- Offered as:
- Graduate program
Materials scientists and engineers are concerned with how materials behave at all scales—from electrons to skyscrapers. They are interested in improving the performance of existing materials and in designing and fabricating new, higher performance materials that don’t exist in nature. An important part of designing new materials is to understand the structure of materials from the atomic level upwards.
- Specialization areas
Several areas of emphasis are available in the materials science and engineering major.
Apply aspects of materials science and engineering that relate to biomedical fields such as bone tissue engineering, sensors, and biomedical devices. Work in biomaterials can involve all aspects of materials — for instance, new materials development through inspiration from biological structures; innovating novel compositions and structures; or improving the performance of existing materials using structure and process modification.
Students interested in biomaterials as a specialization should take MSE 406 (Biomaterials) as an elective.
Apply aspects o materials science and engineering that relate to semiconductor devices, sensors, dielectrics, and magnetic and optical devices. Work in electronic materials can involve all aspects of materials engineering, including new materials development; using structure and process modification to improve the performance of existing materials; device design; and failure analysis for yield enhancement.
Students interested in electronic materials should take MSE 515 (Electronic Materials) as an elective.
As a specialization in the broad field of materials science and engineering, metallurgy involves:
- Studying the relationship between the structure of metals and their alloys from the atomic level (i.e. 0.2 nanometers) to the bulk level (meters or several meters) and relating that structure to mechanical, chemical, electrical, magnetic, and other properties.
- Selecting appropriate metals for given applications, taking into account the requirements of the application and the properties of the material. For example, aluminum alloys are used in aircraft wings and fuselages because they are light and strong. Nickel base alloys are used in jet engines because they are resistant to high temperature chemical attack and retain their strength even at very high temperatures.
- Making improvements to metallic materials by changes in composition and processing techniques. For example, techniques such as chemical vapor deposition allow very thin films to be made from different composition alloys. These films have excellent properties for many electronic applications.
Metallurgical engineers usually work in interdisciplinary teams that may involve members from many other engineering disciplines.
Other specialization areas are available through the chemistry and physics programs, which collaborate with the materical science and engineering program. They include:
- Composite materials
- Strengths of the program
- Apply science to real and important problems in engineering and technology, pursue an interdisciplinary approach, and broaden understandings beyond a single traditional science subject. Above all, MSE is a practical subject.
- The MSE senior research thesis can lead to publication in internationally recognized journals and presentations at national meetings.
- Benefit from relatively small classes that allow students to pursue unique lab experiences and receive personal attention from faculty. Average MSE junior and senior courses have just 10-20 students.
- Companies like to hire our graduates because they have a broad educational background in all classes of materials; excellent experimental, design, and research experience; and useful and applicable skills.
- Join other science, math, and engineering students in WSU Pullman's Stephenson residence hall—share classes with your neighbors, study together, get free tutoring, and use the hall’s computer lab.
- Develop personal and professional skills in engineering-related activities. The WSU student chapter of Material Advantage, the national umbrella for professional materials societies, has won many national awards in recent years.
- Requirements and core courses
In Materials Science and Engineering, students obtain a broad-based education that covers all the major classes of materials: metals, ceramics, polymers, semiconductors, and composites. We place particular emphasis on providing high-quality laboratory experiences, and during their senior year, all students complete a senior thesis.
A bachelor of science degree in MSE requires 128 semester hours. Students interested in pursuing a degree in MSE should enroll in MSE 110 during their freshman year. There is a special scholarship for students who enroll in this course their first semester at WSU and have demonstrated academic excellence.
To be eligible for certification, a student must have completed at least 30 semester hours of graded course work in prerequisite courses. Students must also have a minimum overall GPA of 2.0. When it becomes necessary to limit enrollment, the overall GPA as well as the GPA for the prerequisite courses will be important factors.
A few of the courses you may take as a materials science and engineering major include:
- Introduction to Materials Science
- Physics for Scientists and Engineers
- Mechanics of Materials
- Electronic Materials
- Metallic Materials
- Ceramic Materials
- Materials Characterization Laboratory
- Mechanical Systems Design
- Manufacturing Processes
Find out more information about the materials science and engineering major and the courses you can take at the School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering website.
See the WSU Catalog for degree requirements and talk with your academic advisor about planning and scheduling your courses. All students must meet requirements as outlined in the catalog in order to graduate.
- Transfer information
To certify your major in the Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture, you will need to complete specific prerequisite courses. Use our list of transfer equivalencies to make sure you take the right transfer courses at your current college.
Also check out the University's transfer student guide for more information on transferring to WSU.
- Scholarships and financial aid
A variety of state, federal, and university-sponsored programs are available to help students with educational costs.
For all students at WSU
Washington State University awards millions of dollars in financial aid and scholarships to students every year based on financial need, academic merit, or a combination of the two.
To get all the financial help WSU can provide, start by doing these two things:
- Complete the University's general scholarship application so you can be eligible for scholarship consideration.
- Complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) so WSU can consider you for aid (scholarships, grants, loans, etc.) based on financial need.
For engineering students
The College of Engineering and Architecture offers more than 300 Dean's Merit Scholarships to incoming freshmen and transfer students each year.
Freshmen with high academic achievements will be considered. Transfer students who have completed the calculus series and the calculus-based physics series or the chemistry series with a GPA of 3.2 or higher will also be considered for these scholarships.
To apply, use the WSU scholarship application. Students are encouraged to apply early, as the number of scholarships awarded is limited by the funds available each year.
- Facilities and technology
The MSE laboratories are housed in the Engineering and Teaching Research Laboratory (ETRL) Building. We have developed some high-quality laboratories for characterization of materials.
All students in our undergraduate courses will use instruments like the scanning and transmission electron microscopes. These tools are reserved for graduate students at most universities, but we believe it is important to ensure all our undergraduates get a hands-on research experience not available elsewhere in the Pacific Northwest.
Facilities are available for studying deformation and fracture of engineering materials under various loading conditions. We also study the micromechanical properties of materials using nanoindentation and scanning probe microscopy. Our processing facilities allow us to produce a wide range of ceramics, composites, biomaterials, and thin films. In addition, we have a clean room for microelectronic fabrication and the production of microelectromechanical systems (MEMS).
- Campus organizations and activities
A variety of engineering-related activities help Washington State University students develop personal and professional skills. The School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering has a student chapter of Material Advantage, the national umbrella for professional materials societies. The WSU group has won a number of national awards over the past few years and organizes technical events as well as many social activities.
- Careers in materials science and engineering
Students who graduate with a degree in MSE are in great demand in all areas of the economy.
WSU graduates have gone on to work for a wide range of small, medium, and large companies. Most recently, they have been employed by such companies as Micron Technology, Hewlett-Packard, REC Silicon, Boeing, Intel, and Sikorsky Helicopter, among many others.
Starting salaries typically range from $45,000 to $60,000 per year.
Materials scientists and engineers can work in a wide variety of areas. A degree in MSE can lead to careers in technical sales and marketing, consulting, patent law, business, and teaching. Many graduates go on to do research at leading schools in the U.S. or work in national laboratories.
MSE graduates may be involved in creating the following:
- New composite materials for aircraft and space applications
- Materials for the next generation of integrated circuits
- Magnetic and optical materials for information storage
- New alloys with improved high-temperature stability, increased fracture toughness, and better fatigue resistance for power generation
- Polymer materials for sealants and coatings
- Ceramics with better fracture toughness for structural applications
- Biomaterials for use in the body