Materials Science and Engineering Major

Study the Materials that Shape Our Lives

uc davis materials science engineering major
Undergraduate researcher Nadia Albayati '19 in Roopali Kukreja's laboratory. Photo: Reeta Asmai/UC Davis.

About the Major

Materials science and engineering (MSE) focuses on understanding the structure, properties and behavior of materials. Society demands new and improved materials with capabilities far superior to common metals, polymers and ceramics used in products such as high-speed transportation systems, surgical and dental implants, new generations of power plants and solid-state electronic devices in computer and communication technology. Both the development of new materials and the understanding of present-day materials demand a thorough knowledge of basic engineering and scientific principles, including crystal structure, elastic and plastic behavior, thermodynamics, phase equilibria, and reaction rates and physical and chemical behavior of engineering materials.

Materials scientists and engineers study phenomena that are found in many different engineering operations, from fracture behavior in automobiles to fatigue behavior in aircraft frames; from corrosion behavior in petro-chemical refineries to radiation-induced damage in nuclear power plants; and from the fabrication of steel to the design of semiconductors. Materials scientists and engineers are increasingly involved in developing the new materials needed to attain higher efficiencies in existing and proposed energy conversion systems. They will also play a central role in developing new technologies based on composites and high-temperature superconductivity.

The small size of the department allows students to get to know world-class researchers in an intimate setting and form tight-knit relationships with their peers while having all the resources of a large research university. Since materials science and engineering has such broad applications, undergraduate students in the department have the opportunity to study and collaborate with faculty and students in other engineering disciplines as well. The materials science and engineering program at UC Davis is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET.

Contact an undergraduate advisor to learn about life at UC Davis and the many different paths you can take within the major.


Sample 4-year schedule.

Sample 2-year (transfer) schedule.

Degree requirements.

GE worksheet checklist.