Is Admission To A Materials Engineering School Hard?

A modern science laboratory with advanced materials and equipment.

Deciding on a college major can feel like standing at a crossroads, especially for those considering the challenging but rewarding path of materials engineering. Did you know that entry-level material engineers earn a median salary around $93,360?

This article will unpack what it takes to dive into this lucrative field and whether securing a spot in an esteemed materials engineering program is as tough as the coursework itself.

Materials engineering is related to chemical engineering, which is often ranked as the hardest major in the engineering field. Entry-level materials engineers jobs typically require a bachelor’s degree in engineering, which includes challenging classroom and laboratory work.

Let’s discover if you’re ready for the challenge!

Key Takeaways

  • Materials engineering is about understanding and creating materials like metals and plastics. Engineers work on things from smartphones to medical devices.
  • To be a materials engineer, you need at least a bachelor’s degree in the field and good problem – solving skills.
  • The job can be tough with lots of math and science, but it pays well, with an average salary of around $93,360 per year.
  • In school for materials engineering, you will study chemistry and physics, do lab work, and handle real-world projects.
  • Being creative helps in this job because engineers invent new materials that can change technology or help the environment.

Understanding Materials Engineering

A materials engineer examining metal alloys in a high-tech laboratory.

What is Materials Engineering? This section will cover the duties of a materials engineer and the education and qualifications needed to pursue a career in this field.

What is Materials Engineering?

Materials Engineering focuses on creating and studying materials at an atomic level. Engineers in this field use metals, ceramics, plastics, semiconductors, and composites to develop new materials that meet certain mechanical, electrical, and chemical requirements.

Their work is crucial for advancements in technology such as smartphones, cars, airplanes, medical devices and more.

These engineers must understand how materials react under different conditions. They improve what we already have or invent completely new materials with unique properties. Think about bulletproof vests or solar panels; they were made by people skilled in materials engineering.

– Duties of a Materials Engineer

Materials engineers design products, figure out how to make them stronger or stretchier and solve problems when things break down. They work on all kinds of stuff like sports equipment to space shuttles.

Sometimes they focus on one material like metal or glass. Other times they mix stuff together to get the best combo of traits.

Their day might include testing why a part failed under stress or heat. They also make sure safety standards are met before something goes into production. And their creativity comes into play when figuring out how a new smartphone can be lighter yet still strong enough not to break easily.

Next up: Education and Qualifications for Materials Engineering

Duties of a Materials Engineer

Now that you know what materials engineering is about, let’s look at what these engineers do every day. They design and test new materials for various uses. This might include creating composites for aerospace or biodegradable plastics.

Their work often leads to advances in technology and industry standards.

Materials engineers also solve problems with existing products. They may improve batteries for electronics or make car parts stronger and lighter. In this role, they use their knowledge of chemical properties to come up with better materials solutions.

Plus, they help companies save money by finding more efficient production methods.

Education and Qualifications for Materials Engineering

A materials engineering graduate examining a metal structure in a laboratory.

To become a materials engineer, you will need a bachelor’s degree in materials science or engineering. In addition to technical skills, important qualities for success include analytical thinking and problem-solving abilities.

Bachelor’s Degree

Earning a bachelor’s degree in materials engineering is your first big step. This four-year program mixes classroom learning with lab experiments. You’ll dive deep into subjects like chemistry and physics.

Your courses will also cover how different materials perform under stress, heat, and other conditions.

As a student, you’ll need to tackle complex problems and understand the science behind materials. Chemical engineering may look tough, but don’t let that scare you away from materials engineering.

It’s challenging but rewarding work that could lead to a solid career with an impressive median salary of $93,360 a year. Hands-on projects and group studies will help build your confidence as an engineer.

Important Qualities

To excel in materials engineering, you should possess the following crucial qualities:

  1. Strong Analytical Skills: Being able to analyze data and solve complex problems is essential in this field.
  2. Attention to Detail: Precision and accuracy are vital in designing and testing materials.
  3. Creativity: Thinking outside the box is necessary for developing innovative materials and processes.
  4. Communication Skills: The ability to clearly convey technical information and collaborate with team members is important.
  5. Critical Thinking: You should be able to evaluate different solutions and make informed decisions.
  6. Mathematical Proficiency: A solid foundation in math is crucial for analyzing and solving engineering problems.
  7. Curiosity and Eagerness to Learn: Staying updated with new technologies and methodologies is essential for progress in this dynamic field.
  8. Adaptability: Materials engineering involves working with various materials and technologies, so being adaptable is key to success.
  9. Problem-Solving Abilities: You’ll need to identify issues, brainstorm solutions, and implement them effectively.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

To become a materials engineer, you will need to obtain certain licenses, certifications, and registrations. Here are the steps to pursue in this field:

  1. Complete a bachelor’s degree in materials engineering from an accredited program.
  2. Gain practical work experience through internships or cooperative engineering programs.
  3. Pass the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam to qualify for engineer-in-training (EIT) or engineer intern (EI) certification.
  4. Gain relevant work experience as an EIT or EI, which is typically around 4 years.
  5. Pass the Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) exam to become a licensed professional engineer (PE).

The Difficulty of Materials Engineering

Mastering materials engineering involves challenging classroom and laboratory work, but the potential for advancement opportunities makes it a worthwhile pursuit.

Classroom and Laboratory Work

Materials engineering programs involve a combination of classroom lectures and hands-on laboratory work, providing you with the theoretical knowledge and practical skills needed in this field.

You’ll delve into core subjects like chemistry, physics, and advanced materials science to gain a solid foundation. The hands-on experience allows you to apply your learning by conducting experiments, analyzing materials’ properties, and using specialized equipment to understand real-world applications.

This blend of classroom instruction and lab work equips you with a well-rounded understanding of materials engineering.

In these programs, you will have the opportunity to engage in projects that simulate real-life scenarios and tackle industry-specific challenges. Through practical experimentation, students develop critical problem-solving abilities while honing their technical expertise.

Advancement Opportunities

Materials engineers have plentiful opportunities for career growth. Upon gaining experience, you can advance to supervisory or managerial positions. Additionally, pursuing a master’s degree can open doors to higher-level roles and research opportunities in the field of materials engineering.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that obtaining a master’s can lead to increased job prospects and potentially higher salaries, making it a worthwhile consideration for your future in this dynamic industry.

What to Expect in a Materials Engineering Program

Expect to dive into core courses such as materials science, thermodynamics, and mechanical behavior of materials. You will also gain crucial hands-on experience through laboratory work and industry-related projects.

Core Courses

In a materials engineering program, you will cover core courses that lay the foundation for your education and career. Here are some of the key subjects you can expect to study:

  1. Materials Science: This course delves into the structure, properties, and behavior of various materials, including metals, ceramics, polymers, and composites.
  2. Thermodynamics: You’ll learn about the principles governing energy transfer and transformations in materials systems.
  3. Mechanical Behavior of Materials: This subject focuses on how materials respond to different types of forces and stresses.
  4. Electronic Properties of Materials: Gain an understanding of how materials conduct electricity and interact with electromagnetic fields.
  5. Materials Processing: Learn about the methods used to shape and manipulate materials during production processes.
  6. Nanomaterials and Nanotechnology: Explore the unique properties and applications of nanoscale materials.
  7. Polymer Science and Engineering: Understand the chemistry, processing, and design aspects of polymeric materials.
  8. Corrosion Engineering: Study the mechanisms of material degradation due to environmental factors and methods for corrosion prevention.
  9. Computational Materials Science: Use computer simulations to analyze material properties and behavior.
  10. Biomaterials: Examine the use of materials in medical devices, implants, and tissue engineering applications.

Hands-on Experience

As you progress through your materials engineering program, you will have the opportunity to gain valuable hands-on experience. This includes conducting experiments in labs, working with different materials, and applying theoretical knowledge to real-world scenarios.

Through these practical experiences, you will develop the skills necessary for a successful career as a materials engineer. Additionally, internships and co-op programs provide further hands-on learning opportunities, allowing you to work alongside professionals and gain insight into the day-to-day responsibilities of a materials engineer.

In addition to classroom instruction, hands-on experience is integral to developing a well-rounded understanding of materials engineering. These practical applications allow you to put theory into practice and prepare you for the challenges and rewards of this dynamic field.

Advantages of Pursuing a Degree in Materials Engineering

Pursuing a degree in materials engineering offers the advantage of entering a growing field with plenty of opportunities. You also have the potential to bring innovative ideas and solutions to real-world problems.

Opportunities in a Growing Field

Materials engineering offers a multitude of opportunities in a growing field. With the median annual salary for materials engineers reaching $93,360, this career path presents financial stability and growth potential.

The demand for materials engineers is expected to rise as advancements in technology drive the need for innovative materials with enhanced properties. Additionally, pursuing a degree in materials engineering can lead to diverse career paths including working in research labs, manufacturing industries, or government agencies.

This expanding industry promises an exciting and rewarding journey for those interested in combining science and creativity to solve real-world challenges.

Potential for Inventiveness

With the opportunities in a growing field of materials engineering, you’ll harness your creativity and problem-solving skills to develop innovative solutions. As a materials engineer, you will have the chance to create new materials or improve existing ones for various industries such as healthcare, automotive, and electronics.

Your work may involve experimenting with different combinations of materials to enhance performance or developing sustainable materials for environmental conservation.

The potential for inventiveness in materials engineering allows you to contribute to groundbreaking advancements in technology and sustainability while continuously pushing the boundaries of what’s possible.


In conclusion, materials engineering offers a challenging yet rewarding path. Emphasize your enthusiasm and determination as you navigate the complexities of this field. How will you apply these insights to pursue admission with vigor? Take heart in knowing that perseverance can lead to achieving your academic aspirations.

Explore further resources to cultivate your knowledge and drive towards success.


1. Do I need to have high grades to get into materials engineering school?

Yes, you often need high grades in math and science to be considered for admission.

2. Is work experience important for getting into a materials engineering program?

Work experience can help, but it is not always required for admission.

3. How competitive is admission to materials engineering schools?

Admission can be very competitive, depending on the school’s reputation and the number of applicants each year.

4. Are there any tests I need to take before applying to a materials engineering school?

You may need to take standardized tests like the SAT or ACT as part of your application.

5. What should I study in high school if I want to go into materials engineering?

Focus on studying math, physics, chemistry, and related technical subjects during high school.

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