Academics

Program Requirements

The MolE Ph.D. program will be separated into two focus areas, “CleanTech” (CT) and “BioTech,” (BT) and consists of core courses, elective courses, seminar courses, and research credits. A minimum of 63 research credits are required, yielding a minimum total credit count of 99.

Overall Program Credit Requirement

  • Core / Focus Area / Seminar (18 credits)

  • Research Facet Electives (12 credits)

  • Free Electives (6 credits)

  • Research Credit (600/800 level)

    • MS (intermediate milestone) (35 credits)
    • Ph.D. (28 credits)

Core Course Sequence

The core course sequence consists of three graduate-level courses, of which two (MolE I and MolE II) are mandatory for all MolE students, and one (MolE-CT or MolE-BT) is specific to the selected focus area. There is also a seminar (MolE-S) course that follows the student over three academic years (year 1-3).

  • MolE-I: Fundamentals on Molecular Properties and Material Functionalities covers the fundamental properties of molecular building blocks, their interaction and assembly mechanisms and relationships to material phase properties and system functionalities. This course provides mathematical analytical tools to model complex systems. This course is offered in Fall to entering first year students jointly with ChemE.
  • MolE-II: Material Molecular Hierarchies and Assemblies focuses on molecular assembly mechanisms in fluid and solid multiphase systems towards functional systems. Thereby, interfaces, dimensional and molecular constraints play a pivotal role. This course ties to practical applications in multiple emerging technologies in Biotechnology (BT) and Clean Technology (CT), and is offered in Fall to entering first year students jointly with ME.
  • MolE-CT: Material and Device Functionality Guided Molecular Synthesis covers the design principles from molecular building blocks to functional materials and devices. Its focus is on emerging technologies in Clean Technology, such as photovoltaics, electrochemical cells and energy storage. This course is offered jointly with MSE.
  • MolE-BT: Synthetic Biosystem Engineering on the Molecular Scale entails the design principles from biomolecular building blocks to hierarchical systems and metabolic functionalities. Its focus is in Biotechnology (BT). This course is offered jointly with EE, BioE, and CSE.
  • MolE-S: The Molecular Engineering Seminar features weekly research presentations from national and international experts in Molecular Engineering CT and BT. It is offered jointly with the Nanotechnology and Molecular Engineering (NTME) seminar, and is supported and run by the MolES Institute.

The core program is complemented through research experiences and elective courses.

MolE Electives

The MolE Ph.D. elective courses (18 total credits) are composed of “Focus Area Electives” (3 credits),  “Free Electives” (6 credits), and “Research Facet Electives” (9 credits). An approved and regularly updated list is provided for research facet electives.

  • Focus Area Elective (3 credits)
    • CleanTech or BioTech related course
  • Research Facet Electives (9 credits total, at least one course must be taken from each research facet)
    • Synthesis, Assembly, and Design (3 credits)
    • Characterization and Analysis (3 credits)
    • Theory, Computation, and Modeling (3 credits)
  • Free Electives (6 credits)

First Milestone

Preliminary Exam taken in the Autumn quarter of the second year, which requires written and oral reports to the student’s Ph.D. supervisory committee. To qualify to take the exam, the students must have a GPA of at least 3.3 based on at least 15 credits of approved 400- and 500-level UW courses. The Preliminary Exam evaluates the ability:

  • gained through core coursework on synthesis, modeling, and characterization
  • to analyze and critique research done by others (via a paper review)
  • to conduct original, independent research based on a written report on the research completed and plans towards the General Exam.

Second Milestone

Non-thesis Master of Science (M.S.) in MolE by the end of the second year prior to the General Exam. The non-thesis MolE M.S. entails written and oral reports, based on the 600 level research (35 credits), to the student’s Ph.D. supervisory committee. The supervisory committee evaluates the quality of the research and student’s ability to apply molecular engineering principles. All students are required to earn a MolE MS regardless of prior degrees.

Final Exam/Dissertation

The Ph.D. final exam will comply with the exam requirements of the department.

Typical Degree Timeline

It is not feasible to set the total time to degree, but we expect most students to finish in less than five years. Adjust your research credits so you are registering for 11 to 13 total credits during the Autumn, Winter, and Spring quarters. Register for two credits during Summer Quarter.

  • Year 1, Autumn Quarter
    • Choose a research advisor
    • Course work/attend Molecular Engineering Seminar
    • Research/Dissertation (600/800 level)
  • Year 1, Winter Quarter
    • Course work/attend Molecular Engineering Seminar
    • Research/Dissertation (600/800 level)
  • Year 1, Spring Quarter
    • Form tentative Ph.D. supervisory committee
    • Oral presentation of initial research goals to supervisory committee
    • Course work/attend Molecular Engineering Seminar
    • Research/Dissertation (600/800 level)
  • Year 2, Autumn Quarter
    • First Milestone: Pass the Preliminary Exam (requires written and oral reports to supervisory committee)
    • Course work/attend Molecular Engineering Seminar
    • Research/Dissertation (600/800 level)
  • Year 2, Winter Quarter
    • Course work/attend Molecular Engineering Seminar
    • Research/Dissertation (600/800 level)
  • Year 2, Spring Quarter
    • Second Milestone: Non-thesis Master of Science (M.S.)
    • Course work/attend Molecular Engineering Seminar
    • Research/Dissertation (600/800 level)
  • Prior to end of year 3
    • Pass General Exam.
    • Course work/attend Molecular Engineering Seminar
    • Research/Dissertation (600/800 level)