Undergraduate Specializations

The specialization courses are selected beginning in semester six. There are a total of eight courses and one senior processing laboratory. The Undergraduate Degree program in Materials Science and Engineering has been designed to allow our students to create an education that suits their individual interests and career goals.

Planning your Specialization Courses

Essentially, a student can design a specialization curriculum in total that meets their interests and career goals.  A student may select any courses they desire to fulfill the specialization requirement as long as they meet the following criteria:

  1. 4 of the 8 courses must fit into the categories of Synthesis and Processing, Structure and Characterization, or Properties (below).
  2. There must be at least one course in each specialization category
  3. 4 of the 8 courses must be MATSE courses

Specialization Categories and associated MatSE Courses

Synthesis and Processing

  • MATSE 411: Processing of Ceramics (Fall)
  • MATSE 422: Thermochemical Processing (Spring)
  • MATSE 425: Processing of Metals (Fall)
  • MATSE 426: Aqueous Processing (Spring)
  • MATSE 441: Polymeric Materials I (Fall)
  • MATSE 447: Rheology and Processing of Polymers (Spring)
  • MATSE 450: Synthesis and Processing of EPM (Fall)
  • MATSE 497B: Polymer Materials II (Spring)

Structure and Characterization

  • MATSE 409: Nuclear Materials (Spring)
  • MATSE 410: Phase Relations in Materials Systems (Spring)
  • MATSE 415: Introduction to Glass Science (Fall)
  • MATSE 421: Electrochemical Materials (Fall)
  • MATSE 427: Microstructure Design of Structural Materials (Spring)
  • MATSE 440:  Nondestructive Evaluation of Flaws (Spring)
  • MATSE 445: Thermodynamics, Microstructure, & Characterization Of Polymers (Spring)
  • MATSE 455: Properties and Characterization of EPM (Spring)


  • MATSE 403:   Biomaterials (Fall)
  • MATSE 412:   Thermal Properties of Materials (Spring)
  • MATSE 417:   Electric and Magnetic Properties (Spring)
  • MATSE 435:   Optical Properties of Materials (Spring)
  • MATSE 446:   Mechanical And Electrical Properties of Polymers and Composites (Fall)
  • MATSE 497A: Nanomedical Applications (Spring)
  • MATSE 497C:  Composite Materials (Spring)

Technical Electives

Technical electives, in general, should be 300 or 400-level engineering or science courses. A student pursuing a minor can use minor courses as technical electives. We will consider a course below the 300 level as long as said course is not introductory. For example, a student could select CHEM 212: ORGANIC CHEMISTRY II, as a technical elective as this course is not at the introductory level and is building depth in a particular area.  You must consult with your advisor and get authorization for ALL technical elective courses to ensure credits will be counted.

Specialization Course Exploration

We recommend that students work with their advisor to craft a course of study unique to the individual. Exploring minors is an excellent way to discover exciting courses. Penn State has a wonderful tool, MinorQuest, to begin the exploration of minors. Realize that you do not necessarily have to declare a minor to take courses offered in that minor. In order to facilitate that discussion with the advisor, we offer the following specialization course ideas to consider as guides (click the links for descriptions and additional information):

  • Nobel Prize winning chemist, Alexander R. Todd, aka Lord Todd, once stated, "I am inclined to think that the development of polymerization is, perhaps, the biggest thing that chemistry has done, where it has the biggest effect on everyday life." Explore all the excitement of polymers through the Polymer Science Minor.
  • Interested in business? Think an MBA could be in your future? Look at this certificate in business fundamentals offered by Smeal College of Business (the four 300-level B A courses can count as technical electives).
  • Are you interested in how the smallest building blocks are impacting life today and in the future? Well, it is a good thing you are studying Materials Science and Engineering because we are the only discipline that engineers at the atomic scale. To delve even deeper consider the course offerings from the Undergraduate Nanotechnology Minor. (Make sure to have a discussion with the instructors of courses with PHYS 214 as a prerequisite; MATSE 413 should be more than sufficient to cover that prerequisite).