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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?

Career Overview

There really is no typical materials science career path. It is possible to work almost anywhere where things are made, from Boeing to Harley Davidson to Corning. The real issue is figuring out where your specific interests lie and then pursuing that field. Sure, superconductors are glamorous, but maybe you’ve always dreamed of making a better Nerf football, or were always annoyed at the way your Barbie’s face was so hard to clean – with a graduate degree in Materials Science you have the chance to change all that.

With a Doctorate you will be qualified to pursue an academic career.

Career/Licensing Requirements

Licensing is not required to get a job, per se. However, it is desirable, and will make your job search that much easier. If you want to work for a governmental organization, or in education, it may be required that you get licensed. Also, you will need a license to file plans or designs with public or private clients. The licensing process varies from state to state, but the basics are pretty standard: you need to take an exam, which you are qualified to sit for once you have four years experience in the field, in addition to an undergraduate engineering degree.

Salary Information

The average starting salary for an engineer in Materials Science with a master’s degree is in the low $50,000s. This number may be higher or lower depending on the employer’s geographic region and type.

Related Links

National Society of Professional Engineers
The National Society of Professional Engineers had the scoop on all the latest technologies and licensing regulations.

American Engineering Association
The American Engineering Association provides a support system for all engineers. Included on the site are links to information for computer and electrical engineers.

Minerals, Metals, and Materials Society
As the official site of the Minerals, Metals, and Materials Society, this is the best place to find all sorts of Materials Science-specific information on the web. The site includes job information and the latest work in the field.


  • Thermodynamics, Kinetic Theory, And

  • Corrosion And Environmental Effects

  • Electronic And Magnetic Properties Of Solids

  • Engineering Materials

  • Introduction To Dislocation Theory

  • Lattice Vibrations And Crystal Defects

  • Materials And Energy In Society

  • Processing Metals And Semiconductors

  • Processing Of Ceramics And Polymers

  • Solid State Physics

  • Statistical Mechanics

  • Structural Analysis Of Materials

  • Thin Films And Layers

  • X-Ray Diffraction