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20 Best Master’s Programs in Materials Science and Engineering

materials science mastersAs the world grows in scope and complexity, so does the number of textures, structures, compounds, and materials that bridge the gap between science and industry. The study of materials science examines these materials and their properties. Materials engineering focuses on the design and development of engineering materials. The multidisciplinary field of materials science and engineering explores materials, their properties, and their applications. Master’s Programs Guide’s 20 best master’s programs in materials science and engineering can equip you to use materials to solve problems and enhance possibilities in the modern world. 

The MSE field explores the synthesis, processing, structures, and commercialization of materials. It incorporates concepts in atomic structure, kinetics, and thermodynamics. In the engineering—or applied science—aspect of the discipline, engineers must consider the economic, environmental, and social elements at play in the application of materials. The applied science in MSE draws from biology, chemistry, and physics and the role materials play in these areas. The field also requires strong analytical and mathematical skills. Materials science and engineering principles may be applied to domains such as energy, healthcare, information technology, manufacturing, and sustainability.

In the modern materials science and engineering landscape, there is a particular emphasis and evolution in the environmental and health-related implications of materials and their applications. Contemporary MSE research and developments reflect recent and ongoing advancements in technology, health and medicine, as well as in the changes affecting the natural environment. Individuals who are interested in material properties and applications, and particularly those who are interested in conducting cutting-edge research that may support the longevity of the planet and the people on it, may pursue a master’s degree in materials science and engineering.

Materials science and engineering degree programs are typically offered jointly between various academic departments of engineering and physical science disciplines. Master of Science in materials science and engineering programs are often research-based. Students participating in a research-based MSE program can expect to work closely with faculty researchers, often from various disciplines, while conducting original research in the field. An advantage of pursuing a campus-based program is that it offers students ample opportunities to make use of their university’s research facilities, which may include research centers and institutes as well as specialized laboratories that offer MSE equipment for students to use.

Research-based graduate programs typically culminate in the development of a master’s thesis with an accompanying oral defense. Some programs may offer the option to complete an independent study or project in lieu of a thesis, or to follow a coursework-only plan. In any case, materials science and engineering graduates will be prepared to make discoveries in and contributions to the field of materials science, the use of materials in contemporary society, and the textures and structures that shape the manmade environment.

See Also: 10 Best Master’s in Industrial Engineering

COMMON APPLICATION AND ADMISSION QUESTIONS

Individuals interested in pursuing degrees and careers in materials science and engineering are expected to have interests in areas such as computer modeling and simulation, emerging technologies, and laboratory experiments. Skills such as curiosity, focus, patience, attention to detail, independence, and persistence are helpful for study and work in MSE.

As with most master’s degree or generally graduate-level degree programs, most MS in MSE programs require students to hold a bachelor’s degree or equivalent undergraduate degree from an accredited four-year college or university. Major requirements may vary, but most MSE programs are suitable for individuals with undergraduate majors in any engineering discipline or a relevant physical science field. Many MSE master’s degree programs also have a minimum undergraduate GPA requirement, which usually falls around 3.0 on a 4.0 scale, which is equivalent to a B average. 

Applicants are typically required to submit standard application materials such as official transcripts and Graduate Record Exam scores. International students or those who do not speak English as a first language are generally required to take an English language proficiency test. Many graduate programs require applicants to submit three letters of recommendation from contacts who have a knowledge of their academic, research, and/or professional capabilities. Many programs also require a written statement outlining the applicant’s personal background, academic and professional background, research interests, and/or career goals. A current resume or curriculum vitae is required for some programs. 

For some programs, individuals may be required to identify their selected faculty advisor(s) in their application. Faculty advisors are selected based on compatible research interests or expertise. Academic advisors typically help students choose their courses and plan their program structure and timeline. If students are applying for a research-based master’s program in materials science and engineering, a faculty advisor may be selected to guide them in their research, to conduct research alongside the student, and to serve on the thesis committee that supervises and reviews the thesis work and defense.

Applicants may be evaluated based on prior academic performance, standardized test scores, professional background, career goals, and/or research interests. In any case, applicants should be prepared to devote at least two years of study in pursuit of their master’s degree. Applicants should also have a genuine interest in exploring the properties and applications of various materials in different contexts. As each student progresses through the program, they will become more prepared to apply their skills and knowledge of materials science to enhance technologies, industries, and systems.

See Also: Best Master of Environmental Science

WHAT ABOUT FINANCIAL AID & SCHOLARSHIPS?

Various professional and scientific organizations and societies offer scholarships and financial assistance to materials science scholars. 

The American Society for Metals International is dedicated to the field of materials science and engineering. They place a special emphasis on metals and product development. The society’s J. Keith Brimacombe Presidential Scholarship awards $5,000 toward the recipient’s MSE education, plus a $1,000 travel stipend to the society’s annual conference. The society also awards two materials processing and manufacturing scholarships of $2,500 each year. The society also offers seven yearly George A. Roberts scholarships of $6,000 each and the Lucille & Charles A. Wert Scholarship of up to $10,000 for one year of study. It also awards the annual American Society for Metals International Outstanding Scholars Awards to three promising students in the materials science and engineering field.

The nonprofit Association for Iron and Steel Technology focuses on the application, development, processing, and production of iron and steel materials. It emphasizes education, networking, and sustainability in the field. The association offers multiple scholarships, including the Ronald E. Lincoln Memorial Scholarship, which awards $3,000 each per year to two students in materials science, metallurgy, or any engineering discipline. The association’s Willy Korf Memorial Fund offers three annual awards of $3,000 each. These awards are also available to individuals studying materials science, metallurgy, or an engineering discipline at a college or university in North America.

The Minerals, Metals, and Materials Society focuses on materials engineering and offers awards to students, early-career professionals, and established professionals alike. The society’s International Symposium on Superalloys Scholarship helps fund students’ travel to either the International Symposium on Superalloys or the materials science and technology conference. The scholarship provides financial assistance toward students’ education, and also offers a travel grant that allows students to participate in events such as the society’s annual meeting and exhibition. 

Many graduate materials science and engineering programs offer students opportunities to become research or teaching assistants. Research and teaching assistantships are generally offered to students who demonstrate strong academic performance or research capabilities, either in their undergraduate background, professional background, or in their beginning studies as grad students. Research assistants can expect to work with faculty members in conducting research in their shared research interests. Teaching assistants help professors teach courses in materials science and engineering, whether at the undergraduate or graduate level. Research and teaching assistantships generally offer funding in the form of tuition or fee waivers or stipends. Stipends may vary in amount, but they are generally intended to minimize financial stress and allow students to focus on their academic responsibilities.

HOW MUCH CAN I MAKE WITH A MASTER’S DEGREE IN MATERIALS SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING? 

Materials scientists and engineers design and develop materials and optimize their structures. Their work may involve making materials such as ceramics, metals, and polymers stronger, lighter, more sustainable, or more affordable. MSE professionals address the performance, process, property, and structure of materials. They may work in the biomedical field or in the health and human welfare sector; in energy, environment, and sustainable systems; in electronics or transportation industries; or in the defense and security sector.

Materials scientists and engineers work in offices, design studios, or research and development laboratories. They may develop materials such as airplane parts, biomedical devices, or computer chips. MSE professionals examine the properties of existing materials and apply that knowledge toward enhancing the uses of these materials or developing new materials.

While the research and design aspects of materials engineering is generally what draws people to the field, MSE careers are not without their grunt work. Aspiring MSE professionals should be prepared to create proposals, plan budgets, write reports, and analyze data. Materials scientists often use computer technologies and simulations to examine materials and plan new projects. MSE professionals have a broad goal of solving problems in a variety of engineering disciplines, from aerospace to civil to nuclear engineering. There are five types of specialized materials engineers: ceramic engineers, composites engineers, metallurgical engineers, plastics engineers, and semiconductor processing engineers. Most materials engineers work full-time, at least 40 hours per week.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ most recent report lists the transportation industry as the largest MSE employer in 2018, providing 16% of all MSE jobs. The bureau also reports that materials scientists and engineers made a median 2018 salary of $92,390, which is equivalent to $44.42 per hour. In 2018, there were 27,700. The 10-year forecast for MSE jobs is little to no growth. A bachelor’s degree in materials science and engineering is the minimum requirement for most positions, but internships, cooperative learning experience, or hands-on research experience can enhance job prospects. Because MSE is a rapidly advancing and specialized field, individuals with advanced degrees, specialized knowledge, and cutting-edge research experience may find greater career possibilities than less experienced candidates. 

Payscale reports the median materials engineer salary at $74,908, or $27.66 hourly. The site lists Boeing, General Electric, and Lockheed Martin as popular employers in the field. The average materials engineer salary at Boeing is listed as $76,000. The General Electric MSE salary is reported to be between $76,000 and $86,000. Payscale reports Lockheed Martin’s materials engineers’ average annual salary as $82,000. The site lists chemical process engineering, engineering design, manufacturing process engineering, and product development as key skills for materials engineers. The following graduate programs may explore some or all of these areas of the field.

WHAT ARE THE BEST MATERIALS SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING DEGREES?

We know that you have educational goals that you’re itching to pursue, but you may not know where to start. The editors of Master’s Programs Guide utilize a unique ranking methodology based on the following five aspects:

25% Overall Degree Affordability: Average cost of undergraduate and graduate tuition per school

25% Graduation Rate: Number of students who start at the university and actually finish there

20% Earnings Potential: Average mid-career salary of school alumni

20% Selectivity: The number of students who apply versus the number who actually get accepted

10% Online Graduate Offerings: The number of programs offered online in each department

At Master’s Programs Guide, we strive to do our best to guide you and your family toward a fruitful academic career. The pursuit of knowledge is a noble one, and we want to help you reach your goals.

#1. Georgia Institute of Technology

Master of Science in Materials Science and Engineering

If you are interested in studying a specialized engineering discipline such as materials science and engineering, a technologically oriented institution can provide a strong environment for interdisciplinary or laser-focused research and networking. Georgia Institute of Technology, for example, is currently ranked fourth among innovative schools nationwide by U.S. News & World Report. U.S. News also ranks Georgia Tech No. 7 nationally for graduate engineering programs both overall and specifically in the materials engineering field.

Georgia Tech’s College of Engineering houses the School of Materials Science and Engineering. Its research centers and facilities include the Georgia Tech Polymer Network, the Renewable Bioproducts Institute, the Soft Matter Incubator, and the Strategic Energy Institute. The school’s research areas focus on materials such as biomaterials, ceramics, composites, fibers, metals, nanomaterials, polymers, and textiles. The school conducts research activities relating to areas such as energy storage and harvesting and biomedical implants and drug delivery. 

The MSE School has been in place for over a century. The school’s Master of Science degree program, however, is a relatively new and contemporary program. 

Applicants to the MS in Materials Science and Engineering program must submit their scores from the general portion of the Graduate Record Exam. For validity, students must submit their GRE scores within five years of taking the exam. Applicants typically hear back about admittance in the spring and enter the following fall semester, which begins in mid-August.

The MSE program focuses on materials research. Almost half of the MSE School’s faculty members specialize in polymers. Students enrolled in the program can choose between three track options: thesis, non-thesis, and industrial internship. The degree program also offers opportunities for cooperative learning, research, and study abroad experiences. Students have options to get involved on campus through Georgia Tech’s Student Advisory Council or Materials Umbrella Society. 

The curriculum covers biomaterials, corrosion, functional materials, nanomaterials, structures, thermodynamics, and beyond. Course examples include Advanced X-Ray Diffraction, Integrated Low-Cost Microelectronics System Packaging, Scattering Theory, and Transmission Electron Microscopy. Graduate MSE students can also expect to complete a teaching practicum, which requires them to teach at least three lectures in a particular subject area. 

Most MSE courses meet two or three times per week, during the day, on the university’s campus in midtown Atlanta, GA. Students may pursue their degree on a part-time basis, but part-time students do not qualify for financial aid.

Graduates of the Georgia Tech MSE program often go on to work for leading academic institutions, business organizations, and government research laboratories worldwide. 

The Georgia Tech MSE program offers a joint Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in materials science and engineering program, which allows students to pursue the BS and MS concurrently at an accelerated pace. The school also offers a Doctor of Philosophy MSE program. The Ph.D. program welcomes students from a variety of MS backgrounds, including those with majors in biology; physics; and biomedical, chemical, mechanical, polymer, or textile engineering. 

#2.  Texas A&M University

Master of Science in Materials Science and Engineering

The university’s College of Engineering and College of Science jointly operate the Department of Materials Science and Engineering. The department houses both a Master of Science and a Master of Engineering degree program in Materials Science and Engineering. 

The interdisciplinary Master of Science program combines creativity and research in the field and offers students the choice between a thesis or non-thesis option. The Master of Engineering in materials science and engineering is a non-thesis program open to students who hold a Bachelor of Science degree in an engineering discipline. The M.Ed. degree program requires students to complete one or two written reports on research in their materials science and engineering area of study. The 36-credit MS program requires up to six credit hours of directed studies courses, while the 30-credit M.Ed. program allows for a maximum of three credits of directed studies.

Both programs require students to complete courses in Fundamental Materials Science and Engineering and Quantum Mechanics for Materials Scientists. Students must also choose four designated electives and two free electives in subjects relevant to their research areas. Designated elective options include Crystallography and Crystal Structure Determination, Surface Science, and Thin Film Science and Technology. Each student must also successfully complete one mathematics course and an MSE seminar. 

Most graduate students enrolled in programs through the university’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering engage in research assistantships, which involve conducting professor-supervised research in an area of materials science and engineering interest. Students can expect to be offered multiple hands-on research opportunities on the university’s campus in College Station, TX. Students also have the option to complete a real-world internship in the field.

The Department of Materials Science and Engineering operates and maintains relationships with research facilities and laboratories throughout the Texas A&M campus. In 1977, Vladimir Segal invented the Equal Channel Angular Extrusion process in the former Soviet Union. Segal went on to work as an associate in the TAMU Equal Channel Angular Extrusion Laboratory. TAMU Deformation Processing Laboratory researchers continue to conduct research on the process, which involves deforming plastic in uniform ways to avoid majorly disrupting geometric shape. 

Other notable Texas A&M MSE-related labs include the High Bay Structural and Materials Testing Laboratory, the Materials Characterization Facility, the Polymer Technology Consortium, and the Soft Matter Facility. Many of these labs are interdisciplinary and operated by and/or affiliated with various disciplines within the university, from aerospace engineering and agriculture to chemistry and biology.

Recent and ongoing research efforts within the Department of Materials Science and Engineering relate to areas such as chronic wound repair, dental implants, and jet engine efficiency and airplane noise.

Texas A&M also offers a Doctor of Philosophy degree program in Materials Science and Engineering. 

#3.  University of Illinois

Master of Science in Materials Science & Engineering

The University of Illinois’ Grainger College of Engineering houses a Master of Science in materials science and engineering degree program. 

The university’s Materials Science and Engineering department is the second-largest materials department in the United States, and it serves a student body of approximately 200 students. It emphasizes interdisciplinary research and nationwide collaboration. Materials faculty and students conduct specialized research in areas such as biomaterials, ceramics, composites, electronics, metals, and polymers.

The graduate program welcomes students with undergraduate backgrounds in various scientific and engineering disciplines, including chemistry, chemical engineering, mechanical engineering, and physics. Applicants to the program will be evaluated based on their undergraduate academic performance, letters of recommendation, standardized test scores, and statements of purpose. 

Applicants must submit undergraduate transcripts, a resume, three letters of recommendation, Graduate Record Exam scores, and a single-page written statement of purpose outlining academic and professional goals. Applicants must demonstrate a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale, but the average incoming GPA is 3.65. Individuals who demonstrate a GPA of at least 3.5 may request an application fee waiver. Upon application, individuals must indicate their area of specialized research interest. The application deadline is December 15 of each year.

The MS in materials science and engineering program is generally a non-thesis degree program, though students may pursue a master’s research thesis under special circumstances. The MS program with a thesis component requires a total of 32 credit hours of study. The non-thesis option requires 36 credit hours. Research assistantships are not typically permitted for non-thesis students.

MSE students may choose to specialize in biomechanics, cancer nanotechnology, or computational science and engineering. Each MSE student must engage in four semesters of Materials Colloquia and Hard Materials Seminars and Soft Materials Seminars in each summer of residence. 

The MS in materials science & engineering curriculum covers areas including biomaterials, ceramics, computational materials, electronic materials, metals, and polymers and soft materials. Course examples include Atomic Scale Simulations, Dynamics of Complex Fluids, Physical Inorganic Chemistry, and Structure and Spectroscopy. The degree program includes qualification, preliminary, and final exams in areas such as dynamics of macromolecular fluids, optical properties of materials, and physical metallurgy.

Students can typically earn their MS in materials science and engineering from Illinois in one and a half to two years of study. The degree program is designed to prepare graduates to conduct innovative research in academia, industry, and/or national laboratories.

The Materials Science and Engineering department hosts seminars in colloquia in various areas of materials science and engineering. The department’s current research projects include the development of faster-charging lithium-ion batteries through three-dimensionally nanostructured electrodes. Departmental research facilities include the Frederick Seitz Materials Research Laboratory, which boasts world-class equipment and strong research training. 

#4.  University of California, Los Angeles

Master of Science in Materials Science and Engineering

In its 2020 rankings, U.S. News & World Report ranks the University of California, Los Angeles the number-one public university in the United States. The site also ranks the university No. 16 nationally in Best Engineering Schools at the graduate level. For students who opt to pursue their degree online, U.S. News ranks UCLA the top school in the nation for online master’s in Engineering programs. 

UCLA is home to the Samueli Department of Materials Science and Engineering within its School of Engineering and Applied Science. The department primarily serves graduate students, with a current grad student population of more than 200 students. 

The Samueli Department also houses 14 different research facilities, including specialized centers and laboratories. Centers include the Functional Engineered Nano-Architectonics Focus Center, the Broad Stem Cell Research Center, and the California NanoSystems Institute. Labs include the Archaeomaterials Group, the Electronic Materials Group, the Electronic Thin Film Lab, and the Soft Materials Research Lab. Current and recent research endeavors explore areas such as ancient artwork analysis, hydrogen cars, and car cooling. Faculty research areas include fiber optics, thin films, batteries, optical materials, and beyond.

The degree program admits applicants for the fall quarter only. Applicants should have a Bachelor of Science degree in materials science and engineering or a related field, with a minimum cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. The application also requires a written statement of purpose spanning no more than two pages double-spaced. The MS program requires at least three letters of recommendation, ideally from professors who taught the applicant in their junior and senior years of undergraduate study. Official Graduate Record Exam scores are required within five years of taking the test. Applicants must also submit transcripts and a current resume.

Upon admission, students are assigned a faculty adviser. UCLA graduate MSE students may choose from three areas of specialization: ceramics and ceramic processing, electronic and optical materials, and structural materials. They also have the choice between a capstone plan and a thesis plan. The MSE curriculum covers areas including analytical imaging, diffraction methods, organic polymers, thermodynamics, and wall art properties. The program does not include teaching or field experience requirements.

The capstone plan consists of nine courses for a total of 36 units. The curriculum must include six courses—or 24 units—of graduate-level coursework from within the department and three upper-division courses. The capstone plan culminates in a capstone project or written comprehensive exam. The thesis plan also requires 36 units of study with 24 units at the graduate level, and it culminates with two courses of thesis research. The thesis program requires students to conduct original research in an area of interest, while the capstone option does not. The entire degree program can typically be completed in five or six years.

#5.  Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Master of Science in Materials Science and Engineering

U.S. News & World report currently ranks the Massachusetts Institute of Technology third in the nation, both overall and in innovation. On top of that, the site ranks the university the number-one Best Engineering School in the United States at the graduate level, and first nationwide in Materials Engineering specifically. Due to the university’s focus on innovative scientific and technical research, MIT students are well-positioned to experiment and explore the materials engineering discipline. The university offers a Master of Science in materials science and engineering. 

Applicants to the MS in materials science and engineering program must submit standard materials including Graduate Record Exam scores, official transcripts, and three letters of recommendation. Each applicant must also answer the Department of Materials Science and Engineering questions in writing. All applications must be submitted by December 1 of each year, with admitted students entering the program in September for the fall semester. 

The MS in materials science in engineering program requires a minimum of 66 units of study at the graduate level. Students culminate their studies in a materials-related research thesis with an accompanying public presentation. The degree program typically requires one and a half to two years of study, including thesis research.

The Materials Laboratory allows MSE students to explore the connections between material structure, processing, and performance.The Materials Project Laboratory is team-based, with student teams designing and creating prototypes for materials and documenting their progress.

One of the MSE department’s course offerings, Passion Projects: Living in a Material World, is a project-based inquiry seminar that includes proposing a question, analyzing materials, creating a website, and sharing results through a final presentation. Courses such as Atomistic Computer Modeling of Materials involve applying computer simulations toward building an understanding of material properties. Other course examples include Materials in Human Experience; Materials, Societal Impact, and Social Innovation; Industrial Ecology of Materials; and Organic and Biomaterials Chemistry.

Graduate MSE students may prepare to teach others about the discipline through a Teaching Fellows Seminar and/or a course in Teaching Materials Science and Engineering. The Teaching Fellows Seminar prepares individuals for the process of academic- and industry-based instruction, including preparing lectures, syllabi, course materials, presentations, and assignments. The teaching MSE course allows degree candidates to gain hands-on, supervised teaching experience in classroom or laboratory environments. Students may also gain real-world experience through industry internships.

The MIT Materials Science and Engineering department is also associated with interdisciplinary programs in archaeology and archaeological materials, polymers and soft matter, and technology and policy. The Department of Materials Science and Engineering also participates in the Institute for Data, Systems, and Society.

MIT materials science and engineering areas of research include high-performance structural materials and alloys; materials for energy and the environment; materials economics; and nanotechnology, nanodevices, and nanomaterials. Current and recent research developments apply materials science and engineering to copper production, hydrogels from mussels, and stretchy electronics.

Beyond graduation, individuals may go on to pursue MIT’s Doctor of Philosophy or Doctor of Science degree in materials science and engineering.

#6.  North Carolina State University

Master of Materials Science and Engineering

NC State’s Master of Materials Science and Engineering degree program can be completed on the university’s campus in Raleigh, NC, or at a distance through the university’s Engineering Online program. The online program format includes virtual lectures via video streaming and proctor-administered exams in students’ local area. The online and on-campus programs have the same degree requirements. 

Most applicants to the NC State MMSE program hold a Bachelor of Science degree in materials science and engineering, a different engineering discipline, or a relevant technical discipline such as chemistry or physics. Graduate Record Exam scores are not required for admittance to the program. However, all applicants must demonstrate a minimum cumulative undergraduate grade point average of 3.0, especially in their last 60 semester hours of undergraduate study. Applicants must also submit three letters of recommendation from academic and/or professional contacts, undergraduate transcripts, and a statement of purpose. Students may transfer in up to 12 credits from another institution.

Upon enrollment, each student must complete 30 credit hours of coursework, including 18 credit hours of 500- and 700-level courses. The remainder of required credit hours may be completed in materials science and engineering or a different technical discipline. Enrolled students must maintain a minimum overall GPA of 3.0. Students must leave the program if they complete 18 credit hours with a GPA below 2.78, more than 18 hours with a GPA below 2.67, or 30 hours with a GPA below 3.0.

The Master of MS&E program follows a non-thesis, coursework-only program plan. Projected MSE courses for the fall semester include Ceramic Processing, Elements of Crystallography and Diffraction, and Nanoscale Simulations and Modeling. Projected spring courses include Defects in Solids, Modern Concepts in Materials Science, and Phase Transformations and Kinetics. Four courses are projected for the typical MSE summer session: Composite Materials, Mechanical Behavior of Engineering Materials, Modern Concepts in Materials Science, and Polymer Technology and Engineering.

The NC State materials science and engineering is home to various research centers and labs. Its research facilities include the Analytical Instrumentation Facility, the Nanofabrication Facility, and the PULSTAR reactor facility. The department’s research centers include the Center for Additive Manufacturing and Logistics and the Molecular Education, Technology, and Research Innovation Center. Laboratory facilities include the Chemical Analysis and Spectroscopy Laboratory and Textile Engineering, Chemistry, and Science Analytical Services Laboratory. The department’s research areas include, but are not limited to, computational materials science, energy materials, soft and biomaterials, and structural materials. 

North Carolina State University is currently ranked among the top 25 graduate engineering schools in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. The site also ranks the university’s online engineering programs at No. 7 nationally. 

#7.  University of California Riverside

Master of Science in Materials Science and Engineering

UC Riverside’s interdisciplinary Master of Science in materials science and engineering program blends the engineering discipline with chemical and physical sciences. It incorporates collaborations from faculty from various disciplines within the Marlan and Rosemary Bourns College of Engineering and the College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences. MSE students can make use of resources from the Departments of Bioengineering, Chemical & Environmental Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Physics, and beyond.

The degree program welcomes applicants from both engineering and non-engineering backgrounds. Admission decisions are primarily based on each applicant’s academic record, letters of recommendation, prior relevant experience, statement of purpose, and test scores. Acceptance is only applicable for one quarter, and admitted students may not defer enrollment.

The interdisciplinary MSE program allows students to study and conduct research in departments such as bioengineering, chemistry, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, and physics. Faculty research areas include crystallography, microscopy and spectroscopy, photophysics and photochemistry, targeted drug delivery, solar energy conversion, and beyond.

UCR MSE research facilities include resources for characterization, high-performance computing, materials synthesis, and processing. Facilities include the Center for Nanoscale Science and Engineering and the Central Facility for Advanced Microscopy and Microanalysis. UCR students have access to resources and equipment including optical microscopes, a polisher grinder, a low-speed saw, and a probe station.

Students may follow a program plan that culminates in a master’s research thesis or a comprehensive exam. Both plans consist of 36 units of graduate coursework, including a maximum of six units in directed studies. The thesis plan includes a maximum of 12 units of graduate research, while the exam plan does not include a research component. The written comprehensive exam is conducted at the same time as the doctoral preliminary exam, and it emphasizes fundamentals of materials engineering.

Students plan their programs of study with input from a faculty advisor, who can also offer non-degree guidance in areas such as housing and career development. The MSE graduate advisor and research advisor must approve the course of study each quarter. 

The program curriculum is comprised of five key areas of study: crystal structure and bonding, functional materials: semiconductors, materials characterization techniques, materials synthesis and processing, and thermodynamic foundations of materials. Course examples include Applied Quantum Mechanics, Imperfections in Solids, Electron Microscopy and Analysis, Spintronics and Nanoscale Magnetism, and Structure and Bonding in Inorganic Chemistry. All MSE graduate students must take an overview course in Materials Science and Engineering and enroll in Materials Science and Engineering colloquia each quarter. Students in the MSE program can also expect to gain hands-on experience through a laboratory in nanoscale materials characterization and processing. 

 The degree program can typically be completed in six quarters, or two years. Graduates of the program will be prepared for careers in aerospace, automotive, biomedical, and nanotechnology industries; government agencies; research laboratories; and beyond.

#8.  University of California, Berkeley

Master of Engineering in Materials Science & Engineering

The University of California, Berkeley houses a Department of Materials Science and Engineering within its College of Engineering. The department offers a Master of Engineering degree program. The M.Eng. is a professional master’s degree offered through a collaboration between various departments within the College of Engineering. 

The M.Eng. in materials science and engineering is offered jointly between Berkeley’s College of Engineering and the university’s Fung Institute for Engineering Leadership. It is designed to prepare individuals for leadership positions in professional engineering. Most program applicants are engineers with industrial experience seeking career advancement. 

Applicants must hold a baccalaureate degree or equivalent with a major in chemistry, engineering, or physics, or a related field. The degree must be from an accredited college or university, and individuals must demonstrate a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.2. Applicants must submit all official college transcripts, three letters of recommendation, and a statement of purpose spanning no more than two pages. Prospective students must also demonstrate a sufficient score on the general Graduate Record Exam, ideally in the 85th percentile or higher. Relevant work experience is also helpful for admittance to the program.

The MSE program focuses on opto-electronic materials, structural materials, and materials for advanced energy systems at the nano, micro, and macro levels. Degree candidates may specialize in bio-, chemical, electrochemical, computational, electronic, magnetic, optic, or structural materials. The graduate MSE program offers technical concentrations in advanced structural materials; biomaterials; chemical and electrochemical materials; computational materials; and electronic, magnetic, and optical materials. Alternatively, students may follow a general track toward the degree. 

The degree program includes 25 semester units total, including eight units in core leadership studies, 12 in technical expertise, and five units of work on the culminating capstone project. Students can expect to explore engineering leadership areas such as accounting and entrepreneurship as they relate to technology-driven projects. The core curriculum includes courses such as Communications for Engineering Leaders and Entrepreneurship for Engineers. The program includes interactive, intensive pre-semester “boot camp” sessions. Students can expect to analyze case studies and explore areas of engineering leadership such as ethics, negotiations, and organizational behavior. 

The program culminates in a nine-month capstone experience. Students work in teams of three to six to apply engineering principles and technologies toward contemporary issues in the materials science and engineering field.

The MSE degree program is delivered in an accelerated format. Prospective students are required to indicate their desired program plan upon application, but this will not influence the admissions decision. Students may choose to enroll in the program on a full-time basis in order to earn their degree in one year. Working professionals may opt to complete the program on a part-time basis. 

The Berkeley MSE department also offers a Doctor of Philosophy degree program, as well as a fifth-year dual degree program in which students can pursue a Master of Science degree concurrently with a Bachelor of Science degree. Berkeley does not typically offer a standalone or terminal MS program.

#9.  Carnegie Mellon University

Master of Science in Materials Science and Engineering

“Think of yourself as on the threshold of unparalleled success,” Andrew Carnegie once said. “A whole, clear, glorious life lies before you. Achieve! Achieve!”

In 1900, Carnegie founded Carnegie Mellon University, which evolved from a technical school into the private research university it is today. Located in Philadelphia, PA, the university has been at the forefront of such innovations as artificial intelligence and Wi-fi. 

CMU offers a Master of Science degree program in materials science and engineering. Prospective students should have an undergraduate degree in materials science and engineering or a related discipline with a B average, for a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0. Required application materials include three letters of recommendation, official transcripts, written answers to essay questions, a current resume, and official GRE scores.

The MSE degree program is coursework-based and designed to be completed on a full-time basis. Students can expect to learn about the processing, properties, and structure of materials and how they can be applied to various areas of engineering. Students will also have opportunities to pursue their own individual research interests. Students typically complete the degree program in two 15-week semesters of full-time study. Individuals with special circumstances who would like to pursue the degree on a different timeline may do so with director approval. 

The curriculum consists of 96 credits of graduate study, comprised of 24 units each of core courses, electives, approved MSE-related courses, and approved graduate courses. All students must also enroll in a graduate seminar each semester. Students must maintain an overall average grade of B for an average GPA of at least 3.0. 

The core curriculum covers bonding, defects, diffusion, and structure of materials, as well as thermodynamics. Graduate MSE electives include Materials for Nuclear Energy Systems, Mechanical Behavior in Extreme Environments, Soft Materials, and Tissue Engineering. Other MSE-related course examples include Chemistry and Light, Mechanics of Fracture and Fatigue, Nanoparticles, and Polymer Physics and Morphology. Other approved graduate courses include Energy Demand and Utilization, Energy Policy and Economics, Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Technology, and Medical Devices.

The MSE degree program is housed in the university’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering within its college of engineering, the Carnegie Institute of Technology. The department hosts a materials science and engineering seminar series. In its spring 2020 series, seminar topics included atom-to-solid evolution, magnetism and optical pulses, and phase diagrams of complex materials. The department also hosts four research centers: the Center for Iron and Steelmaking Research, the Data Storage Systems Center, the NextManufacturing Center, and the Engineering Research Accelerator.

The department conducts interdisciplinary research in four core MSE areas: computational materials science, inorganic functional materials, manufacturing and materials microstructure, and materials for healthcare. Recent research highlights have included a footstep-sensing invention, a smart heating and cooling technology, and an app that bridges the gap between a patient’s physiological signals and the nearest healthcare facility.

#10.  Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Master of Science in Materials Science and Engineering; Master of Engineering in Materials Science and Engineering

While Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is the oldest technological research university in the United States, it focuses on the future through cutting-edge innovation in areas ranging from cybersecurity to renewable energy. Located in Troy, NY, the Rensselaer campus houses one of the world’s most powerful university-based supercomputers. The university’s tagline is, “Why not change the world?”

Rensselaer offers prospective students the option to pursue either a Master of Science or a Master of Engineering degree in materials science and engineering. Both programs are offered through the institute’s School of Engineering. Each MSE degree program requires candidates to complete a minimum of 30 credit hours of graduate study. 

MSE degree candidates must take at least three courses from the five-course core MSE graduate curriculum, which consists of courses in Advanced Electronic Properties, Advanced Kinetics, Advanced Mechanical Properties, Advanced Structure and Bonding, and Advanced Thermodynamics. Students must also take at least six credits of MSE electives. An academic adviser must approve each student’s elective course selection. The remainder of the required credits toward the degree may be fulfilled through any 6000-level courses within the School of Engineering and/or School of Science.

The Master of Science degree program requires a written research thesis accompanied by an oral presentation. The final oral thesis presentation is given to the scientific community in a setting such as a professional or scientific conference or workshop, or during a seminar at Rensselaer. The Master of Engineering does not require a thesis, and instead culminates in a capstone independent study project, which students typically complete in an industry or government setting. The project is completed over one semester, for a total of three to four credits.

Rensselaer’s department of Materials Science and Engineering is home to the Materials Science Graduate Society. The student society organizes and hosts a Graduate Student Seminar Series on the third Thursday of each month. Each seminar evening involves two 30-minute presentations given by graduate students, followed by a dinner. The first seminar day of 2020 explored the topological origins of the mixed alkali effect in glass, and unit-cell-thick oxide synthesis by film-based scavenging. The Materials Science Graduate Society also hosts and organizes other events that promote social networking and professional development among graduate students in the department.

The Materials Science and Engineering department houses four distinct materials engineering laboratories for students and faculty research: the Electron Microscopy Laboratory, the Materials Analysis Laboratory, the Mechanical Testing Laboratory, and the Metallographic Laboratory. The department is affiliated with a number of research centers, including the Center for Materials, Devices, and Integrated Systems; the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies; the Center for Computation Innovations; and the NYS Center for Future Energy Systems. 

The MSE graduate department focuses on six key areas of research: advanced synthesis and processing, computational materials science, electronic materials, glasses and ceramics, metallurgy and corrosion, and polymers and biomaterials.

OTHER NOTABLE PROGRAMS

#11. University of Tennessee – Knoxville

Location: Knoxville, TN

Degree: Master of Science in Materials Science and Engineering

Website

#12. Stony Brook University

Location: Stony Brook, NY

Degree: Master of Science in Materials Science and Engineering

Website    

#13. Purdue University

Location: West Lafayette, IN

Degree: Master of Science in Materials Engineering

Website     

#14. University of Pennsylvania

Location: Philadelphia, PA

Degree: Master of Science in Materials Science and Engineering

Website    

#15. Rutgers University

Location: Piscataway, NJ

Degree: Master of Science in Materials Science and Engineering

Website      

#16. University of California – Irvine

Location: Irvine, CA

Degree: Master of Science in Materials Science and Engineering

Website       

#17. Michigan State University

Location: East Lansing, MI

Degree: Master of Science in Materials Science and Engineering

Website   

#18. University of Wisconsin Madison

Location: Madison, WI

Degree: Master of Science in Materials Science and Engineering

Website     

#19. University of California – San Diego

Location: San Diego, CA

Degree: Master of Science in Materials Science and Engineering

Website 

#20. Northwestern University

Location: Evanston, IL

Degree: Master of Science in Materials Science and Engineering

Website       

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Michael Templeton
Managing Editor

Kacey Reynolds Schedler
Contributing Editor