Applicant FAQs for MSE Graduate Students

Degree Objectives and Requirements | Advisor/Fields of Research | Transcripts | GRE | TOEFL/IELTS | Letters of Recommendation | Statement of Purpose & Resume | Personal History Statement & Writing Samples | Application/Document Status | Funding | Housing


Degree Objectives and Requirements

May I apply to both the M.S. and Ph.D. degree programs?

The Materials Science & Engineering (MSE) department does not allow applicants to apply to both programs. The admissions committee does not consider Ph.D. applicants for admission into the M.S. program and vice versa.


May I apply to the MSE Department if I have a different major for my Bachelor’s and/or Master’s degree ?

Yes. You can still apply to the MSE MS or PhD program even if your Undergrad is in another major such as chemistry, physics, another engineering major, etc. We recommend that you take a few introductory MSE courses so you are familiar with MSE coursework, but this is not a requirement.


Am I required to have a Master’s degree to apply to the Ph.D. program?

No. It is not a requirement. We admit students who do not have Master’s degrees into our MSE Ph.D. program.


May I apply to the M.S. program if I already have earned or will soon earn a master’s degree?

You will not be considered for admission into the M.S. program if you already have a Master’s degree in Materials Science & Engineering.


May I enroll part-time?

No. MSE students must be enrolled in a minimum of 12 units each quarter. Unless granted a formal leave of absence or in filing fee, students are expected to register every term, including the term in which their degree or certificate is to be awarded. The filing fee may be used in lieu of registration if all formal requirements for the degree, except for filing the thesis or taking the comprehensive examination, are met prior to the first day of instruction of the term.


May I apply for a winter or spring term?

The MSE department only allows applicants to apply for the fall term. Applications are not accepted for the winter, spring, or summer terms.


How long does it take to earn a MS degree?

Most of our students complete the master’s program in two years.


How long does it take to earn a PhD degree?

Most students complete the Ph.D. MSE program in 4 – 6 years.


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Advisor/Fields of Research

Am I required to choose a preferred faculty advisor in my application?

Yes, all applicants must select three (3) preferred faculty advisors when submitting the online application. You can view our faculty members’ specialties and research interests by visiting the MSE Faculty Research Areas page and the MSE Faculty page. Initial faculty advisors are assigned to M.S. students during the summer before fall enrollment.


What fields of research are represented in the department?

There are three (3) main areas in the M.S. program:

  • Ceramics and Ceramic Processing

The ceramics and ceramic processing field is designed for students interested in ceramics and glasses, including electronic materials. As in the case of metallurgy, primary and secondary fabrication processes such as vapor deposition, sintering, melt forming, or extrusion strongly influence the microstructure and properties of ceramic components used in structural, electronic, or biological applications. Formal course and research programs emphasize the coupling of processing treatments, microstructure, and properties.

  • Electronic and Optical Materials

The electronic and optical materials field provides an area of study in the science and technology of electronic materials which includes semiconductors, conducting and light-emitting polymers, electroactive polymers, optical ceramics, and thin films (metal, dielectric, and multilayer) for electronic and optoelectronic applications. Course offerings emphasize fundamental issues such as solid-state electronic and optical phenomena, bulk and interface thermodynamics and kinetics, and applications which include growth, processing, and characterization techniques. Active research programs address the relationship between microstructure and nanostructure and electronic/optical properties in these materials systems.

  • Structural Materials

The structural materials field is designed primarily to provide broad understanding of the relationships between processing, microstructure, and performance of various structural materials, including metals, intermetallics, ceramics, and composite materials. Research programs include material synthesis and processing, ion implantation-induced strengthening and toughening, mechanisms and mechanics of fatigue, fracture and creep, structure/property characterization, nondestructive evaluation, high-temperature stability, and aging of materials.

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How many transcripts are required and where do I send them?

All applicants must upload their unofficial transcripts from all colleges and universities attended to the online application portal. An unofficial transcript must: have been generated by your Registrar’s office, be clearly legible, include the word transcript and the name of the institution, include your name, program of study, and the major field of study, include a complete list of courses/terms/corresponding grades/units, and the cumulative GPA calculations. Degree audit reports, advising/progress plans, web portal pages, and degree plans CANNOT BE ACCEPTED.

International applicants must upload official transcripts in both English and the native language and also upload official enrollment verification certificates and degree certificates/diplomas (if applicable) in both English and the native language.

If the applicant has already completed a BS and/or MS degree, the applicant should upload official transcripts that include the degree conferred/awarded date. These applicants must also send official verified e-transcripts from their institution addressed to the MSE Admissions Officer:

As electronic (E) transcripts have become the norm for institutions in the United States, and at more and more institutions around the world, we would like to encourage our applicants to submit official documents in that format.

Applicants who are attending or have graduated from a U.S. institution that transmits verified transcripts electronically, may request to have official e-transcripts sent to the MSE Admissions Officer: Scanned copies/PDFs/photos will not be accepted.

Documents that cannot be sent electronically through the applicant’s institution should be sent  to the following address:

MSE Admissions Officer
UCLA Materials Science & Engineering
420 Westwood Plaza, 3111 Engineering V
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1596


How do you evaluate transcripts issued in a language other than English?

International credentials issued in a language other than English must be accompanied by an English translation. You must submit official transcripts in both English and the native language.


My university does not assign grades on a 4.0 grade scale. Should I calculate my GPA?

Transcripts not based on the 4.0 system will be evaluated for minimum requirements. MSE staff in the graduate student affairs office will review and convert, as necessary, the marks or grades of all applicants. The online application asks applicants to submit their grade point average based on the scale used by their institutions.

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GRE (Graduate Record Examination)


Has the MSE Department waived the GRE score requirement this application season?

Students who wish to apply for admission to our graduate program are not required to take the GRE or submit a GRE score report as part of their application package. However, students may voluntarily submit GRE test scores and they will be reviewed as part of the holistic application consideration. The applications with GRE scores will not be given greater weight than those that do not include scores.


What is UCLA’s GRE institution code? What is MSE’s GRE department code?

UCLA’s GRE institution code is 4837. The GRE department code is 0402. If you are unable to submit the department code, we will still be able to receive your score report.


Is a GRE subject test required?

No. The MSE admissions committee does not review subject test scores.


Is there a minimum GRE score requirement?

No. There is no minimum GRE score requirement to apply.


I would like to submit GRE test scores but will not receive official GRE scores until after the application deadline. Will my scores still be considered?

Yes. As long as you complete the exam on or before the application deadline and send your scores via ETS, we will accept the scores. Our office will match score reports received early with online applications completed later.


When do GRE results expire?

GRE results expire after FIVE (5) years. The test must be taken within five (5) years of the submission date of the online application. For example, if you took the exam on October 30, 2014, you would need to complete and submit the online application no later than October 30, 2019.


For multiple GREs, which scores do you use?

The department will see all scores from all reports and will post for review the highest scores. If you plan to take or have already taken an additional exam, please make sure that ETS has sent your first exam report to UCLA before November 30.


Will you receive my GRE report if I did not provide the correct department code?

Yes, UCLA’s Graduate Division will be able to match your report to your application. However, to avoid delays in matching your report to your application, it is important to use the correct institution code, 4837, and the correct department code, 1403.


May I request that ETS send my score report to UCLA before I submit the online application?

Yes. We will be able to match your score report to your online application.

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TOEFL/IELTS (International Applicants Only)


Has the MSE Department waived the TOEFL/IELTS score requirement this application season?

Unfortunately, as of October 9, 2020, the MSE Department has not waived the TOEFL/IELTS test score requirement for MSE applicants.


What is UCLA’s TOEFL institution code? What is MSE’s TOEFL department code?

UCLA’s TOEFL institution code is 4837. The TOEFL department code is 69.


Am I eligible for a TOEFL/IELTS waiver? I attended an institution at which all instruction was done in English.

If you hold a bachelor’s or higher degree from a university located in the United States or in another country in which English is both the official spoken language (e.g., Australia, Barbados, Canada, Jamaica, etc.) and the medium of instruction or who have completed a full two years of full-time study at such an institution before or at the time of application submission, you are exempted from both the TOEFL/IELTS requirement and the ESLPE. Your eligibility for an exemption will be verified by the information you provide in the academic history section of your online application and the official transcripts that you mail to the MSE department. The UCLA Graduate Division English Requirement website provides an extensive explanation of who is required to submit a TOEFL/IELTS as well as exemptions.


Will my application still be considered for admission if I scored below the minimum on one of the sections of the TOEFL?

Yes. The MSE department will allow a score below the minimum on one section of the exam if your total TOEFL score is at least 87. To learn more about the TOEFL minimum required sub scores and requirements please visit UCLA’s Graduate Division website.


When do TOEFL/IELTS results expire?

You must have taken the TOEFL within TWO (2) years of the date the online admission application is submitted. For example, if you took the exam on September 30, 2021, you would need to complete and submit the online application no later than September 30, 2023.


May I send my TOEFL/IELTS score report to UCLA before I submit the online application?

Yes. The Graduate Division and our office will be able to match your score report to your online application completed later.

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Letters of Recommendation

May I submit more than 3 letters of recommendation?

Most applicants submit only 3 letters, which is the department’s preference.


Can I change my recommenders or send them reminders?

Yes. The online application allows you to change recommenders and send reminders as needed. Please make sure your recommenders are aware of the application deadline and have sufficient time to submit a letter on your behalf. We recommend giving your recommender at least one month’s time to write a letter for you.


May I ask my work supervisors to submit letters of recommendation?

Yes. We prefer to receive letters from faculty members who are familiar with your academic history; however, we understand that applicants who have graduated several years ago, and/or applicants who have work experience may have recommenders outside of academia.


Will my application be considered if my recommenders submit letters after our application deadline?

Letters and transcripts are due by the application deadline. Please speak to your proposed recommender early and send a request via the online application as soon as possible so your recommenders have time to submit their letters via the online link they will be sent.

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Statement of Purpose & Resume

Are there format or length requirements for the statement of purpose?

There are no word count or font requirements. Typically, applicants upload a PDF or word document. Please follow the page count/formatting requirement specified in the application.


Is a resume required?

Yes, a resume is required and should be uploaded to the online application. The admission committee will take into consideration factors such as research experience or publications, but they will not replace any of the above requirements. We do not offer conditional admission for applicants who need remedial work at the undergraduate level. Such work should be completed before applying to our program.

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Personal History Statement & Writing Samples

In addition to the statement of purpose, is a personal history statement required?

The personal history statement is required. It is an opportunity for applicants to provide additional information to the admission review committee. It should include a diversity statement (differences including race, ethnicity, gender, age, religion, abilities/disabilities, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and more), if applicable. Please follow the page count/formatting requirement specified in the application.


In addition to the statement of purpose, is a writing sample required?

No additional writing sample is required.

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Application/Document Status

Have you received my transcripts/GRE/TOEFL/IELTS, etc.?

Unfortunately, we are unable to verify receipt of your transcripts, GRE, TOEFL, or IELTS. The MSE Staff will contact you via the email you provided in your application if any document or application material is missing or needed. Please do not email or call to inquire about receipt of documents as it will delay our efforts to process application material. Our office is able to match test reports and transcripts for all applicants. An applicant is denied admission consideration due to an incomplete file only if he or she does not respond to our request to submit missing material.


Will my application be reviewed if any application material is submitted after the deadline?

In fairness to all applicants and to assure the efficacy of the selection process, we cannot guarantee that your file will be reviewed if application material is submitted after the deadline. This is why it is important that you submit your documents early. Our office will match transcripts received early with online applications completed later.


When will I be informed of my admission status?

M.S. applicants will receive an email notification from UCLA’s Graduate Division regarding admission status by late March.

Ph.D. applicants will receive an email notification by March 1.

If offered admission and a fellowship/funding, you must accept or decline our offer no later than April 15.


If I am admitted, may I defer my admission to a future term?

No. The MSE department does not offer admission deferrals.


If I am not admitted, may I re-apply the following year?

Yes. However, keep in mind, you will need to submit a new online application and new supplemental material. Your test scores will be available as long as they have not become outdated or expired.

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Do I need to submit an application for departmental funding?

The MSE department does not have a separate application process to be considered for funding. Ph.D. students interested in departmental funding should submit a personal history statement and indicate in their online application that they would like to be considered for a fellowship/funding. Awards will be given based on Ph.D. applicants’ academic merit and potential.

Unfortunately, M.S. applicants are not eligible for departmental financial support. To qualify for a visa to study in the U.S., international M.S. applicants must demonstrate personal or agency financial support of at least $68,155 for the first year. Prospective M.S. applicants should apply for admission ONLY if they can provide such documentation, which will be requested if admission is offered. Information on the cost of attendance is available on the UCLA Graduate Division Cost of Attendance webpage.

Please be sure to visit the Graduate Division website to learn more about fellowship, scholarship, and grant opportunities for entering students. Applicants are also strongly encouraged to apply for University and external funding opportunities. More information on university-wide funding is located on the UCLA Graduate Division’s funding website. While all applicants are considered for funding, most funding opportunities are awarded to PhD applicants.


How do I apply for a Teaching Assistantship (TA) position?

The department accepts applications from current students in the summer for TA positions to be assigned the following academic school year. Ph.D. students fill nearly all departmental TA positions, and most positions are allocated to the graduate students in the MSE department. Assignments are contingent on your eligibility which includes passing MSE 375: Teaching Apprentice Practicum, and for non-native speakers of English, passing the university’s Test of Oral Proficiency (TOP). More information on TOP requirements can be found at the Center for the Advancement of Teaching website: Current M.S. students can also apply for TA opportunities or may explore TA opportunities in other academic departments (for example, Chemistry, Statistics, CEE, etc.).


How can I apply for financial aid?

Funding based on financial need is available only to U.S. citizens and permanent residents. Financial aid includes federal loans and work-study awards. If you are a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident you will need to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by the priority filing deadline. If you are not a US Citizen or Permanent Resident but approved to pay in-state tuition because you graduated from a high school in California – you will need to complete the California DREAM application. UCLA Financial Aid and Scholarship website has an overview of graduate student financial aid information including how to apply for aid, what aid is available, and how to maintain eligibility.



Do I need to submit a Financial Statement?

The Office of Graduate Admissions at UCLA requires that international admits prove that they have at least $68, 155 at their disposal for the first academic year. According to U.S. Immigration and Naturalization regulations, UCLA may issue Certificates of Eligibility (I-20 forms) for visas only to applicants who have been offered admission and have submitted documented evidence (e.g. bank statements, letters of sponsorship, etc.) of sufficient funds for their study at UCLA. These documents must bear the appropriate seals and signatures as well as state the full name of the applicant and the amount of the support offered.

UCLA’s Dashew Center will request these documents after an applicant has been admitted and submitted a Statement of Intent to Register (SIR). For more information about international students at UCLA visit the Center for International Students and Scholars.

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Is there university housing and, if so, when can I apply?

Space in university housing is limited. If you are interested, please submit an online housing application. The application requires a $30 non-refundable fee. Information is available at UCLA’s housing website.


Are there any special housing arrangements for MSE students?

The MSE department has been allocated a limited number of spaces to hold for incoming Ph.D. students in Weyburn Terrace/Hilgard Apartments. Contact the Housing Services Office via email at for the estimated monthly payments for graduate student housing.


How do students locate housing around UCLA and Los Angeles?

A good place to start is the UCLA Community Housing Office (CHO) which provides an online rental database and maintains additional resources to assist those searching for housing in the Los Angeles area. Please visit the community housing website.

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