Frequently Asked Questions

What are the pedagogical goals of MDI?

The educational goals of the MDI program are:

  1. To educate individuals so that they have disciplinary knowledge and expertise in materials science and data science with a strong analytical and quantitative perspective.
  2. To train students to have interdisciplinary perspectives and the necessary skills and tools to be able to understand apply informatics to experiments, modeling and simulation together with experimental driven science so that they have the ability to contribute to and work to accelerate the pace of materials discovery and engineering design.

What kinds of courses will I take?

The curriculum consists of the traditional and classical core foundations of materials science subjects but taught from the perspective of statistics, interpretation of databases and data mining methods. Beyond these core foundations, new distinctive courses in materials science that cover materials informatics, advanced computing methods and machine learning, robotics for materials engineering and an integrated “atoms to device” experimental development laboratory are offered.  

What career opportunities are there for MDI graduates?

Our graduates will leave the University at Buffalo prepared to work in a wide range of technologies, including microelectronics, aerospace, biotechnology, energy, data analytics and software sectors of the economy. The interdisciplinary training for students will prepare students for a wide array of professional opportunities including careers in research, teaching, business entrepreneurship and public policy.

What degrees are offered in MDI?

MDI presently offers BS, MS and PhD degrees. Funding opportunities for graduate students are competitive and prospective applicants are encouraged to follow through with the application process first. Qualified PhD students may be supported financially depending upon the advisor and through other competitive mechanisms.

My undergraduate degree is not in materials science or a directly related science and engineering field. Am I still eligible to apply?

Yes, absolutely! We welcome students from ALL branches of science and engineering disciplines. Our highly interdisciplinary core curriculum is uniquely designed to fit the diverse backgrounds of our students. 

If I have a degree that is not in an engineering field, can you give examples of how MDI will teach me skills leveraging my prior training in non-engineering disciplines?

Biology: MDI will teach you how to apply the principles governing the relationship between structure and function in biological systems to a wide array of topics at the nexus of life sciences and materials science, including design of new biomaterials, bio-imaging, biochemistry and biophysics.

Chemistry: MDI will teach you the link between materials chemistry and materials properties, as well as ways to manipulate chemistry to design new materials guided by techniques such as combinatorial chemistry.

Computer Science: MDI will train you in the application of machine learning and data mining methods for materials discovery and design.

Geology: MDI will teach you how to use the fundamentals of geochemistry and geophysics to design and discover new materials based on their behavior under extreme conditions of pressure and temperature associated with geological systems.

Mathematics: MDI will focus on the application of statistics and data science methods to solve problems in materials science and engineering.

Physics: MDI will teach you how fundamental physical properties of materials link to electronic and molecular structure as well as ways to harness the principles of solid state physics for materials discovery using high throughput computational methods and advanced structural probes of materials behavior.

If I already have a degree in materials science and engineering, what are the advantages for me to continue graduate studies in MDI rather than existing materials science programs?

Even if you have a degree in materials science or related fields, you will find in MDI an exciting experiential learning environment that focuses on a systems design approach in materials and provide you with a set of skills unique to our curriculum. These include:

  • A data intensive perspective that embeds the training into the development and interpretation of databases in all fields of materials science and engineering
  • Training in skills that integrates mathematics, statistics and computational methods into the principles of both experimental and computational materials science
  • A novel training program in experimental methods that includes multiscale characterization methods to materials characterization and autonomous methods in materials processing and synthesis as well as robotics
  • A formal training program for scientific entrepreneurship, public policy and science communications tailored specifically for materials science and engineering
  • A new collaborative faculty teaching model for graduate education linking the training of computational and experimental sciences in the classroom 

How long does it take to graduate?

The MS is a 30-credit degree program that can be completed in as few as 12-months based on successful completion of the core curriculum and a project. The PhD program involves completing the core curriculum, a doctoral qualifying exam, a set of elective courses tailored to the student’s research program and a PhD thesis.

I already have a Master’s degree in a science or engineering discipline. Can I apply directly for a PhD?

Yes, you can apply directly for a PhD program. The designation as a PhD student involves you completing the core MDI courses at a minimum GPA level followed by a PhD qualifying exam based on those courses.  

What is required for admission to the MDI program?

All applicants must complete an online application, upload transcripts, and provide a personal statement and resume. GRE scores are required for admission to the PhD program. Letters of Recommendation are required for the MS and PhD programs. International students are required to submit proof of English language proficiency.

Applications are strongly encouraged to be submitted by February 15th to receive full consideration for Fall entry.

For Fall 2021, the GRE is recommended, especially for students that do not have strong preparations in the quantitative sciences and STEM subjects. Students with deficiencies in these areas may be requested to provide GRE scores, given the emphasis in quantitative skills in the MDI curriculum.

I still have questions. Who can I contact?

Please do not hesitate to contact Prof. Krishna Rajan, Erich Bloch chair of the Department of Materials Design and Innovation at