Master's Program - Thesis and Non-thesis Options

Master of Science in Engineering Degree Programs (M.S.E.)

In 2005, the Department of Plastics Engineering restructured its MSE Degree Program. Plastics Engineering MSE graduate students accepted into the program must follow either the "Thesis Option" Curriculum or the "Non-thesis Option" Curriculum described in the following sections.  For the 30-credit hour thesis option, the student performs supervised research, prepare a written thesis manuscript, and defend the work during an oral presentation. The 33-credit hour non-thesis M.S.E. is designed for part-time graduate students working full time jobs as practicing engineers.

Note: Graduate students enrolled in the Thesis Option MSE Program prior to the Fall of 2005 may elect to follow either the new "thesis" or "non-thesis" program requirements described below, or those in effect at the time they were accepted into the degree program. 

Note: Students in the Plastics Engineering B.S./M.S. program should see the requirements listed with the B.S. program.

Thesis Option

Non-thesis Option

Co-op Option in Engineering
The Department of Plastics Engineering participates in the Graduate Master's Co-op Option in Engineering. For detailed information about the Co-op Program and curriculum requirements, please see the Graduate Catalog Engineering Co-op page.

Thesis Option

Students who have enrolled in the thesis option Plastics Engineering M.S.E. program must complete at least 24 course credits and 6 thesis credits as outlined in the program requirements section below. Graduate students enrolled in the Thesis Option M.S.E. Program prior to the Fall of 2005 may elect to follow the either new program requirements (thesis or non-thesis program described below, or those in effect at the time they were accepted into the degree program.

Students may transfer as many as 12 science or engineering graduate course credits from other universities or from courses completed when in non-degree status at UMass Lowell provided they are approved by the Plastics Engineering Department's M.S.E. program coordinators. (For University regulations regarding transfer credit and other regulations, see Graduate Polices in the on-line catalog.) The thesis option M.S.E. degree will be awarded upon the satisfactory completion of 30 credit hours of study as outlined below.

Requirement 1 Complete the cluster of "core course" requirements (9 credit hours):

  • PLAS.5440 Advanced Plastics Materials (3 credits)
  • PLAS.5780 Advanced Plastics Processing (3 credits)
  • PLAS.xxxx Current Topics Plastics Seminars (1) (1 credit)
  • PLAS.5740 Physical Properties Laboratory (1 credit)
  • PLAS.5720 Plastics Processing Laboratory (1 credit)
Special notes for students having a B.S. Plastics Engineering from UMass Lowell:
  • Students are not required to take the Physical Properties Lab (PLAS.5740) and Plastics Processing Lab (PLAS.5720). These students, however, must still meet the 24 course credit hour program requirement by substituting other Plastics Engineering Graduate Courses.
  • Students who have a B or higher in Polymer Materials I (PLAS.2010) and Polymer Materials II (PLAS.2020) are not required to take Advanced Plastics Materials (PLAS.5440). These students, however, must still meet the 24 course credit hour program requirement by substituting other Plastics Engineering Graduate Courses
  • Students who received a grade of B or higher in Plastics Process Engineering I (PLAS.3770) and Plastics Process Engineering II (PLAS.3780) are not required to take Advanced Plastic Materials (PLAS.5780)> These students, however, must still meet the 24 -course credit hour program requirement by substituting other Plastics Engineering Graduate Courses.
Special notes for students who have a B.S. Degree in Plastics Engineering from UMass Lowell or equivalent program may elect to test out of Advanced Plastics Materials (PLAS.5440) and Advanced Plastics Processing (PLAS.5780). These students, however, must still meet the 24 course credit hour program requirement by substituting other Plastics Engineering Graduate Courses.  

Requirement 2 Complete the course requirements for one or more of the department's graduate "Certificates" as an "area of specialization." Some of the certificate course requirements may also be core requirements. The course requirements for each graduate certificate are also outlined below.

Note: The Graduate Certificate in Plastics Engineering Fundamentals does not satisfy Requirement 2 for the thesis option M.S.E. Plastics Engineering Program.

(a.) Graduate Certificate in "Plastics Design"

Required Courses:

Elective Courses (any two of the following):

(b.) Graduate Certificate in "Plastics Materials"

Required Courses:

  • PLAS.5440 Advanced Plastics Materials
  • PLAS.5060 Polymer Structure, Properties, and Applications

Elective Courses (any two of the following):

(c.) Graduate Certificate in "Plastics Processing"

Required Courses:

Elective Courses (any two of the following):

(d.) Graduate Certificate in "Medical Plastics Design and Manufacturing"

Required Courses:

Elective Courses (any two of the following):

  • PLAS.5540 Medical Device Design II
  • PLAS.5790 Problems in Biomaterials - (directed study)
  • PLAS.6020 Medical Device Development Regulation
  • PLAS.6750 Biomaterials II
  • CHEN.5550 Biopharmaceutical GMP and Licensing *
    * (offered by the Chemical Engineering Department)
  • BMBT.5000 Introduction to Biomedical Engineering & Biotechnology **
    ** (offered by the Biomedical Engineering program)
  • PLAS.5030 Mechanical Behavior of Polymers
  • PLAS.5180 Plastics Product Design

(e.) Graduate Certificate in "Elastomeric Materials"

Required Courses:

Elective Courses (any two of the following):

  • PLAS.5490 Design with Elastomers
  • PLAS.5500 Processing with Elastomers
  • PLAS.5060 Polymer Structure, Properties, and Applications
  • PLAS.5960 Plastics, Elastomers and Additives from Renewable Resouces

Requirement 3 Complete the requirements for an additional number of elective Plastics Engineering graduate courses such that the "total" course credit hours is at least 24 credit hours (not counting thesis credits).

Core Courses + Non-Core Certificate Courses + Electives Courses = 24 Credits.

Up to two elective courses from other engineering departments may be substituted for Plastics Engineering courses if approved by the graduate coordinator.

Requirement 4 Complete the mandatory  six-credit-hour thesis requirement. The thesis research is conducted under the supervision of a three member advisory committee (see "Thesis Committee" below). Upon completion of the thesis research work, the student must prepare the written thesis manuscript and defend the work in an oral presentation such that all three committee members approve the work.

Thesis Committee

As soon as a student has chosen an area of research, a Thesis Committee is selected by the student and his or her research advisor in accordance with the policy of the department. The Thesis Committee shall consist of at least three members, at least two of whom shall be from the student's major department. One member of the committee shall be the student's thesis advisor. An outside expert, such as the supervisor of a research project conducted at an industrial setting or a faculty member from another institution, may be a member of the committee, but that individual must possess academic credentials which would qualify him or her to serve as a member of the University of Massachusetts Lowell faculty.

The M.S.E. degree, and the appropriate Graduate Certificate (the area of specialization), will be awarded upon satisfactory completion of 30 credit hours of study as outlined. More detailed descriptions of the "Thesis Option" requirements are given below.

Admission Requirements and Prerequisites:

Admission to the program is open to candidates with a B.S. in Plastics Engineering or a related engineering or science field. The pre-requisite math requirements include Calculus II and Differential Equations. Applicants must also take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), provide three Letters of Reference, an Official Transcript, and a Statement of Purpose as per the UMass Lowell Graduate Admissions Policy. You can apply online at www.uml.edu/grad.

Non-matriculated students (with an appropriate B.S. Degree) may begin taking courses without application to the M.S.E. Plastics Engineering Program. It is recommended, however, that students apply to the M.S.E. Program as soon as possible (i.e. prior to taking too many course credits) since there is no guarantee of acceptance into the M.S.E. Program. In addition, no more than 12 credit hours taken as a non-matriculated student can be transferred into the M.S.E. Program upon acceptance.

Students may transfer as many as 12 science or engineering graduate course credits from other universities provided they are approved by the Plastics Engineering Department's M.S.E. program coordinator. (For University regulations regarding transfer credit and other regulations, st the Graduate Policies in the on-line catalog.)

Graduate Student Advising:

One of the graduate coordinators will be the academic advisor for students enrolled in the non-thesis M.S.E. Plastics Engineering Degree Program. The advisor will help the student remedy deficiencies in prerequisites, select electives of most value, and plan the overall study program efficiently. The thesis advisor will be the chairperson of the thesis advisory committee that will guide the student in the thesis research and supervise the completion of the thesis requirement. Once an advisor is selected, the student and advisor should complete the Departmental Advising Form, indicating the thesis topic. Both the student and advisor must sign this form before the student can register for thesis credits. This form is available in the Plastics Engineering Department Office (B204) and should be submitted to the graduate program coordinator.

 Non-thesis Option

Students enrolled in the non-thesis M.S. Plastics Engineering option must complete a total of 33 course credits as outlined in the course requirements section below. 

Requirement 1 Complete the "core course" requirements (18 credits)

  • PLAS.5030 - Mechanical Behavior of Polymers (3 credits)
  • PLAS.5440 - Advanced Plastics Materials (3 credits)
  • PLAS.5780 - Advanced Plastics Processing (3 credits)
  • PLAS.5060 - Polymer Structure Properties and Applications (3 credits)
  • PLAS.5180 - Plastics Product Design (3 credits)
  • PLAS.xxxx - Current Topics Plastics Seminar (1 credit)
  • PLAS.5720- Physical Properties Laboratory (1 credit)
  • PLAS.5740 - Physical Properties Laboratory (1 credit)

Special notes for students having a Plastics Engineering B.S. Degree:

Students who have a B.S. Degree in Plastics Engineering from UMass Lowell are not required to take the Physical Properties Lab (PLAS.5740) and Plastics Processing Lab (PLAS.5720). However, these students must still meet the 33 credit hour program requirement by substituting other Plastics Engineering Graduate Courses.

Students who have a B.S. Degree in Plastics Engineering from UMass Lowell or an equivalent program may elect to test out of Advanced Plastics Materials (PLAS.5440) and Advanced Plastics Processing (PLAS.5780). However, these students must still meet the 33 credit hour program requirement by substituting other Plastics Engineering Graduate Courses.

Requirement 2: Complete the course requirements for one or more of the department's graduate "Certificates". 

  • Plastics Desing
  • Plastics Materials
  • Plastics Processing
  • Medical Plastics Design and Manufacturing.

Some of the certificate course requirements may also be core requirements. The course requirements for each graduate certificate are also outlined below.

Note: The Graduate Certificate in "Plastics Engineering Fundamentals" does not satisfy Requirement 2 for the thesis option M.S.E. Plastics Engineering Program. 

Requirement 3 Complete the requirements for an additional number of elective plastics graduate courses such that the "total" credit hours (core courses + certificate + electives) is 33 credits. Up to two elective courses from other engineering departments may be substituted if approved by the graduate coordinator.

The M.S.E. degree, and the appropriate Graduate Certificate (the area of specialization), will be awarded upon satisfactory completion of 33 credit hours of study as specified above. This non-thesis M.S.E. degree is an alternative to the more traditional 30 credit thesis option M.S.E degree.

 Admission Requirements and Prerequisites:

Admission to the program is open to candidates with a B.S. in Plastics Engineering or a related engineering or science field. The pre-requisite math requirements include Calculus II and Differential Equations. Applicants must also take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), provide three letters of reference, an official transcript, and a Statement of Purpose as per the UMass Lowell Graduate Admissions Policy. The GRE Requirement is waived for any student who has completed any one of the Plastics Engineering Graduate Certificates and have maintained a 3.5 GPA for this Certificate. You can apply online at www.uml.edu/grad.

The foundation "Plastics" courses required in previous years are no longer required. Students who have taken these foundation graduate courses in the past can receive some graduate course credit for these courses as outlined above.

The Plastics Engineering Department makes every attempt to offer as many of these courses as possible during the evening so that students having full time jobs can complete the degree program. Return to the home page for a listing of evening graduate courses for the next few semesters.

Non-matriculated students (with an appropriate B.S. Degree) may begin taking courses without application to the M.S.E. Plastics Engineering Program. However, it is recommended that students apply to the M.S.E. Program as soon as possible (i.e. prior to taking too many course credits) since there is no guarantee of acceptance into the M.S.E. Program. In addition, no more than 12 credit hours taken as a non-matriculated student can be transferred into the M.S.E. Program upon acceptance.

 Graduate Student Advising:

The M.S.E. Coordinator will be the academic advisor for students enrolled in the non-thesis M.S.E. Plastics Engineering Degree Program. The coordinator will help the student remedy deficiencies in prerequisites, select electives of most value, and plan the overall study program efficiently.

Full Time vs. Part Time Status

Both the Thesis and Non-thesis Option M.S.E. Plastics Engineering Programs are open to full-time and part-time students. Many of the courses required for these programs are offered at night so that engineers working at local companies can take advantage of the programs. Students taking fewer than nine credits in a semester are considered part time, while those taking nine or more credits are considered full time students. Graduate students must maintain full-time student status in order to be eligible for research assistant positions (R.A.).

Funding Policy - Plastics Engineering Graduate Students

Research Assistant Positions (R.A.) positions, either "full time" or "half time", are awarded by individual faculty who conduct funded research. Accepted students must correspond with the individual faculty to inquire about R.A. positions. Faculty research interests are listed in the Faculty section of the department web site. It is recommended that applicants interested in obtaining R.A. funding should send a letter and resume to those faculty having similar research interests.