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World-Class Research on the Shores of the Red Sea

KAUST is an international graduate-level science and technology research university located on the shores of the Red Sea in Saudi Arabia. Home to world-class faculty, scientists, engineers and students from around the globe, the campus's nine research centers focus on finding solutions to problems in areas related to water, food, energy and the environment. Students have the opportunity to access to state-of-the-art labs and our eminent faculty, while obtaining a diverse graduate study experience.



KAUST Degrees

MS Degree

Admissions

Admission to the Masters of Science program requires the satisfactory completion of an undergraduate B.S. degree in a relevant or related area, such as Engineering, Mathematics or the Physical, Chemical and Biological Sciences.

General Degree Requirements

The MS degree at KAUST is a 36-credit program. Students are expected to complete the Masters of Science degree in three semesters and one summer session. Degree requirements are divided into three sections: (1) Core Curriculum; (2) Elective Curriculum; and (3) Research/Capstone Experience.

  • Core Curriculum (9-15 credits): This portion of the degree program is designed to provide a student with the background needed to establish a solid foundation in the discipline over and above undergraduate studies.
  • Elective Curriculum (9-15 credits): This portion of the degree program allows each student to tailor his/her educational experience to meet individual research and educational objectives. Depending upon the program and the objectives, this may be met by added coursework or by additional research experience.
  • Research/Capstone Experience (12 credits): The details of this portion of the degree program are also uniquely determined by the student and his/her advisor and will involve a combination of research and other capstone experiences that build on the knowledge gained in coursework.

At least thirty-six (36) degree credits must be completed in graduate-level courses and research projects. These courses should be 200-level or above and must be approved by the program advisor.

Thesis Requirements

Students pursuing the Thesis option must apply by the eighth week of their second semester. Thesis students are expected to conduct research and compose the thesis during the summer and subsequent fall semesters. A minimum of 6 credits of thesis research (297) is required, although it is expected that a student will enroll in 12 credits of MS thesis work. With permission of the Masters of Science thesis advisor, a student who enrolls in only 6 credits of thesis research may use one of the following options to earn the six remaining credits of degree requirements:

  • Internship: Research-based summer internship (295). Students are only allowed to take one internship.
  • Broadening Experience Courses: Courses that broaden a student's MS experience.
  • Ph.D.-Level Courses: Courses numbered 300 or greater. Any course in the PhD core requirements that is passed with a minimum grade of B– may be used towards meeting the core PhD requirements of the program if the student chooses to continue for a PhD degree at KAUST.

Students are permitted to register more than 12 credits of MS thesis research as necessary and with the permission of the thesis advisor.

Committee Structure and Thesis Defense

Evaluation of satisfactory completion of Masters of Science thesis work is performed by a committee comprising the Masters of Science thesis advisor and two other faculty members. The chair of the committee must be a faculty member within the program. One external faculty member, or one Research Scientist may be allowed. The evaluation of MS thesis credits comprises of a satisfactory or unsatisfactory grade. The requirement of a public seminar based on the student's work is left to the discretion of the MS thesis advisor.

The student is responsible for scheduling the thesis defense date with his/her supervisor and committee members. It is advisable that the student submits a written copy of the thesis to the thesis committee members at least two weeks prior the defense date.

Non-Thesis Option

Research requirement: A minimum of 6 credits of directed research credits (299) is required. Summer internship credits may be used to fulfill the research requirement provided that the summer internship is research-based. Summer internships are subject to approval by the student's academic advisor.

Students must complete the remaining credits through one or a combination of the options listed below:

  • Broadening Experience Courses: Courses that broaden a student's M.S. experience.
  • Ph.D.-Level Courses: Courses numbered 300 or greater. Any course in the PhD core requirements that is passed with a minimum grade of B– may be used towards meeting the core PhD requirements of the program if the student chooses to continue for a PhD degree in at KAUST.
  • Internship: Research-based summer internship (295). Students are only allowed to take one internship.

It should be noted that a student may also combine courses to satisfy the six-credit requirement. For example, a student could take one Ph.D.-level course and one graduate-level course in another program. A student may not enroll in two summer internships.

Thesis format requirements are described in the KAUST Thesis and Dissertation Guidelines.

Here is a list of eligible faculty advisors.

Students may select a KAUST faculty member from another program to act as a research advisor (for either thesis or directed research), but must provide a one-page description of the research and an explanation of how such research would be relevant to the degree program. Upon approval by the program and the Dean, the faculty member would be allowed to act as an affiliated faculty member and advisor for the student.

Please Note: Degree Programs may have additional requirement to those listed above.

Program Descriptions

The Master's and Doctoral degree program requirements represent general university-level expectations. The specific details of each degree requirements are outlined in the descriptions of the individual degree programs.

The MS/PhD Program

The MS/PhD program is an attractive option for students looking for fast entry into the world of research. Students can apply for the PhD program after completing a BS degree and are engaged in exciting research from the beginning of their program. The program typically takes four to five years to complete and students may complete a MS degree on the way to their PhD.

PhD Degree

mscdgree

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PhD Degree

Admissions

When PhD students apply for and enter a specific degree program, a faculty advisor is either immediately designated (in the case of a student being recruited by a specific faculty member) or temporarily assigned. In the latter case, the student is expected to identify a research advisor by (at the latest) the end of the first year. There are three phases and associated milestones for PhD students: (i) passing a qualifying exam; (ii) passing an oral defense of the dissertation proposal, and (iii) a dissertation phase with a final defense milestone.

General Degree Requirements

Students entering the PhD program must complete at least 96 credit hours, (inclusive of previous Masters Degree coursework). Qualification and advancement to candidacy are contingent upon: (i) successfully passing Ph.D. coursework, (ii) designating a research advisor, (iii) successfully passing a qualifying exam, and (iii) writing and orally defending a research proposal. Possible outcomes include pass, failure with complete retake, failures with partial retake, and failure with no retake. Students not permitted to retake the exam, or who fail the retake, will be dismissed from the University. The maximum allotted time for advancement to candidacy for a student entering with a MS degree is two years; three years for students entering with a BS.

The required coursework is outlined below:

MS Degree

  • Core courses
  • Elective courses

PhD Degree

  • Two or more courses at the 300 level
  • Graduate seminar if required by the program.

Students entering the program with a relevant Masters of Science from another institution may transfer coursework toward the requirements of the MS degree listed above upon approval of the program.

Students entering the program with a MS from KAUST may transfer coursework toward both the MS and PhD requirements listed above upon approval of the program and based on their program of study at KAUST.

Students entering with a BS from another institution may transfer in up to 9 credits of graduate level coursework towards the above requirements upon approval of the program. In addition, students entering with a BS may also qualify to earn a MS degree by satisfying the MS degree requirements as part of the PhD program.

Some degree programs may require a diagnostic entrance exam as a basis for admission, and students may be required to complete additional coursework depending on their degree-granting institution. If the MS degree is from a subject other than the PhD degree program, there may be additional courses required and specified by the advisor.

The MS/PhD Program

The MS/PhD program is an attractive option for students looking for fast entry into the world of research. Students can apply for the PhD program after completing a BS degree and are engaged in exciting research from the beginning of their program. The program typically takes four to five years to complete and students may complete a MS degree on the way to their PhD.

Dissertation Research Credits

Besides coursework (6 or more credit hours), dissertation research (course number 397) must be earned during the first (proposal preparation and defense) and second phases of the PhD program. A full-time workload for PhD students is considered to be 12 credit hours per semester (courses and 397) and 6 credit hours in summer (397 only). There is a minimum residency requirement (enrollment period at KAUST) of 2.5 years for students entering with an Masters of Science degree, 3.5 years for students entering with a BS degree. The maximum enrollment period is 5.0 years, extendable upon approval of both the faculty research advisor and the division dean.

Candidacy

Achieving PhD candidacy is contingent upon successfully passing a qualifying examination, acceptance by the research advisor of a written research proposal and successfully passing an oral examination. Details should be confirmed in the individual degree program material. Here is a list of eligible faculty advisors for our degree programs.

Passing the qualification phase is achieved by acceptance of all committee members of the written proposal and a positive vote of all but, at most, one member of the oral exam committee. If more than one member casts a negative vote, one retake of the oral defense is permitted if the entire committee agrees. A conditional pass involves conditions (e.g., another course in a perceived area of weakness) imposed by the committee, with the conditional status removed when those conditions have been met. Once constituted, the composition of the qualification phase committee can only be changed upon approval by both the faculty research advisor and the division dean.

Dissertation and Dissertation Defense

The Dissertation Defense is the final exam of the PhD degree. It is a public presentation that consists of an oral presentation followed by questions. As a general rule, the dissertation advisor is appointed to chair the defense committee, which consists of at least four faculty members. The Chair and one additional member must be affiliated with the program. The committee must also include one external examiner who must write a report on the thesis and attend the thesis defense. Qualified Visiting Professors may be involved as on-campus committee members.

It is the responsibility of the student to inform the dissertation committee of his/her progress, deadlines for submitting graduation forms, the defense date, etc. It is advisable that the student submits her/his dissertation six weeks prior the defense date in order to receive feedback from the committee members in a timely manner. The thesis format requirements are described in the KAUST Thesis and Dissertation Guidelines.

The result of the defense will be made based on the recommendation of the committee. There are four possible results: (1) Pass: the student passes the exam and the dissertation is accepted as submitted; (2) Pass with revisions: the student passes the exam and the student is advised of the revisions that must be made to the text of the dissertation; (3) Failure with retake: normally this means the student must do more research to complete the dissertation. The student must revise the dissertation and give another oral examination within six months from the date of the first defense; and (4) Failure: the student does not pass the exam, the dissertation is not accepted, the degree is not awarded, and the student is dismissed from the University.

MS Degree

mscdgree

Faculty

Profiles

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our world-class
faculty

Faculty

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faculty

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MS Degree

mscdgree

PhD Degree

mscdgree

Faculty

Profiles

Learn more about
our world-class
faculty

Faculty

Profiles

Learn more about
our world-class
faculty

Applying

to KAUST

Find out more
about admission
requirements

Applying

to KAUST

Find out more
about admission
requirements

KAUST Programs

BESEBiological & Environmental Sciences and Engineering Division

Bioscience (B)

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The Bioscience program provides a strong introduction to living matter with courses on cell biology and biophysics. The program comprises two tracks of self-contained courses consisting of lectures, seminars and laboratory classes. Each course provides a complete review of the subject concerned.

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Environmental Science & Engineering (EnSE)

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The Environmental Science and Engineering Program (EnSE) prepares students to work on many of the world's most pressing challenges. There is worldwide concern with the availability of clean water; EnSE examines methods to purify and reuse water, as well as to reduce contamination of existing reserves.

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Marine Science (MarS)

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The Marine Science (MarS) Program takes advantage of KAUST's location on the Red Sea, a living laboratory with great potential for exciting science. The program addresses the biology and ecology of the multitude of marine life forms. There is an intentional focus on the local Red Sea system, both as a primary study system and as a system with which general concepts from other marine systems can be compared.

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CEMSEComputer, Electrical and Mathematical Sciences & Engineering Division

Applied Mathematics & Computational Sciences (AMCS)

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The Applied Mathematics and Computational Sciences (AMCS) program trains students to construct and solve mathematical and computational models of real-world problems.

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Computer Science (CS)

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The Computer Science program trains students to create computational infrastructure and apply computational methods to a variety of areas. Computer Science offers six tracks, each of which leads to a frontier of computing: Artificial Intelligence, Computer Systems, High Performance Computing, Theoretical Computer Science, Visual Computing, and Computational Biosciences.

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Electrical Engineering (EE)

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Electrical Engineering (EE) plays an important role in the fields of engineering, applied physics, and computational sciences. A significant portion of advancement in technology originates from cutting edge research performed in the field of EE. At KAUST, the EE program is bound to this tradition: It aims for preparing students for a multitude of professional paths and advancing world-class research and research based education through interdisciplinary partnering within engineering and science.

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PSEPhysical Sciences & Engineering Division

Chemical & Biological Engineering (CBE)

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The Chemical and Biological Engineering Program (CBE) offers students opportunities to develop real-world solutions to global challenges by leveraging basic discoveries in chemical and biological sciences. These include the development of new processes for gas and liquid separations, water desalination, as well as the development of new materials for reducing greenhouse gases and remediating chemical and biological threats.

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Chemical Science (ChemS)

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The KAUST Chemical Science Program (ChemS) was established in 2010 to provide a modern research-oriented education in Chemistry. Making use of the outstanding facilities at KAUST, the program distinguishes itself by a strong emphasis on research with a clear focus on current challenges related to catalysis and materials.

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Earth Science & Engineering (ErSE)

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The Earth Science and Engineering (ErSE) Program focuses on applications of modern computational methods to study geophysical problems associated with the atmosphere and/or ocean circulation, earthquakes, oil exploration, reservoir modeling, and subsurface phenomena. Students in this program receive broad training in numerical methods, mathematical modeling, and geophysics, with an option for MS students to participate in scientific research activities that include computational, mathematical modeling, and field-study projects. PhD candidates in the program conduct original research on a topic related to earth science and engineering.

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Material Science & Engineering (MSE)

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The Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) program equips students with fundamental and applied knowledge of nanomaterials and devices; energy conversion materials and devices; biomaterials; and advanced characterization techniques. MSE offers its MS and PhD students a curriculum based on core and elective courses. Typically, students are evaluated by written exams, course assignments, and oral presentations.

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Mechanical Engineering (ME)

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The Mechanical Engineering (ME) program focuses on the following broad areas of research: structures and mechanics of solids, fluid dynamics, thermal sciences, combustion, energy, and control and dynamics. Courses in the program provide a solid foundation in each area, covering subjects such as mechanical behavior of engineering materials, continuum mechanics, thermodynamics, experimental and numerical combustion, control design, dynamic analysis, modeling, and simulation.

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