RICE UNIVERSITY
DEPARTMENT OF MECHANICAL ENGINEERING
AND MATERIALS SCIENCE

GRADUATE PROGRAM GENERAL REGULATIONS
2002-2003

The following regulations concerning graduate study in the Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science Department are in addition to the University regulations and deadlines described in Rice University General Announcements. The student is responsible for seeing that both the University requirements and deadlines and the departmental requirements and deadlines are met. It is highly recommmended that all graduate students regularly consult a copy of the Academic Calendar for the University.

Any questions concerning these regulations or their interpretation should be directed to the Director of Graduate Studies or the Office of Graduate Studies, Rice University.

A) The MEMS Department offers Professional Masters Degrees (MME and MMS), the Master of Science (MS) degree, and the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree. The MEMS Department does not offer the option of the Automatic Masters degree to Ph.D. degree candidates.

B) Earning an advanced degree implies a high level of scholastic performance. In order to evaluate progress, the records of each graduate student will be reviewed at the end of each academic semester. If the results of this review are not satisfactory, the department will either specify additional course or study requirements, or require withdrawal from the University.

C) No credit toward an advanced degree will be given for courses in which a D (Poor Standing) or F (Failure) is received. The record of a graduate student who receives a failing grade in a course will be reviewed, and the department will make specific recommendations regarding further study at the University. In general, a graduate student will be expected to earn grades of B (High Standing) or better in at least 50% of all courses taken (including those in which a D or F is received for the first attempt.).

D) Graduate credit will not be given to mechanical engineering graduate students for courses that are required for Rice students working toward a B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering. This rule does not necessarily apply to materials science graduate students, who can petition the department to take certain undergraduate courses for graduate credit. Whether or not the petition is granted depends on the individual's background.

E) The deadline for adding a new course is two weeks after the start of classes.

F) If a student wishes to have graduate courses taken at another university counted for credit toward an advanced degree at Rice, he/she should petition the department in writing, listing not only the grades earned but also describing the courses involved. These courses must have been in addition to the requirements for all degrees received from the previous university. The decision as to credits transferred rests with the department.

G) Credit received for either Gradate Seminar (MECH 606 or MSCI 500 and 501) or MECH 800 will not be counted toward course reuirements.

H) For all MEMS programs and degrees, during a student's entire graduate studies in the MEMS department, no more than 6 semester hours can be taken as independent study or as Special Topics courses conducted as independent study.

I) Each graduate student is expected to render research and/or instructional assistance to the department not to exceed (10) hours per week. Graduate student work assignments will be made by the Department Chairman at the beginning of each semester.

J) All graduate students (exceptprofessional masters students [MME/MMS]) must attend at least 75% of the MEMS seminars according to the following residence schedule:

Students must register for either MECH 606 or MSCI 500 or 501 on their required seminar attendance periods as stated above.

K) The Mechanical Engineering Building is a "No Smoking" building. Graduate students found smoking in the building or abusing the premises will lose their office space privilege.

 

I. REQUIREMENTS FOR THE PROFESSIONAL MASTERS DEGREES (MME and MMS)

Students are expected to complete ten courses approved by the department. Specific courses to be taken depend upon each student's field of study. Students must discuss their individual degree plans and programs of study with their advisors.

 

II. REQUIREMENTS FOR THE M.S. DEGREE

Full-time students seeking the M.S. degree are expected to complete all the requirements for the degree within two (2) calendar years following entrance into the program. Continuation in the program beyond this time limit will require special approval of the department.

 

A. Courses

The minimum semester hours of course work (a one-semester course is usually 3 semester hours credit) required for the M.S. degree are tabulated below as a function of the degree held upon entrance into the program. Research and thesis hours do not count towards these course requirements. In all cases, a student's specific course of study is formulated in consultation with the departmental advisor (thesis director) and must be approved by the department.

Degree at entrance5-year4 -year B.S.4-year B.A.
Minimum graduate
level semester hours
required (course work)
122430
See the General Announcements For Total Semester Hours Required By Rice University

 

B. Preliminary Candidacy Evaluation

All entering graduate students pursuing a thesis degree program will be subject to a preliminary evaluation of their candidacy for the highest degree program they intend to pursue. The evaluation will be conducted by the end of the second semester of enrollment in the graduate program in the MEMS Department. The evaluation will be based on a review of the academic performance up to the time of evaluation, including performance in course work and graduate research. The evaluation will be conducted by a panel of MEMS faculty members selected by the research advisor and approved by the Director of Graduate Studies. The number of panel members will be 3 for the M.S. degree and 4 for the Ph.D. degree. The evaluation by the Panel will normally result in one of the following four possible outcomes:

  1. Approve preliminary candidacy.
  2. Approve preliminary candidacy conditionally, and specify conditions.
  3. Extend the period of evaluation, and re-do the evaluation latest by the end of the third semester of enrollment in the graduate program in the MEMS Department.
  4. Disapprove candidacy.

C. Research and Thesis

  1. Each candidate for the M.S. degree must complete a thesis demonstrating ability in research of a fundamental nature (analytical or experimental). It is expected that the research will be of sufficient importance and quality that positive results would lead to publication. Instructions for preparation of theses can be obtained at the appropriate time through the Office of Graduate Studies, Rice University.

  2. Candidates for the M.S. degree must register for Mech 800 (Research and Thesis) during the year preceding the anticipated date of graduation.

  3. The student must select a thesis director during the first semester of study. Active research should begin by the end of the first semester.

  4. Candidates for the M.S. degree who are not on campus and who have completed all requirements except the thesis must register in Mech 800 (Research and Thesis for Non-Resident Students) every year until graduation.

 

D. Final Thesis Defense

Upon completion of the thesis, each candidate for the M.S. degree will be examined by a committee comprising at least three members. Two, including the Committee Chair, must be members of the Department. The thesis must be made available to the members of the examining committee at least two weeks before the examination date. The oral examination will consist of questions concerning the candidate's grasp of the fundamental principles underlying his/her field of study. In connection with this review, the guidance of the thesis director should be sought. Should the candidate fail in this examination, he/she is allowed to repeat it once with the approval of the committee. Public notice of the M.S. Oral Examination must be given by posting an announcement on the departmental bulletin board at least one week prior to the examination.

 

E. Residence

The minimum residence requirement for the M.S. degree is one semester of full-time study at Rice.

 

F. Thesis Deadline

The deadline for acceptance of the thesis by the Graduate Office must be observed.

 

III. REQUIREMENTS FOR THE Ph.D. DEGREE

A. Courses

The minimum semester hours of course work (a one-semester course is usually 3 semester hours credit) required are tabulated below as a function of the degree held upon entrance into the program. In all cases, a student's course of study is formulated in consultation with the thesis director and must be approved by the department.

Degree at entranceM.S.5-yearB.S.B.A.
Minimum graduate
level semester hours
required (course work)
24304854
See the General Announcements For Total Semester Hours Required By Rice University

 

B. Preliminary Candidacy Evaluation

All entering graduate students pursuing a thesis degree program will be subject to a preliminary evaluation of their candidacy for the highest degree program they intend to pursue. The evaluation will be conducted by the end of the second semester of enrollment in the graduate program in the MEMS Department. The evaluation will be based on a review of the academic performance up to the time of evaluation, including performance in course work and graduate research. The evaluation will be conducted by a panel of MEMS faculty members selected by the research advisor and approved by the Director of Graduate Studies. The number of panel members will be 3 for the M.S. degree and 4 for the Ph.D. degree. The evaluation by the Panel will normally result in one of the following four possible outcomes:

  1. Approve preliminary candidacy.
  2. Approve preliminary candidacy conditionally, and specify conditions.
  3. Extend the period of evaluation, and re-do the evaluation latest by the end of the third semester of enrollment in the graduate program in the MEMS Department.
  4. Disapprove candidacy.

 

C. Oral Qualifying Examination

By the end of the third year of enrollment in the graduate program in the MEMS Department, the student must pass an oral qualifying examination. The purpose of this examination is to determine whether or not the student is qualified to conduct independent research at the technical level required for the Ph.D. thesis. The student's grasp of fundamental concepts in his/her field and related fields of interest will be examined. The examination will be administered by a committee consisting of at least three members of the faculty of the Department and one member of another department. The result of this examination will be the principal factor in the Department's decision as to the student's admission to candidacy for the Ph.D program. Should the student fail in this examination, he/she may be allowed to repeat it once only if the examining committee recommends so.

Additional details on the structure of the examination for students pursuing Ph.D. degree in Materials Science are provided below:

The students will be examined in four areas: (1) thermodynamics and kinetics; (2) structures, crystallography and diffraction; (3) mechanical properties; and (4) electrical, optical, and magnetic properties. These four areas are covered in the courses MSCI 401, 402, 406, and 535, and the student is expected to have a thorough understanding of the material covered in each of these courses in order to pass the examination. The examination will take place in four separate sessions, each covering one area and lasting approximately one hour. If one or more parts of the examination is failed, the student may be allowed, only if the examining committee recommends so, to take once more the examination or the appropriate parts of it at the beginning of the following semester.

 

D. Language Requirement

The Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science Department does not have a foreign language requirement for its graduate degrees. It is recommended that every student understand at least one computer language.

 

E. Research and Thesis

  1. Each candidate for the Ph.D. must complete a thesis that constitutes an original contribution to scientific knowledge. The thesis will be bound in buckram and permanently preserved in the library. Instructions for preparation of theses can be obtained at the appropriate time through the Office of Graduate Studies, Rice University.

  2. Candidates for the Ph.D. degree must register for Mech 800 (Research and Thesis) during the year preceding the anticipated date of graduation.

  3. The student must select a thesis director during the first year of study. Active research should begin by the end of the first year.

  4. Candidates for the Ph.D. degree who are not on campus and who have completed all requirements except completion of the thesis must register in Mech 800 (Research and Thesis for Non-Resident Students) every year until graduation.

 

F. Final Thesis Defense

Upon completion of the thesis, each candidate for the Ph.D. degree must pass a final public oral examination. The examination will be conducted by a committee consisting of at least three members. Two, including the Committee Chair, must be members of the Department. One member must be from another department within the university. The members of the committee will be announced early enough so that the candidate may discuss with them the nature of the thesis research and the contents of the thesis. The thesis must be made available to the members of the examining committee at least two weeks before the examination date. Although the examination will be concerned primarily with the candidate's thesis, the questioning may also cover other areas. The oral defense may be scheduled at any time except during official examination periods. Oral examinations for the doctoral degree must be announced in Rice News at least one week in advance. Material printed in Rice News must be submitted at least two weeks before publication. Ph.D. candidates should therefore begin scheduling their oral defense at least three weeks in advance. Should an oral examination for the Ph.D. fall during the summer, the posting of a notice in the RiceInfo events calendar, at least one week prior to defense, suffices as a public announcement.

 

G. Thesis Deadline

The deadline for acceptance of the thesis by the Graduate Office must be observed.

 

H. Residence

Normally, three or more years of study past the Bachelor's degree are required for the Ph.D. degree. The minimum residence requirement for the Ph.D. degree is two years of full-time study.

 

IV. HONOR SYSTEM

New graduate students may not be aware that Rice operates under a student Honor System. All students must read "The Honor System", a 30-page booklet distributed by the Rice Honor Council. It is the obligation of every student and faculty member at Rice to understand and maintain the Honor System at all times.