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Microsystems PhD Curriculum

The Doctor of Philosophy degree in Microsystems Engineering requires concentration and specialization in an associated research area as well as mastery over the fundamentals of Microsystems Engineering. The degree is awarded in recognition of demonstrated proficiency and high achievement in the student’s concentration within the program. A significant contribution to the knowledge in the area of Microsystems Engineering is made through successful dissertation research and publication.  The program curriculum has been designed to meet the individual needs of graduate students while ensuring that all students complete a well-rounded program of study.

A total of 66 semester credit hours of combined graduate course work and research are required for completion of the program. The course work requires a combination of foundation courses, major and minor technical area courses, and electives. The student must pass the Qualifying Exam, the Candidacy Exam, and the Dissertation Defense Exam for completion of degree requirements. Additional curriculum details can be found in the Microsystems Engineering Ph.D. Student Manual.

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Phase 1: Qualifying

The first phase of the Ph.D. program is to prepare the student with the foundation in science and engineering required for the program as well as to determine the student's ability to do independent research.  This includes the foundation and specialization courses taken during the first year together with the successful completion of the Qualifying Exam. The Qualifying Exam tests the student’s ability to think and learn independently, to critically evaluate current research work in microsystems engineering, and to use good judgment and creativity to determine appropriate directions for future research work.

Phase 2: Candidacy

The second phase of the Ph.D. program consists of course work in the Program of Study and preliminary dissertation research. Much of this course work will support the student’s research to be conducted in the Third Phase. This second phase will be completed when the student has finished most of the formal course work as prescribed in the Program of Study, has prepared the Dissertation Proposal and has passed the Candidacy Examination.  A student may also publish one or more papers in this phase.

Phase 3: Defense

The third stage of the Ph.D. program consists of the completion of the experimental and/or theoretical work needed to complete the student's dissertation along with the additional required publication of results. The Research Review Milestone is held as a meeting in the Third Phase as is the Defense of the Dissertation, which consists of a public oral presentation and examination.


The coursework requirements for the Ph.D. degree are divided in four groups to ensure that students complete a well-rounded program of study with the necessary concentration in their specialized field. Additional course descriptions and requirements can be found in the Microsystems Engineering Ph.D. Student Manual.

Group I: Foundation Courses

Four foundation courses and the Ph.D. Seminar are mandatory:

1. MCSE-702 Introduction to Nanotechnology and Microsystems

2. Mathematics (select one)

  • MTSE-704            Theoretical Methods in Material Science and Engineering
  • ENGR-707            Engineering Analysis
  • ENGR-709            Advanced Engineering Mathematics
  • MATH-601           Methods of Applied Mathematics
  • MATH-611           Numerical Analysis
  • MATH-712           Numerical Methods for Partial Differential Equations
  • MATH-741           Partial Differential Equations I
  • MATH-742           Partial Differential Equations II

3. Microfabrication (select one)

  • MCEE-701            Microelectronic Fabrication I
  • MCEE-602            VLSI Process Modeling
  • MCEE-605            Lithography Materials and Processes
  • MCEE-704            Physical Modeling of Semiconductor Devices
  • MCEE-770            Microelectromechanical Systems
  • MCEE-732            Evaluation of Microelectronic Manufacturing

4. Materials Science (select one)

  • MCSE-703            Materials Science for Microsystems Engineering
  • MTSE-601            Intro to Materials Science
  • MTSE-617            Materials Degradation
  • MTSE-702            Polymer Science
  • MTSE-703            Solid State Science
  • MTSE-705            Experimental Techniques
  • MTSE-780            Theory of Microsensors and Actuators
  • MCSE-xxx            Thin Film Science
  • IMGS-724            Introduction to Electron Microscopy

5. MCSE-795  Microsystems Ph.D. Seminar (1hr x 6 )

Group II: Major Technical Interest Area

                A sequence of four courses in a major technical research area

Group III: One Minor Technical Interest Areas

                A sequence of two courses in a minor technical area

Group IV: Electives

These courses can be prerequisite, remedial, or support courses that are approved by the advisory student’s committee and meet requirements of the program.  Electives can be selected from graduate programs at RIT with the approval of the student’s advisor.