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Master of Engineering (M.Eng.) in Material Engineering | Context - Context
Online Master of Engineering (M.Eng.) in Material Engineering
Master of Engineering (M.Eng.) in Material Engineering In Context

A Master of Material Engineering (M.Eng. in Material Engineering) degree can help you optimize metal, plastics, and composite materials, elevate your product design, and open new opportunities for advanced roles in the field. A technical education in material engineering can also help you qualify to sit for state licensing examinations. [1] Material engineers have access to diverse employment opportunities spanning multiple engineering disciplines.

A master’s degree can help you expand your opportunities as a materials engineer. Whether your goal is academia, research and development, or a higher role within your organization, a master’s in material engineering can give you a competitive edge. [1] It also assists graduates with qualification for the prestigious Professional Engineer (PE) license, which allows for further career development and flexible employment opportunities in the field of material engineering. [54] [56]

There are many accredited online Master of Material Engineering programs available, which can provide enhanced flexibility for those who wish to obtain this valuable degree.

What is material engineering?

Material engineers are involved in the foundation of product development — they help create, design, and improve the very materials that many products are made of. Aside from working with materials such as metals, ceramics, plastics, nanomaterials and composites, they are also involved in discovering and synthesizing new materials and known applying materials in new ways. [1] The material engineering field is very diverse, but focuses on four main elements:

  1. Processing: Processing refers to the way a material is developed or produced. There are many ways to process materials, including extrusion, molding, sintering, deposition, and printing processing. [2]
  2. Structure: Material engineers seek to understand the structure and composition of materials under internal and external actions. That could mean testing materials through experimental, theoretical, and computational methods. [6]
  3. Properties: Understanding the properties of materials can help create new technologies and ascertain the effective limits of those that have already been developed. [1]
  4. Performance: Material engineers evaluate the performance of various materials for quality control and improvement purposes.
What do material engineers do?

The scope of practice for graduates of the M.Eng. in Material Engineering is quite wide, and it varies depending upon the specific industry of interest and the size of the firm for which an engineer works. Some of the tasks required of most material engineers include: [30]

  • Selecting the appropriate materials for various purposes
  • Synthesizing and developing new materials (or combinations of materials)
  • Testing materials in relation to various potential material failures, such as corrosion, combustion, fracture, and exposure to various chemicals
  • Assessing the qualities of various materials according to several standards, such as durability, flexibility, and electrical conductivity
  • Monitoring material reactions during short and long term usage
  • Computer modeling and design
  • Quality control
Who becomes a material engineer?

The Master of Material Engineering degree is well suited to holders of bachelor’s degrees in engineering who wish to specialize, or engineers in other fields who wish to move into this exciting and advancing field.

Currently, the average age of Material Engineers is 44 years, and 78.5% of engineering degrees are awarded to males [3][5]; however, there are a number of organizations geared toward enhancing women’s interest and involvement in the field, including the Society of Women Engineers [12], the Anita Borg Institute [13] and Robogals [14].

In 2015, 33% of material engineering degrees awarded were masters degrees, and just 32% of working engineers had a master’s degree. This indicates space for growth in the workforce. [4] Given its connection to advancing technology through materials, this degree is best suited to analytical personalities who enjoy problem-solving and wish to be a crucial part of these cutting edge changes and advances. [1]

The impact of material engineering

Modern society relies heavily on the expertise of material engineers for a wide-range of products, including cars, airplanes, silverware, biomedical devices, clothing, and more. All of these items require materials specifically engineered for their purpose, with new advances frequently made possible by the development of new materials and applications, which means that work in the field of material engineering has a major, direct impact on society and can even shape the course of science and material technology.

Cutting-edge technology that impacts quality of life

Material engineers work at the forefront of developing technologies that can change the course of history. What do iron and bronze have in common with the internet? Advances in the understanding of metals within the field of material engineering resulted in the development of the fiber optics that created the internet.

Similarly, it is hard to imagine life without laptops, tablets, and cell phones, many of which are powered by lithium ion batteries. The creation of lithium ion batteries required the development of novel electrode materials that could function under highly variable conditions. [15]

Many developments in technological, biomedical, aerospace, and other fields have come secondary to the development of the materials required to support those advances. These advances in the field of material engineering have undoubtedly changed our everyday lives. If working at the cutting edge of advancement, paired with a higher-than-average median salary is appealing to you, a Master of Material Engineering degree and a career in this field may be a great fit.[8]

Master of Engineering (M.Eng.) in Material Engineering Career Advancement
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, material engineers hold about 24,400 jobs in the United States. [9] The field of material engineering is stable but growing slowly, with an expected growth rate of 1% between 2014 and 2024. This means that material engineers will continue to be needed within the job market, and it makes material engineering a solid choice for prospective employees. [9] Although the manufacturing sector in the U.S. is in decline, [7] other material engineering sectors, such as biomaterials and nanotechnology are projected to grow in the coming years. [9] [16]

Material engineers enjoy a higher than average median salary when compared with all other jobs. As of May 2016, the median annual salary for material engineers is $91,310, more than double the median of $35,080 for all other workers. The salary of material engineers also compares favourably to the overall median wage for engineering professions, which is $91,010. [9]

Some of the highest paying subfields of material engineering and their associated median yearly salaries include: [10] [17] [18]

  • Computer and electronic product manufacturing: $108,360
  • Aerospace part and products manufacturing: $107,240
  • Research and Development: $103,870
  • Nanotechnology: $91,150
  • Engineering services: $90,410
  • Primary Metal Manufacturing: $76,030
Where do material engineers work?

Material engineering professionals can be found in a wide variety of work environments. They are most frequently employed in offices, factories, or laboratory environments where they use computers and design equipment. [8] Material engineers can work in a variety of fields, including: re are four primary sectors that employ material engineers:

  1. Aerospace product and parts manufacturing
  2. Engineering services
  3. Primary metal manufacturing
  4. Computer and electronic product manufacturing
  5. Research and development [8]

Some material engineers work for large companies where they may be part of multidisciplinary design teams, while others are self-employed and work as consultants. [9] Most material engineers work full time, 30 to 40 hours per week. [8] About one-third of material engineers worked more than 40 hours per week in 2014. [9]

Specific employers of graduates of the Master of Material Engineering degree include Fortune 500 companies, consulting firms, government, and military. The Fortune 500 is an annual list of top-grossing companies compiled by Fortune Magazine. Material engineers are employed by a growing number of these companies:

  • Aerospace firms such as Goodrich and United Technologies, frequently target material engineering professionals.
  • Pharmaceutical companies including Eli Lilly, Johnson & Johnson, and Merck.
  • Technology giants such as Sun Microsystems, Sunoco, and Xerox. [19]

Aside from these large organizations, material engineers are frequently employed by development firms and in research laboratories. Some material engineers will find employment in the military, helping to create, select and test materials for specialized operations, [21] or with a government agency such as NASA. [22]

Although job growth is stable overall, the largest material engineering employment fields include aerospace product and parts manufacturing (3,450 jobs); architectural, engineering and related services (2,750 jobs); semiconductor and other electronic component manufacturing (2,620 jobs); and research and development (2,010 jobs). [5][18]

States with the highest employment rates for Material Engineers include California, Texas, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. [5][18]

Master of Engineering (M.Eng.) in Material Engineering Curriculum
Students in the Master of Material Engineering program will typically need to take a combination of core and elective courses to graduate. Courses remain consistent regardless of mode of program delivery, so students taking online programs and campus programs receive equivalent preparation for work in the field. Online programs are associated with enhanced flexibility. [20] Based on a survey of several online he Master of Material Engineering programs, this degree typically requires 30 hours of coursework, generally spread over one or two years, with some universities also requiring the completion of a project or capstone paper.
Core courses

Core courses are classes that contain material deemed crucial for a professional in material engineering. They must be taken by all students enrolled in the Master of Material Engineering program. Some examples of core courses found at most universities include courses on the structure of materials, thermodynamics, and kinetics of reactions in materials. [32]

Elective courses

Students are generally required to take several elective courses to complete their program. Electives provide you with a chance to develop further-specialized skills in your particular area of interest. Electives should be chosen based upon your career goals.

There are many potential electives within the field of material engineering. Several popular electives include: [23][24][25]

  • Students are generally required to take several elective courses to complete their program. Electives provide you with a chance to develop further-specialized skills in your particular area of interest. Electives should be chosen based upon your career goals.
  • There are many potential electives within the field of material engineering. Several popular electives include: [23][24][25]
  • Students are generally required to take several elective courses to complete their program. Electives provide you with a chance to develop further-specialized skills in your particular area of interest. Electives should be chosen based upon your career goals.
  • There are many potential electives within the field of material engineering. Several popular electives include: [23][24][25]
Internships and cooperative education

Not all Master of Engineering in Material Engineering programs offer or require an internship or cooperative education option; however, when available, it is can be highly beneficial for students to take advantage of these opportunities.

Internships help to build and hone practical skills in the field, and employers often view this as important when choosing between employment candidates. [9] Students are encouraged to choose internships that align with their interests and career goals, and whenever possible pursue internships within their area of specialization.

Specializations and concentrations

There are several areas of specialization within the field of material engineering. Specializations (also known as concentrations) are generally categorized according to the type of materials the engineer would like to have specialized knowledge of. [29]

In order to specialize in a given area, students must complete a certain number of courses that provide content knowledge and skills in that area. The specific number of required courses to obtain a specialization varies across universities and states. You should consider your specialization carefully, ensuring that it closely aligns with your career goals and material engineering interests.

Some of the most common specializations include: [29]

  • Ceramics: Works with ceramic materials with the goal of incorporating them into the manufacture of products. [8]
  • Composite Materials: Combines different materials to produce hybrid and advanced materials for use in specialty products such as vehicles. [8]
  • Electronic Materials: Develops and creates materials used in various forms of technology, including semiconductors and computers.
  • Metallurgy: Works with metallic alloys and other forms of metal; often employed in mining, metal processing, and manufacturing sectors. [31]
  • Polymers: Focuses developing and choosing materials to create plastics, rubber, and fibers for use in manufacture. [29]
  • Materials Science: Focuses on the properties of many materials, often with “a particular focus on material failure issues,” such as “fracture, fatigue, and corrosion.” [29]
Master of Engineering (M.Eng.) in Material Engineering Program Length

The length of an online master’s degree program can depend on a number of variables, perhaps the most prominent of which is the pace at which you choose to study. You can finish a typical master’s degree program in about two to three years if you choose to study full-time, although some accelerated programs may be able to help you finish more quickly.

Online master’s degree programs tend to offer flexibility suitable for students who choose to study part-time. This option will likely extend your time to completion, but it can allow you to study while fulfilling your familial, social, and professional obligations.

You can find more information on this topic at our program length overview page.

Master of Engineering (M.Eng.) in Material Engineering Admissions Requirements

While each program will set its admission requirements based on its own criteria, many requirements are universal across all programs. No matter where you apply, you can expect to provide items like transcripts from previous degrees or coursework; standardized test scores; a personal statement or essay; letters of recommendation; and an overview of relevant work experience.

In certain cases, some of these requirements may be waived.

For more information about admissions, please visit our admissions requirements page.

Specialized admission requirements

Applicants to the M.Eng. in Material Engineering degree must have a bachelor’s degree in material engineering or in a related engineering field. [26] Some colleges offer a five-year combined program leading to a bachelor’s and master’s degree, and many colleges and universities offer internships and cooperative programs in partnership with organizations in the industry, which can strengthen graduates’ prospects at obtaining optimal employment. [26]

A minimum grade point average in the B-range during the bachelor’s degree is generally required for admission to the master’s program [27] [28], though there is some variability.

Requirements for admission may also vary based upon the specialty chosen. Check with your selected program, track, and university to ensure that you are aware of the minimum requirements for your chosen specialty.

Master of Engineering (M.Eng.) in Material Engineering Alternative Degree/Fields of Study

When considering a graduate degree in engineering, it is important that you choose the degree that is the best fit for your professional interests and career goals. This section illustrates the differences between the M.Eng. in Material Engineering degree and several alternative degree options.

Master of Material Engineering vs. Master of Science in Engineering
Are you planning to focus on technical employment, or research? This answer to this question is crucial when considering whether to pursue an M.Eng. in Material Engineering degree or a Master of Science in Engineering (M.Sc. in Engineering).

The M.Sc. Engineering degree often emphasizes research and may require completion of a thesis for graduation, depending on the institution. If you would like to go on to attain a Ph.D. and work within academia, the M.Sc. in Engineering may be the choice for you.

Master of Material Engineering vs. Master of Engineering Management
The Master of Engineering Management program is commonly called “the Engineer’s MBA.” It is a hybrid degree that combines technical Engineering skills with business management concepts, the latter of which would usually be found in a Master of Business Administration program. [34]

This degree is best suited to prospective students who wish to work in the engineering management field, as opposed to those who wish to work more technically in the specific field of material engineering. [35]

Master of Material Engineering vs. Combined Master of Business Administration/M.Eng.
Similar to the Master of Engineering Management, this dual degree program combines the technical aspects of a Master of Engineering degree with the leadership and business concepts found in an MBA program.

Graduates of the combined MBA/M.Eng. program are prepared to become managers and leaders in the field of engineering. The dual program is offered by an increasing number of universities, and tends to focus equally on technical and business skills. For that reason, it tends to take a longer period of time to complete than previously discussed programs. This degree is well-suited for those who wish to seek entrepreneurial opportunities, such as running a private engineering practice or consulting firm. [36]

Master of Engineering (M.Eng.) in Material Engineering Relevant Industry Associations and Organizations

Prospective students and engineers are strongly encouraged to connect with associations and organizations within the industry to learn more about material engineering and engage in professional development. A brief snapshot of some of the major Material Engineering organizations is provided below:

  • ASM International: ASM International is one of the forefront organizations in the material engineering field. Its main goals are to connect materials professionals with peers and resources to enhance professional development. [37]
  • North Eastern States’ Material Engineers Association (NESMEA): NESMEA is a field-specific association for professionals located in the northeastern United States. NESMEA holds an annual conference aimed at professional development that is well attended by material engineers from across the USA. [38]
  • Society for the Advancement of Material and Process Engineering (SAMPE): SAMPE is a North American society that brings material engineers together via conferences, exhibitions, technical forums, publications and books with the focus of advancing the field of Material Engineering. SAMPE boasts that it is the only technical society that encompasses all fields of materials and processing, and as such argues that it is a crucial forum for exchange of ideas and dialogue amongst industry professionals. [39]
  • American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE): This institute is of particular importance for material engineers specializing in highly chemical areas, such as polymers. AIChE is “the world’s leading organization for Chemical Engineering professionals, with more than 50,000 members from 100 countries.” [40] Members of AIChE can connect with colleagues to share expertise, ideas and knowledge.
  • Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE): IChemE is a global organization that targets engineers who work in chemical fields, including those in process and bioprocess industries. IChemE’s four key aims include building an active professional community, promoting awareness and development of chemical engineering as an important field, providing support to professionals within the field and enhancing communication between engineers, both within the discipline of chemical engineering and between engineering disciplines. [41]
Master of Engineering (M.Eng.) in Material Engineering Accreditation

Regional accreditation is the most prestigious type of accreditation that an online or traditional college or university can receive. It is granted only after careful consideration by private, not-for-profit organizations tasked with evaluating educational quality.

Regional accreditation is particularly important if you anticipate that you might want to transfer credits from one online degree program to another or use those credits to pursue another degree. Most regionally accredited schools will only accept credits from other regionally accredited institutions of higher learning.

You can learn more on this topic at our regional accreditation page.

What is the Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology (ABET)?

The Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology (ABET) is a network of experts in the fields of engineering and technology responsible for setting and enforcing standards for education in these fields. ABET “accredits college and university programs in the fields of applied science, computing, engineering, and engineering technology at the associate, bachelor, and master degree levels.” [42]

ABET’s criteria for accreditation focus on setting core criteria for student learning, and provides a voluntary review process for university and college programs.

What does “ABET-accredited” mean?

There are currently two types of accreditation in the United States: institutional accreditation and specialized or programmatic accreditation. [43] Institutional accreditation is offered by regional and national accreditation bodies, and involves a review process of the institution as a whole. [43]

ABET does not accredit institutions; rather, it accredits specific programs within institutions that have already achieved institutional accreditation. [43] ABET recognizes that programs vary widely even within single institutions. [43] This means that each ABET-accredited program has been reviewed separately and has achieved ABET standards.

ABET-accredited programs are viewed with a high level of respect within the engineering profession. Attaining ABET-accreditation means that programs have passed a critical and objective review of quality, precision and safety. [42] Knowing that a program has been ABET accredited “provides assurance that a college or university program meets the quality standards of the profession for which that program prepares graduates.” [43]

ABET accreditation criteria

ABET accredits programs based upon eight fundamental criteria. In order to become accredited, each program must have stringent policies and processes in place to meet high expectations in the following areas: [43]

  • Evaluation and monitoring of student performance, and enforcement of program policies
  • Reasonable and well defined expectations for students after graduation
  • High level of student skill at graduation
  • Processes to evaluate outcomes and implement quality improvement
  • Contain subject areas appropriate for engineering
  • Have a sufficient number of faculty to run programming effectively
  • Facilities must be adequate to support learning activities (appropriate lab space, computer access, design software, classroom appointments)
  • Leadership and management must have a focus on program continuity and quality
How do programs become ABET-accredited?

ABET accreditation is an intensive 18-month process. Programs sometimes begin to prepare for accreditation up to a year before the process begins. The accreditation process consists of five steps: [45]

  • A readiness review
  • An evaluation by the accreditation panel
  • A self-study of areas that require improvement
  • An on-site visit
  • A 30-day window for the program to make any required changes before the final decision

ABET sets minimum standards for educational quality, safety, and precision. [43] Not all ABET-accredited programs are identical, and course offerings may differ between programs. However, because ABET sets a minimum standard for education in the Material Engineering field, graduates can be confident that they will receive adequate preparation to enter their field regardless of which ABET-accredited program they choose.

ABET accreditation is not associated with program cost increase. Some unaccredited programs may cost less than ABET-accredited programs, but this is not always the case. [45] Many online M.Eng. in Material Engineering programs are ABET accredited. [46]

Engineering accreditation commissions

Within ABET, there are two Engineering Accreditation Commissions. Each program that requests accreditation is assigned to one of the two commissions, depending upon the name of the program:

Engineering Accreditation Commission (EAC)

The EAC accredits programs that lead students toward the professional practice of engineering. In order to qualify for this level of ABET accreditation, the program must have “Engineering” in its name. The EAC accredits programs at the bachelor’s and master’s levels. Students interested in the Master of Engineering in Materials Science degree should look for programs accredited by this ABET Commission. [52]

Engineering Technology Accreditation Commission (ETAC)

ETAC accredits programs that prepare bachelor’s degree holders for employment in the field of engineering technology, or associate degree holders for work as engineering technicians. [52]

How will an online ABET-Accredited M.Eng. program benefit me?

There are three main areas in which students benefit from attending an ABET-accredited program:

Educational Experience

Your degree is a major investment in your future. Choosing an ABET-accredited program ensures that you will receive the educational preparation that you are paying for. You can be confident that when you graduate, you will meet global standards for technical preparation. [48]


Completing an ABET-accredited Master of Material Engineering program enhances employment opportunities. Many employees look for graduates who have completed an ABET-accredited program. The credential also opens doors for you to work globally, because ABET accreditation is internationally recognized and respected. [48]


Some employers actively seek out employees who have completed an ABET-accredited program, as this is generally required for licensure as a Professional Engineer (PE). Holding a degree from an ABET-accredited program is required by most state licensure boards. [44]

Will choosing an unaccredited M.Eng. Program impact my future?

Probably. Choosing an unaccredited Master of Material Engineering degree will likely have a prohibitive effect on some aspects of your career. If you do not graduate from an accredited program, you may not be able to work as a licensed or Professional Engineer. [49]

If you have attended an unaccredited program, an extra evaluation of your credentials is required by the licensure board. If your credentials are not found to meet the minimum standard, you would need to obtain further education and/or supervised experience in order to become licensed. [53]

There are some options for graduates of unaccredited programs to work within the engineering field in unlicensed positions such as engineering technician. [50] Generally, these positions are seen as less lucrative and come with a lower salary. [50]

What if my program loses accreditation after I graduate?

Once a program is ABET accredited, it does require re-accreditation every six years. [43] It is rare for programs to lose ABET accreditation, but it can happen. Generally, programs are given warnings and a period of time to implement any required changes; however, lack of conformity to ABET standards can result in the revocation or non-renewal of a program’s ABET accreditation. [45]

If the program you graduated from loses accreditation after you have graduated, but was accredited at the time of your graduation, there is no loss to you in terms of career, credentials, or licensure. Your degree will still be recognized as accredited. [51]

Master of Engineering (M.Eng.) in Material Engineering Certification/Licensure

The title “Professional Engineer” (PE) is a regulated credential that can be used only by those who meet the criteria set forth by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) and by state licensing boards. In the USA, all states regulate some aspects of engineering practice according to their own laws in order to ensure public safety and welfare. The NCEES is a national council made up of members from the state licensing boards. It seeks to advance and standardize PE licensure at the national level. [53]

PE licensure is viewed as the optimal engineering credential, as it widens the scope of practice compared to that of unlicensed engineers. It is also held in high esteem by both the public and employers, granting a certain level of prestige. [56]

Obtaining a PE license can enhance your status within the engineering profession and improve the flexibility of your career options. [54][56]

What is the difference between a PE and an unlicensed engineer?

Professional Engineers are charged with maintaining public health, safety, and welfare related to engineering projects. They are responsible to their state licensure board, which holds them to high standards for safe and ethical practice. PEs must also complete continuing education each year in order to remain licensed. These requirements aim to increase and maintain competency over the long term. [54]

In terms of scope of practice, only Professional Engineers may prepare, sign and/or seal engineering plans for a public authority, and only PEs may seal engineering plans for public or private clients. [54]

Because of their wider scope of practice, PEs are more often found in positions of higher status and responsibility than unlicensed engineers. Given these differences, it is unsurprising that PEs also tend to earn higher pay than unlicensed engineers. [56]

What types of engineering employment might require me to be licensed?

Engineering employers across the United States are moving toward requiring licensure of their employees, but some sectors require this more often than others. Many states have set a legal requirement of PE licensure for consulting engineers or those who work in private practice. [54]

As well, government employers are requiring employees to have Professional Engineer status with more frequency than before. This is especially true of engineers in management or supervisory roles, or of those employed to teach engineering by colleges and universities. [54]

In the future, it is possible that PE licensure will be required to practice engineering more generally across the United States, which means that a PE license is recommended for those seeking optimal employment within the field of material engineering. [54]

How do I become a licensed Professional Engineer?

Although the NCEES has set some nationwide minimum requirements for obtaining the PE license, specific education and experience requirements (i.e., required courses, programs, and specializations) do differ from state to state.

For example, some states require a Master of Engineering degree, while others require any four-year degree in engineering, so long as it is granted by an ABET-accredited institution. [54]

It is recommended that you contact your local state licensing board to confirm requirements before submitting an application. According to the NCEES, there are four minimum steps to becoming a licensed Professional Engineer in the United States, which are often completed in a stepwise fashion by the prospective PE. These are: [54]

  1. Obtain a four year engineering degree from an ABET-accredited university
  2. Pass the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam
  3. Complete four years of engineering experience under a licensed PE
  4. Pass the Principles of Engineering (PE) exam
How can a Master of Material Engineering degree help me to become licensed?

Obtaining state licensure is one of the main reasons that engineers pursue advanced education in the engineering industry. [11] A Master of Engineering degree is not yet required for obtaining PE licensure by all states, but a degree from an ABET-accredited engineering program and a minimum of four years’ post-college work experience is required. [55]

Regardless of its current requirement status, because an M.Eng. in Material Engineering focuses on building technical skills through coursework, this degree can provide ideal preparation for the technical PE and FE exams. Achieving this degree can also open doors for engineers to obtain supervised employment with a licensed PE in the field, for which a minimum of four years are required for licensure. [1]

For those who have graduated from an unaccredited engineering program, graduating from an ABET-accredited master’s in engineering degree will satisfy the requirements of some states for beginning the process of obtaining a PE license. It is recommended that you obtain the full criteria of your state’s licensing board to ascertain your options. [55]

What are the licensure requirements for all individual states?

Licensing requirements vary to a significant degree across individual states. All states maintain the minimum requirements outlined above, but some require higher levels of education or experience to grant the Professional Engineer credential.

Some states require specific four-year degrees in engineering, while others require Master of Engineering degrees. Still others make allowances for applicants with degrees in engineering-related disciplines or degrees from unaccredited programs if the applicant has already worked for a number of years (varying between five and eight) with a Professional Engineer.

Generally, an extra evaluation of education and experience is required for applicants with degrees in engineering-related disciplines or degrees from unaccredited programs. It is important that you ensure that you have met your particular state’s criteria for licensure. [57]

History of the Degree

Material engineering has been practiced by humans for thousands of years. Humans seem to have a natural inclination to build and improve upon technologies, and materials have been central to those processes since the dawn of human existence.

Historians and anthropologists frequently define whole eras based upon the materials created or used within them: for example, the Stone, Iron, and Bronze ages. [59] Modern material engineering descends from advances in metallurgy made by ancient civilizations, including the Greek and Roman Empires. [59] [60]

Academic study of materials began in these ancient civilizations through the study of alchemy and transmutation, beliefs that persisted well into the 17th century. [59] It was not until the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries, with an application of the scientific method, that a deeper understanding of materials developed into today’s material engineering academic discipline and practice. [59]

Modern material engineering

The modern period began with the rise of the industrial revolution in the 18th and 19th centuries. [59] [60] In the early 18th century, much work with materials was carried out domestically and focused on development of metals and alloys. However, the 19th century saw a rise in factories and industry that spurred growth in the field. [59]

Important areas of growth involved manufacture of tools and machinery related to agriculture, along with development of new metals, alloys, and materials for war munitions. [59] Through this period, material engineering was not only responsible for creating new items, tools, and technologies, but also for improving manufacturing methodologies through the refinement of new fuel materials (such as coal, coke, and steam). [59]

By the 20th century, the field of material engineering had become diversified as a result of the development of new materials. Subfields related to many different materials, including polymers, glass, ceramics, biomaterials, and minerals were defined. With the rise of computer technology in the latter half of the 20th century, new materials subfields arose in electronics, fiber optics, and nanotechnology. [59] Throughout this period, as content about and understanding of the field developed, material engineering also became more academic and professionalized.

The rise of material engineering as a profession

For much of the history of material engineering, those who worked with materials did not require any particular education or certification. Until as recently as a century ago, anyone could work as an engineer without proof of competency. [54]

With a rise in concern about public safety and welfare related to engineering projects, the first engineering licensure law was passed in 1907 by the state of Wyoming. [54] This development came as people began to realize that incompetent engineering and engineering design could have disastrous consequences. [54]

Soon after, the first organization with a mandate to decide qualifications for licensure, the Council of State Boards of Engineering Examiners (CSBEE), was developed. By 1950, all states plus Alaska, Hawaii, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico had passed engineering licensure laws, and had joined the council, now renamed the National Council of State Boards of Engineering Examiners (NCSBEE).

By 1970, the two licensure exams (FE and PE) had been developed, and the NCSBEE had become the National Council of Engineering Examiners. In 1989, Surveying was added to the Council’s purview, leading to the organization’s most recent name, the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying. By the late 1990s, most of the current standards for becoming a Professional Engineer in material engineering were established. [54]

The rise of material engineering education

Concurrent with the professionalization of the field over the course of the 19th and 20th centuries has been a formalization of material engineering education. With new expectations for engineering competency by state and national bodies, new requirements for engineering education were established.

In early history, most engineers learned skills via apprenticeship, with very little formal education being available. This changed with the rise of military engineers in the 19th century. Military education did rely heavily on apprenticeship, but began to offer some engineering courses, such as surveying and planning. [61]

Development of formal engineering education began to accelerate in the 1850s via polytechnics, or technical schools, which were separate from universities. These schools tended to focus on practical education and skills. In 1862, engineering degrees were formally incorporated into university repertoires via the Morrill Act. For the remainder of 19th century, universities sought to balance the teaching of theory and scientific principles with the learning and practice of technical skills. [61]

ABET was created in 1932, though at the time was called the Engineers’ Council for Professional Development (ECPD). Its focus was on the professionalization of engineering education, with the goal of narrowing the gap between standards of engineering education and competency expectations for licensure. It began setting and refining standards to guide engineering education, and by 1936 had evaluated its first engineering degree programs. According to ABET’s website, “by 1947, ECPD had accredited 580 undergraduate engineering programs at 133 institutions” in the United States. [62]

After World War II, education in material engineering became driven by the Cold War. Developments focused on materials for munitions and technologies related to both the arms race and the Space Race. With this came a push toward new and experimental roles for material engineers. [61]

Between the 1960s and 1980s, engineering education developed a major focus on scientific research and experimentation as opposed to technical engineering practice, and practicing engineers began advocating for more inclusion of practical techniques, such as design and planning, within engineering education.

Changes to educational programs were implemented in the 1990s. New ABET accreditation criteria, titled “Accreditation Criteria 2000,” were developed by ABET to ensure that all graduates of accredited engineering programs possessed the required technical skills to meet competency criteria for licensure. This was done through a focus on outcomes, or “skills learned” rather than “information taught.” [62]

Over the next decade, there was a proliferation of material engineering programs that focus on technical skills in addition to (or in combination with) to those that focus on experimental pursuits. [61] This is where the paths for graduate education in material engineering began to diverge, with the Master of Material Engineering degrees taking on a more technical, narrow approach, and the Masters of Science in Engineering degrees continuing to focus on general research and theory. [58]

Master of Engineering (M.Eng.) in Material Engineering Tuition and Fees

There are a number of factors that can greatly affect how much your education will cost. These include whether you attend a public or private institution; whether you attend as an in-state or out-of-state student; and whether you qualify for financial aid like grants or scholarships.

For a more detailed breakdown of tuition, fees, and other financial issues, please visit our tuition and fees page.

Are there costs other than tuition for my M.Eng. in Material Engineering Degree?

If you choose a program that includes a cooperative education or internship option, there may be fees associated with the cooperative education portion of your degree that are charged over and above your tuition. However, most co-op work placements or internships provide a salary to the student while working. [33]

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Areas of specialization include ceramics, composite materials, electronic materials, metallurgy, polymers and materials science. These specialities can be employed in many fields, including aerospace, mining, manufacture, technology, biomaterials, and nanotechnology, among others. [29][31]

Both on-campus and online methods of course delivery provide equivalent quality education. As well, there are many ABET-accredited graduate engineering programs offered in the United States. [46] An online Master of Material Engineering program offers increased flexibility when compared to campus delivery models.

When you enroll in a campus program, you are expected to be on campus to attend classes at specific times. This can interfere with a student’s ability to maintain employment or family obligations during studies, depending upon class timing. With an online degree, students are given the flexibility to watch lectures and complete projects on their own time, and go at their own pace. Engineers are busy, so enrolling in an online degree can allow students to fit their studies into their lives rather than change their lives to fit into an inflexible program. [20]

As of May 2016, the median annual salary for material engineers is $91,310, which is more than double the median of $35,080 for other workers in the United States. [9]

In short, yes. ABET accreditation is the gold standard for education in the engineering field. Graduation from an accredited program is required to qualify for a Professional Engineer (PE) license by most state licensure boards. Note that licensure requirements do vary between states, so it is important to check with your state licensing board to confirm requirements before you choose a program.

Although some states allow graduates of an unaccredited program to apply to be a PE, applicants from unaccredited programs may have to return to school for more credits and/or apprentice under a licensed PE for a greater number of years. Given that PEs have a wider scope of practice and earn a higher salary, it is recommended that prospective students choose ABET-accredited programs whenever possible so that licensure remains an available option.

A majority of programs offered within the United States are currently ABET accredited, but it is important to confirm this before enrolling. [49] [53] [56] [46]

The Professional Engineer credential is seen as proof of competence. Those who obtain it are typically entrusted with a higher level of responsibility for public safety and welfare, which grants them a wider scope of practice related to signing and sealing plans. Many employers, including the government, are now moving toward requiring PE status of their employees.

As a PE, you can have more upward mobility and a higher salary than an unlicensed engineer. PEs are more frequently employed in supervisory and management roles, and given more responsibility when working on engineering projects. By law, most states require engineers working in private practice or who own consulting firms to have PE status, so if entrepreneurship is something that interests you, pursuing a PE may be required. [53] [54] [56]