NanoEngineering Master’s Degree Program

NanoEngineering is the exciting field that is enabling solutions in alternative energy, medical diagnostics, and therapeutics, next generation wireless communications. The Master of Science in NanoEngineering degree program prepares students to take leadership roles in emerging high tech industries as well as traditional industries that exploit nanoscale phenomena. The program is intended to extend and broaden an undergraduate education with fundamental knowledge in different areas. Students will have the opportunity to work in the following focus areas: Biomedical Nanotechnology, Molecular & NanoMaterials, Nanotechnologies for Energy and the Environment. The degree may be terminal, or obtained on the way to the Ph.D.

M.S. Students in NanoEngineering at UC San Diego have the option to conduct research with a faculty member while taking classes culminating in a Master’s Thesis (Plan I), or the option to focus on specifically designed coursework curriculum culminating in a Comprehensive Examination (Plan II).

Note: Students who transfer with some graduate credit or an M.S. from another institution will have their records reviewed by a faculty advisor, and an appropriate individual course of study may be approved.

M.S. TIme Limit Policy

Full-time M.S. students are permitted up to seven quarters in which to complete all requirements. (The soonest you can complete the M.S. degree is three quarters or one Academic Year.) While there is no written time limit for part-time students, the department has the right to intervene and set individual deadlines if it becomes necessary.

Program and Course Requirements

The requirements for the M.S. degree are as follows:

  1. All student must complete total of thirty-six (36) units:
    1. Five (5) required core courses (NANO 201, NANO 202, NANO 203, NANO 205, NANO 206 - 20 units)
    2. One course, 4 units, from any focus area selected from the approved list of graduate courses (focus area descriptions and course list below) with the consent of a faculty advisor
    3. FOR M.S. THESIS PLAN - 12 units of NANO 299. Additional information and requirements in M.S. Thesis Plan section.
    4. FOR M.S. COMPREHENSIVE EXAM PLAN - Three (3) electives - 12 units of NANO/CENG or JSOE graduate level courses (or up to 12 units of upper division courses). Additional information and requirements in the M.S. Comp Plan section.
    5. No more than a total of eight units of NANO 296 may be applied toward the course work requirement.
  2. Students must enroll in NANO 200 every quarter. NANO 200 units (1) DO NOT count towards the degree requirement units. See “Courses” for descriptions.
  3. Any courses that are not JSOE engineering, sciences, or math, graduate or upper division level courses, must be approved by the Graduate Affairs Committee (GAC), prior to enrollment
  4. Students either complete a Master’s Thesis (Plan I) or pass a Comprehensive Exam (Plan II) as described in the “Graduate Studies” section of this catalog. Students should consult with their advisors before selecting a plan for completion of degree requirements.
    1. Plan I: Thesis Plan: Thesis Plan students must secure a thesis faculty advisor before enrolling for 299 courses. They must also pass a thesis examination presented to a Thesis Committee.
    2. Plan II: Comprehensive Examination: The comprehensive exam is given in early Spring and covers topics covered in the core courses. A score of at least 60% is needed for M.S. students. Note: The exam can be taken without having completed the core courses.
      1. This exam can only be retaken once. Failure to pass the exam may result in termination from the program. Transfer to the M.S. Thesis Plan is not permitted.
  5. Students must meet M.S. requirements established by the university, and the department requirements
  6. A student cannot advance until they have passed/completed the thirty-six (36) unit coursework and their Plan (Thesis or Comp Exam)

Focus Area 1 - Biomedical Nanotechnology: NANO 210, 241, 242 243, 244, 247A, 247B, 247C, 251A, 261, 272, 273

Focus Area 2 - Molecular & Nanomaterials: NANO 204, 212, 227, 230, 234, 238, 241, 242, 250, 251A, 252, 253, 255, 256, 257, 263, 264, 265, 267, 268, 271, 275, 280, 281

Focus Area 3 - Nanotechnologies for Energy and the Environment: NANO 212, 238, 245, 255, 257, 258, 259 260, 261, 266, 267, 269, 279

Non-Focus Area Electives: NANO 282

Thesis Plan I

The M.S. Thesis Plan is designed for those with an interest in research and requires the student to be accepted by a NANO faculty member starting they will be your research advisor. This plan involves course work learning to the completion and defense of a master’s thesis. The thesis defense is the final examination for students enrolled in the M.S. Thesis Plan and must be conducted after completion of all course work.

  1. Coursework balance is made up of the five (5) core-courses (20 units) + twelve (12) units of NANO 299 (thesis research) + one additional elective course (4 units)
  2. The M.S. Thesis Committee must be constituted and approved by GEPA before a student can defend their thesis. The committee should have three (3) members: the thesis faculty advisor should be the committee chair, and 2 members must be from the NANO/CENG department (committee chair and another member)
  3. Students must submit the M.S. Thesis Plan Form and notify Graduate Advising (, by the second week of the quarter if they plan to advance to M.S. candidacy. If a student has already advanced to M.S. candidacy and will be defending their M.S. Thesis, they must submit the M.S. Thesis Plan Form at least 4-5 weeks prior to the Thesis Exam date.
    1. This is to ensure all necessary arrangements can be made (review requirements, resolve any issues, submit the committee for constitution approval, submit forms for advancement to candidacy). Not notifying the department of your M.S. Thesis Exam or Advancement details in time may result in a delay of the exam.

Master’s thesis procedures can be found here. It is advised for Thesis students to plan ahead and make their preliminary and final review appointments with GEPA on the calendar as soon as they can for the quarter they want to graduate (these appointments are required by GEPA). Students do not have to wait until their paper is complete (at least 90%).

Thesis Defense Requirements

  1. Dissertation & Thesis Submission
  2. Master’s Thesis Plan
    1. The Thesis Defense must be held in person with the majority of the committee able to attend in person as well. If a member is unable to attend in-person, a request for exception and how/when that member will attend the defense, must be submitted to the Graduate Advisor for GAC approval.

Comprehensive Examination Plan II

This plan involves coursework only and culminates in a written comprehensive examination, offered only in Spring, based on topics selected from the five (5) core courses

  1. Coursework balance is made up of the five (5) core-courses (20 units) + four (4) elective courses (16 units)
    1. Restrictions listed above in the Program and Course Requirements section
  2. Students are only allowed two (2) attempts to pass each course component. Failure to pass a course component after the second time may result in termination from the program.
    1. If a student does not successfully pass the comprehensive exam, they are not permitted to change to the M.S. Thesis Plan
    2. A passing score of at least 60%, in each component, is required for the M.S. degree program
    3. A passing score of at least 70%, in each component, is required to be eligible for the Ph.D. program
  3. Students must submit the M.S. Comprehensive Exam Plan Form and notify Graduate Advising (, by the second week of the quarter if they plan to advance to M.S. candidacy.   If a student is requesting the M.S. degree, they must have already advanced to M.S. candidacy, and, must notify the Graduate Coordinator 4-5 weeks prior to the end of the completion quarter via the M.S. Comprehensive Exam Plan Form.

The NANO Comprehensive Exam will take place on Friday 4/12/2024


Class schedule for the academic year is as follows:
(Subject to change, see Schedule of Classes for the most current course offerings.)

**NANO 200 is a non-degree fulfilling unit and required every quarter.

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Change of Degree

Upon completion of the M.S. degree requirements, students are not automatically eligible for admission to the Chemical Engineering Ph.D. Program. Students who wish to pursue a doctorate must find a faculty advisor who will serve as the student’s Ph.D. advisor and provide financial support, and notify the Graduate Coordinator. The Graduate Coordinator will verify the advisor’s role, financial support, and effective quarter and year of the degree aim change, and submit the request to the Graduate Affairs Committee for approval. Once approved, the Graduate Coordinator will submit a Degree Aim Change request for Department Approval. **Note: Students must pass the Comprehensive Exam with at least 70%, in each course component, to be eligible for the transition process.