Advisor/Committee Selection

Research Advisor and Special Committee

Each student has a special committee whose members guide and supervise the student’s research program. This committee is responsible for setting specific degree requirements, conducting and reporting on oral examinations, and approving the student’s master’s thesis.

The student’s special committee is chaired by his/her research advisor, who must be a member of the Graduate Field of Materials Science and Engineering – some 40 faculty across campus – but not necessarily a member of the MS&E department. It is also possible to choose a research advisor who is not a member of the field, in which case the Director of Graduate Studies typically chairs the student’s special committee.

The relationship between the student and research advisor is the central one in our M.S. program. The other members of the special committee are selected by the student and the committee chair and typically parallel the student’s M.S. research interests and minor specialization.

Typical Timeline

In general, students can expect to devote a significant portion of the first year to course work; thesis work dominates their second year, intervening summer, and possibly the summer after the second year.

  • Upon arrival on campus: choose a research advisor and special committee member representing academic minor; select first semester courses
  • First semester: Focus on coursework; begin research
  • Second semester: Focus on coursework; develop outline for master’s thesis
  • First summer: Focus on research
  • Third semester: Complete coursework; focus on research
  • Fourth semester: If not continuing for second summer, finalize research, write and defend thesis and submit to Cornell Graduate School. If planning to continue for second summer, focus on research and move toward completion.
  • Second summer (if applicable): Write and defend thesis and submit it to Cornell Graduate School.