The objectives of the undergraduate program in Materials Science are:

  • Professional employment in industry, including materials production, automotive, aerospace, microelectronics, information storage, medical devices, energy production, storage and conversion, and in engineering consulting firms
  • Graduate studies in materials science and engineering or related fields

BS in Materials Science

The undergraduate curriculum is designed to provide the basis for developing, improving, and understanding materials and processes for application in engineered systems. It draws from physics, chemistry and other disciplines to provide a coherent background for immediate application in engineering or for subsequent advanced study. The emphasis is on fundamentals relating atomic-to-microscopic-scale phenomena to materials properties and processing, including design and control of industrially important materials processes. Core courses and electives combine rigor with flexibility and provide opportunities for focusing on such areas as nanomaterials, materials for green energy, materials for infrastructure and manufacturing, materials for health and biotechnology, and materials for next generation electronics.

The unifying theme of understanding and interrelating materials synthesis, processing, structure, and properties forms the basis of our program and is evident in the undergraduate curriculum and in faculty research activities. These activities include work on polycrystalline silicon for flat panel displays; semiconductors for lasers and solar cell applications, magnetic heterostructures for information storage and novel computation architectures; electronic ceramics for batteries, gas sensors and fuel cells; electrodeposition and corrosion of metals; and the analysis and design of high-temperature reactors and first principles calculations. Through involvement with our research groups, students gain valuable hands-on experience and are often engaged in joint projects with industrial and government laboratories.

Students are strongly encouraged to take courses in the order specified in the course tables; implications of deviations should be discussed with a departmental adviser before registration. The first two years provide a strong grounding in the physical and chemical sciences, materials fundamentals, and mathematics. This background is used to provide a unique physical approach to the study of materials. The last two years of the undergraduate program provide substantial exposure to modern materials science and include courses in processing, structure and properties of materials that extend the work of the first two years. Graduates of the program are equipped for employment in the large industrial sector that includes materials production, automotive, aerospace, microelectronics, information storage, medical devices, and energy production, storage and conversion. Graduates are prepared for graduate study in materials science and engineering and related fields.


Required Materials Science Courses

Students are required to take 13 Materials Science courses for a total of 37 points. The required courses are:

Technical Elective Requirements

Students are required to take nine technical electives (27 points) from the list given below, which offers significant flexibility in allowing students to tailor their degree program to their interests.

  • All 3000-level or higher courses in the Materials Science program of the Department of Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics, except those MSAE courses that are required.
  • All 3000-level or higher courses in Applied Physics or Applied Math Programs of the Department of Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics
  • All 3000-level or higher courses in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, Civil Engineering and Engineering Mechanics program, Department of Chemical Engineering, Department of Computer Science, Department of Earth and Environmental Engineering, Department of Electrical Engineering, Department of Industrial Engineering and Operations Research, and Department of Mechanical Engineering, except for courses that require graduate standing
  • ORCA E2500 Foundations of data science
  • Courses in the Department of Chemistry listed in the Focus Areas

Focus Areas

Focus Areas for tehcnical electives are outlined in the Columbia Engineering Bulletin. Students may choose from any one area if they are interested in the subject matter, but they are not required to do so. Focus Areas include:

  • Nanomaterials
  • Materials for next generation electronics
  • Materials for green energy
  • Materials for 21st centurn infrastructure and manufacturing
  • Materials for health and biotechnology
  • Materials chemistry / soft materials

Non-Technical Elective Requirements

All materials science students are also expected to register for nontechnical electives, both those specifically required by the School of Engineering and Applied Science and those needed to meet the 27-point total of nontechnical electives required for graduation.

Transfer Students

Combined Plan 3-2/Transfer students and students transferring from another SEAS department into the Materials Science Program in the junior year (upon approval of the Materials Science Undergraduate Transfer Committee) will take the following courses to satisfy the degree requirements: The required courses are:

Combined Plan 3-2/Transfer students will be guided by their academic advisors to avoid duplication of courses previously taken.

The course tables (in the SEAS Bulletin) describe the four-semester degree program schedule of courses leading to the bachelor’s degree in the Materials Science Program of the Department of Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics.

Undergraduate Research

There are multiple on-campus and off-campus research opportunities for undergraduate students


Have a question? Please contact our Student Services Coordinator or reach out to a Materials Science Undergraduate Advisor.

Undergraduate Admissions

All undergraduate students apply to Columbia Engineering through the Office of Undergraduate Admissions