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Materials Science and Engineering Major Guide for 2010-2011

What is Materials Science and Engineering

Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) is a discipline that is on the leading edge of technology through the development of new materials and the improvement of existing materials for applications in all engineering fields. It is at the forefront of modern technological advances and its graduates are in great demand.

Materials engineers can be found working in all technological fields, usually as part of a multidisciplinary team. For this reason, materials engineers receive a broad engineering education that includes design, mechanics, chemistry, physics, mathematics and electronics. The processing and testing of materials are core subjects in the MSE curriculum which stresses “hands-on” learning though laboratory classes that introduce students to modern processing and characterization techniques.

Modern engineering materials are used in a broad spectrum of products, including automobiles, aircraft and spacecraft, jet and rocket engines, surgical implants, computers, cell phones, optical displays, textiles, and sports equipment. The types of engineering materials include metals and alloys, polymers and plastics, ceramics, semiconductors, and composites.

The department has one of the lowest student-faculty ratios (about 4:1) in the College of Engineering. This allows MSE students to receive a great deal of individual interaction with the faculty, especially in laboratory courses.

The educational objectives of the program for the degree of B.S. in Materials Science and Engineering are:

• to provide students with a knowledge of the fundamentals of appropriate appropriate physical and chemical sciences, mathematics and engineering sciences; and to demonstrate the applications of these principles to solve engineering problems with emphases on materials processing, structure, properties and performance. This knowledge base includes the development of analytical and experimental skills.

• to provide students with experiences in design and materials selection such that they can design components, systems or processes with consideration of economic, safety, environmental and social issues.

• to develop professional skills in such areas as written and oral communications, problem solving and working in diverse teams, that prepare graduates to practice materials engineering in contemporary and global environments.

• to provide students with a general education component that complements the technical content, encourages the appreciation of cultural and social values, exhibits the impact of engineering solutions on society, and enhances personal development. The university’s engineering programs are fully accredited by the ABET Engineering Accreditation Program.

Career Opportunities in Materials Science and Engineering

Graduates with a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree in Materials Science and Engineering receive employment offers from a wide range of industries both in Tennessee and nationwide.

MSE graduates can be found working in many different capacities, including basic and applied research, product and process development, manufacturing, quality control, material selection and failure analysis. Materials science graduates frequently opt to continue their education through graduate school for Master of Science and Ph.D. degrees.

Salary Trends in Materials Science and Engineering

According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s 2006 Occupational Employment Statistics, bachelor’s degree candidates in materials engineering received starting offers averaging $56,233 a year.  The median annual earnings of all materials engineers were $73,990 in 2006. The middle 50 percent earned between $57,850 and $92,210. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $46,120, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $112,140.

High School Preparation

Core academic subjects required for admission:

• 4 units of English
• 2 units of algebra
• 1 unit of geometry, trigonometry, advanced math or calculus
• 2 units of natural science, including at least 1 unit of biology, chemistry or physics
• 1 unit of American history
• 1 unit of European history, world history or world geography
• 2 units of a single foreign language
• 1 unit of visual or performing arts

Computer courses prior to the freshman year in engineering are also highly recommended.

Prospective students who want to enter the engineering program are also required to meet the criteria of the “Success Prediction Index” (SPI). The formula for SPI is 10 x high school core GPA + math ACT score. The college is gradually increasing the required SPI score. Check the UT Admissions or College of Engineering web sites to determine the current SPI required. Students who are unable to meet this requirement may register as “university undecided” students and complete appropriate mathematics, science and other courses before applying for admission to the COE.

How to Major in Materials Science and Engineering

The materials science and engineering degree program is administered by the UT Department of Materials Science and Engineering (MSE). Students applying to the university should specify materials science and engineering as their chosen major when completing the admission form. Students transferring from other departments within UT or from other educational institutions should contact the department for more information regarding the appropriate entry level and any additional required courses. For more information on the admissions process, visit

Requirements for Materials Science and Engineering

The MSE department currently does not have any special requirements for admission to the materials science and engineering program, other than the general admission requirements for the university and the college. College of Engineering students at the sophomore level and above are required to own laptop computers for class work. For more information, please visit

Special Programs, Co-ops, and Internships

The MSE Department also has one of the largest undergraduate scholarship programs at The University of Tennessee, and more than half of our students receive scholarship support.  Departmental tuition scholarships of $800 to $2,600 per year are available and are renewable up to four years.

Highlights of Materials Science and Engineering

The MSE department has a large research program that receives about $6 million in research funding each year. This expansive research initiative provides opportunities for undergraduate students to work in areas of cutting-edge technology through paid part-time research assistantships.

Additionally, MSE faculty members frequently assist undergraduate students with finding summer industrial internships in the engineering field.

Students are encouraged to participate in materials-related professional societies such as the American Society for Materials and the Society of Plastics Engineers which hold several joint professional- student activities each year.

Ready for the World logoReady for the World

Engineering students can take part in UT Study Abroad programs throughout the world. There are programs in Asia, Europe, Africa, Australia, South America, and North America. You can take classes during one semester, mini-term, summer, or the whole academic year.  There are also opportunities for international internships and other work experiences.  See the websites at the Engineering Outreach Office and Programs Abroad Office for more information.

Learn more about UT's Ready for the World initiative to help students gain the international and intercultural knowledge they need to succeed in today's world.

Sample Curriculum

Freshman Year Credit Hours
Materials Science and Engineering 101 1
English 101* or 118*, 102* 6
Chemistry 120* or 128*, 130* or 138* 8
Mathematics 141* or 147*, 142* or 148* 8
Engineering Fundamentals 105, 151 or 157, 152 or 158 9
Sophomore Year Credit Hours
Materials Science and Engineering 201, 210, 250, 260, 290, 291 11
Physics 231*, 232* 7
Mathematics 200, 231, 241 or 247 8
1 General Education Electives (Social Science) 6
Junior Year Credit Hours
Materials Science and Engineering 300, 302, 304, 320, 340, 350, 360, 370, 390 23
Statistics 251 3
1 General Education Electives* (Arts and Humanities) 3
2 Technical Elective 3
Senior Year Credit Hours
Materials Science and Engineering 405*(WC) 480, 489*(OC) 10
3 Materials Science and  Engineering Elective 6
Electrical and Computer Engineering 301 3
Engineering Fundamentals 402 1
2 Technical Elective 3
1 General Education Electives* (1 Arts and Humanities, 2 Cultures and Civilizations) 9

*Meets University General Education Requirements.
1 General Education courses must include Economics 201, any two approved courses under the Arts or Humanities list, any two approved courses under the Cultures and Civilizations list, and one approved course in the Social Sciences list.  2 Technical electives: BCMB 230 ; BIOL 140 ; BME 300 , BME 409 ; CBE 475 ; CHEM 350 ; any MSE course (except MSE 220 ); ME 321 ; NE 483 , NE 484 .
3 Materials Science and Engineering electives: 410, 421, 429, 432, 445, 470, 472, 474, 476, 484, 485, 486, 494, 495.

For More Information



The information on this page should be considered general information only. For more specific information on this and other programs refer to the UT catalog or contact the department and/or college directly.