Oct 26, 2021  
Undergraduate Record 2020-2021 
Undergraduate Record 2020-2021 [ARCHIVED RECORD]

Materials Science and Engineering

Return to: School of Engineering and Applied Science: Departments/Programs  

Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) is a field that couples basic and applied studies in physics, chemistry and mechanics on the atomistic and nanometer scales with macroscopic materials’ properties. Materials science is frequently an important enabler for many other scientific and engineering disciplines. For instance, advances in performance for future subsonic and hypersonic aircraft require new materials with greater durability at high temperatures and high strength-to-weight ratios. Advances in communication equipment with the introduction of fiber optic cables are brought about through the utilization of ceramic fibers which minimize attenuation of light signals and transmit much more information than is possible with electrically conducting wires. Advances in materials science and engineering enable the development of new technologies across most engineering disciplines.

MSE offers a selection of undergraduate courses with the objective of providing students with a fundamental background in the structure, properties, processing, and performance of materials. This background is essential to engineers or scientists in understanding the selection of materials for various applications.

The MSE Department offers two opportunities for undergraduates to develop their understanding of materials science. A minor in Materials Science and Engineering is available to all undergraduate students. For students desiring a stronger and more extensive foundation in materials science, an 11-course MSE concentration in Engineering Science is available.

Materials Science and Engineering Curriculum

Program Requirements

General Requirements - 46 credit hours

All undergraduates in the School of Engineering and Applied Science must fulfill the school’s education requirements. These include 1) applied mathematics (15 credits); 2) natural science (chemistry and physics, 12 credits); 3) applied science (computer programming, 3 credits); and 4) various courses in engineering science, as well as social science and humanities courses (16 credits).

APMA 1110 - Single Variable Calculus II   Credits 4

APMA 2120 - Multivariable Calculus   Credits 4

APMA 2130 - Ordinary Differential Equations   Credits 4

APMA 3110 - Applied Statistics and Probability   Credits 3

CHEM 1610 - Introductory Chemistry for Engineers I   Credits 3

CHEM 1611 - Introductory Chemistry I for Engineers Laboratory   Credits 1

PHYS 1425 - General Physics I: Mechanics, Thermodynamics   Credits 3

PHYS 1429 - General Physics I Workshop   Credits 1

PHYS 2415 - General Physics II: Electricity & Magnetism, Optics   Credits 3

PHYS 2419 - General Physics II Workshop   Credits 1

CS 1110 - Introduction to Programming   Credits 3

ENGR 1624 - Introduction to Engineering   Credits 4

STS 1500 - Science, Technology, and Contemporary Issues   Credits 3

STS 2/3XX - STS Elective Credits 3

STS 4500 - STS and Engineering Practice   Credits 3

STS 4600 - The Engineer, Ethics, and Professional Responsibility   Credits 3

Core Courses - 30 credit hours

MSE 2090 - Introduction to Materials Science   Credits 3

MSE 2101 - Materials Science Investigations: Properties   Credits 3

MSE 3050 - Thermodynamics and Phase Equilibria of Materials   Credits 3

MSE 3060 - Structures and Defects of Materials   Credits 3

MSE 3070 - Kinetics and Phase Transformation in Materials   Credits 3

MSE 3101 - Materials Science Investigations   Credits 3

MSE 3670 - Materials for Electronic, Magnetic and Optical Applications  Credits 3

MSE 4320 - Origins of Mechanical Behavior   Credits 3

ENGR 4010 - Multidisciplinary Design and Development I   Credits 3

ENGR 4020 - Multidisciplinary Design and Development II   Credits 3

Restricted Electives - 15 credit hours

Students will also be required to select five restricted electives (15 credit hours) from the following list: complete five (5) electives from the following courses:

MSE 2200 - Introduction to Additive Manufacturing and 3-D Printing   Credits 3

MSE 3080 - Corrosion, Batteries and Fuel Cells   Credits 3

MSE 3610 - Aerospace Materials   Credits 3

MSE 4055 - Nanoscale Science & Technology Credits 3

MSE 4200 - Additive Manufacturing of Metals   Credits 3

MSE 4210 - Materials Processing   Credits 3

MSE 4270 - Introduction to Atomistic Simulations  Credits 3

Additional Required Electives - 27 credits

Humanities and Social Science Electives (HSS) – 9 credit hours

HHS electives are chosen from a list of courses approved by the Undergraduate Dean.

Math / Science Electives – 6 credit hours 

For the first elective, students may choose from PHYS 2620, CHEM 1620, BIOL 2100, BIOL 2200 or any APMA course over 2000 (APMA 3080 Linear Algebra recommended). For the second elective, students may chose CHEM 3410 or 3610 (Pchem) or any 3000 or higher APMA course (APMA 3140 Partial Differential Equations recommended).

Engineering Elective Courses – 6 credit hours

Students may choose from any 2000-level or above engineering courses with the following exceptions: no course in APMA, STS, or ENGR may be used as engineering electives; no course that counts as a Science Elective may be used as an engineering elective; and no course that fulfills the Engineering Business Minor may be used as an engineering elective.

Technical Elective Courses – 6 credit hours

Students may choose any 2000 or higher math, science or engineering courses, unless courses for non-science majors, duplicates required MSE course work, or duplicates another previously taken course. Only up to 2 research-for-credit courses permitted. 

Unrestricted Electives – 9 credit hours

Any graded course in the University except mathematics courses below MATH 1310; courses that substantially duplicate any others offered for the degree, including PHYS 2010, PHYS 2020, CS 1010, CS 1020; and any introductory programming course.

Total Credit Hours - 127


Description of Capstone and Thesis

All engineering undergraduates participate in a capstone thesis as part of their degree program requirements.  The capstone thesis for the proposed degree program will consists of two components.  One component, which relates to the project that the students will perform (ENGR 4010/4020) will be guided and technically evaluated by faculty from the Material Science and Engineering (MSE) department.  The other component (STS 4500/4600), which covers the science, technology, and society aspects of the students’ chosen project, as well as aspects of style, writing and ethics will be taught by the Department of Engineering and Society.  The MSE faculty will work collaboratively with each other and the students to develop a range of projects to demonstrate students’ knowledge and skill in materials science and engineering and communication as the students apply their skills to real-world engineering problems at home or abroad.  The design projects may range from company-sponsored projects to contextual engineering challenges that are facing society. Working with the faculty members, students will work in teams of 4 to 8 to produce a thesis prospectus in the fall, followed by a complete technical thesis in the spring.  The capstone experience will culminate with the submission of a final report of approximately 25 pages and a formal presentation.

If a student fails a portion of the capstone course components, the student’s faculty advisor will meet with the corresponding faculty in both the engineering design course sequence (ENGR 4010/4020) and the science, technology, and society course sequence (STS 4500/4600) to determine a set of revisions and/or alternative academic activities to complete the project. A student who fails to complete their project may retake the course in a subsequent semester.  Typically, ENGR 4010 and STS 4500 are taken in the same semester followed by ENGR 4020 and STS 4600 in the next semester.  Students can complete the courses out of sequence providing all requirements for the capstone and thesis are met.


Materials Science and Engineering Minor

The purpose of the MSE minor is to provide students a foundation for understanding how the processing, properties and structure of materials affect the science, design, and application of materials in the engineering discipline of their major field of study.


A minimum of five MSE courses constitutes an MSE minor.


MSE is a research-intensive discipline. Undergraduate students are encouraged to become involved in research through i) an independent study research project, MSE 4960, ii) senior thesis projects, iii) and financially supported undergraduate research internships during the academic year or summer. MSE faculty members serve as advisors to your research projects. For more information, consult the MSE department website, https://engineering.virginia.edu/departments/materials-science-and-engineering.