Nanoscience, Ph.D.


The Ph.D. in Nanoscience is a minimum of 49-credit degree program that has two concentrations—one in Materials Science and Nanomaterials, and the other in Synthetic Biology. Students earning a Ph.D. in Nanoscience will be expected to design, organize and manage multifaceted research programs or projects in the areas of nanotechnology and nanoscience; effectively communicate, both orally and through the written word, when proposing new research projects, reporting their research discoveries, or when critiquing or evaluating the proposals or discoveries of others; practice safe laboratory protocols and policies; and analyze and synthesize complex ideas associated with nanoscience and nanotechnology, and employ these processes for the advancement of nanoscience research. At the heart of materials science is an understanding of the microstructure of solids and low dimensional nanomaterials, including biological tissues. Microstructure refers to solids viewed at the subatomic (electronic) and atomic levels, and the nature of the defects at these levels. Microstructure is a fundamental feature of description of biological tissues at the cellular level. The phenomenological and mechanistic relationships between the microstructure and the macroscopic properties of solids, low dimensional nanomaterials and biological tissues are the essence of the described concentration. This is best represented by the “materials science triangle”: synthesis–microstructure–properties.

Program Distinctions

The Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering (JSNN) is an academic collaboration between North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (NC A&T) and The University of North Carolina Greensboro (UNC Greensboro). Located on the South Campus of Gateway University Research Park, JSNN builds on the strengths of our universities to offer innovative, cross-disciplinary graduate programs in the emerging areas of nanoscience and nanoengineering.JSNN is a $56.3 million, 105,000 square foot state-of-the-art science and engineering research facility, with nanoelectronics and nanobio clean rooms, nanoengineering and nanoscience laboratories, and extensive materials analysis facilities. JSNN’s characterization capability includes a suite of microscopes from Carl Zeiss SMT®, including the only Orion Helium Ion microscope in the Southeast. Our visualization center allows three-dimensional imaging for modeling of nanotechnology problems.  JSNN collaborates with Guilford Technical Community College and Forsyth Technical Community College on an internship program that exposes students to the advanced technology at its facility. JSNN also is actively engaged with K-12 outreach with Guilford County Schools.

The Student Experience

Sample Courses include:

  • Nanobiology 
  • Immunology
  • Advances in Bio-sensors
  • Biometrics and Biomaterials
  • Nanotechniques

After Graduation

The mission of the Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering (JSNN) is to prepare students from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds to conduct basic and advanced research in Nanoscience and Nanoengineering in industrial, governmental or academic settings. Within this context, the Nanoscience Department provides a graduate level cross-disciplinary educational and discovery research experience in nanoscience. It also works collaboratively with the Nanoengineering Department to achieve an integrated foundational research program in emerging high impact areas.

Students completing this degree program will be able to:

•   Design, organize and manage multifaceted research programs or projects in the areas of Nanotechnology and Nanoscience.

•   Communicate, both orally and through the written word, effectively when proposing new research projects, reporting their research discoveries, or when critiquing or evaluating the proposals or discoveries of others,

•   Practice safe laboratory protocols and policies.•   Analyze and synthesize complex ideas associated with Nanoscience and Nanotechnology and employ these processes for the advancement of Nanoscience research.

PhD Student Timeline

Year 1

  • Successful completion of Core Courses
    • Attaining a B or better in each course
    • Maintaining a 3.0 GPA
  • Qualifying Exam – preparation and defense of an Original Research proposal
  • Complete and Submit a Plan of Study to Graduate School
  • Discussion and Planning with NS faculty/Selection of faculty advisor
    • Signing of Letter of intent with an advisor
    • Submitting this request to NS Office
  • Domestic US students must seek In-state residency status.
  • Prepare a Curriculum Vitae
  • Select a dissertation advisor within the first seven weeks of the first semester
  • Complete and submit an annual report to your advisor and department.

Year 2

  • Successful completion of remaining elective and core courses
    • Attaining a B or better in each course
    • Maintaining a 3.0 GPA
  • Prepare and Defend a Doctoral Research Proposal – failure to do so by end of second year will result in a loss of tuition remission, i.e. domestic student will receive waivers for 0 to at most 3 credits of instate tuition/international students will receive waivers for 0 to at most 6 credits of out-of-state tuition.
  • Selection of Dissertation Committee
  • Plan first Committee Meeting
  • Complete and submit an annual report to your advisor and department.

Years 3-5

  • Hold an Annual Dissertation Committee Meeting?
    • Prepare Dissertation/thesis.
  • Participate and engage in departmental activities both voluntary and required.
  • Actively engage in Research
    • Regular meetings with advisor
    • Attend schedule group/lab meetings
  • Generate external research products
    • Attend/present at conferences
    • Write/publish manuscripts; with at least meeting minimum 1 publication published by the time of defending the Ph.D. thesis.
  • Complete and submit an annual report to your advisor and department.

Ph.D. in Nanoscience Requirements

  • Minimum credit hours for degrees: The minimum number of credit hours required for the Ph.D. degree is 49, including a minimum of 12 hours of NAN799/dissertation credit. The minimum number of credit hours for the Professional M.S. degree is 30 credit hours including the internship.
  • Grades: Students are required to achieve a GPA of 3.0 or above to graduate from the program with no more than 6 credits below B. If a student receives more than 6 credits below a grade of B or one failing grade, he/she will be dismissed from the program. Only grades of B or better will count toward the doctoral degree.
  • Time limits for completion: A typical timeframe for completion of the Ph.D. degree on a full-time basis will be 4-5 years; however, students may take up to 7 academic years to complete all requirements for the degree. Students may take up to a maximum of 72 credit hours in the Nanoscience doctoral program depending on individual needs. Students may petition the JSNN Graduate Studies Committee and the Graduate School for an extension if there are compelling reasons for requiring more than seven years to complete the requirements (e.g., part time students will typically take 2 – 3 years more to complete their courses of study). No credit will be given for courses taken more than five years prior to enrollment at JSNN. Transfer credit is also tied to time and may expire.  For more information, see the UNCG Graduate School policy.
  • Qualifying exam: Students will take a qualifying exam at the end of their first year of full-time study to continue in the program. Students who do not pass the exam, in May, will be allowed to take one additional oral examination within a 90-day period, measured from the date of the last class in the semester in which the examination was scheduled.
  • Dissertation proposal: By the end of the first semester, students will select a dissertation advisor. The dissertation advisor must hold tenure-track faculty status within the Department of Nanoscience or be a tenure-track faculty member within either of the two parent universities with affiliated faculty status in the JSNN, including collaborating and adjunct faculty. In consultation with the advisor, the student will prepare and defend a dissertation proposal by the end of their second year. The dissertation proposal is a statement document on how the student intends to accomplish the proposed goals of his/her research. A written document in the form of a grant proposal needs to be prepared along with a 45 min presentation. Students will present their proposals to their committee, which will be followed by an oral defense. At least one week prior to their proposal defense, the student will need to provide their committee members a copy of their dissertation proposal.
  • Seminars: All students are required to attend Nanoscience departmental and JSNN seminars.  Poor attendance (i.e. missing more than three unexcused absences) to these seminars will result in loss of “Continuing Status’ in their annual report and may be the basis for dismissal. Students who “sign in” absent students are committing an integrity violation which will be treated as a violation of UNCG academic integrity policy.
  • Safety Training: All students need to go through safety training to access any of the laboratories at JSNN. Each laboratory has specific guidelines for training; please consult with the lab manager for access. Failure to take safety training will result in loss of access to JSNN and/or specific labs. Continued failure to follow safety guidelines will jeopardize a student’s “Continuing Status’.
  • Teaching experience: Students are required to gain the equivalent of two semesters of teaching experience. The teaching experience requirement may be met several ways and the student is expected to work with his/her advisor/committee to develop a suitable plan to gain appropriate teaching experience.

Dissertation: Each student must complete a written dissertation of their research, present their dissertation publicly and defend their dissertation orally before their dissertation committee. The defense must occur in the same term that the student applies for graduation.▪   Publication requirement: Each student is required to have at least one published manuscript prior to their dissertation defense; however, some labs may require more publications; discuss this topic with individual faculty to ensure that you have met not only the departmental requirements but also the requirements of your lab as well.

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