Pitt | Swanson Engineering
Materials Science and Engineering Curriculum

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The following areas of concentration are available for Materials Science and Engineering students:

Ferrous Physical Metallurgy Concentration

Materials Science and Engineering Undergraduate Curriculum

The undergraduate program is designed to give the student a basic understanding of the structure and properties of materials, the principles underlying the processing of materials, and the concepts of engineering design and problem solving. Both theory and practice are emphasized. Laboratory experiences are integrated into the curriculum, and a variety of professional and engineering science electives are available. When desirable, specialized programs can be arranged for the students with well-defined interests and goals. Students are prepared to accept positions in production, research, and management, in both the basic materials and advanced or high-tech materials industries. This versatile education is a strong preparation for graduate work in metallurgy and materials and other related fields.

Course work in the social sciences and humanities is included for the enhancement of the student’s awareness of the importance of social, political, and economic problems in the practice of engineering. Where appropriate, the upper-level courses introduce consideration of human values, social benefits, and constraints to prepare future practicing engineers to be responsive to such concerns.

The major objectives of the program are to:

  • Demonstrate successful application of materials science and engineering knowledge and skills for industry, public sector organizations, or their profession.
  • Pursue life-long learning through advanced professional degrees, graduate studies in materials science or another engineering discipline, professional training or engineering certification.
  • Demonstrate professional and intellectual growth as leaders in their profession and/or community.

In addition to required courses within and outside of the department, students also are required to take three materials science and engineering technical electives, one engineering elective, six humanity and social science electives, and one communication skills elective. There are a total of 128 passed units required for graduation, all of which must be taken with the letter-grade option.

All engineering students complete the same requirements during the first year (semesters one and two) regardless of major or department.

*The University Catalogs are the official record for all academic program requirements for the University of Pittsburgh and are published online annually in advance of the start of each academic year. (Prior to the Effective Date of this revised policy, the University Catalogs were known as the University Bulletins.) The Catalog is an official contract between the University and the student, and it is each student’s responsibility to become familiar with the policies, procedures, and requirements therein. Undergraduate and Graduate students should refer to the Catalog from their respective first year of enrollment for course information and academic requirements. For more information: University of Pittsburgh Information Systems and Support Group 220 Thackeray Hall Pittsburgh, PA 15260 catalogs@pitt.edu

Students are required to satisfactorily complete three of the following materials science and engineering technical elective courses, for a total of (9) nine units. The courses are presented by subject area to assist students who wish to choose courses from an area of personal interest.

Technical Electives By Subject Area

Bulk Engineering Materials (3 of the following courses)

• MEMS 1101: Ferrous Physical Metallurgy 
• MEMS 1102: Principles and Applications of Steel Alloy Design 
• MEMS 1103: Principles and Applications of Steel Processing
• MEMS 1162: Computer Applications in MSE 

• MEMS 1163: Ceramic Materials
• MEMS 1174: Ceramics Processing 

Nanomaterials (3 of the following courses)

• MEMS 1048: Analysis and Characterization at the Nano-Scale
• MEMS 1057: Micro/Nano Manufacturing (3 units) 
• MEMS 1111: Materials for Energy Generation and Storage 

• MEMS 1162: Computer Applications in MSE 
• MEMS 1163: Ceramic Materials
• ENGR 0240: Introduction to Nanotechnology and Nanoengineering

• ENGR 1066: Introduction to Solar Cells and Nanotechnology



• CHEM 0310: Organic Chemistry 1

• CHEM 0320: Organic Chemistry 2 

• CHEM 1600: Synthesis and Characterization of Polymers

• CHE 1754:   Principles of Polymer Engineering


Biomaterials (3 of the following courses)


• BIOENG 1070: Introduction to Cell Biology 1 
• BIOENG 1071: Introduction to Cell Biology 2

• BIOENG 1810: Biomaterials and Biocompatibility 
• IE 1201: Biomaterials and Biomanufacturing

(BIOSCI 0105 and 0106 can be substituted for BIOENG 1070 and 1071.  CHEM 0310 Organic Chemistry 1 is also recommended, but not required, for this option).



• ENGR 1700: Introduction to Nuclear Engineering (3 units)
• ENGR 1701: Fundamentals of Nuclear Reactors (3 units)
• ENGR 1702: Nuclear Plant Technology (3 units)

Please note also the following:

• MSE technical electives can include 2000-level (i.e., Masters-level), subject to the approval of the MSE Program Director.

• Co-op students can earn three units for completing three co-op rotations and a written technical report on their co-op experience, which may be substituted for one of the technical electives.
• Upper-level engineering courses from other engineering departments may be substituted for materials science and engineering technical electives, subject to the approval of the undergraduate director.
• Technical electives are usually not offered during the summer term.
• Students must complete the proper prerequisites before enrolling in any of the technical electives and should have acquired junior standing.


Students wishing to pursue other technical elective choices must obtain the approval of the MSE Program Director.


Students are required to complete one engineering elective course, for a total of at least 3 units. Any course offered by the Swanson School of Engineering may be used to satisfy this requirement (e.g., ENGR 0020: Probability & Statistics For Engineers or IE 1040: Engineering Economic Analysis). It does not have to be an upper-level course. In contrast, recall that only upper-level courses from other departments can be used as materials science and engineering technical electives. For students pursuing a minor from another department, one of the courses required for the minor can be used to fulfill this requirement.

To satisfy the communications skills elective requirement, students must satisfactorily complete one of the following five courses offered by the Swanson School of Engineering (ENGR), the Department of Communication (COMMRC), and the Department of English (ENGCMP). The communication skills elective should be taken as soon as possible, preferably in the fourth term of a student's course of study.

ENGR 1010: Communication Skills for Engineers (3 units)
COMMRC 0500: Argument (3 units)
COMMRC 0520: Public Speaking (3 units)
COMMRC 0540: Discussion (3 units)
ENGCMP 0400: Written Professional Communication ("W") (3 units)
ENGCMP 0600: Introduction to Technical Writing ("W") (3 units)

All Swanson School of Engineering undergraduates must complete six (6) humanities and social science elective courses, for a total of at least eighteen (18) credits. These courses must be on the School's list of approved humanities and social science elective courses. Additionally, all Materials Science and Engineering students must fulfill the following requirements when choosing their six humanities and social science elective courses:

Depth Requirement

Students must complete at least two courses from the same department or program within the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences.

  • Alternatively, a student may satisfy the Depth Requirement by completing two or more courses with a related theme, e.g., courses that focus on a geographic region, historic period, or ideological perspective.
  • At least one of these courses must be a non-introductory course. Introductory courses are designated by an asterisk [*] on the School's list of approved courses.

Breadth Requirement

  •  Students must select courses from at least three different departments in the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences.
  • Students must choose classes from both humanities and social science departments.

The humanities and social science courses on the School's list of approved courses satisfy the Swanson School of Engineering's requirements. However, students may petition the Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs to have a course added to the list of approved courses by submitting an Approval Request for Humanities/Social Science Elective form, available in the Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science Undergraduate Program Office (636 Benedum Hall). The form must be turned in to the Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Office (147 Benedum Hall) for approval. Students can contact the Undergraduate Program Office approximately one week later to see if the course was approved. It is helpful to include a copy of a course description for the course. Courses that are deemed sufficiently relevant and academically appropriate generally are approved. Broad survey courses (typically below the 100 level that are generally taught in large lecture sections) are usually not approved. Skills courses (courses that focus more on acquiring a skill than on conveying intellectual knowledge) are also usually not approved.

Notes and Restrictions on Selecting Courses

  • Transfer students may be required to take ENGCMP 0200: Seminar in Composition. This does not count as one of the six required elective courses.
  • No more than two of the six required elective courses can be satisfied via advanced standing credit from AP exam scores.
  • If a student has obtained transfer credit from a community college prior to enrolling in the Swanson School of Engineering, no more than three of the six required elective courses can be satisfied via community college credit.
  • Courses that are cross-listed with other departments may be taken under either course number (e.g., ANTH 1524 is equivalent to HAA 1650) and may be used to satisfy the depth requirement in either department.
  • Students are strongly encouraged to use language courses to partially satisfy the humanities and social science elective requirements. Three out of five, or six out of ten first-year language course credits are acceptable toward fulfilling the humanities and social science elective requirements. However, the following restrictions apply:

           1. The language(s) must be other than English.

           2. The language(s) must be other than the student's mother tongue.

           3. The course(s) must be a bonafide language course.

           No more than two of the six required elective courses can be satisfied by language courses.

  • Only an officially listed School of Arts and Sciences course may be used to fulfill a humanities and social science elective requirement. Courses from the College of General Studies (including External Studies courses), the College of Business Administration, and the School of Information Sciences cannot be used to fulfill the humanities and social science requirements.