Nanotechnology can be defined as application of the science of the very small. Sometimes, when things become very small, they are governed by new physics, such as quantum mechanics or non-continuum mechanics, that can lead to interesting and exploitable new behaviors that are difficult to observe on the macro scale. Sometimes, when things are small, they can be arranged into systems of remarkable spatial and functional complexity, even if their behavior is entirely governed by ‘ordinary’ macroscale physics. As just a few examples, innovations in medical diagnostics, therapeutics, communication systems, computation, consumer electronics, energy efficient lighting and display technology, and low power energy saving electronics rely on advances in nanotechnology.

In order to contribute to this dynamic field, a core knowledge that spans several academic disciplines is necessary. The Master’s Degree in Nanotechnology prepares students for this profession with a solid foundation in technical core areas (7 courses), including a project-based laboratory course that trains students on state-of-the-art equipment in Penn’s Singh Center for Nanotechnology’s fabrication and characterization facilities. Students choose 3 courses, from a total of 10 courses to complete the degree, on science- or technology-related electives that best match their academic interests and professional goals. Students also attend and present summaries of technical seminars as part of their training. Research is optional, and would count as 2 of the 3 elective courses, should students be interested in writing a research thesis.

Course Requirements

To receive the degree of Master of Science in Engineering in Nanotechnology, students must complete TEN (10) course units at the graduate level (500+)[1], following the requirements below[2]:

Category A: Required Courses (3 CUs)

  1. ENGR 504 – Fundamental Concepts in Nanotechnology
  2. ESE/MSE 525 – Nanoscale Science and Engineering
  3. A laboratory experience, which can be satisfied by either of ESE 536 – Nanofabrication and Nanocharacterization; or MSE 565 – Fabrication and Characterization of Nanostructured Devices

Category B: Nanotechnology Core (4 CUs)

Select four courses from the list below. Students should have backup choices. Some courses may not be available in a given year.

Bioengineering (BE)

555 Nanoscale Systems Biology


Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering (CBE)

525 Molecular Modeling and Simulations

535 Interfacial Phenomena

545 Electrochemical Energy Conversion and Storage

546 Fundamental Industrial Catalytic Processes

555 Nanoscale Systems Biology

641 Transport Processes II (Nanoscale Transport)


Electrical and Systems Engineering (ESE)

510 Electromagnetic and Optical Theory

513 Principles of Quantum Technology

521 The Physics of Solid State Energy Devices

523 Quantum Engineering

526 Photovoltaic Systems Engineering

529 Introduction to MEMS and NEMS

611 Nanophotonics: Light at the Nanoscale

621 Nanoelectronics

625 Nanorobotics


Materials Science and Engineering (MSE)

505 Mechanical Properties of Micro/Nanoscale Materials

520 Structure of Materials

537 Nanomechanics and Nanotribology at Interfaces

550 Elasticity and Micromechanics of Materials

555 Electrochemical Engineering of Materials

561 Atomic Modeling in Materials Science

570 Physics of Materials

575 Statistical Mechanics

611 Advanced Synchrotron and Electron Characterization of Materials

640 Optical Materials


Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics (MEAM)

504 Tribology

505 Mechanical Properties of Micro/Nanoscale Materials

537 Nanotribology

550 Design of Microeletromech Systems

555 Nanoscale Systems Biology

570 Transport Processes I

575 Micro and Nano Fluidics

580 Electrochemistry for Energy, Nanofabrication & Sensing

Category C: Science or Technology-Relevant Electives (3 CUs)[3]

These courses may be chosen from any SEAS course[4] (including engineering entrepreneurship, technology policy, thesis (NANO 597)[5], special topics[6], and/or independent study (NANO 599)[7]), as well as technology-relevant courses from other Penn departments (typically physics, chemistry, math, biology, etc.). All electives MUST be at the 500 level or above. The courses must have significant technical and scientific content and relevance to the student’s program. Approval must be obtained from the NANO program prior to enrollment in the course.

Seminar Requirement: All students are expected to attend at least two Penn nanotechnology-relevant seminars during each year of study, and document the content of at least two of the seminars they attended in a symposium presentation to all Nano Masters students to take place in the Fall of their second year.

[1] If graduate courses are cross-listed with both an undergraduate and a graduate section, the student MUST be registered for the GRADUATE section to count toward the degree, even if the course content is otherwise identical.

[2] A maximum of two graduate-level courses may be transferred from another school to apply to the degree; these courses cannot have been used to fulfill the requirements of an undergraduate degree.

[3] No more than one Category C course may be taken in the first year of study.

[4] Only the following EAS courses are allowed: EAS 507, 512, 545, 546, 591, 595.

[5] Thesis option: if a Masters thesis is completed, it will count for two course units of NANO 597.

[6] Since special topics courses often have the same course number (e.g., ESE 680), they may be taken several times and counted more than once towards the degree IF they address different topics.

[7] Maximum of 1 CU of NANO 599 can be counted toward the degree.