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 (9 credits)

  • Outside of Focus Area Elective (3 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: Molecular Engineering Principles covers molecular aspects of condensed organic materials, particularly molecular and collective interactions and resulting interfacial forces, entropic phenomena and condensation to systems of higher complexity. Includes the exploration of molecular system constraints and the molecular origin of resulting macroscale properties. Provides introduction into computer modeling. This course is offered jointly with ChemE.
  • MolE-II: Advanced Molecular Engineering covers fundamentals of molecular recognition and design: thermodynamics, dynamics, and kinetics. Includes molecular design of macromolecules, recognition processes for current molecular engineering applications in biomedicine, and therapeutics based on cells. Offered jointly with BioE.
  • MolE-CT: Organic Electronic and Photonic Materials/Polymers covers physical and material concepts determining properties of organic electronic and photonic materials. Discusses electronic structure, physico-chemical characterization, and device application. Includes introduction of electronic band structure of polymers, electrically conducting polymers; organic nonlinear optical electroluminescent materials; polymer optical fibers; tow-photon absorption materials for 3-D microfabrication. This course is offered jointly with MSE and Chemistry.
  • MolE-BT: Synthetic Biosystem Engineering on the Molecular Scale studies mathematical modeling of transcription, translation, regulation, and metabolism in cell; computer aided design methods for synthetic biology; implementation of information processing, Boolean logic and feedback control laws with genetic regulatory networks; modularity, impedance matching and isolation in biochemical circuits; and parameter estimation methods. 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 “Outside of Focus Area Elective” (3 credits),  “Free Electives” (6 credits), and “Research Facet Electives” (9 credits). An approved and regularly updated list is provided for research facet electives.

  • Outside of Focus Area Elective (3 credits)
    • A CleanTech or BioTech related course that is from the opposite track as your own.  For example, a BioTech student would choose a CleanTech course while a CleanTech student would choose a BioTech 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 at least one quarter 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 18 total credits during the Autumn, Winter, and Spring quarters. Register for two credits during Summer Quarter. If you fail to meet one of the below milestones on time, you are subject to being placed on probation or dismissal from the program.

  • Year 1, Autumn Quarter
    • Participate fully in the research group selection and orientation process via establishment of a research rotation for Winter Quarter
    • Course work/attend Molecular Engineering Seminar
    • Research/Dissertation (600/800 level)
  • Year 1, Winter Quarter
    • Participate fully in the research group selection and orientation process by beginning research rotations
    • Course work/attend Molecular Engineering Seminar
    • Research/Dissertation (600/800 level)
  • Year 1, Spring Quarter
    • Participate fully in the research group selection and orientation process by continued research rotation/s and securing long term advisor by end of quarter
      • Chosen advisor must have UW budget based funding to begin 4th quarter (Summer)
    • 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).  Credits are variable based on advisor recommendation
  • Year 2, Winter Quarter
    • Course work/attend Molecular Engineering Seminar
    • Research/Dissertation (600/800 level).  Credits are variable based on advisor recommendation
  • Year 2, Spring Quarter
    • Second Milestone: Non-thesis Master of Science (M.S.)
    • Course work/attend Molecular Engineering Seminar
    • Research/Dissertation (600/800 level). Credits are variable based on advisor recommendation
  • Each subsequent Autumn, Winter, and Spring Quarter
    • Course work/attend Molecular Engineering Seminar
    • Research/Dissertation (600/800 level).  Credits are variable based on advisor recommendation
  • Prior to end of year 4
    • Pass General Exam
  • Prior to end of year 5
    • Pass Final Exam