Jul 22, 2024  
Graduate Catalog | 2015-2016 
Graduate Catalog | 2015-2016 Previous Edition

Nanoscale Science, Ph.D.

The Ph.D. in Nanoscale Science at UNC Charlotte is an interdisciplinary program that addresses the development, manipulation, and use of materials and devices on the scale of roughly 1-100 nanometers in length, and the study of phenomena that occur on this size scale. The program prepares students to become scholarly, practicing scientists who possess the critical thinking, methodological, and communication skills required to advance and disseminate  knowledge of fundamental and applied nanoscale science.

The many challenges and opportunities that nanoscale science presents to society require collaborative, interdisciplinary approaches to research. Students enrolled in UNC  Charlotte’s Ph.D. program in Nanoscale Science learn about the exciting field of nanoscale science from the perspectives of faculty members of a variety of disciplines and develop an advanced knowledge base of a selected science or  engineering discipline. NANO courses are team taught and/or co-developed by teams of faculty members from multiple disciplines. This approach provides students trained in a specific science or engineering field at the undergraduate or master’s level with the tools needed to work effectively with scientists and engineers from other disciplines on cutting-edge research projects.

Students in the program acquire the knowledge and skills needed to compete effectively for  positions in academic, industrial, or government settings by completing interdisciplinary nanoscale science courses and elective courses, participating in program colloquia and seminars, working as a member of a team on projects and research proposals, and making research contributions independently and as part of a team.

Admission Requirements

The following are general guidelines for successful admission into the Ph.D. program in Nanoscale Science:

  1. A bachelor’s or master’s degree in a science or engineering field relevant to nanoscale science is required for admission to full standing in the Ph.D. in Nanoscale Science.
  2. A minimum undergraduate grade point average of 3.0 or, if the applicant is currently enrolled in a graduate program or has earned a master’s degree, a minimum grade point average of 3.0 in a relevant science or engineering master’s program.
  3. Admission to the program will require strong scores on the verbal, quantitative, and analytical sections of the Graduate Record Examination. The Graduate Record Examination is a required part of the application package.
  4. Three strong, positive letters of recommendation, at least two of which must come from faculty in the applicant’s current or previous academic program. All letters should be written by individuals in a position to judge the applicant’s likely success in a Ph.D. level program. Letters should address the applicant’s suitability for a Ph.D. program and ability to complete the program in a timely manner.
  5. Admission of students who are not native English speakers will require strong scores on the TOEFL exam. The TOEFL exam is a required part of the application for non-native English speakers.

Documents To Be Submitted For Application For Admission

  1. Official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended (indicating completion of a bachelor’s degree in a relevant science or engineering discipline)
  2. Official GRE scores (verbal, quantitative, and analytical)
  3. The UNC Charlotte application for graduate admission form
  4. Three letters of reference from academics who have taught or worked directly with the applicant
  5. An essay that addresses professional goals and motivation for pursuing the degree, suitability for the program, and career goals following the program
  6. TOEFL scores (if the applicant is not a native English speaker)

Admissions Assessment

An admissions committee will review applications and recommend to the Program Director whether each applicant should be admitted and, if so, under what conditions.

Admission to Candidacy Requirements

After completing the appropriate core courses and at least three elective courses, each student delivers and defends an oral presentation that addresses research completed or in progress, plus proposed research for completion of the dissertation. The presentation/defense is delivered to the student’s dissertation committee. The student is questioned by the committee about his/her research, plus material from any relevant graduate level courses the student has completed. Students who fail the exam on the first attempt will be provided a second opportunity to pass it, and will be advised by the committee on how to better prepare for the second attempt. Students who do not pass on the second attempt will be offered the option of obtaining a Master’s degree in an appropriate discipline (depending on which electives the student has completed) but will not be allowed to continue on to the Ph.D. degree. Under normal circumstances, students are expected to pass the qualifying exam prior to the sixth semester in residence.

Degree Requirements

The Ph.D. in Nanoscale Science requires 72 credit hours. Core courses account for at least 30 credit hours, and elective courses account for at least 9 credit hours. The remaining credit hours are fulfilled by enrolling in NANO 8900 - Dissertation Research . A schedule for completing degree requirements can be found online at nanoscalescience.uncc.edu.


* Students enroll in NANO 8681  during every semester in residence.
** Students enroll in NANO 8682  during every semester in residence, except during the semester in which they enroll in NANO 8001 .

Elective Courses

Students complete a minimum of 9 credit hours of elective coursework in a chosen science or engineering discipline (selected from biology, chemistry, electrical and computer engineering, mechanical engineering and engineering science, physics and optical science, or NANO 8060 - Special Topics in Nanoscale Science ), in addition to completing the core courses. Elective courses are selected in consultation with the student’s advisor or dissertation advisor and dissertation committee to best meet the student’s needs and interests.

Cumulative Exams

Students must pass 6 exams (4 if done during the first year) covering announced topics in nanoscale science. The exams require knowledge of basic principles of nanoscale science and current literature and will be administered monthly. Each student is expected to take the cumulative exam each time it is offered until he/she passes the required number of exams.

General Science Proficiency Exam (GSPE)

The purpose of the GSPE is to ensure that students possess a working knowledge of material needed to master concepts in nanoscale science. The exam will cover introductory material in chemistry, physics and mathematics (including calculus). The website for the Ph.D. in Nanoscale Science (nanoscalescience.uncc.edu) contains detailed information about the exam, including a list of topics to be covered and sample questions, to assist students in preparing for the exam. The exam will be administered three times per year, in August, January, and May. Students are expected to take the GSPE each time it is offered until they pass it. Each student will discuss his/her performance on the GSPE with the Program Director regardless of whether (s)he passes the exam. The Program Director will indicate to the student any material he/she should study in greater detail and which faculty member the student should consult if he/she requires assistance in learning specific material. Students who do not pass the GSPE by the end of their first year enrolled in the program will be terminated from the program.


Students are assigned an academic advisor upon enrolling in the program and will work closely with that advisor on suggested schedules of classes, research options, and other issues important to student success until a research advisor is chosen. Upon selecting a research advisor, students will form a dissertation committee, and will then consult with the research advisor/dissertation committee on program matters.

Grade Requirements

Graduate students must have a GPA of 3.2 or higher to graduate from the program. Two grades of C or one grade of U will result in termination from the program.

Transfer Credit

Students who have taken graduate coursework but have not earned a graduate degree may transfer up to six credit hours of coursework.  Students who have earned a Master’s degree may transfer up to 30 credit hours.

Language Requirement

There is no foreign language requirement.

Application for Degree

Each student should make application for his/her degree by completing the online Application for Degree through Banner Self Service no later than the filing date specified in the University Academic Calendar. After successful defense of the dissertation, a student will be conferred with the doctoral degree.

Residency Requirement

Students must satisfy the residency requirement for the program by completing 21 credit hours of continuous enrollment, such as coursework or dissertation credits.  Residence is considered continuous if the student is enrolled in one or more courses in successive semesters until 21 credit hours are earned. 

Time Limits for Completion

The student must achieve admission to candidacy within six years after admission to the program. All requirements for the degree must be completed within eight years after first registration as a doctoral student. These time limits are maximums; full-time students will typically be expected to complete the degree requirements within 4-5 years.