Materials Science and Engineering Major Guide for 2012-2013

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. A good resource is the U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook

High School Preparation

The College of Engineering has established admissions criteria for incoming freshmen based on several performance criteria, including completion of core academic subjects, GPA scores on these subjects and standardized test (SAT or ACT) scores. A Success Prediction Indicator (SPI) number of 60 and a math ACT of 25 or a math SAT of 620 are minimum standards used for admission to the College of Engineering. The admitted class may also be limited by space available in the College. The SPI is calculated by adding an individual’s ACT mathematics score to 10 times their core high school GPA (based on a 4.0 scale). For information on what constitutes core high school courses, please consult admission website

SPI EXAMPLE: A student with a high school core GPA of 3.5 and an ACT mathematics score of 28 would have an SPI of 63 using the formula (3.5 X 10) + 28 = 63. SAT scores are converted to an equivalent ACT score to perform this calculation.

Students who wish to pursue a degree in the College of Engineering at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, but do not meet the college admission criterion may enroll as University Undecided students and complete appropriate mathematics, science, and other courses before applying again for admission to the College of Engineering

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.

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

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, offers study abroad programs in Asia, Europe, Africa, Australia, South America, and North America. Program lengths vary from mini-term trips to the entire academic year, and students may choose to fulfill general education requirements, study a foreign language, or take courses within their majors. In addition, UTK offers students opportunities for international internships.

Students are highly encouraged to begin planning early in their academic career and to consult with an academic advisor about the best time to study abroad as well as what courses to take abroad. For more information about program options, the application process, and how to finance study abroad, please visit the Programs Abroad Office website.

In recent years engineering students have studied abroad through the Global Engineering Education Exchange (GE3), participated in short-term programs led by UTK engineering faculty, and completed summer research internships in Germany. For more information about opportunities for majors in the College of Engineering, please see the section of the Engineering Outreach Office website which highlights study abroad programs for engineering students.

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


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.

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
 Milestones: Math 130 or higher; EF 151/157 or Physics 135/137 or higher
Sophomore Year Credit Hours
Materials Science and Engineering 201, 210, 250, 260, 290 11
Physics 231*, 232* 7
Mathematics 200, 231, 241 or 247 8
1 General Education Electives (Social Science) 6
 Milestones: EF 152/158 or Physics 136/138 or higher; ME 202 or CS 102 or MSE 201 or CBE 201
Junior Year Credit Hours
Materials Science and Engineering 300, 302, 304, 320, 340 or 347, 350 or 357, 360 or 367, 370, 390 or 397 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 General Education Requirements .
1 Students receiving a grade of A or B in ENGL 118  will complete their first year composition requirement by choosing ENGL 102 , a sophomore literature course in the English Department, or ENGL 355 .
2 General Education courses must include any two approved courses under the Arts and Humanities  cluster, any two approved courses under the Cultures and Civilizations  cluster, and two approved courses in the Social Sciences  cluster.
3Technical electives: BCMB 230 ; BIOL 140 ; BME 300 , BME 409 ; CBE 475 ; CHEM 350 ; any MSE course; ME 321 ; NE 483 , NE 484 .
4Materials Science and Engineering electives: MSE 410 , MSE 421 , MSE 425 , MSE 432 , MSE 440 , MSE 445 , MSE 450, MSE 451, MSE 457, MSE 460, MSE 466 , MSE 474 , MSE 476 , MSE 484 , MSE 485 , MSE 486 , MSE 494 , MSE 495 .

Honors Concentration

Students who wish to pursue the honors materials science and engineering concentration or the honors biomaterials concentration will normally be part of the Chancellor’s Honors Program. Candidates for these honors concentrations must complete the following requirements.

  • First-year courses for honors concentration in the engineering majors.
  • Two upper-division honors courses in Materials Science and Engineering via Honors-by-Contract or Honors Independent Study.
  • If participating in only the Chancellor’s Honors Program, the Honors-by-Contract paperwork goes to the Chancellor’s Honors Office on campus during the first 10 days of the semester. If participating in Engineering Honors and not Chancellor’s Honors, the Honors-by-Contract paperwork is submitted the first 10 days of the semester to the engineering major department. If participating in both Chancellor’s and Engineering Honors, the Honors-by-Contract paperwork is submitted to both areas. (Note: These honors requirements are course substitutions for the materials science and engineering major.)
  • A minimum of 3-credit hours of an honors senior design course. This requirement is normally satisfied as part of their senior capstone design course (MSE 489 ).


Five-Year BS/MS Program

The department offers a 5-year BS-MS program with a BS (major in materials science and engineering) and an MS (major in materials science and engineering or polymer engineering) for qualified students. The primary component of the program is that qualified students may take up to 9 hours of approved graduate courses for their senior undergraduate electives and have them count toward both their bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the University of Tennessee. This program is designed for students attending the University of Tennessee for their Master of Science degree because other universities may not accept these courses for graduate credit since they were used to satisfy requirements for the Bachelor of Science degree. Significant components of the program are:

  • Students must have an overall GPA of 3.4 in required course work. Conditional admission to the 5-year program may be granted after completion of 65 hours of required course work, while full admission may be granted after the completion of 96 hours of required course work with a minimum overall GPA of 3.4.
  • Students must at least be conditionally admitted to the program prior to taking graduate courses for both their bachelor’s and master’s degrees. All courses taken for graduate credit must be approved by the graduate program director. Students admitted to the program must request permission from the Graduate School to take approved courses for graduate credit.
  • Students admitted to the program must also follow the normal procedure for admission to the Graduate School. Admission of students into this program must be approved by the department and the Graduate School. Students will not be eligible for assistantships until they are enrolled as graduate-level students in the Graduate School.