Undergraduate Degree Program for Materials Science and Engineering

The Stone Age, the Bronze Age…the Silicon Age. We name eras by the materials that define them. And those materials define so much of what’s possible in our lives: drive a car; land on Mars; talk and text across thousands of miles; store, transmit, and manipulate data; produce, store, and distribute energy. Materials scientists and engineers are at the very center of imagining and delivering progress. Cornell has long been a leader in the field, and our Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) graduates are in demand in every sector and industry.

The field of Materials Science and Engineering is broad and multidisciplinary, building on fundamentals of physics, chemistry, and biology. We manipulate mechanical, electrical, optical, magnetic, and chemical properties to create and improve the materials from which all engineered objects are made.Our field is changing rapidly. While we remain heavily engaged in core Materials Science disciplines including polymers, ceramics, and semiconductors, at Cornell we are also leading the way in a dramatic transformation of the field. Increasingly, we employ an integrated approach in exploring and engineering materials, using our unique perspectives and expertise to help solve some of the world’s most pressing problems. We intend to have a powerful impact on the sustainability of our planet and the health of our economy.

To achieve these goals, we have established major research initiatives in Energy Production and Storage, Electronics and Photonics, Bio-inspired Materials and Systems, and Green Technologies. We are well positioned to remain at the forefront of these and other emerging areas because of the strength of our department, the vast intellectual and facilities resources across Cornell, and our well established mindset of continually pushing the boundaries.

Cornell is a leader in materials research and hosts several premier research centers. Many of our students choose to become directly involved in research at some point either as a volunteer, for pay, or for academic credit. Working alongside faculty and graduate students, they contribute extensively to the research program and often author scientific publications based on their work.


With materials required for virtually all engineered products, professionals with training in MSE are employed across all industrial sectors. They are working in every size company, from large corporations in aerospace, chemicals, medicine, and microelectronics to a multitude of tiny startups. Job responsibilities include materials selection and qualification, materials processing, failure analysis, research and design of new materials, and product development. Many MSE students continue for advanced degrees and work in national, industrial, and academic research labs developing the technologies of tomorrow, such as sunlight-harvesting nanopillars or porous scaffolds for tissue regeneration.

MSE also attracts students interested in business, law, and medicine, as it provides a strong technical background covering a broad sweep of both science and engineering.

Master of Engineering Degree Program

The Master of Engineering (M.Eng.) in MSE is a one-year, professionally-oriented program designed to prepare students for engineering or engineering management careers in business, government, and industry, or for entrepreneurial pursuits. The MSE M.Eng. curriculum is flexible and interdisciplinary, allowing students to tailor coursework to their personal interests and backgrounds. An option for Cornell undergraduates is the early admission to M.Eng.; this enables students to complete both the B.S. and the M.Eng. degrees in nine semesters. Our M.Eng. graduates typically join the professional ranks with higher starting salaries and advanced levels of responsibility, compared to those with bachelor’s degrees. Some M.Eng. students alternatively use this program to strengthen their research background before applying to Ph.D. programs.

Some Areas of Faculty Research

  • batteries
  • biofouling
  • biomineralization
  • block copolymers
  • bone mechanics
  • carbon sequestration
  • colloidal particles
  • computational materials
  • core-shell nanoparticles
  • electronics/photonics
  • fuel cells
  • laser processing
  • layered materials
  • materials genomics
  • metal & oxide thin films
  • multiferroic oxides
  • nitride semiconductors
  • nanoscale dynamics
  • photocatalysis
  • photolithography
  • supercapacitors
  • thermoelectric materials
  • thin film transistors
  • x-ray science
  • water purification

Materials Science and Engineering by the Numbers

Number of Materials Science Engineering undergraduate students: 59

Starting salaries of B.S. Materials Science and Engineering graduates (three-year average):

  • Median salary: $73,528
  • High salary: $115,000

Post-graduate plans for materials science and engineer graduates at the time of graduation (three-year average):

  • Employed 24% 24%
  • Attending Graduate School 73% 73%
  • Seeking Acceptance to Graduate School 2% 2%
  • Seeking Employment 1% 1%