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  MSE Undergraduate Program

B.S. in MSE degree program


Materials engineers and scientists study the structure and properties of engineering materials on scales ranging from the atomic through the microscopic to the macroscopic. These materials include ceramics, metals, polymers, composites, biomaterials, nanomaterials, semiconductors, and electronic, magnetic, and photonic materials. Materials engineers develop new materials, improve traditional materials, and manufacture materials economically through synthesis, processing, and fabrication. They seek to understand physical and chemical phenomena in material structures and to measure and characterize materials properties of all kinds including mechanical, electrical, optical, magnetic, thermal, and chemical. They predict and evaluate the performance of materials as structural or functional elements in engineering systems and structures. Because the performance of virtually all engineered products depends upon the properties of the various materials which make up the components of the system, engineering and technological advances are commonly limited by the properties and cost of the manufactured materials which are currently available. As a consequence, the discipline of materials science and engineering is central and critical to the success of several identified strategic national quality-of-life initiatives, including biotechnology, nanotechology, energy, information technology, vehicular transportation systems, national defense and security, and environmental stewardship.

Significant opportunities exist for graduates in the aerospace, automobile, transportation, medical, microelectronics, telecommunications, chemical, petroleum, energy storage, power generation, and energy conservation industries, as well as within the basic industries producing materials--for example, the copper, aluminum, steel, ceramics, glass, and polymer industries. Opportunities also exist in government-operated engineering centers and research laboratories. Graduates work in entry level engineering, manufacturing, materials selection and design, quality assurance and control, research and development, technical consulting, management, and sales and marketing. Graduates have an excellent background for post-graduate studies in science, engineering, medicine, law, and business.

Students of MSE can optionally participate in the cooperative education program in which qualified students may alternate semesters of study with semesters of professional employment. Study-abroad opportunities are also possible. Honors-eligible students may participate in a formalized program of study leading to one of several university honors degrees (see 


Program Educational Objectives

The goal of the BS degree program in MSE is to provide the educational foundation that enables alumni to pursue their personal career objectives.  Historically, the majority of our alumni become valued members of industrial and/or research teams within the field of materials science or related technical disciplines while a smaller percentage pursue graduate education or other personal career objectives.   

The specific objectives for the BS degree program in MSE are to produce alumni who are:

    • effective communicators with written, oral, and visual media:
    • able to apply critical thinking skills to engineering and research problems: and
    • effective learners able to apply new technical tools, techniques, and knowledge specific to their field of employment or graduate studies. 


Student Outcomes

Upon graduation, students completing the B.S. degree program in MSE will be able to:

General Outcomes


(A) apply knowledge of mathematics, science, and engineering  

(B) design and conduct experiments, as well as analyze and interpret data  


(C) design a system, component, or process to meet desired needs within realistic constraints such as economic, environmental, societal, global, political, ethical, health and safety, manufacturability, and sustainability 

(D) function on multidisciplinary teams while maintaining independent thought and expression      


(E) identify, formulate, and solve engineering problems


(F) understand professional and ethical responsibility

(G) communicate effectively        

(H) understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global economic, environmental, and societal context


(I) recognize the need for, and to engage in, lifelong learning

(J) apply knowledge of contemporary issues        

(K) use the techniques, skills, and modern engineering tools necessary for engineering practice

Materials Specific Outcomes

(L) apply advanced science (such as chemistry and physics) and engineering principles to materials systems/problems       

(M) understand the scientific and engineering principles underlying the four major elements of the field: structure, properties, processing, and performance        

(N) apply and integrate knowledge from each of the above four elements of the field to solve materials selection and design problems


(O) utilize experimental, statistical, and computational methods consistent with the program educational objectives.

BS in MSE Enrollment

Fall 2004

Fall 2005

Fall 2006

Fall 2007

Fall 2008

Fall 2009

Fall 2010

Fall 2011

Fall 2012

Fall 2013

Fall 2014













BS in MSE Degrees Conferred















Students typically enter the MSE Department following completion of their first year studies within the College of Engineering, as administered by the Department of Engineering Education (EngE); a description of required first year coursework can be found within the EngE section of this catalog.        

In addition to foundation courses in MSE, students tailor an individualized program of elective study. Fifteen credits of technical electives will be selected to emphasize certain subdisciplines of MSE (e.g., metals, ceramics, polymers, electronic materials, composites, biomaterials, nanomaterials, etc.) or to prepare for a career in certain application areas (e.g., manufacturing, aerospace, automotive, information technology, microelectronics, etc.).  Course-work totals 131 credit hours as detailed on the BS in MSE checksheet which can be found at
.  Students  expecting to graduate beyond the displayed checksheet years should use the last projected term until the checksheet for that calendar year becomes available.        

The undergraduate curriculum contains a nationally-recognized integrated program of instruction in engineering communication including writing, public speaking, proposal preparation, reporting, research skills, critical and creative thinking, and graphical presentation. More information regarding this unique program can be found at

The MSE students have pursued various minors including Microelectronics, Green Engineering, Chemistry, Mathematics, Music, a foreign language, and various others.

The B.S. in MSE degree program at Virginia Tech is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET,

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