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Engineering Graduate school without undergrad?

Tak47Tak47 Posts: 62Registered User Junior Member
edited December 2013 in Engineering Majors
Is it at all possible to go to grad school for engineering when you received a B.S. in a different field? For example, you major in Chemistry and then go to grad school for a M.S. in Mechanical Engineering. Would this be possible? How hard would it be? How many people have actually done this? Would this be a better option than trying to cram your engineering degree into 4/5 years? How much more valued is a M.S. in engineering than a B.S.? Rather than paying for 5 years of undergrad engineering, would going for a M.S. be better? In the chemistry major you complete all the same math and physics courses required by most all engineering degrees.
Post edited by Tak47 on
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Replies to: Engineering Graduate school without undergrad?

  • sam21sam21 Posts: 36Registered User Junior Member
    Interesting topic. From my point of view, I think it's possible. However, you will have to take the prerequisites. Every graduate department will require certain courses to be taken while earning bachelors degree. All you have to do is narrow down to which engineering majors are you considering and which schools too, and u will have to take the G.R.E

    Good Luck
  • ken285ken285 Posts: 3,882Registered User Senior Member
    Engineering undergrad is only 4 years if you don't fall behind in your courses. A Master's program in engineering, if you're accepted to it, will make you take some fundamental engineering courses that you didn't take in undergrad. This will probably add about a year to the length of the master's degree.
  • sakkysakky Posts: 14,759- Senior Member
    Is it at all possible to go to grad school for engineering when you received a B.S. in a different field? For example, you major in Chemistry and then go to grad school for a M.S. in Mechanical Engineering. Would this be possible? How hard would it be? How many people have actually done this?

    Can you do it? Sure. I know quite a few cases. The most extreme case that I know of is a guy who got his bachelor's in biology from Harvard and then got his master's in civil engineering at MIT.
    How much more valued is a M.S. in engineering than a B.S.? Rather than paying for 5 years of undergrad engineering, would going for a M.S. be better? In the chemistry major you complete all the same math and physics courses required by most all engineering degrees

    Generally speaking, once you have an MS, your bachelor's degree no longer matters. The only serious exception I can think of regards if you want to become a certified Professional Engineering - as some states mandate that you must have an accredited bachelor's degree in engineering before you can even sit for the PE exam. Even if you have a PhD in engineering, heck, even if you're an engineering professor at an elite school, you still may not be able to take the PE exam in those states if you don't have an actual bachelor's degree in engineering. {Note, it's a very stupid rule.}
    However, you will have to take the prerequisites.
    A Master's program in engineering, if you're accepted to it, will make you take some fundamental engineering courses that you didn't take in undergrad. This will probably add about a year to the length of the master's degree.

    Well, actually, that depends on the school. I'll tell you this. MIT doesn't require that you take any prereqs in order for you to complete a master's. If they admit you, then regardless of what your undergrad degree is in, the requirements are the same - complete 66 units of approved graduate coursework, and then write an acceptable master's thesis that is signed by the faculty of the department. Those students who came in without an undergrad engineering degree do not have any additional requirements formally placed upon them. Note, to be fair, it should said that those students often times choose to complete those extra requirements on their own time, as doing so helps them to complete their formal coursework and (more importantly) helps them to complete the thesis. But the point is, they are not formally required to do so. As a case in point, that guy who had the bio undergrad degree and got his master's in CivE didn't have to complete any extra requirements.

    The catch, of course, is that it is much more difficult to get admitted into an MIT grad engineering program in the first place if you don't even have an undergrad degree in engineering. But if you do somehow manage to get in, you don't need to complete extra requirements. The same holds true for at least several of the MS programs at Stanford. If you manage to get in, you don't have any extra requirements to complete.
  • redbeardredbeard Posts: 308Registered User Member
    My path exactly. My undergrad degree was in Chemistry (from Cornell). I went on to George Washington's School of Engineering and Applied Sciences to get an MS in Operations Research. I had done significant engineering work in the Navy and elsewhere. I suppose I could have pursued a MS MechE, or even a nuclear engineering degree (if I could have found one!), but I thought the OR degree would be a more versatile degree.

    I turn 55 next month. I've made many career decisions, but there is none that I am happier about than the decision to get the MSOR. It has paid dividends that are ten times the cost of the degree--opening doors and setting me apart in ways that even an Ivy League diploma can't. Few have an OR degree and the demand is huge. In fact, GW no longer offers the degree. All the professors have switched their titles to "Systems Engineer". This just increases the demand (although demand for systems engineers is large as well).
  • seaweedseaweed Posts: 100Registered User Junior Member
    It's absolutely do-able. I completed my B.S. in Biochemistry and got accepted into several good chemical engineering programs.

    The keys are:
    1) Maintaining a high GPA and getting perfect (or near perfect) GRE score on the math part.
    2) Finding professors whose research areas relate to your major. For example, I looked for professors who did research on biochemical engineering, protein engineering, and metabolic engineering.
  • hinmanCEOhinmanCEO Posts: 276Registered User Junior Member
    going from a BS in Chem to a MS in Chem Engr is do-able =)
  • CorbettCorbett Posts: 1,599Registered User Senior Member
    1) Maintaining a high GPA and getting perfect (or near perfect) GRE score on the math part.
    A high math GRE score would help. Also, I understand that some engineering graduate programs will accept a passing score on the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam as demonstrating BS-level engineering competency. The FE exam is an 8-hour test that covers a wide range of concepts in math, computer science, physics, and chemistry; it's much broader than the math GRE.

    Some undergraduate engineering programs use the FE exam as an exit exam, so it would make sense for graduate programs to use it as an entrance exam.

    The problem with the FE exam is that it's not an open exam (like the GRE). In most states, you need some engineering education or work experience before you can take it. However, the FE is open to anyone in at least some states (e.g. New Hampshire).
  • ken285ken285 Posts: 3,882Registered User Senior Member
    I've heard that some programs use the FE exam as an exit exam, but I don't see how that's possible, let alone as a graduate entrance exam. The FE exam is given in late April, and the results don't come until much later (in New York, I've heard it's around August), so how can a school withhold diplomas until the end of the summer?

    For graduate programs, decisions come out as early as mid February, before most people even take the FE. Of course, this only applies if students attend grad school immediately following undergrad.

    I wouldn't be opposed to schools using the FE exam for their own admissions purposes, but I don't see how it's feasible given the time.
  • CorbettCorbett Posts: 1,599Registered User Senior Member
    The FE exam is actually offered twice a year, in October and in April. I would assume that if an undergraduate program used the FE as an "exit exam," then students would be required to take it in the fall of their senior year. That would leave plenty of time for the results to arrive before graduation.

    I would be surprised if any graduate school required the FE as an "entrance exam". I've only heard that it is one possible option that can be used to satisfy entrance requirements if you don't have an engineering BS degree.

    This could be a practical approach for someone who transitioned into engineering work after college, then decided to attend engineering graduate school. I agree that it probably wouldn't be practical for someone who planned to transition into engineering grad school immediately after college.
  • CorbettCorbett Posts: 1,599Registered User Senior Member
    The FE exam is actually offered twice a year, in October and in April. I would assume that if an undergraduate program used the FE as an "exit exam," then students would be required to take it in the fall of their senior year. That would leave plenty of time for the results to arrive before graduation.
    In fact, this appears to be the case. For example, the Mechanical Engineering Dept. at the University of Texas at Tyler says the following:
    To graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering a student must satisfy the following ...

    5. pass the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) Fundamentals of Engineering examination.

    The NCEES Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) examination is offered twice each year, in April and October, and may be taken more than once. A student should take the examination at least one semester prior to the semester in which the student plans to graduate. Students expecting to complete their course work for an engineering degree in May or August should take the FE exam in October of the preceding year.
  • pearlygatepearlygate Posts: 581Registered User Member
    Is it at all possible to go to grad school for engineering when you received a B.S. in a different field? For example, you major in Chemistry and then go to grad school for a M.S. in Mechanical Engineering.

    it's definitely possible. I did my undergraduate in biology at Univ of Wash, and now I'm doing my master in CS at Stanford.
  • protonproton Posts: 1,021Registered User Senior Member
    i know of someone who went to grad school as a computer scientist but majored in sociology in undergrad.
  • julesnewjulesnew Posts: 5Registered User New Member
    I know there is something called the LEAP program at Boston University that caters to what you're looking for... I am looking for more formal programs like this, as I also would like to pursue engineering (my undergrad degree was in math). Does anyone else know of any formal engineering transition programs like this?
  • jwxiejwxie Posts: 1,479Registered User Senior Member
    I have no idea. But I think it varies from school. If you just choose schools based on that, it wouldn't be very wise.

    Which engineering do you want to do? And which math degree? Pure math? Applied Math? or ...?
  • pppeachykeenpppeachykeen Posts: 143Registered User Junior Member
    I'm in a similar position. I received a B.S. in Biology from UCLA; however I am strongly considering civil/environmental engineering. Would this possible?

    Or, does anyone know of any programs that encourage applicants for second bachelor's in engineering? I have only been able to find a few schools so far - IIT and UMass, Amherst, as well as BU's LEAP program for a Master's.
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