Materials Science and Engineering

Program Offerings

Offering type

The minor in Materials Science and Engineering is offered by the Princeton Materials Institute. 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, with appropriate background, may join. 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 the Princeton Materials Institute. Satisfactory completion of the program is recognized by the award of a minor in materials science and engineering upon graduation.


Goals for Student Learning

Princeton’s minor in materials science and engineering emphasizes the multidisciplinary nature of the study of materials and the engineering applications of their properties. Program participants learn about the breadth of materials, their synthesis and processing, and the structure-property relationships that make materials the foundation of all “hard” technologies — past, present and future. In addition to lecture courses inside and outside the student’s home department, all program participants take a core course in experimental methods, designed to give students experience in both making and characterizing materials. All program participants also engage in significant independent research, culminating in a senior thesis with substantial materials content. The aim of these experiences is to develop critical thinking skills, to apply these to the solutions of current problems and to identify important areas for future work. The program serves as solid preparation for students planning post-Princeton careers in materials-intensive industries, as well as those intending to study materials science and engineering in graduate school.

Admission to the Program

Admission to the program normally occurs during the spring term of sophomore year or junior year. An application for admission can be obtained from the academic program administrator. 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 director of undergraduate studies and will include program-approved 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. Specific program requirements are listed below.

Additional 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 materials focus and a laboratory (CHM 207, 215, or apply AP credit; CHM 201/202 sequence also accepted) and one year of mathematics (any two courses out of MAT 103, 104, 201, 202, 203 and 204). In addition, a course in quantum mechanics is recommended.
  2. Take one course in thermodynamics (CBE 246, CHM 306, CHM 406, ECE 342, MAE 221, or PHY 301), a core course in materials (MSE 301; CEE 364 or MAE 324 also accepted), and one core course in experimental methods (MSE 302; CHM 371, ECE 308 or GEO 369 also accepted).
  3. Take three additional program-approved courses at or above the 300 level, at least one of which must be from a department/program different from that in which the student is majoring.
  4. Write a senior thesis on a topic with substantial materials content as approved by the program director.
  5. Not more than four of the six course selections outlined in points 2 and 3 above may also be used to satisfy requirements in the major.

To be awarded the minor in materials science and engineering upon graduation, students must achieve a minimum grade average of B- in program electives. Program electives may not be taken on a pass/D/fail basis.


  • Director

    • 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
    • Jie Deng, Geosciences
    • Andrej Kosmrlj, Mechanical & Aerospace Eng
    • Glaucio H. Paulino, Civil and Environmental Eng
    • Alejandro W. Rodriguez, Electrical & Comp Engineering
    • Leslie M. Schoop, Chemistry
    • Saien Xie, Electrical & Comp Engineering
  • Sits with Committee

    • Kai A. Filsinger
    • Nan Yao

For a full list of faculty members and fellows please visit the department or program website.


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. K. Filsinger

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. K. Filsinger, N. Yao

MSE 324 - Structure and Properties of Materials (also MAE 324) Fall

MSE 331 - Matrix Structural Analysis and Introduction to Finite-Element Methods (also CEE 361/MAE 325) Not offered this year QCR

MSE 348 - Mineralogy (also GEO 378) Spring SEL

MSE 364 - Biomechanics and Biomaterials: From Cells to Organisms (also MAE 344) SEN

MSE 365 - Materials in Civil Engineering (also ARC 364/CEE 364) Spring SEL

MSE 425 - Polymers (also CBE 415/CHM 415) Fall SEN

MSE 455 - Optical and Photonic Systems for Environmental Sensing (also CEE 455/ECE 455/MAE 455) Spring