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Applications for the Materials Science minor are accepted at any time. Please reach out if you have any questions.

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Minor Requirements

Please refer to the Catalog for further information.

The Materials Science minor consists of four core courses and three elective courses selected under advisement.

Students wishing to complete the Materials Science minor should review the course sequence below to plan their schedules, and schedule a meeting to consult with an advisor (

Please check course descriptions to determine the sequence in which you should fulfill the prerequisite courses.

  • MATH 125 Calculus and Analytical Geometry (5) or MATH 135 Honors Calculus II (5)
  • PHYS 161 Physics with Calculus I with Lab (5) or PHYS 114 (5)
  • PHYS 162 Physics with Calculus II with Lab (5) or PHYS 115 with lab (5)
  • PHYS 163 Physics with Calculus III with Lab (5) or PHYS 116 with lab (5)
  • CHEM 161 or 175 General Chemistry I (5)
  • CHEM 162 or 176 General Chemistry II (5)
  • CHEM 163 (4) or CHEM 225 (5) General Chemistry III


MSCI 201

Introduction to Materials Science and Engineering (4 cr)

Pre-requisites: CHEM 161 or CHEM 175; MATH 124 and PHYS 161 or concurrent; or MATH 157 and PHYS 114 or concurrent.

The relationship between the properties, structure and processes of engineering materials is discussed. Emphasis on the fundamentals of selecting materials based on engineering design criteria. Also offered as ENGR 170.


  1. Conceptually explain the classification schemes that are used to categorize engineering materials.
  2. Explain the differences in the mechanical behavior of engineering materials based upon bond type, structure, composition, and processing.
  3. Describe the basic structures and repeat units for common thermoplastics and relate the distribution of molecular weights, degree of polymerization, percent crystallinity, and glass transition temperature to properties in service.
  4. Describe how and why defects (point, line and interfacial) in materials greatly affect engineering properties and limit their use in service
  5. Calculate engineering stress, strain and the elastic modulus from data and for basic engineering applications.
  6. Describe why each of the fundamental mechanical engineering properties of materials covered in the course (stress, strain, elastic constant, creep, fatigue, wear, hardness, Poisson’s ratio, toughness, ductility, flexural strength, impact strength, elongation) are important in engineering design.
  7. Select the appropriate engineering materials and size basic parts, including the use of appropriate safety factors and cost, for specific engineering applications using mechanical properties such as: yield strength, tensile strength, ductility or elongation, impact strength, toughness, Poisson’s ratio, flexural strength, hardness, fatigue life, endurance limit, wear, and creep.
  8. Work in teams to research and then orally communicate current applications of engineering materials in service, understand historical limitations of those materials, evaluate future trends in those applications, and understand long-term sustainability, recycling and life cycle issues.
  9. Apply ethical principles, engineering codes of ethics, and professional responsibilities in the selection of materials in engineering design.
  10. Use binary phase diagrams to predict microstructures and also to understand precipitation hardening. Understand how thermal treatments affect the microstructure and, thus, properties of materials.

MSCI 325

Materials Chemistry (3 cr)

Pre-requisites: CHEM 163 or CHEM 175; MSCI 201 or ENGR 170; PHYS 116 or PHYS 163 or concurrent.

In this course, students will learn about the fundamentals of materials chemistry as we cover topics ranging from crystalline structures, phase equilibria, electrochemistry, and nanosynthesis. This course will also introduce students to techniques and instrumentation used in characterizing materials and help them develop a working knowledge of chromatography, spectroscopy, mass spectrometry, electron microscopy, and X-ray diffraction. In-class experiments or instrument demonstrations may be included. Specific current applications of materials chemistry will also be explored.


  1. Describe the basic structure of materials at the atomic, molecular, microscopic, and macroscopic scales, and describe modern methods of characterizing materials at each of these length scales. 
  2. Understand diffusion and electrochemical processes in materials.
  3. Understand and identify the unique properties and characteristics of polymer-based materials and nanomaterials.
  4. Understand and the relationships between material structure and their bulk properties and how synthesis and processing parameters influence material choices for real world applications.


MSCI 340

Materials Physics (3 cr)

Pre-requisites: MATH 125 or MATH 135 or MATH 138; PHYS 116 or PHYS 163; MSCI 325; or instructor permission.

Fundamental electronic, magnetic, thermal and optical properties of bulk and nano-structured materials are emphasized in this overview course.  In-class experiment or instrument demonstrations may be included. Students will perform in-depth research into a topic in materials science and summarize the findings in written and oral report form.


  1. Gain a broad perspective on materials physics.
  2. Gain an introduction to the electronic, magnetic, thermal and optical properties of bulk and nano-structured materials.
  3. Gain an introduction to a variety of nanomaterials, including computational and analytical modeling the of their properties. In-class experiment or instrument demonstrations may be included.
  4. Obtain experience in performing in-depth research into a topic in materials science and summarizing findings in written and oral reports.


MSCI 410

Laboratory Techniques in Materials Science (4 cr)

Pre-requisites: MSCI 340 or instructor permission.

This course will cover the theory and operating principles of materials characterization techniques such as: electron microscopy, X-ray chemical microanalysis, optical microscopy, thermal, magnetic and structural analysis, mass spectrometry, and X-ray diffraction. Hands-on experience synthesizing or processing polymers, thin films, or other advanced materials may be included. Laboratory experience, research projects, and professional report writing are emphasized.


  1. Gain important conceptual and operational understanding of a wide range of methods for characterizing, synthesizing and processing materials
  2. Be able to create sophisticated experimental designs to investigate material properties and to assess the quality of experimental data and the limitations of specific techniques
  3. Be able to communicate concisely and effectively using industrial and academic style methods for reporting results
  4. Learn to think and work like professional scientists and engineers.



The following electives are arranged into themes, but students are not be required to stay within a particular theme. Some of these courses have significant pre-requisites, but some can will be waived for MSCI minors. Contact AMSEC for advising and course overrides.

Materials Characterization

BIOL 484 - Cell Microscopy Laboratory (5 cr.)
CHEM 425K - Bioanalytical Instrumentation (3 cr.)
CHEM 425R - Surface Chemistry (3 cr.)
CHEM 454 – Organic Spectroscopy (5 cr.)
ENGR 225 - Mechanics of Materials (4 cr.)
GEOL 460 - ICP-MS Theory & Appl. in Earth Sci. (4 cr.)
PME 471- Adv. Materials & Characterization (4 cr.)
MSCI 420 - Scanning Electron Microscopy (3 cr.)

Polymers and Composites

PME 371- Intro to Plastic Materials & Process.(5 cr.)
PME 372–Intro to Composite Mater. & Process. (5 cr.)
PME 472 – Advanced Composites (4 cr.)

Choose one from the following:
CHEM  308 – Intro to Polymer Chemistry (3 cr.)
CHEM 426 – Chemistry of Macromolecules (3 cr.)

Data Science

DATA 311- Fundamentals of Data Science (4 cr.)

Materials Manufacturing

MFGE 231- Intro to Metal Manufacturing (4 cr.)
PME 331 – Injection Molding (4 cr.)

Natural Materials

GEOL 306 - Mineralogy (4 cr.)
GEOL 314 - Engineering Geology (4 cr.)
GEOL 318 - Structural Geology (5 cr.)
GEOL 352 - Introduction to Geophysics (4 cr.)
GEOL 425 - Adv. Metamorphic Petrology (4 cr.)
GEOL 452 - Applied Geophysics (5 cr.)
GEOL 454 - Magnetic Fabrics & Geo. Process. (4 cr.)
GEOL 457 - Practical Paleomagnetism (4 cr.)
GEOL 461 - Geochemistry (4 cr.)
GEOL 465 - Remote Sensing of Earth and Planetary Surface (4 cr.)

Materials in Energy and the Environment

CHEM 425V -Chemistry of Renewable Energy (3 cr.)
ENRG 420 - Advanced Energy Science (3 cr.)
ENRG 421 - Energy Science Laboratory (2 cr.)
ENRG 430 - Energy Materials and Waste (4 cr.)
ENRG 466 - Life Cycle Analysis (4 cr.)

Advanced Materials Physics

PHYS 475 - Physics of Solids and Materials 1 (3 cr.)
PHYS 476 - Physics of Solids and Materials 2 (3 cr.)

Computational Analysis of Materials

CHEM 486 – Computational Chemistry (3 cr.)
MATH 307 – Mathematical Computing (4 cr.)
PHYS 345 – Quantum Computing (3 cr.)
PHYS 486 – Computational Physics (3 cr.)


Course Planning

Core Courses

MSCI 201 (co-listed with ENGR 170) is offered fall and winter quarters, so this course should be completed in your sophomore or junior year. All other MSCI courses are only offered once per year and must be taken in sequence, so plan accordingly.

Table of course planning for MSCI minor
Quarter/Year Fall Winter Spring
Year One MSCI 201* MSCI 201* -
Year Two

MSCI 325

MSCI 340

MSCI 410

*MSCI 201 offered fall and winter; **Electives and/or research can be completed anytime


Additional Elective Requirements

  • In addition to the four core courses listed above, students must take 3 approved elective classes with a minimum of 9 credits combined. Electives span a broad variety of topics from all majors.
    • Materials-related research can count towards elective credit up to a maximum of 6 credits. Students are required to submit a Research Project Approval form to get elective credit for research.
  • A maximum of three courses can be double counted towards major requirements.

Student Learning Outcomes

Learning outcomes are statements that describe significant and essential learning that have been achieved and can be reliably demonstrated at the end of a course. Materials Science courses offered by AMSEC have established these learning outcomes:

  • Ability to apply knowledge of mathematics, science, and engineering to solve problems related to materials science and engineering.
  • Ability to design and conduct experiments, as well as to analyze and interpret data using statistical, computational, or mathematical methods.
  • Ability to collaborate effectively on multidisciplinary teams.
  • Ability to communicate effectively in written and oral formats.
  • Broad education necessary to understand the impact of engineering and scientific solutions in a global, economic, environmental, and societal context.