Materials Science & Engineering

What Is It?:

Materials Science and Engineering provides an understanding of the underlying principles of synthesis and processing of materials and of the interrelationships between structure, properties, and processing. Students learn how to create advanced materials and systems required, e.g., for flexible electronic displays and photonics that will change communications technologies, for site specific drug delivery, for self-healing materials, for enabling the transition to a hydrogen-based economy, and for more efficient photovoltaics and nuclear systems for energy production. The curriculum uses concepts from both basic physics and chemistry and provides a detailed knowledge of what makes the materials we use every day behave as they do.

For more information, visit the Department of Materials Science and Engineering.


  • Biomaterials:  teaches the science and engineering of materials for use in biological applications, particularly in the human body. This concentration is based on basic and intermediate chemistry along with basic and intermediate biology concepts, with relatively less use of physics topics. This focus area includes a subset of the standard junior year courses and requires additional chemistry and biology in the junior year.
  • Ceramics: studies the science and engineering of ceramic materials, including alloy design, composites, synthesis, and processing methods. This concentration makes significant use of concepts from both basic physics and basic chemistry.
  • Electronic Materials: describes the design and engineering of materials primarily for the microelectronics industries. Topics span the ceramics, metals, and polymers areas. Concepts from basic and intermediate physics are used along with basic chemistry
  • Metals: introduces the design and processing of metals and alloys to achieve desired properties. This concentration primarily uses concepts from basic and intermediate physics with relatively less emphasis on chemical concepts.
  • Polymers: teaches the methods for molecular design to achieve desired properties in polymer molecules and polymer blends as well as processing methods. This concentration primarily uses concepts from basic and intermediate chemistry with relatively less emphasis on physics concepts.

Courses That Introduce the Major:

  • CHEM 102/103—General Chemistry I / General Chemistry Lab I
  • MATH 221—Calculus I
  • MATH 231—Calculus II
  • PHYS 211—University Physics: Mechanics
  • PHYS 212—University Physics: Electricity & Magnetism

Students should consult with an academic advisor regarding course selection prior to the advanced registration period.

Possible Career Opportunities:

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Computational Mechanics
  • Engineering Materials
  • Engineering Mechanics

Common Career Titles Related to this Major:

(Some careers may require education beyond an undergraduate degree)

  • Consultant
  • Manufacturing Engineer
  • Material Engineer
  • Materials Consultant
  • Metallurgical Engineer

Enhancing Your Academic Experience:

  • Participating in undergraduate research
  • Applying for a study abroad experience
  • Utilizing resources of The Career Center
  • Joining a Registered Student Organization (RSO) related to this major, such as:
    • Material Advantage: plans social and professional events/speakers and serves as main resource for undergraduate Materials Science and Engineering majors.
    • Keramos: offers honor society activities for Materials Science and Engineering students.

Related Skills:

  • Communicate effectively
  • Design and conduct experiments
  • Identify materials-related problems and formulate plans to solve such problems
  • Knowledge of mathematics, science, and engineering, including calculus, thermodynamics, transport phenomena, solid state physics and mechanics
  • Understanding of contemporary and cultural issues
  • Understanding of the impact of materials engineering on society and the environment
  • Understanding of the professional and ethical responsibilities of materials engineers

Further Information:

For more information on what you can do with a major in Materials Science and Engineering, visit The Career Center’s webpage: What Can I Do With This Major.

There are several professional organizations dedicated to Materials Science and Engineering. Their websites might be able to provide a glimpse in the world of Materials Science and Engineering.  These organizations include ASM International, Minerals, Metals & Materials Society, and Society of Plastics Engineers.

For more information on the classes needed for a degree in Materials Science and Engineering, visit Undergraduate Programs.