Thoughts About Majoring in EE and Minoring in Material Science

So I have committed to the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor for the school. At first, I wanted to major in Material Science and Engineering because of all the cool different focuses the discipline branches into (polymers, optics, electronics etc). I thought this major would provide me with the basics of knowing Physics and Chem all too well, which would satisfy my love for both. However, despite that, the job market for this field is rather in the works. I strongly believe that materials will revolutionize the future one day (due to many companies needing more efficient and less costly materials for later projects), but it requires more research. A Bachelor’s in MSE will not really suffice, most MSE later obtain their Master’s or PHD. I’m not sure if graduate school is promised for me however considering all the financial hurdles.

As a result, I decided to focus on a degree with EE instead. I have always enjoyed working on small circuit projects and enjoy circuit analysis in high school a lot. I feel this would be enjoyable for me while still gravitating around MSE as a minor that will help further progress my knowledge in electronic materials regarding things like semiconductors and silicon chips. And if I ever have enough funds or scholarship to continue higher education, I’d go to graduate school as a MSE focusing on electronic materials. And if that doesn’t work, look for employment as an EE or programmer with my Bachelor’s

However, I wonder: Is this practical? How will the scheduling and studying hours look? Is it too much of a workload? Should I just stick to a major? I’m in no means looking for high GPAs (That’s pretty much not guaranteed for any engineer), just stability around a 3.0 at least. Give me your thoughts


They’re pretty disparate fields. Any materials classes you take that don’t directly complement EE will dilute the quality of your EE work.

Personally I think it’s best to do what you want to do rather than chase job markets. They can change, sometimes radically, in a short period. Just ask all those who flooded to Pet E chasing money when oil prices were high.

The good PhD programs are funded so that shouldn’t be a huge issue. That’s IF you can’t find a job you’d like without it. It’s still early to know about that.

Lastly, you should indeed look for a high GPA. You won’t necessarily hit it and you’ll have options if you don’t, but not aiming high and developing the work ethic to get there is a sure sign that you won’t. A high(er) GPA will open more job and grad school doors.

Good luck.

Also meet with your advisor and then meet with professors in the material department
Don’t choose your future on heresy. Talk to those that are actually working in the field.
Physics at Michigan is notorious hard. Great that you enjoy it.
Your first year is the basic classes. You don’t actually declare anything till end of sophomore year. You can pick just about any engineering field now and switch later but it’s good to get together with your counselor (you can email today) and make a projected plan.
Michigan is a very tough school in general and engineering is tougher. Avg GPA is 3.3 from first year out. Getting a 3.0 is great but shooting for the stars and hard work you might be able to raise that. Again, physics is incredibly hard but it good that you enjoy it. For many its not a great experience but somehow get through it.
Major with minor can challenging
But people do it.
There actually might be other ways to get some of the minor knowledge through clubs and activities to see if you actually enjoy it first also

But nonetheless, make a plan with your advisor first from engineering and talk to professors. They are very approachable at Michigan and really want to help.
Michigan’s opportunities as a student are unreal if you take advantage of them.

“Avg GPA is 3.3 from first year out,” is not particularly tough grading. I’d guess that’s fairly typical across most engineering programs, if not liberal grading. @ucbalumnus probably has a better feel than I do about that. The point being though, if you don’t try for a good GPA, you probably won’t get a good GPA.

Totally agree but this came from the engineering orientation a few years back at Michigan. They stated over and over that a “B” at Michigan is like an “A” anywhere else. Some grandstanding sure… But they were saying that all you perfect 4.0 kids are most likely not going to achieve that anymore. They talked about getting your first “C” or two (large gasp in the audience ?) and for certain classes that could be a good score. They also showed the new head of engineering report card and showed a few c’s and a D and not the greatest GPA at sophomore grades. That point is that just work hard and do your best and you will have all the help you need to be successful. Don’t glare at grades and it’s about learning now kinda speech. It was actually very well done.

LOL - I’ve known many engineering students incredibly relieved to get a C (not D or F) in a particular hard class. And these were students that excelled in high school. Engineering is HARD. As said above, the key is to give it your all. (I’ve also known engineering students that decided to settle for a C and ended up with less due to lack of trying.)

There is some cross-over between EE and Materials Science (for example, nanotechnology). However, my advice is to pursue what interests you and not worry at this time about needing a graduate degree. Getting an engineering degree is difficult enough. It’s easier to stay motivated studying what interests you. The rest will fall into place.

Focus on getting your BS. You do not need the minor. You can take electives in another field if you have the time and space to do so. At this point, you don’t know what you don’t know. You might develop some other interest along the way.

Best of luck at Michigan!