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Grad Program: Materials Science and Engineering

Basic Information

A relatively new field of engineering, Materials Science is exactly what the name implies: the study of materials used in scientific enterprises, and their manufacture and their uses. These materials include ceramics, glasses, metals, film, polymers, semiconductors, and composite materials. Because the discipline is so new, the demand for people with advanced degrees in Materials Science is constantly growing, and the opportunities for advancement may be quicker than in some of other branches of engineering.

At a good Materials Science program, expect to become familiar with a range of equipment and techniques, including electron microscopy, cathodoluminescence and electron beam-induced current imaging, photoluminescence, dielectric and anelastic relaxation techniques, ultrasonic methods, magnetotransport measurements, and x-ray. Also, keep in mind that many programs have partnerships with corporations, including biggies such as Kodak, IBM, Exxon, and almost any other company you can think of that makes things out of cutting edge substances.

Recent innovative work in Materials Science includes the exploration of more environmentally friendly substances for manufacturing and energy sources. After all, fossil fuels are some of the most highly used materials on this planet – maybe with this degree you can help the world find a better energy source.

As with other engineering fields, qualified female applicants are in high demand in the workforce.

Degree Information

The typical master’s degree takes one year of full time study. A master’s degree candidate may earn either a Master of Science in Materials Science and Engineering or Solid State Science and Engineering.

Doctorate programs are mainly for those individuals who aspire to teach at the university level or to engage in some serious research and development work. The doctoral degree typically conferred is either a Ph.D. in Materials Science or a Doctor of Engineering Science (Eng.Sc.D.). A doctorate will take several years beyond what it takes to earn a master’s degree. The total length of time will depend on the specific field of research chosen.

Questions to Ask Yourself When Choosing a Degree Program
  • Am I interesting in innovating in a new field, or do I feel more comfortable with a greater research and protocol history behind me?
  • Am I more interested (and better) at chemistry than in other aspects of the sciences? Would I prefer to work in the public or private sector?
  • Who are the faculty members? How accessible are they?
  • Can I pick a program that has connections with a company for whom I would like to work?
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