Bachelor of Science in Materials Science and Engineering


Materials science is the study of the relationship between a material's atomic structure and its physical properties.

The bachelor's degree in materials science and engineering teaches students to understand and apply advanced science and engineering principles to different materials such as ceramics, glasses or metals in order to develop new or better products.

In addition to a general course of study, students in the materials science and engineering program can choose to pursue an emphasis in extractive metallurgy or nuclear materials.

Our program equips students for careers in materials processing and manufacturing, design and development of new materials, or materials selection. Students may also choose to pursue graduate study.

To be successful in a materials science and engineering degree program, you should arrive at the university with a strong background in math and science. We recommend you have taken physics and chemistry courses in high  school and be prepared to take calculus as a freshman.

What Will I Learn?

Our students gain skills in the following areas:

  1. Science and engineering: Our graduates are skilled in creatively applying science, math and engineering principles to contemporary problems in materials application and design. They have experience with glasses, semiconductors, composites, metals and polymers, as well as concepts of material structure, behavior, processing and performance.
  2. Leadership and teamwork: Our graduates can make an impact in the engineering profession in various roles, including as team members and in leadership roles.
  3. Professional contributions: Our graduates are life-long learners who impact the developing understanding of research, design and application of materials.
  4. Broader impact: Our graduates are comfortable working in interdisciplinary environments and are aware of their legal, moral and environmental responsibilities as engineers.

The materials science and engineering program is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET, which is the recognized worldwide leader in assuring quality and stimulating innovation in engineering education.

Degree Requirements

The first two years of the degree program are focused on developing a strong foundation in chemistry, physics and mathematics. As sophomores, students learn the basic principles of the atomic and microscopic structure and properties of various materials.

Advanced courses for upperclassmen include topics such as the following:

  • Structure, mechanical and physical properties of materials
  • Corrosion
  • Materials processing
  • Manufacturing

All materials science engineering students are required to complete two capstone courses during the senior year.

  • Fall semester: This course focuses on principles of materials science and engineering process design, including economics, safety, and social and ethical considerations.
  • Spring semester: In this course, students complete an individual design project, incorporating considerations learned in the fall.

Students must also take the Fundamentals of Engineering Examination administered by the Nevada Board of Professional Engineers. The FE exam is generally taken during the spring of your senior year. Register for ENGR 490 in order to have the exam recorded on your transcript.

Areas of emphasis

In addition to a general B.S. in materials science and engineering, you have the option to choose an area of emphasis for your degree. Two emphases are available, and you can see detailed major requirements and eligible electives for each emphasis by visiting the course catalog.

  1. Extractive metallurgy emphasis
  2. Nuclear materials emphasis

Recommended schedule

You can view the recommended sequence of courses for your emphasis on the Course Catalog. Please note that requirements and course offerings may change, and you should consult your advisor to ensure your course schedule meets your individual needs.

Career Options

Materials and metallurgical engineering includes elements from a variety of engineering disciplines, and the demand for professionals in the field is strong. Engineers trained in materials science are at the forefront in the development of materials designed to contain ultra-high temperatures and pressures in aircraft, spacecraft and energy generation systems. In the materials field, engineers also develop electronic, photovoltaic and superconductor devices, as well as other high-technology innovations.

Materials scientists and engineers can find employment in a range of areas, including manufacturing, pharmaceuticals or electronics. Their work often focuses on developing or refining materials to make products cheaper, safer or better. Materials scientists in our department are working on developing more environmentally friendly materials for aerospace, lighter-weight materials to make cars more efficient and new materials for solar energy conversion.

Additionally, many materials science and engineering careers offer competitive salaries. According to a 2018 report from the National Association of Colleges and Employers, materials engineering majors had a median starting salary of $68,225.

Related Degrees and Programs

Contact Chemical and Materials Engineering

Phone (775) 784-6771
Fax (775) 327-5059
Location Paul Laxalt Mineral Research