The Materials Sciences program has compiled a list of typical questions and answers that we receive from current students. The intent is to provide a quick online home for this information. The final authority on all matters is the academic catalog.

Please also note that official decisions can only come from the admissions committee.

The following sections provide useful information for recently admitted students in the JHU Engineering for Professionals (EP) Materials Science and Engineering (MS) Program related to the nature of the program, course planning, and career planning. The information given here is based on questions that arise frequently during advising sessions, and is meant as a guide for students. Specific information regarding degree program requirements is provided on the Engineering for Professionals website. Official decisions regarding specific situations related to student degree programs are made by the Materials Science and Engineering Program Committee, but students are encouraged to contact their academic advisor if they have questions.

Materials Science Advising

The JHU MSE Program is intended for students who have a technical background in engineering or the physical sciences and are now engaged in the development or use of advanced materials systems for the latest technologies. The JHU MSE program has the objective of providing students with the knowledge and problem-solving skills that are required for the development of modern materials and to guide their integration into advanced engineering systems. These skills require a fundamental materials literacy as well as specific knowledge in areas critical to the processing, properties and performance of modern materials. By the end of their studies, students are expected to have developed the requisite knowledge to contribute to efforts related to materials selection, processing and use. In this program, students learn from reading and from interactive presentations by experienced materials scientists and engineers, and use this information to solve practical, materials problems. Students exercise their skills in synthesis, design and analysis, to develop materials for various applications. Through this approach, under the guidance of instructors experienced in various aspects of materials systems, students develop the ability to think through the entire complicated process of materials development and use.

The program coordinator, Anne Zylinski [email protected] , can answer general questions you have regarding EP and the program, but you should contact the program chair, Jim Spicer [email protected], for more specific items. He will:

  • answer programmatic questions and direct you to appropriate resources or contacts;
  • help in the selection of elective courses;
  • review degree audit for course selections, prerequisites, and progress toward your degree;
  • approve degree plan deviations;
  • ensure you are meeting degree milestones in a timely manner; and
  • write letters of reference if needed.

You are also encouraged to reach out to your instructors in Materials Science and Engineering since they are a great resource for your coursework and for career planning.

Materials science and engineering is a dynamic and evolving field that has significant and increasing relevance for technologies used in established areas such as medicine and microelectronics while, at the same time, it is altering the fundamental basis of manufacturing and energy production. Looking into the future, it is also contributing to emerging fields such as quantum computing and neuromorphic networks. Materials scientists and engineers are highly sought after because their understanding allows them to see beyond the materials-related limitations of current technologies and envisage possibilities provided by new materials systems.

As a practicing materials engineer, you might need to pursue an educational program that refines and advances your understanding in specific areas. Selecting courses that are focused in the areas related to the structure, properties, processing and performance of materials can provide new knowledge, perspectives and approaches to the role that materials play in those areas. Clearly, specialty courses focused on materials systems (polymers, ceramics, metals, semiconductors) or application areas (biomedical, microelectronics, energy) can provide the additional understanding that is needed.

As a project or program manager on materials-related projects, you would be responsible for interfacing with a customer, defining the overall work plan, monitoring and controlling the project progress, and delivering the finished product to the customer. The program manager often learns on the job from experience with projects of increasing size and importance, enhancing the toolset available. For students considering this career path, selecting courses focused on  program management would be useful.

The master’s degree can also be a stepping stone to more advanced degree programs including the Ph.D. and the D.Eng. You might not be ready to commit to the additional time, focused effort and expense associated with pursuing these advanced degrees, and the master’s degree can provide the time and experience required to assess your own motivations and goals. While most EP courses are designed for practicing professionals who do not intend to pursue more advanced degrees, courses in EP can provide a bridge for students who do.

There are many other directions that students take with their careers, but often advanced degrees are needed to enhance knowledge and capability as well as to gain recognition for their additional effort and the accomplishments they have achieved. Since career directions are varied and generally dictate educational needs, students are encouraged to consult with advisors and mentors to help them form their programs of study.

In order to earn a master’s degree in MSE, you must meet the requirements and successfully complete the core and elective courses. The current requirements and courses are detailed on the MSE program page and in the current EP academic catalog. Each academic year’s catalog is archived on the Academic Catalogs page to maintain a record of the requirements for the year in which any given student enters the program.

Note: The JHU course numbering system follows the following format: EN.515.601.81 where:

EN refers to a course being offered in the JHU Whiting School of Engineering. If these characters are AS, then the course is offered by the JHU School of Arts and Sciences.

515 refers to courses offered by the MSE program in EP. Generally, the three digits that appear in the position occupied by 515 in this example are connected to a specific department or program. In particular, 510 refers to courses offered by the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at the Homewood Campus.

601 is a course-specific number within the program. Courses that are 600-level (indicating graduate-level coursework) have three-digit numbers that start with a six (6XX). Courses that are 400-level (indicating upper-level, undergraduate coursework) have numbers that start with a four (4XX).

81 indicates the class section. The codes here vary and can be 2 to 4 digits+characters long. For example, 81 indicates the course is online while 01 indicates the first section of a course that meets in-person (primarily at the Homewood Campus).

Many times courses are referenced using the middle six digits (in this case, 515.601) since these are often sufficient to uniquely indicate a particular course.

All courses required for the degree are offered every academic year while elective courses might be offered every year or every other year. All courses offered through the MSE program can be used to fulfill degree requirements. There are many materials-related courses offered by other EP programs such as Mechanical Engineering, Applied Physics, Applied Biomedical Engineering, and Electrical and Computer Engineering, and many of these are listed as pre-approved electives either on the program page or in the academic catalog. There are other electives offered by these programs as well as by others that can be selected, and students interested in using these to fulfill degree requirements should get the approval of their advisor or the program chair before taking them.

Students also have the option to take project courses (515.730 and 515.731) within MSE to satisfy elective requirements. Typically, these courses are completed at a student’s workplace under the combined guidance of a work supervisor and a faculty member from JHU. Students can also perform projects at JHU directly under the supervision of a faculty member at the Homewood Campus. Before registering for these courses, students must develop a project plan (in consultation with the supervisor and the faculty member) and get approval for the course from the student’s academic advisor or the program chair. Beyond completing technical activities associated with the project, requirements can include preparation of weekly updates, development of presentations, and submission of interim and final written reports. All assignments submitted to fulfill course requirements cannot have distribution restrictions.

Students can also pursue independent study (515.800 and 515.801) to fulfill degree requirements. Much like project courses, independent study is competed under the direct supervision of a JHU faculty member whose expertise is focused on the topic being pursued by the student. Typically, students choose this course option when the faculty member is not offering a course on the topic but is a known subject matter expert in the area. As is indicated by the course name, independent study requires students to be primarily self-directed with guidance provided from the faculty member. Students must document their work through presentations and substantive reports. All assignments submitted to fulfill course requirements cannot have distribution restrictions.

Students are encouraged to consult with their advisor if they questions about course selections or degree requirements.

At the time of admission, up to two courses can transfer to fulfill degree requirements for the MSE program. Transfer courses can only be used as MSE electives and must satisfy the following conditions:

  • come from an accredited college or university;
  • have been taken within the last five years;
  • be clearly graduate level courses;
  • have recognizable academic rigor;
  • not be used to fulfill requirements for any other degree or certificate;
  • have received an A or B grade and be accompanied by an official transcript;
  • not have been taken at an international institution;
  • not have been taken after admission into JHU EP; and
  • be relevant to the MSE degree program.

“Relevant to the MSE degree program” means that the course is from a related area of science, engineering, mathematics, or computer science (i.e. not business, history, social science, etc.). The role of elective courses in this program is to ensure that the materials professional can lead diverse technical teams, and to do so capably and credibly, they should be technically current in areas to their expertise.

Providing the original course description is highly recommended. Identifying an equivalent EP course is helpful as well. Courses taken online or at a lesser-known institution could require submission of a course portfolio (including the course syllabus, sample course work, examinations, and homework) to determine whether or not it is acceptable for the JHU degree program. In some cases, contact will be made with the institution to learn more about the course.

Government and military students in the JHU EP MSE program may have had the opportunity to take Defense Acquisition University (DAU) courses that can be considered for transfer credit into the program. The accredited DAU courses must be Level III courses that have been certified by the American Council on Education (ACE) with three or more graduate credits. Applicants should provide a copy of their DAU transcripts and/or copies of their Level III Certificates.

JHU does not accept work experience for graduate credit.

Degree Audit is an automated software system that incorporates a web application that has been built for the purpose of evaluating student progress toward degree completion. It allows the MSE program to enter its degree and course requirements, and then uses those requirements to create degree audits for students. These audits can be useful as intermediate checks on student progress, but sometimes do not take into account special circumstances that might apply to specific students. Audits are particularly useful two semesters before a student anticipates completing degree requirements since adjustments to study schedules can be made.

Classes may be taken in three different modalities or course pathways. Students can mix and match in-person classroom courses with online courses that best fit their work and life schedules.

  • In-person or On-site (APL and Homewood locations): instructors provide live instruction at regularly scheduled course times.
  • Virtual Live: instructors provide live instruction at regularly scheduled course times, similar to in-person sessions, but students have the ability to participate remotely, synchronously during class times, or may view class recordings.
  • Online: instructors have recorded lecture materials that students can download and view asynchronously. Weekly office hours are available for synchronous questions, as well as any scheduled sessions by appointment with the instructor.

Students in the EP are often professionals who work during the day and are advancing their education on their own time. Nearly all EP courses require dedicated effort and are often time-consuming due to homework assignments, projects, and other course-related activities. This is particularly true for online students whose schedule for various learning experiences is primarily self-determined. Owing to these demands, most students enroll in one course per semester, but some are able to complete two courses. Students taking a projects or independent study course are limited to one course per semester since these require exceptional focus and dedication.

Instructors put in their syllabus, and discuss in class, their expectations for submission of homework in the face of student travel. The general expectation is that students will always submit assignments when they are due independent of travel, unless they have prior approval from the instructor.

Approximately 6-8 weeks prior to the start of a semester, the EP website opens for student registration on a first-come-first-served basis. You will receive a reminder e-mail message a week or so before registration opens. Please check the annual EP calendar for key dates. Sometimes, the registration system does not process your course enrollment request and, if this happens, you should contact your advisor for assistance.

Many courses are filled or are nearly filled every semester, so it is important to enroll in a timely manner. If a course section is filled, you may request to be put on a wait list in hopes that an opening will occur. When the wait list exceeds six or more students, every effort will be made to accommodate the wait-listed students by opening new sections.

Students in MSE often take elective courses from other EP programs and it is not uncommon for these courses to have pre-requisites that MSE students have not completed. Under these circumstances, students are encouraged to confirm that their background and preparation are appropriate for the course they have chosen by contacting course instructors directly. Instructors might need to give explicit approval in order to allow entry into these courses.

At the beginning of each course, the instructor will provide a syllabus containing clear expectations for student conduct in the course along with other policies that are meant to facilitate student success. Students should focus on the content of their courses and not on grades. Indeed, upon graduation, the impressive JHU MMSE diploma will not show a GPA, or any grade earned in the program. Even so, university honors will be conferred to students who achieve a grade of A in all their courses – this can be any combination of A+, A, and A−. Engineering for Professionals follows the university’s grading policy as it appears in the catalog, and the MSE Program complies with this policy.

Various software tools are widely used in the workplace in the development of materials systems. Students in the JHU MSE program are exposed to these types of tools, and in some cases, are expected to use them in course projects. Two examples are as follows:

  • Microsoft Office Teams provides team management and scheduling tools to interact with other students more efficiently and effectively on group projects.
  • COMSOL is a multi-physics, finite element analysis, solver and simulation software product. It allows for solution of coupled systems of partial differential equations for simulation of materials behavior.

Students are encouraged to access and learn the use of job relevant tools outside of the classroom.

To be successful, the MSE student must have access to a modern computer with Microsoft Office software, e-mail, and full Internet connectivity. The computer should have audio capability. For students taking courses online, it is expected that you will have full, two-way video and audio to enhance communication with your instructors and other students.

EP MSE courses use web software to augment or to deliver course materials. Students will be provided access and training to course management tools including Blackboard. They are a combined set of software tools designed to help instructors, researchers, and students create websites for collaboration, help keep classes organized, help post announcements to keep students informed, help students stay organized, and help provide resources and information. Students submit their assignments online, and take online self-grading quizzes and anonymous surveys. To access Blackboard, you will use your JHED ID and password. If you do not know your JHED ID, please see our instructions on how to find your JHED ID.

For office hours and group project time in online courses, EP MSE uses Zoom to provide enhanced synchronous communication via videoconferencing. Sessions may be recorded so that you can view the content and interactions at a later time.

Use the following address for application, transcripts, registrations, transfer requests, and status review requests:

Engineering for Professionals

Johns Hopkins Whiting School of Engineering
Student Services Center
3400 North Charles Street
Wyman Park Building, 3rd Floor West
Baltimore, MD 21218-2608

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