friends easily and joining activities, yet large enough to offer myriad opportunities to enjoy an eclectic choice of music; art; museums; opera; community gardens; ballet; theater; and a safe, walk-able downtown with shops and restaurants. Outdoor activities include hiking and biking trails; golf; and canoeing on the Huron River.


Check out kudos Ann Arbor has racked up this past year:

#1, “Best Cities For Singles” – Kiplinger Online, 2012
#4, “The Country’s Most Well-Read Cities” – Amazon.com, 2012
#6, “America’s Most Creative Cities” – The Daily Beast, 2012
“America’s Greatest Main Streets” – Travel & Leisure Magazine, 2012
#18, “Top 25 Mid-Size Cities for Art” – American Style, 2012
#3, “Top 10 US Cities for Well-Being” – MSN, 2012
#5, “Happiest Cities in America” – The Daily Beast, 2012

The city – an attractive location for moviemakers – is home to the nationally famous Ann Arbor Art Fairs; Ann Arbor Summer Festival; Taste of Ann Arbor; Ann Arbor Folk Festival; and many more events.

For more information, visit www.michigan.org/hot-spots/ann-arbor
and www.visitannarbor.org.


Susan Gentry
“Lots of on-campus activities going on, from athletic events to orchestral performances, and in summer, parks to explore and the 3-week Top of the Park music festival.”
Susan Gentry, PhD


Both “town and gown” host a variety of multi-cultural events and clubs; and U-M has many International Student Associations: <http://internationalcenter.umich.edu/intlstudents/orgs.html>


Only a little further afield, Michigan offers beautiful Great Lakes beaches and coastline, award-winning golf courses, and – for winter enthusiasts – skiing and snowmobiling.


Prof. Jinsang Kim lived in Seoul, Boston, and Pasadena before coming to Ann Arbor.  “My wife and I, together with our three children, have been really enjoying Ann Arbor’s culturally rich, vibrant, safe, and well-balance modern and natural environment,” he says.


According to 4th-year PhD student Kiersten Batzli, Ann Arbor has a lot of the perks of a bigger city with a small-town feel – “delicious restaurants, fantastic art exhibits and music, access to the great outdoors and a lively and motivated community.” Batzli cites football at the Big House, hockey nights at Yost, kayaking on the Huron, the Festifools parade, and Saturday mornings at the farmer’s market among her favorites.


Student Profiles

Here is what our current students have to say about life at Michigan:


Katie Sebeck

Katie SebeckThe facilities and support staff here are fantastic. The staff do a great job of helping students learn how to use equipment and make it possible for us to focus on science, instead of maintenance. As a computationalist, I have access to some of the best high performance computing resources in the country, and a great team of system administrators to deal with the day-to-day operation issues.

As someone coming from an MSE background, I really liked the way core curriculum requirements were handled. I was able to dive into new areas and take classes more specifically relevant to my projects sooner, after proving my knowledge of core subjects. I've taken classes in mechanical and chemical engineering, math, and even the School of Information.

The department is involved in a variety of interdisciplinary grants. I'm a participant in the Open Data project, which is between the School of Information, Bioinformatics, Computer Science and Materials Science. I regularly collaborate with students from a variety of backgrounds to solve real issues facing scientists everywhere.


Alan Githens

Alan GithensAside from the great academics, I love the Ann Arbor campus. The town is constantly busy and caters well to graduate students and young professionals. There are plenty of great restaurants, bars, and shows downtown for a welcome break from studies on the weekend. At the same time, Ann Arbor doesn't offer too many distractions like those in a large city, so it's easy to find a balance between work and social life. Ann Arbor is one of my favorite places I've lived thus far, and I think most graduate students will be happy in the program here.




Kevin Fisher

Kevin FisherI have found everything about the University of Michigan extraordinarily welcoming. This started at the visit weekend where we were met by current graduate students who readily related their experiences, tips, and insight throughout the weekend, and continued with the department faculty and staff throughout that weekend. Its not just a show! After arriving on campus last fall the students, faculty, and staff were just as welcoming and helpful whether searching for an adviser, looking for help in research from a professor other than your own advisor, or hearing student's perspectives about classes, professors, or research topics. Everyone here will be more than happy to help you out, and this sense of welcoming was one of the biggest things that stood out to me in my graduate school search, and played a big role in why I chose to come here!


Alfred Okello

Alfred Okello 2The MSE department exemplifies diversity in terms of the areas of research (multidisciplinary research) as well as I terms of the provenance of the faculty and students. My application was accepted both at the University of Delaware and the University of Michigan. The weather would have been a factor in my decision to which graduate school I wanted to go to. In my case, I decided to accept the offer at Michigan as I was impressed by the multiple resources available for research (grant, interesting areas of research, …) and the emphasis placed on attracting both faculty and students from diverse backgrounds.  Ann Arbor is a nice city rich in culture (cuisine, arts, theatre….) and there is a good representation of different cultures (international and national).



Ban Dong

Ban DongMy initial reason to come to the University of Michigan MSE department was the outstanding research in organic electronics, my field of interest, is being conducted here. However, upon arriving I have also been surprised by the diversity of research programs and the large efforts in research collaboration in the department. The chance to use top-notch research facilities, collaborate as well as discuss with students from many fields has been helping me to solve many problems and utilize my creativity in doing research.

I also find the support staff at U of M extremely helpful. The staff on campus is more than willing to help new students look for research advisors, choose classes or even solve many personal life issues such as housing problems.  It is hard to find any other universities having such a fantastic bus service and the availability of on-campus housing options for almost every student.

Aside from great study environment, I am also impressed with the diversity and availability of social life here. Ann Arbor offers a combination of both small town pleasures and large city conveniences. There are over 200 diverse restaurants here and it is not difficult to find a restaurant that satisfies your flavor. As an international student from Vietnam, I was surprised to find more than a handful of restaurants and grocery stores that offer great Vietnamese as well as other Asian foods. Ann Arbor's beautiful parks and recreational activities, charming homes, superb cultural amenities and numerous galleries throughout the city have been helping me to balance between studying and social life.