Materials Science and Engineering

Materials Science and Engineering is manipulating and creating materials to meet and exceed societal and technological needs. Fast-charging batteries, adaptive biosensors, semiconductor chips and self-healing materials require the highest performance, and MatSE graduates are currently executing this charge. 

Scientific advancement needs materials with unique properties, and we’re rising to the challenge to push those advances forward with materials for space exploration, renewable energy and drug delivery. Our material advances will impact NASA’s Mars by 2030 objective, the future of solar cells, sustainable wind turbines and targeted cancer cells. A key part of this effort is utilizing computational materials science with machine learning, data mining and quantum computing to idealize and simulate materials before fabrication, speeding up testing and discovery of materials.

As a MatSE student, you’ll obtain a fundamental understanding of the science of materials through courses in biology, chemistry, computer science and physics. You’ll be able to tailor your curriculum to match your interests. 

As a highly versatile discipline, our graduates are in demand by industry-leading companies and vibrant start-ups that rely on improved materials technologies. Such work may involve computational research with machine learning, understanding new medical therapies, creating protective coatings for hypersonic flight and space travel, manufacturing next-generation solar cells, building quantum computers, or designing safer and more sustainable batteries. 

If you’re excited about the real-world application of biology, chemistry, computer science, physics and more, then you’ll find a home in the MatSE department. Your story begins now! We can’t wait to welcome you to the MatSE family. Contact for more information.

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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.
  • 98% of students reported securing their first choice destination upon graduation.
  • The average starting salary for a materials science and engineering graduate is $71,626 with a median signing bonus of $5,277.

Discover your power. Become a Grainger Engineer.

Your path to Grainger Engineering starts with connecting your passion and interests with the opportunities available in one of our 15 top-ranked major programs. Explore your options and gather the information you need to take the next step and apply.

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What You'll Study

At MatSE, you’ll train at the nexus of biology, chemistry, computer science and physics. We’re a truly interdisciplinary field of study. Ranked #2 in the country, our department has more than 11,000 square feet of dedicated, world-class instructional space solely for your hands-on learning and experimentation. 

In the lab, you will develop, synthesize and even destroy materials to gain knowledge of their unique properties. You will use insight from these 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 often developed and designed for their specific application. Without materials science and people like you who want to enhance them these technologies would be impossible.

The MatSE curriculum provides an understanding of the principles of 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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View Curriculum Map (Biomaterials Area)

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.

Learn more about the CS Minor


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Post-Graduation Success

The MatSE 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 other pursuits. About sixty-one percent of our Materials Engineering graduates continue their education in graduate school, and about thirty-five percent take positions in industry.

Graduates with MatSE 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 average salary for Materials Engineering grads in 2021-2022 was reported as $71,626 with an average signing bonus of $5,277.

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employed or continuing education*

employed after graduation

attending graduate school

average starting annual income*

Sample employer destinations: Texas Instruments, The Clorox Company, Ebco View All

Sample grad school destinations: University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, 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 2021-2022. 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.