Program in Materials Science and Engineering



  • Alejandro W. Rodriguez

Executive Committee

  • Craig B. Arnold, Mechanical & Aerospace Eng
  • Robert H. Austin, Physics
  • Andrew B. Bocarsly, Chemistry
  • Sujit S. Datta, Chemical and Biological Eng
  • Bruce E. Koel, Chemical and Biological Eng
  • Andrej Kosmrlj, Mechanical & Aerospace Eng
  • Tullis C. Onstott, Geosciences
  • Alejandro W. Rodriguez, Electrical Engineering
  • Leslie M. Schoop, Chemistry
  • Claire E. White, Civil and Environmental Eng

Sits with Committee

  • James S. Smith
  • Nan Yao
For a full list of faculty members and fellows please visit the department or program website.

Program Information

The certificate Program in Materials Science and Engineering is offered by the Princeton Institute for the Science and Technology of Materials (PRISM) and its eight affiliated departments. The program emphasizes the multidisciplinary nature of the study of materials and the engineering application of their properties. The program is designed primarily for students in science and engineering departments who are considering careers in materials, or have general interest in materials science and engineering, although students from other disciplines may join with appropriate background. Participants in the program will take courses in their own department together with a group of materials courses chosen from a selected list offered by the participating departments and/or PRISM. Satisfactory completion of the program is recognized by the award of a certificate in materials science and engineering upon graduation.

Admission to the Program

Admission to the program normally occurs during the sophomore or junior years. Students are expected to have satisfactorily completed a first year program that would permit them to enter one of the participating departments. Departments that are currently participating in the certificate program are: chemical and biological engineering, chemistry, civil and environmental engineering, electrical engineering, geosciences, mechanical and aerospace engineering, molecular biology, and physics, although students from other departments are also admitted into the program. Application for admission can be obtained from the undergraduate coordinator. Upon acceptance into the program, the director of undergraduate studies assists students in planning a program of study and research that emphasizes the multidisciplinary nature of the materials arena.

Program of Study

Participants in the program will satisfy the degree requirements for their department as well as the course and independent work requirements for the program. A coherent course of study will be developed in conjunction with the program adviser and the departmental representative and will include materials courses outside the student's home department. The program will be designed to expand the student's knowledge of topics essential for the understanding of materials beyond that normally encountered in a single department. In some cases, courses meeting the program requirements will also satisfy the regular requirements of the student's department. Specific program requirements are listed below.

Program Requirements

All program students must:

  1. Take one year of general physics (PHY 103, 104, or 105, 106, or apply AP credit), one term of general chemistry with a laboratory (CHM 201, 202, or 207, or apply AP credit), one year of mathematics, and a course in thermodynamics, such as CBE 246, CHM 306, CHM 406, ELE 342, MAE 221, or PHY 301. In addition, a course in quantum mechanics is recommended.
  2. Take one core course in materials (selected from the following options: MSE 301, CEE 364 or MAE 324) and one core course in experimental methods: MSE 302, MSE 505, CHM 371 or ELE 208.
  3. Take three additional approved courses at or above the 300 level in at least two different areas from the program list.
  4. Write a two-semester senior thesis on a materials topic approved by the program committee (for departments without senior thesis requirements, significant independent research work may be counted).

To remain a member of the program in good standing, and to be awarded the program certificate upon graduation, students must achieve a minimum grade average of B- in program courses. Program courses may not be taken on a pass/D/fail basis.


MSE 201 Materiality of Design (also
ARC 212
) Spring SEN

An introduction to the influence of materials in artistic, architectural, and product design. Primarily focused on the artist, architect, and designer who want to know more about materials and the principles of materials science and characterization. This class is also for the engineer who wants to study more about design. Focus will be on how technical properties, aesthetics, sustainability, manufacturability, and ergonomics relate to material properties and selection. Instructed by: J. Smith

MSE 287 Materials for Energy Technologies and Efficiency (See ENE 267)

MSE 301 Materials Science and Engineering Spring

An introduction to the structure and properties of important current and future materials, including metals, semiconductors, and polymers from an atomic and molecular perspective. Emphasis will be placed on the phase behavior and processing of materials, and on how structures in these materials impact their macroscopic physical, electrical, and thermal properties. Three lectures. Instructed by: Staff

MSE 302 Laboratory Techniques in Materials Science and Engineering Fall SEL

A hands-on introduction to the use of laboratory techniques for the processing and characterization in materials science. Structure-property relations will be explored through experiments in mechanical, optical, biological and electronic properties. The underlying theories and lab techniques will be explained in weekly lectures. The goal of the course is for students to develop a solid understanding of material properties and the common techniques used in research, as well as to gain valuable practice in oral and written presentation. Prerequisite: 301 or equivalent. Two 90-minute lectures, one laboratory. Instructed by: J. Sturm, I. Harvey, N. Yao

MSE 304 Nanomaterials and Nanoscale Science Fall

Introduction to microscale and nanoscale of materials and devices. Topics include materials made from nanoscale constituents or using nanotechnology, metrology methods, and scaling phenomenon related to mechanical, electrical and optical properties, heat transfer, and fluid flow. MEMS, NEMS, and microfluidic applications, such as sensors and actuators are presented. Instructed by: J. Smith

MSE 305 Engineering in the Micro/Nano Maker Space Spring SEL

This course offers an introduction to the use of the cleanroom fabrication as a machine-shop-of-the-future or a micro/nano 'Maker Space'. This course teaches the technology in the context of applications, focusing on how to use these capabilities and to realize inventive or entrepreneurial proclivities, while simultaneously introducing the philosophy, culture and engineering practices of the nanoscale industry. Covered topics include nanoscale engineering and the philosophy of industrial micro/nano. Instructed by: I. Harvey

MSE 309 Translating Materials Research from Lab to Real World Applications Spring

This seminar examines the relationships between materials research and industry and market adoption of products based upon these novel materials. These relationships are examined using applicable case studies combined with speaker presentations. Focus will be on discussion of proven skills and methods scientists use to deal with real world scenarios. Registration of students from a diversity of non-materials science backgrounds is also very much encouraged. Instructed by: J. Smith

MSE 324 Structure and Properties of Materials (See MAE 324)

MSE 331 Matrix Structural Analysis and Introduction to Finite-Element Methods (See CEE 361)

MSE 348 Mineralogy (See GEO 378)

MSE 364 Biomechanics and Biomaterials: From Cells to Organisms (See MAE 344)

MSE 424 Introduction to the Mechanics and Dynamics of Soft Living Matter (See CBE 433)

MSE 425 Polymers (See CBE 415)

MSE 430 Squishy Engineering: Using Soft Materials to Solve Hard Problems (See CBE 430)

MSE 449 Micro-Nanofabrication and Thin-Film Processing (See ELE 449)

MSE 455 Mid-Infrared Technologies for Health and the Environment (See ELE 455)