Featured Image

Why Materials Science Is Awesome

Materials Science is the study of stuff. And since many things are made out of stuff, the major has a lot to cover.

What is the perfect major? That question makes no sense, of course. Everyone chooses their major for a different reason. However, it all boils down to one question: will the major help you achieve what you want?

My next question is: what kind of people want what Materials Science has to offer? Hold your horses, reader. Let's first examine what Materials Science majors study.

Materials Science is a broad field that covers everything but “Material Girl” by Madonna. Materials Science is the study of stuff. And since many things are made out of stuff, the major has a lot to cover. The major first branches off with specializations like ceramics, polymers, and metals. However, everything will be covered, no matter the specialization.

*Chemistry alert* What are ceramics and polymers and metals? Well, ceramics are materials bonded ironically, and polymers are materials bonded conveniently. Actually, the terms are "ionically" and "covalently," but since this is not a science article, these other terms will suffice. Atoms that make polymers are all friends, so they make “convenient” bonds by sharing electrons. Atoms that make ceramics are complete opposites, so it is “ironic” they bond at all, but they do by giving or taking away electrons to satisfy each other. Metals just play some sort of electron catch to bond with their children. All of these strange relationships seem trivial, but they give the materials certain traits in the macro-scale.

If this interests you, that is a good sign. That is just the tip of the iceberg in an incredibly awesome field. So, what kind of classes do Materials Science majors take? If you have a decent short-term memory, you remember doing some chemistry in this article. Along with chemistry, this major requires quite a few physics classes. And where there are physical sciences, there is math. If this isn't for you, that's all right. No hard feelings. But if you are a science geek, hold up on the traditional STEM majors. Materials Science is the best STEM major, and now I finally get to tell you why.

First, you get to use physics, chemistry, and engineering on a day-to-day basis. Some materials scientists even specialize in biological materials, so they get to do life science too. Materials scientists are well rounded and interdisciplinary, even where traditional science majors fail.

Second, you can get a job. Since most things are made out of stuff, materials science is directly applicable to just about everything, so you can work wherever you want. Industry, academia, and national labs all use stuff. Want to work at an engineering firm? They use stuff. What about NASA? They launch stuff. The military, maybe? They shoot stuff (and thank you, soldiers and veterans, for your service). There is plenty enough stuff to go around.

To add to that, most materials science degrees have a different name: Materials Science and Engineering. That actually makes a big difference. That means materials scientists can get a job with just a bachelor's degree and work as an engineer. This dual personality of science and engineering gives the best of both worlds. However, if you want to do research, a PhD is extremely beneficial (not to mention the title "Doctor").

Also, you get some variety in the workplace. I interviewed an undisclosed materials scientist (ooh, mysterious) and he worked in research, material selection, engineering, and failure analysis, all in the same job. You don't have to do all this, but the choice sure is nice.

Lastly, materials scientists work in big roles for big projects. Sorry, aspiring aerospace engineers, but you probably won't design rockets in your first couple years. You will design *part* of a rocket. And by part I mean a small part. You will still be important, if not integral to making your hunk of materials fly (otherwise nobody would be paying you), but you won't be able to make many influential decisions or zoom out until you work up the ladder. However, that is not the case for materials science. You will be asked what materials your team should use to make the rocket. This is still only part of the job, but it is at a larger scale. 

Still think Materials Science is boring? Cool—don't take the major. However, if you want to apply many different scientific fields, have a job, and do cool stuff, Materials Science may be the major for you.

Related: Find schools with Materials Science majors on CollegeXpress

Like what you’re reading?

Join the CollegeXpress community! Create a free account and we’ll notify you about new articles, scholarship deadlines, and more.

Join Now

engineering majors materials science materials science majors science science and engineering STEM STEM majors

About Dawson Vore

Dawson Vore is a student at Michigan Technological University. He enjoys reading, writing, and beating people at chess, Boggle, Scrabble, and trivia games. You can find him on campus inside, hiding from the three feet of snow and sub-freezing temperatures, either studying, hanging out with friends, or writing. He hates writing in the third person. It makes him feel uncomfortable.


Join our community of
over 5 million students!

CollegeXpress has everything you need to simplify your college search, get connected to schools, and find your perfect fit.

Join CollegeXpress


High School Class of 2022

CollegeXpress has provided me with tips that were for college students, but as a high school junior, they were still very useful. Not only that, it also gave me an idea of what to expect when it comes to going to college or already being in college. I want to say thank you to CollegeXpress, and I hope you continue the wonderful tips until I hopefully get into college and throughout my college journey.

Fernando Ponce

Fernando Ponce

High School Junior

College is a way of life that helps us find out who we are as a person, and CollegeXpress is a great way to stay connected with our future, even for students with little time on their hands due to the challenges of high school we face.

Laura Wallace

Laura Wallace

High School Class of 2019

My favorite part of CollegeXpress is that it features student writers so I get an inside perspective from students slightly older and farther along than me. I realize that other college websites also utilize student writers; however, I relate the most to the college writers that I read articles from on CollegeXpress.

Casey Kammeyer

Casey Kammeyer

$500 Refer-A-Friend Scholarship Winner

I love the site CollegeXpress; it has been very helpful finding colleges and getting them to send me information. It has also been very, very helpful with finding tons of scholarships. Also, I told many of my friends about it and they love it as well!

Heaven Johnson

Heaven Johnson

Back to School Scholarship Winner, High School Class of 2023

I’d like to thank everyone on the CollegeXpress team for their generosity. Not only have I been awarded this scholarship, but CollegeXpress makes it easier to apply and gives amazing tips for schools and scholarships. I am extremely grateful as this will help with my schooling and allow me to be able to enter into the field I’ve been dreaming of all my life. 

College Matches