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MSE Undergraduate Program

B.S. in Materials Science & Engineering 

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 that make up the components of a system, engineering and technological advances are commonly limited by the properties and cost of the manufactured materials that are currently available. As a consequence, the discipline of materials science and engineering is central 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 that produce materials, i.e., 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 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  


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 Degree Requirements & Graduation | Office of the University Registrar | Virginia Tech (

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 MSE/ESM Engineering Communications Program.  

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,