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MIT Admissions

Materials Science and Engineering

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MIT Undergraduate Departments
Materials Science and Engineering
Course 3
Programs Offered: Major, Double Major, Minor
Department Head: Ned Thomas
Department Headquarters: 6-113
Undergraduate Administrator: Angelita Mirales
Undergraduate Office: 6-107
UROP Coordinator: Bernhardt Wuensch

Materials Science and Engineering is a department in MIT's School of Engineering, otherwise known as Course 3.


Overview and History

When the institute opened in 1865, Course 3 consisted of geology and mining. Later, the department's name was changed to the Department of Mining and Metallurgy and over the next fifty years, the disciplines of geology, mining, and metallurgy were repeatedly joined and separated until in the 1940's. MIT discontinued the study of mining engineering and course 3 was named the Department of Metallurgy. In 1967 the name changed to Metallurgy and Materials Science and settled on it current name in 1974.1

Throughout the department's history, research has been driven by society's technological needs—as construction, transportation, and industrialization expanded, procurement and production of metals were the focus. Later, ceramics and polymers were in development though many of their potential uses in applications were not be seen until the Second World War and soon after. Current department research includes designing smaller and lighter batteries that are better able to be recharged, increasing the capacities of data storage devices and moving data more quickly through use of photonic devices, and developing biomaterials for vaccinations.

Because course 3 is such a broad topic, faculty and student research ranges from the purely scientific to applied studies and involves perspectives of chemistry, physics, electronics, the artistic and historical aspects of materials, design, and entrepreneurial ventures.

Student Life and Traditions

The Society of Undergraduate Materials Scientists (SUMS) is a student group that provides academic and professional support and social activities for students interested in materials.

SUMS and the department maintain an Undergraduate Lounge on the fourth floor of Building 8 for its students to study, relax, or socialize.

Course 3 also has a student machine shop for use by trained students.

Upon commencement, every Course 3 graduate receives a bronze medallion of the insitute seal made in the DMSE foundry.

Major Requirements

Course 3 - B.S. in Materials Science and Engineering

This track serves students who wish to seek employment in materials-related industries directly after graduation, as well as those who will perform graduate work in the engineering or science of materials. The sophomore and junior years contain some required core subjects that address the fundamental relations between processing, microstructure, properties, and applications of modern materials. The core subjects are followed by a sequence of restricted electives that provide more specialized coverage of particular materials and applications. The required thesis or industrial internship experience provides an opportunity for students to lay groundwork for their future careers.

The Course 3 major requirements are as follows:

  • 3.012 Fundamentals of Materials Science and Engineering
  • 3.014 Materials Laboratory
  • 3.016 Mathematical Methods for Materials Scientists and Engineers
    • or 18.03/18.034 Differential Equations
  • 3.021 Introduction to Modeling and Simulation
    • or 1.00 Introduction to Computers and Engineering Problem Solving
    • or 6.01 Introduction to EECS I
    • or 3.016
  • 3.022 Microstructural Evolution in Materials
  • 3.024 Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Properties of Materials
  • 3.032 Mechanical Properties of Materials
  • 3.034 Organic and Biomaterials Chemistry
  • 3.042 Materials Project Laboratory
  • 3.044 Materials Processing
  • 3.Th.U Undergraduate Thesis
    • or 3.930 and 3.931 Industrial Practice I and II
  • Four Restricted Electives; Chosen from 3.016, 3.021J, 3.046, 3.048, 3.051J, 3.052, 3.053J, 3.063, 3.064, 3.07, 3.072, 3.073, 3.074, 3.080, 3.14, 3.15, 3.153, 3.155J.

Freshmen generally begin from the GIR courses in the major requirements, and then progress through the the courses following the ascending course numbers. Materials Project Lab is generally considered the capstone class and is generally undertaken in the student's junior year, although a number take the class as seniors.

Course 3A - B.S. as Recommended by the Department of Materials Science and Engineering

Some students may be attracted to the many opportunities available in the materials discipline, but also have special interests that are not satisfied by the Course 3 program. For instance, some students may wish to take more biology and chemistry subjects in preparation for medical school, or more management subjects prior to entering an MBA or law program. In these cases, the 3-A program may be of value as a more flexible curriculum in which a larger number of elective choices is available.

The curriculum requirements for Course 3-A are similar to, but more flexible than, those for Course 3. Five subjects chosen from the core (3.012; 3.016, 18.03, or 18.034; 3.021J, 3.016, 1.00, or 6.01; 3.022; 3.024; 3.032; 3.034; 3.042; and 3.044) and one laboratory subject (3.014) are required, along with any three additional subjects (36 units) selected from the list of Restricted Electives shown under Course 3. In addition to these nine subjects, the student should develop a program of six planned elective subjects appropriate to the student's stated goals. CI-M designated subjects for Course 3-A include 3.014, 2.009, 2.671, 3.042, 3.155J, 5.36, 5.38, 6.021J/2.791J/20.370J, and 7.02.

Minor Requirements

A minor consists of six undergraduate subjects totalling at least 72 units from the list of Required Subjects and Restricted Electives in the departmental program, with at least one of these taken from the list of Restricted Electives. With the approval of the minor advisor, it may be possible to substitute one subject taken outside the department for one of the Course 3 subjects in the minor program, provided that the coverage of the substituted subject is similar to one of those in the departmental program.

Non-Credit Classes


The MIT Glass Lab offers beginner, intermediate, and expert glassblowing classes throughout the school year and IAP.


The DMSE forge offers an IAP class in introductory blacksmithing. Students who complete the class can attend weekly open forge hours for making projects.


The DMSE foundry an IAP class in metal casting. Students have the opportunity to perfom an investment casting project of their choosing.


The department offers an IAP class in welding.

Official (External) Links