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Materials Science and Engineering Major Guide for 2016-2017

What is Materials Science and Engineering

Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) is a discipline that is on the leading edge of technology through the development of new materials and the improvement of existing materials for applications in all engineering fields. It is at the forefront of modern technological advances and its graduates are in great demand.

Materials engineers can be found working in all technological fields, usually as part of a multidisciplinary team. For this reason, materials engineers receive a broad engineering education that includes design, mechanics, chemistry, physics, mathematics and electronics. The processing and testing of materials are core subjects in the MSE curriculum which stresses “hands-on” learning though laboratory classes that introduce students to modern processing and characterization techniques.

Modern engineering materials are used in a broad spectrum of products, including automobiles, aircraft and spacecraft, jet and rocket engines, surgical implants, computers, cell phones, optical displays, textiles, and sports equipment. The types of engineering materials include metals and alloys, polymers and plastics, ceramics, semiconductors, and composites.

The department has one of the lowest student-faculty ratios (about 4:1) in the College of Engineering. This allows MSE students to receive a great deal of individual interaction with the faculty, especially in laboratory courses.

The educational objectives of the program for the degree of B.S. in Materials Science and Engineering are:

• to provide students with a knowledge of the fundamentals of appropriate physical and chemical sciences, mathematics and engineering sciences; and to demonstrate the applications of these principles to solve engineering problems with emphases on materials processing, structure, properties and performance. This knowledge base includes the development of analytical and experimental skills.

• to provide students with experiences in design and materials selection such that they can design components, systems or processes with consideration of economic, safety, environmental and social issues.

• to develop professional skills in such areas as written and oral communications, problem solving and working in diverse teams, that prepare graduates to practice materials engineering in contemporary and global environments.

• to provide students with a general education component that complements the technical content, encourages the appreciation of cultural and social values, exhibits the impact of engineering solutions on society, and enhances personal development. The university’s engineering programs are fully accredited by the ABET Engineering Accreditation Program.

Career Opportunities in Materials Science and Engineering

Graduates with a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree in Materials Science and Engineering receive employment offers from a wide range of industries both in Tennessee and nationwide.

MSE graduates can be found working in many different capacities, including basic and applied research, product and process development, manufacturing, quality control, material selection and failure analysis. Materials science graduates frequently opt to continue their education through graduate school for Master of Science and Ph.D. degrees. A good resource is the U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook

High School Preparation

The College of Engineering has established admissions criteria for incoming freshmen based on several performance criteria, including completion of core academic subjects, GPA scores on these subjects and standardized test (SAT or ACT) scores. A Success Prediction Indicator (SPI) number of 60 and a math ACT of 25 or a math SAT of 570 are minimum standards used for admission to the College of Engineering. The admitted class may also be limited by space available in the College. The SPI is calculated by adding an individual’s ACT mathematics score to 10 times their core high school GPA (based on a 4.0 scale). For information on what constitutes core high school courses, please consult admission website

SPI EXAMPLE: A student with a high school core GPA of 3.5 and an ACT mathematics score of 28 would have an SPI of 63 using the formula (3.5 X 10) + 28 = 63. SAT scores are converted to an equivalent ACT score to perform this calculation.

Students who wish to pursue a degree in the College of Engineering at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, but do not meet the college admission criterion may enroll as Arts and Sciences Exploratory students and complete appropriate mathematics, science, and other courses before applying for admission to the College of Engineering as an internal transfer student.

How to Major in Materials Science and Engineering

The materials science and engineering degree program is administered by the UT Department of Materials Science and Engineering (MSE). Students applying to the university should specify materials science and engineering as their chosen major when completing the admission form. Students transferring from other departments within UT or from other educational institutions should contact the department for more information regarding the appropriate entry level and any additional required courses.

Requirements for Materials Science and Engineering

The MSE department currently does not have any special requirements for admission to the materials science and engineering program, other than the general admission requirements for the university and the college. College of Engineering students at the freshman level and above are required to own laptop computers for class work. For more information, please visit

Special Programs, Co-ops, and Internships

The MSE Department also has one of the largest undergraduate scholarship programs at The University of Tennessee, and more than half of our students receive scholarship support.  Departmental tuition scholarships of $800 to $2,600 per year are available and are renewable up to four years.

All UT freshman engineering students are automatically enrolled in the innovative Engage Engineering Fundamentals Program, designed to help students learn basic engineering concepts and teamwork skills through a series of hands-on projects and activities:

The College of Engineering’s Office of Professional Practice (EPP) provides income-generating opportunities for engineering students to experience real world engineering challenges through internship programs.  Both programs offer structured learning environments where students develop increasing responsibilities by holding full-time paid positions in a professional environment related to their academic and career goals:

In addition to financial and scholarship programs available to all students, the college also provides special scholarships and support programs to minority students, including:

The College of Engineering also participates in the University Honors Program, which is designed to give academically outstanding students a unique undergraduate experience consisting of special courses, seminars, mentoring, and research projects.  All Engineering majors have Honors concentrations:

The UT Center for International Education collaborates with the College of Engineering to create opportunities for engineering students to study in other countries:

Highlights of Materials Science and Engineering

The MSE department has a large research program that receives about $6 million in research funding each year. This expansive research initiative provides opportunities for undergraduate students to work in areas of cutting-edge technology through paid part-time research assistantships.

Additionally, MSE faculty members frequently assist undergraduate students with finding summer industrial internships in the engineering field.

Students are encouraged to participate in materials-related professional societies such as the American Society for Materials and the Society of Plastics Engineers which hold several joint professional- student activities each year.

Ready for the World logoReady for the World

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, offers study abroad programs in Asia, Europe, Africa, Australia, South America, and North America. Program lengths vary from mini-term trips to the entire academic year, and students may choose to fulfill general education requirements, study a foreign language, or take courses within their majors. In addition, UTK offers students opportunities for international internships.

Students are highly encouraged to begin planning early in their academic career and to consult with an academic advisor about the best time to study abroad as well as what courses to take abroad. For more information about program options, the application process, and how to finance study abroad, please visit the Programs Abroad Office website.

For more information about opportunities for majors in the College of Engineering, please see the section of the Engineering Outreach Office website which highlights study abroad programs for engineering students.

Learn more about UT’s Ready for the World initiative to help students gain the international and intercultural knowledge they need to succeed in today’s world.

Experience Learning

Experience Learning LogoExperience Learning is a bold new initiative with the goal of transforming the educational student experience at the University of Tennessee. Over a five-year period, UT will transform our culture to give students more opportunities to be involved in civic engagement, solve complex real-world problems, and contribute to the welfare of their communities as part of their regular course work.

The purpose of Experience Learning is to help students apply the knowledge, skills, and values learned in the classroom to real-world challenges. Experience Learning also seeks to engage student learning through direct experience and intense reflection to increase knowledge, acquire lifelong learning and problem-solving skills, and elucidate values.

Learn more about Experience Learning.

Academic Plan and Milestones

Following an academic plan will help students stay on track to graduate in four years. Beginning with first-time, first-year, full-time, degree-seeking students entering in the Fall 2013 semester, UT has implemented Universal Tracking (uTrack), an academic monitoring system designed to help students stay on track for timely graduation. In order to remain on track, students must complete the minimum requirements for each tracking semester, known as milestones. Milestones may include successful completion of specified courses and/or attainment of a minimum GPA.

To see a sample academic plan and milestones for this major, go to Materials Science and Engineering  or Materials Science and Engineering with the Biomaterials Concentration, or Materials Science and Engineering with the Nanomaterials Concentration in the Undergraduate Catalog (

Honors Concentration

Students who wish to pursue the honors materials science and engineering concentration or the honors biomaterials concentration will normally be part of the Engineering Honors Program. Candidates for these honors concentrations must complete the following requirements.

  • Four first or second year courses for honors concentration in the engineering majors.
  • Two upper-division honors courses in Materials Science and Engineering (chosen from MSE 347 , MSE 357 , MSE 367 , and MSE 397 ).
  • A minimum of 3-credit hours of an honors senior design course. This requirement is normally satisfied as part of their senior capstone design course (MSE 489 ).


Five-Year BS/MS Program

The department offers a 5-year BS-MS program with a BS (major in materials science and engineering) and an MS (major in materials science and engineering or polymer engineering) for qualified students. The primary component of the program is that qualified students may take up to 9 hours of approved graduate courses for their senior undergraduate electives and have them count toward both their bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the University of Tennessee. This program is designed for students attending the University of Tennessee for their Master of Science degree because other universities may not accept these courses for graduate credit since they were used to satisfy requirements for the Bachelor of Science degree. Significant components of the program are:

  • Students must have an overall GPA of 3.4 in required course work. Conditional admission to the 5-year program may be granted after completion of 65 hours of required course work, while full admission may be granted after the completion of 96 hours of required course work with a minimum overall GPA of 3.4.
  • Students must at least be conditionally admitted to the program prior to taking graduate courses for both their bachelor’s and master’s degrees. All courses taken for graduate credit must be approved by the graduate program director. Students admitted to the program must request permission from the Graduate School to take approved courses for graduate credit.
  • Students admitted to the program must also follow the normal procedure for admission to the Graduate School. Admission of students into this program must be approved by the department and the Graduate School. Students will not be eligible for assistantships until they are enrolled as graduate-level students in the Graduate School.

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