Materials Engineering

Materials engineers are essential for advancing technology, sustainability and the science of materials. Materials Engineering at The Grainger College of Engineering is a multidisciplinary field that focuses on the understanding, design, fabrication and engineering of materials that underpin and drive our modern world. It combines principles from chemistry, physics and engineering to create and manipulate materials, improving their performance, cost-efficiency and environmental impact in industries ranging from aerospace, electronics, energy and healthcare.

In Materials Engineering, we are devoted to being at the forefront of technology, solving the world’s most pressing problems every day. Our commitment to academic excellence, cutting-edge research and career preparedness means that you will have an excellent undergraduate educational experience, access to state-of-the-art facilities and participate in networking opportunities and internships. Your creative energy, technical skills and collaborative spirit are needed in our program to invent new materials, develop sustainable solutions and shape a brighter future for all.

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  • Our materials science and engineering program is ranked #2 by U.S. News & World Report.
  • 78% of students reported having an internship or co-op during their degree program.
  • 95% of students reported securing their first choice destination upon graduation.
  • The median starting salary for a materials science and engineering graduate is $80,000 with a median signing bonus of $5,000.

Discover your power. Become a Grainger Engineer.

Your path to Grainger Engineering starts with connecting your passion and interests with the opportunities available in Materials Science and Engineering. Explore your options and gather the information you need to take the next step and apply.

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What You'll Study

As a Materials Engineer, you’ll train at the nexus of biology, chemistry, computer science and physics. Ranked #2 in the country, our more than 11,000 square feet of state-of-the-art research facilities and instructional spaces will provide you with hands-on experience from day one. You'll work with cutting-edge equipment, conduct experiments and collaborate on projects that address real-world challenges.

In the lab, you will develop, synthesize and even destroy materials to gain knowledge of their unique properties. You will use insight from fundamental sciences to solve difficult, real-world problems, and that experience will help you determine and develop the materials of the future. The phone in your pocket, cars on the road and many medical procedures performed today rely on the most cutting-edge materials, which are developed and designed for their specific application. 

The Materials Engineering curriculum provides an understanding of principles for synthesizing and processing of materials and the interrelationships between them and the overall material properties. You learn how to create advanced materials and systems required for an array of applications, including flexible electronic displays and photonics that will change communications technologies, site-specific drug delivery and nuclear systems for energy production. You can take classes in electronic properties of matter, synthesis of materials and even atomic scale simulation. More than three-fourths of our students participate in an internship, co-op or research experience that augments the hands-on learning here at Illinois with real-world applications.

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Minor in Computer Science

The CS Minor is offered for students seeking significant knowledge of digital computing without the more complete treatment of a major in computer science. This minor may be taken by any student except majors in the Computer Science degree programs and in Computer Engineering.

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Post-Graduation Success

The Materials Engineering curriculum emphasizes understanding, designing, and producing materials with properties tailored for specific applications and the processes used. This prepares students for a successful career after graduation, whether they seek employment in industry, pursue an advanced degree, or use their knowledge gained for entrepreneurial pursuits. About forty-two percent of our Materials Engineering graduates continue their education in graduate school, and about fifty-three percent take positions in industry.

Graduates with Materials Engineering degrees find jobs across a broad range of industrial sectors that rely on materials innovation including aerospace, automotive, biomedical, chemical, electronics, energy, nanotechnology, computational modeling, consulting, patent law and telecommunication. The median salary for Materials Engineering grads in 2022-2023 was reported as $80,000 with a median signing bonus of $5,000.

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employed or continuing education*

employed after graduation

attending graduate school

median starting annual income*

Sample employer destinations: SpaceX, Rolls Royce, AbbVie, Intel, Ford Motor Company View All

Sample grad school destinations: MIT, Northwestern University, Stanford University View All

*Post-graduate data was collected through the Illini Success initiative, which primarily relies on self-reported survey data sources. Statistics reported are from 2022-2023. Please note that total compensation may be greater than annual salary as other forms of compensation (e.g., signing bonus, commission, benefits) are not included. For more information on Illini Success data and methods, please visit the Illini Success website.

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MatSE students working on polymer lab

Your future starts here.

Applying to The Grainger College of Engineering opens the door to your future as a successful engineer. Get started by scheduling a visit, requesting information, or submitting your application.