The Centre for Materials Science and Technology can be traced back to the School of Home Science. In January 1911 a Professor was appointed and the University established both a four-year degree and a three-year diploma, based on sciences applied to humans in their social and domestic lives.
By the 1980s the programmes were highly prescribed with all students required to take basic sciences (e.g. chemistry), several applied sciences related to human health and well-being (e.g. microbiology and public health, human physiology), a range of applied sciences (e.g. textiles and clothing, food and human nutrition), and a range of human-related courses (e.g. design, community and family studies).
During the 1980s allowed students to major in one of the key disciplines with flexibility in supporting subjects as part of a three-year degree (Consumer and Applied Sciences (CApSc)). Several of the unique disciplines were also available as major subjects in other degrees (Bachelor of Science (BSc), Bachelor of Arts (BA)). In 2011 the CApSc suite of degrees and diplomas was merged with the Applied Science degree to form the programme now offered at the University of Otago.
The Centre for Materials Science and Technology was established in 2016.