Applying to the Nano-MSE program

When can I apply to the Nano-MSE Program?

The Nano-MSE Program has a single application deadline in the Spring for admittance into the next Fall Semester’s Nano class.  Please see the Penn Engineering FAQ page here for this year’s deadline.

How do you apply?

The University of Pennsylvania’s School of Engineering and Applied Science handles applications for all graduate programs in Penn Engineering, including the Nano-MSE. Please go here.

What background do successful applicants have?

Nano-MSE students come from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines, including from programs in the basic sciences and in engineering or applied areas. Having a strong background in physics, math and chemistry is necessary to do well in the rigorous courses that students select for their curriculum. See the Penn Engineering Application Requirements.

How are applications evaluated?

Applications are evaluated as a whole portfolio: we use your self-reported test scores, unofficial transcripts, letters of recommendation, personal statement and resume/cv for the application review process. We do not have minimum required test scores or GPA. Recommended scores for non-native English speakers are at least 100 on the TOEFL and at least 7.5 on the IELTS. Students having strong academic records and English language skills are the ones who tend to be most prepared for Penn’s graduate-level coursework.

How much is tuition? Are there fellowships or financial aid?

Please see this guide for the cost of the program. Penn Engineering is unable to provide fellowships for master’s applicants. However, Master’s students are encouraged to contact the Student Financial Services Office to learn about ways to finance their education. Some students have successfully obtained Outside Scholarships.

Once in the Nano-MSE Program, the Graduate Student Fellows program is a competitive opportunity for which students can apply to work in the Quattrone Nanofabrication Facility for up to 20 hours per week. Participants are paid, which helps offset their expenses, as they gain practical technical experience in a mentored environment. Typically, the GSF program accepts 12 students per year.

Who do I contact about admissions questions?

First check the Penn Engineering Admissions FAQ. If your question is not answered, you can email the Graduate Admissions Office Nano Advisor (admissions3@seas.upenn.edu) for admissions process questions or the Nano-MSE program for questions specifically about the Nano academic curriculum (nanomast@seas.upenn.edu).


In the Nano-MSE program

What classes do students take? How many do they take at a time?

Students take 10 courses (or 8 courses and 2 units of research thesis). Fundamental Concepts in Nanotechnology (ENGR 504) and Nanoscale Science and Engineering (ESE/MSE 525) are required to provide a basic foundation. The remaining courses are selected by the student, in consultation with faculty advisors, to create a curriculum focused on core technical areas (Synthesis, Materials, NanoFabrication, Behavior, Properties, and Devices) and broader areas that will advance the student’s professional and academic goals (e.g., biotechnology, commercialization). More details about the curriculum are here.

Students taking 3 or more courses per semester are considered “Full-time.” Note that most students find 3 courses sufficiently challenging; a 4-course load is never recommended for incoming students. The program allows students to be full- or part-time students. International students may be under visa conditions that require full-time status. International students can consult the International Student and Scholar Services Office for more information.

Are classes hands-on or give you lab experience?

Nanofabrication and Nanocharacterization (ESE 536) is a newly developed lab-based course that gives students direct, hands-on experience in the Singh Center’s facilities using a project-based format. Other classes may have lab components. Students may also apply to the GSF Program to gain hands-on experience.

Do students do research?

A research thesis is optional. Students choosing to do a thesis typically would seek a thesis advisor during their first year and conduct the research during their second year (while also taking their final courses). Students desiring to do a thesis are responsible for finding a faculty member who will host their research. A good place to start is to look at the faculty who have nano-related interests (faculty list). Some of the theses written by Nano-MSE alums are listed here.

Can you do internships or work as a student?

Excellent students are invited to apply to the GSF Program. Full-time students can work part-time – campus jobs will often require that the Nano-MSE program gives permission for the student to work and there may be caps on the number of hours a student may work (usually 10 or fewer per week). Some of our students have completed the Nano-MSE program as full-time employees and part-time students (e.g., 1-2 courses a semester).

Summer internships are a good opportunity to gain skills and widen students’ professional networks. Penn’s Career Services resources are available to all Nano-MSE students. Internships are not a formal part of the curriculum, although many students choose to do them. International students will need to consult their ISSS advisor about their specific work eligibility allowances.

Can professionals work and take classes as a student?

Yes. Taking 1-2 courses a semester is the typical load for a working professional.

What are the opportunities to interact with faculty?

Class size will vary from small seminars to larger lectures. Faculty typically hold office hours that allow one-on-one conversations. Students who choose to complete a Master’s thesis will work closely with the faculty member supervising the thesis. Most of the science, engineering and biomedical departments host weekly scientific seminars with local and invited external speakers. There are many opportunities to explore a broad range of topics by attending these talks, most of which have built in time to interact with the speaker.

What are the opportunities and resources for life outside of classes?

Penn has a large, diverse community with many different forums to bring individuals together. A good place to start exploring campus resources is through the Graduate Student Center website. Philadelphia is a vibrant city that provides many options for entertainment and enjoying life beyond academics.


After the Nano-MSE program

What do students do after they graduate?

Recent graduates of our program are working at companies such as Lockheed, Global Foundries, and Goldman Sachs, in technical or managerial areas such as development and exploitation of new nanomaterials, analysis of complex integrated circuits, and technology analysis. Some of our graduates continue on for PhD study; some recent graduates are currently pursuing their PhDs in universities such as Boston University, Georgia Tech, and Penn. Professionals who have completed the program are often eligible for promotions or able to change enter new areas within their companies. You can read about some of our alumni here.

Does the Nano-MSE program help you get into a PhD program (and specifically one at Penn)?

The Nano-MSE program gives students a chance to interact with faculty in a variety of departments (e.g., Materials Science, Electrical and Systems Engineering, Chemical and Biological Engineering, Physics, etc.) to learn more about these departments’ people and PhD programs. Nano-MSE students need to apply for Penn PhD programs in the same way all PhD prospective students apply.

Does Penn help you with finding a job?

Penn’s Career Services resources are available to all Nano-MSE students. Once students join the alumni network at Penn, they will also be able to be part of a large and diverse social networking system that can be a great resource for the next career steps.