Undergraduate Program

The Program: Materials Science and Engineering, B.S.E.: prepares students for exciting careers in Materials, with job opportunities in a wide variety of high-tech industries which includes:


(Intel, Motorola): Materials engineers work on shrinking the size of microelectronic circuits, because this makes them both cheaper (more can be produced on the same wafer) and faster (because it takes less time for an electrical signal to travel through the circuit). Similarly, materials engineers work on magnetic memory devices such as hard drives to lower their prices and increase their capacity.


(IBM, Apple):  In addition to the microelectronic circuitry, materials engineers work on other important aspects of computers, such as increasing battery lifetime, decreasing power consumption, enhancing monitor resolution, and decreasing weight for easy portability.


(AT&T, Sprint):  The replacement of copper wires with fiber optics has revolutionized the telecommunications field, allowing far more signal to be carried at much less cost.  Materials engineers continue to increase the quality of fiber optics to  increase signal capacity, for applications ranging from high-speed modem lines to picture phones.  Also, advances in materials have revolutionized the cellular phone industry, making them increasingly affordable for everyone.


(Boeing, McDonnell-Douglas):  Lightweight composites allow greater cargo capacity, and high-temperature superalloys increase engine efficiency.  Ceramic tiles on the space shuttle protect it from high temperatures during reentry into the earth’s atmosphere.


(Ford, GM):  Materials advances are rapidly occurring in automobiles to increase their safety, raise fuel efficiency, and decrease pollution.  Composites and polymers are replacing steel body panels to decrease weight, and ceramic parts are used to raise engine temperatures and thereby enhance fuel efficiency.  Crash-resistant windshields and air bags are protecting people during collisions, and catalytic converters decrease pollution. 


Materials engineers work in a wide variety of manufacturing areas, assisting with materials selection, optimizing processing to improve properties and lower cost, and failure analysis/re-design.


(Arizona Power, Salt River Project): Current power production is becoming cleaner, due to sulfur controls for coal plants. New power sources, like solar cells to convert sunlight into electricity, are becoming more cost effective with new research developments. New cements are being created for long-term storage of radioactive waste from nuclear power plants. Future fusion power plants will require radiation-resistant materials to survive the extreme conditions due to creating an artificial sun


(Abbot Labs): From artificial skin for burn victims to chrome alloy hip implants, artificial materials are increasingly being used to replace damaged body parts and increase people’s quality of life. Also, new diagnostic equipment like ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging are based on materials advances that help doctors better diagnose and treat health problems.


Many new materials are being developed on the nano-scale, for applications ranging from medical (drug delivery) to sensors to nanoelectronics. At nanoscale dimensions, materials often have different and interesting properties, creating many opportunities for development of new materials for new applications.



Minor in Materials Science & Engineering

For a list of course requirements to fulfill the minor, click here


What special opportunities does ASU offer?

Arizona State University has a strong, nationally recognized Materials program that offers many advantages:

    • State-of-the-art undergraduate laboratory which provides a wide range of practical, hands-on training, students take a lab course almost every semester
    • Faculty have strong research programs and many undergraduates collaborate with them on state-of-the-art research projects
    • Industry oriented students can work in summer intern positions in the greater Phoenix area, which has a wide range of high-tech companies including Intel, Honeywell, Boeing Helicopter, Lockheed-Martin Aerospace, and many others. These research and work experiences are a major advantage when looking for a permanent job after graduation, and Materials graduates from ASU have been highly sought-after.
    • Materials engineering is rapidly evolving field and half of our BS graduates typically go on to graduate school to prepare them for careers in research in materials and new applications for materials. To accommodate industry demand, ASU offers a 4 + 1 BS/MS degree in which students can earn a bachelor’s and master’s degree in 5 years.











Undergraduate Materials Science & Engineering: Major map
List of approved Technical Electives

The Materials Science and Engineering, B.S.E. program at Arizona State University is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET, Student enrollment and graduation data are available at



Questions & Answers

-What are typical salaries for Materials Engineers?
  • Typical starting salaries in 2001 for BS graduates in materials engineering were $60,000-$65,000. per year, and salaries increase rapidly with experience
  • BS materials graduates with 5 years experience are typically earning $70,000 per year, and those with 10 years experience are typically earning $80,000 per year
  • Graduates with MS degrees usually start around $70,000
  • Students with PhD degrees usually start at $90,000
-What types of career paths are available for Materials Engineers?
Materials engineers can pursue a wide variety of career paths, and will often work in several areas during their career.  They might begin in a technical area such as manufacturing, and then move into sales or management or research/development, depending on their interests and abilities.  Some typical career paths include the following:
  • Manufacturing:  Producing parts for sale is critical to business survival, and manufacturing engineers ensure that the production lines run smoothly, from inspecting raw materials, quality control of the final product, and troubleshooting unexpected production problems.  This is a common starting area for new BS graduates.
  • Materials Development:  The development of new production methods and new products is critical for businesses to remain competitive.  All levels of engineers (BS, MS, and PhD) often work in this area.
  • Materials Research:  The invention of new materials, from superconductors to radar-absorbing-coatings to infrared sensors, is an exciting part of the rapidly growing field of materials.  A MS or PhD degree is generally needed to carry out leading research.
  • Technical Sales:  Engineers are often required for the sale of technical products, from computer systems to construction equipment.  In addition, they often provide technical support to their customers.  This is another common starting area for new BS graduates.
  • Management:  After several years of technical experience, many engineers move into management positions.  It is often useful for engineers to pursue a MBA degree to complement their engineering skills.
  • Consulting:  There are many engineering consulting firms which provide skilled engineers to assist companies with short-term technical problems.  Projects can last from a few weeks to many months, and generally require long hours and a willingness to travel.  This can provide great technical experience and strong financial rewards, and is a great training experience for new BS graduates who want a challenging and varied experience.
  • Law:  The logical training that engineers receive makes them excellent candidates for law school.  There is a particular need for engineers in the area of patent law and to deal with complex legal questions involving technical products.
  • Medicine:  Due to the rapid development of new medical devices, there is a need for doctors who have engineering training to work on the development and testing of new devices.  Thus, a BS in engineering coupled with some biology and chemistry courses can provide excellent preparation for medical school.
-What do Materials Engineers Do?
From cellular phones to artificial hip joints to lightweight cars, materials engineers work to develop products that improve people’s lives.  Materials engineers bring advances in the auto, aerospace, construction, manufacturing, electronics, computer, and telecommunications industries by developing new metals, plastics, ceramics, semiconductors, and composites.  They work to increase the strength of steel, toughen ceramics, lower the cost of composites, and make faster computer circuits.  Materials are involved in almost every engineering product, and materials engineers are needed to select the best material, improve its properties, lower its processing cost, and increase its durability.
  •  Have you used a cellular phone or  desktop computer?  If so, then you’ve used electronic components that a materials engineer helped design and process, to make them smaller, cheaper, and faster.
  • Do you know someone who has had a bone or dental implant?  Each year hundreds of thousands of people benefit from the use of new biomaterials that have been developed by materials engineers.  These materials must be strong, durable,  and resistant to corrosion, but must also be accepted by the body.
  • Do you use a tennis racquet or a bike frame made of a graphite fiber/epoxy composite?  These materials are the same ones used in the Boeing 767 and the army’s Apache helicopter.  Materials engineers led the development of these lightweight, high-stiffness materials for high-tech industries, and they are now being used for many other applications.