MSE Major


Everything is made of something. In Materials Science and Engineering (MSE), we study that something. From aerospace components to biomaterials and from nanoscale technology to 3-D printing, Materials Scientists and Engineers study the structure and properties of all kinds of materials and how we can process those materials to improve their affordability, durability and performance. 

Need a material that is faster? Lighter? Stronger? Ask a materials scientist.

Current students: scroll down to "Worksheets and Handouts" below to find materials to help with academic planning.

"Every MSE professor at UVA will tell you, everything is made of something, and having a chance to study that something, improve that something, or make something completely novel makes MSE one of the most interesting disciplines."

Rachel McNamara, Class of 2022

Students who study MSE gain a strong foundation in chemistry and physics and explore the basic classes of materials:  ceramics, polymers and metals. From here topics expand into courses such as Corrosion, Batteries & Fuel Cells, Materials for Electronic, Magnetic & Optical Applications, Aerospace Materials, Nanoscale Science & Technology, Additive Manufacturing, and Thermodynamics & Kinetics of Materials. Throughout our program, students explore hands-on labs, research opportunities and a research & design capstone.

"The community and resources in the Materials Science department at UVA have provided me with an invaluable opportunity to confront real-world problems head-on and to seek out their solutions through creation and application."

Connor Headley, Class of 2020

After graduation, MSE students can be found working in industry, academia, and government – practically every field needs a materials scientist. 

Considering MAJORING in MSE?  Watch our 2021 Majors Night Presentation.

"Materials science focuses on the inventive aspects of engineering. Using their knowledge and skills in materials characterization and computational methods, our students will develop creative solutions in the hard, physical sciences. "

MSE Professor Ji Ma
  • Careers in MSE


    Naturally interdisciplinary, materials scientists and engineers can be found contributing vital knowledge to a wide array of fields. Graduates with degrees in MSE can be found everywhere from academia and industry to fields beyond engineering such as law, medicine and finance. In engineering fields, graduates work in aerospace, additive manufacturing, quantum computing, hard disk technologies, thermoelectrics, sustainable materials, soft/bio materials, petroleum, pharmaceuticals, drug delivery, semi-conductors, computational modeling, and corrosion, to name just a few. Technical jobs for MSE graduates include processing engineers, research and development engineers, product development, materials characterization, materials testing and evaluations and consulting. MSE graduates are hired by companies such as GM, Intel, Boeing, USS, IBM, Dow, Xerox, Corning, Apple, Alcoa, Texas Instruments, General Dynamics, SpaceX, Rolls Royce, DuPont, Motorola, Ford and Philips.

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  • Curriculum

    The BS in Materials Science and Engineering requires 127 credits. The curriculum for the degree program will meet both the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) baccalaureate requirements and position the program for future ABET accreditation.

    Materials elective courses will build upon the core content, allowing students to develop concentration areas of interest. The program culminates with a rigorous 4th year experience, which incorporates both a capstone experience and the development of a senior thesis. The focus of the core curriculum (core) is to provide students with a solid foundation in materials science and engineering, representing the fundamental pillars of the discipline, reinforced throughout the curriculum including materials elective courses. The core will introduce students to the major classes of materials (metals, ceramics, polymers, and composites) along with associated properties (mechanical, thermal, electronic, magnetic, and optical). The core will also provide rich experiential learning experiences with emphasis on characterization, processing, properties, documentation, and the analysis and presentation of key results. 

    Opportunities for training in best practices, problem solving, communication, and teamwork are designed into the program through materials elective courses, which include corrosion, fuel cells, and batteries (a world-leading research strength in the Materials Science and Engineering department at UVA), nanosciences, processing, computational materials science, and additive manufacturing.  The program culminates with a rigorous 4th year experience, which incorporates both a capstone experience and the development of a senior thesis.  The experience allows students to draw upon the knowledge and skills learned from many MSE and non-MSE courses leading up to the final senior semester. The 4th year design course sequence (ENGR 4010, 4020) covers a wide range of materials and processes which require application of the fundamental principles of materials science (MSE 2090, MSE 3050, MSE 3060, MSE 3070), structure-property relationships (MSE 2101, MSE 3101, MSE 3080, MSE 3670), experimental and computer methods of analysis (MSE4270), and processing and fabrication (MSE 2200, MSE 3200, MSE 4210, MSE 4320).  The major will continue to be forward-looking, preparing students for the rapidly evolving needs of our technological society. For example, it is known that there will be an increasing need for engineers who are knowledgeable in topics related to materials which serve in extreme environments (especially related to defense and energy production), quantum materials (which could open up completely new opportunities in computational science), and soft-materials (for biomedical applications).

    Program Requirements

    (new courses are denoted with an asterisk)*
    General Requirements - 46 credit hours

    Engineering undergraduates must complete a general education curriculum consisting of courses in natural science (chemistry and physics), applied science (computer programming), applied mathematics, and various courses in engineering science, as well as social science and humanities courses:

    1. APMA 1110    Single Variable Calculus (4 cr)
    2. APMA 2120    Multivariate Calculus  (4 cr)
    3. APMA 2130    Ordinary Differential Equations (4 cr)
    4. APMA 3110    Statistics and Probability (3 cr)
    5. CHEM 1610    Intro Chemistry for Engineers I (3 cr)
    6. CHEM 1611    Intro Chemistry Lab (1 cr)
    7. PHYS 1425     General Physics I (3 cr)
    8. PHYS 1429     General Physics I Workshop (1 cr)
    9. PHYS 2415     General Physics II (3 cr)
    10. PHYS 2419     General Physics II Workshop (1 cr)
    11. ENGR 1624    Intro to Engineering (4 cr)
    12. CS 1110          Intro to Programming (3 cr)
    13. STS 1500        Engineering, Technology, Society (3 cr)
    14. STS 2/3000     STS Elective (3 cr)
    15. STS 4500        STS and Engineering Practice (3 cr)
    16. STS 4600        The Engineer, Ethics and Profession  (3 cr)

    Core Curriculum - 45 credit hours

    Required Courses – 30 credit hours

    1. MSE 2090 Introduction to Materials Science and Engineering (3 cr)
    2. MSE 2101 Materials Science Investigations: Properties, Laboratory (3 cr)*
    3. MSE 3101 Materials Characterization Lecture and Lab (3 cr)
    4. MSE 3050 Thermodynamics and Phase Equilibria of Materials (3 cr)
    5. MSE 3060 Crystal Structures and Defects (3 cr)
    6. MSE 3670 Electronic, Magnetic, and Optical Properties of Materials (3 cr)
    7. MSE 3070 Kinetics and Phase Transformations in Materials (3 cr)*
    8. MSE 4320 Origins of Mechanical Behavior (3 cr)
    9. ENGR 4010 Interdisciplinary Engineering Design I (3 cr)
    10. ENGR 4020 Interdisciplinary Engineering Design II (3 cr)

    Restricted Electives – 15 credit hours

    In addition to the ten (10) required courses, students will also be required to complete five (5) electives from the following courses:

    • MSE 2200 Introduction to Additive Manufacturing and 3-D Printing (3 cr)
    • MSE 3080 Corrosion, Batteries and Fuel Cells (3 cr)
    • MSE/MAE 3610 Aerospace Materials (3 cr)
    • MSE 3200 Additive Manufacturing of Metals (3 cr)*
    • MSE 4055 Nanoscience (3 cr)
    • MSE 4210 Advanced Materials Processing (3 cr)
    • MSE 4270 Atomistic Simulations (3 cr)

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

    1. HSS 1 (3 cr)
    2. HSS 2 (3 cr)
    3. HSS 3 (3 cr)

    HHS electives - 9 credits from chosen list in A122 Thornton Hall

    Math / Science Electives – 6 credit hours 

    1. Math / Science Elective 1 (3 cr)
    2. Math / Science Elective 2 (3 cr)

    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

    1. Engineering Elective 1 (3 cr)
    2. Engineering Elective 2 (3 cr)

    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

    Technical Elective 1 (3 cr)

    Technical Elective 2 (3 cr)

    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

    Unrestricted 1 (3 cr)

    Unrestricted 2 (3 cr)

    Unrestricted 3 (3 cr)

    Students may choose from 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; any introductory programming course. APMA 1090 counts as a three credit unrestricted elective for students.

    4th Year Capstone and Thesis:

    To provide an opportunity for students to synthesize and apply information gained, all 4th year (senior) engineering undergraduates participate in a Capstone thesis project. Working with faculty members from MSE and Engineering and Society (E&S); students produce a thesis prospectus in the fall, followed by a complete technical thesis in the spring. 

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  • Meet Our Students

    Talented and diverse, our undergraduate students are the heart of our program.

    Hear what some of our students have to say
  • Objectives and Student Outcomes

    The goal of the BS in Material Science and Engineering is to prepare students for careers in research, development, manufacturing, and other technical positions that demand interdisciplinary training in the context of all materials used by society in their entirety from electronics, cell phone materials, car tires, engines, plastics, metals, aerospace materials to dental fillings, stents, and implants.  The program provides students with a strong foundation in the physical sciences, coupled to engineering practice in order to solve technical problems relevant to nearly every aspect of modern society from cleaner energy production and manufacture of lighter materials, faster microelectronics, and telecommunications devices, all the way to improved healthcare, sustainability, and biotechnology.  Students apply fundamental science and engineering concepts to materials science and engineering problems, and learn to effectively communicate solutions to challenges within an interdisciplinary environment. Graduates will be prepared to work in a range of engineering sectors and will be capable of working within diverse environments and adapt problem solving skills based on the on the shifting client / employer needs.


    The UVA Bachelor’s program in Materials Science and Engineering will produce alumni who will:

    1. Apply their understanding of the materials science paradigm to advance the research/ design/selection/sustainability of materials.

    2. Use their analytical and problem-solving skills as the foundation for productive and fulfilling careers.

    3. Employ versatile and interdisciplinary approaches, and a solid ethical grounding, to contribute to society.

    4. Combine technical competence, excellent communication skills and a propensity for lifelong learning to lead organizations, drive change and foster success.


    General Student Outcomes:

    1. An ability to identify, formulate, and solve complex engineering problems by applying principles of engineering, science, and mathematics.

    2. An ability to apply engineering design to produce solutions that meet specified needs with consideration of public health, safety, and welfare, as well as global, cultural, social, environmental, and economic factors.

    3. An ability to communicate effectively with a range of audiences.

    4. An ability to recognize ethical and professional responsibilities in engineering situations and make informed judgments, which must consider the impact of engineering solutions in global, economic, environmental, and societal contexts.

    5. An ability to function effectively on a team whose members together provide leadership, create a collaborative and inclusive environment, establish goals, plan tasks, and meet objectives.

    6. An ability to develop and conduct appropriate experimentation, analyze and interpret data, and use engineering judgment to draw conclusions.

    7. An ability to acquire and apply new knowledge as needed, using appropriate learning strategies.


    Materials Science and Engineering Specific Student Outcomes:

    A) Apply advanced science (such as chemistry and physics) and engineering principles to materials systems/problems.

    B) Understand the scientific and engineering principles of the materials processing-structure- properties-performance paradigm.

    C) Apply and integrate knowledge from each of the above four elements of the field to solve materials selection and design problems.

    D) Utilize experimental, statistical, and computational methods consistent with the program educational objectives.

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  • Scholarships


    In celebration of our inaugural year and with the generous support of the Olsen Discretionary Fund, MSE is pleased to announce the establishment of the 2021 MSE Inaugural Scholarships. In this special scholarship program, merit-based scholarships of $1500 were awarded to select MSE majors. Meet the 2021 MSE Inaugural Scholars!

    Yearly, we have the distinct pleasure of awarding the Belinda and Chip Blankenship Scholarship ($5000). The overall intent of this award is to encourage rising undergraduate students to pursue graduate-level studies in materials science engineering in support of U.S. manufacturing, education, and R&D. Rising 2nd - 4th-year MSE majors who demonstrate a tenacity and curiosity that lends itself to excellence in research will be considered for this award. Meet our 2022 Blankenship Scholar Alex Wang!

    For more information on our scholarships, please contact our Undergraduate Coordinator.

  • Diversity

    MSE and UVA Engineering seek to attract and support students from all walks of life. "We seek to build a diverse and equitable community of students from all backgrounds and to provide a home for one and all. The materials discipline itself embraces diversity and requires it in order to succeed." - John Scully, MSE Department Chair

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  • Research

    MSE offers many research opportunities for undergraduates. Undergraduate students have the opportunity to work in MSE labs for course credit or for pay. Through the generosity of alum Greg Olsen, it is our aim to fund the work of every MSE student who wishes to work in an MSE lab. MSE faculty and staff help undergraduate students with lab placement and encourage their individual research.  

    Tour OUR LABS.

    Learn more about undergraduate reserach
  • How to Learn More

    How to Learn More

    For further information about the MSE major or any of our undergraduate programs, please contact our Undergraduate Coordinator.

    Watch our MSE Major Night Presentation.

    Read the news article about our BS in MSE degree!