Material Science and Engineering Degrees

What degrees can I earn in materials science and engineering?

Colleges and universities across the country offer materials science and engineering bachelors, masters and PhD programs. While there are job opportunities available to graduates of bachelor degree programs, materials science and engineering graduate programs are the top materials science and engineering degrees in the field.

Materials science and engineering certificate

Graduation from a bachelors degree program in engineering is typically required to gain entry into a bachelors or masters level certificate program in materials science and engineering. A GPA of 3.0 or higher may also be required for entry. The average length of time for an engineering certificate program is 15 credit hours, which will take most students 12 to 18 months to complete.

Materials science and engineering associates degree

Campus-based and online engineering associates degree programs in materials science and engineering will be offered as either an associates in engineering or an associates in science with a materials science and engineering focus. Most associates degrees take 2 years to earn between 60 and 80 credit hours to complete. Prerequisites for entry into the program are likely to include completion of beginning calculus and trigonometry courses.

Materials science and engineering bachelors degree

Colleges and universities offer the undergraduate materials science and engineering degree as a Bachelor of Science or a Bachelor of Engineering with a materials science and engineering concentration. Prerequisites for admission into an onsite or online engineering bachelors degree program will likely include a basic foundation in calculus and physics. Like most bachelors degrees, the materials science degree will range in credit hours from 120 to 140 hours and will take an average of 4 years to complete.

Materials science and engineering masters degree

Students interested in earning a materials science and engineering masters will either earn a Master of Science in Materials Science and Engineering or a Master of Engineering with a materials science and engineering concentration. Most masters programs take approximately 2 years and 30 to 40 post-baccalaureate credit hours to complete. A minimum GRE score set by the engineering department may be required for admission into a campus-based or online engineering masters degree program.

Materials science and engineering PhD

A doctoral track masters in materials science and engineering will allow a student to transition from their graduate program to a PhD in engineering. The length of time required to complete a materials science and engineering PhD program takes an average of 5 years but can be shorter or longer depending upon the research project that is being completed.

Are there any materials science and engineering degree programs online?

Materials science and engineering degree programs online are available at hundreds of colleges and universities across the U.S. While most are partial or hybrid bachelors, masters and PhD programs, there are a number of programs that are available fully online.

Online degrees in materials science and engineering

While multiple colleges and universities offer the materials science and engineering associates degree online, it may be useful to know that the majority of employers in this field will require you to have earned a bachelors degree or higher. Many accredited materials science and engineering online colleges offer the opportunity to transition into a bachelors program upon completion of your degree. Researching those institutions in advance may help you to decide whether continuing your education upon completion of your associates is the right choice for you.

Committing to a materials science and engineering bachelors degree online will require a significant amount of investment in time and financial resources. While some online programs can offer a significant cost savings, do not assume that earning your degree online will save you money in the long run. Most online programs will have a similar cost per credit hour as a brick-and-mortar institution, and you will want to be sure to budget for high-speed Internet and other technology costs.

One of the benefits of attending a campus-based institution is to work with and exchange ideas with likeminded people. Earning your materials science and engineering online masters degree may feel isolating at times due to a lack of face-to-face interaction with faculty and classmates.

You also may have to wait longer to get feedback on your work or clarification on a question from a professor. Be sure to talk with the program director at your online program to see how the program handles communication with students, and be sure to seek networking opportunities outside of your classes.

Earning a PhD in materials science and engineering will likely require a great deal of research, and 1 of the challenges of attending materials science and engineering schools online is the potential lack of laboratory resources that will be available to you. The best materials science and engineering online program will accommodate this lack of availability and will work to ensure that your research needs are met.

What kinds of materials science and engineering classes will I take in my program?

Whether you choose campus-based or online engineering courses, there are required classes across all engineering disciplines. A student in materials science and engineering will take general education and core engineering courses, which may include materials strength, glass engineering and nanotechnology.

Graduate students in a materials science and engineering program will have completed general education courses and will be taking materials science and engineering online courses or campus-based courses specific to your major. Courses can include thermodynamics, structural analysis of materials and mechanical behavior of materials.

Finally, as a PhD candidate in materials science and engineering you will be required to take a combination of selected courses to assist you in defining your dissertation research. These courses may include classes in advanced thermodynamics, materials design and process design. Part of your earned credit hours will also be dedicated toward the completion and defense of your dissertation.

What materials science and engineering careers can I choose from?

Materials science and engineering jobs typically involve a high level of specialization with select materials such as plastic, ceramic or metal. Some of the best careers in materials science and engineering involve a high level of collaboration with other engineering disciplines, such as mechanical, civil and aerospace engineering.

Plastics engineering

A plastics engineer develops and tests new plastics for safety and application in everyday products. Plastics engineering jobs pay an average salary of $48,000 to $98,000 depending upon education and experience. The most qualified candidates for plastics engineering jobs are typically those with a bachelors or masters in material science engineering and a strong background in plastics.

Ceramic engineering

Ceramic engineers create products out of ceramic material for a wide range of objects ranging from kitchen knives to space shuttle tiles. There is a high demand for ceramic engineers in the manufacturing sector, although these positions require, at minimum, a bachelors in materials science and engineering degree. The average materials science and engineering salary for someone in this field is $44,000 to $92,000.

Metallurgical engineering

Metallurgical engineers oversee the production of metal components for use in industrial and everyday consumer products. Jobs for metallurgical engineers require an undergraduate engineering degree, and provide an average salary of $87,000.

Is there anything else I should know about getting a degree in materials science and engineering?

While not all engineers choose to pursue licensure, many materials science and engineering jobs require applicants to have a Professional Engineer license. The first step you need to take to earn this license is to sit for the Fundamentals in Engineering exam. Passing this test will allow you to gain professional experience until you are ready to sit for your licensure exam.

The Minerals, Metals and Materials Society provides continuing education seminars, workshops and courses for materials science and engineering professionals. In addition, the society offers technical webcasts on topics such as high-performance structural metals and recycling technologies for engineers to download at their convenience. While the organization does not offer engineering certification, it strongly endorses professional licensure as detailed above.