Going into a grad program in a field that doesn't correspond to undergrad program

<p>I'm new to the forum, so please don't shoot me if this is a dumb question. </p>

<p>I'm really undecided about what I want to do after I graduate, so I chose an Engineering program mainly because I thought I'd have more options when I graduate. I'm very interested in both the Sciences and Engineering and I'm undecided about whether I want to do grad in Engineering, grad in Sciences, or med school (though I'm leaning more towards grad school). </p>

<p>I'm wondering how possible it would be to apply to a Science grad school when I'm in Engineering. I haven't decided which Sciences specifically; I prefer Biology or Chemistry more, though Physics is still an option. </p>

<p>I'm in a general Engineering program right now and I choose my major later on in the program. And you guessed it - I have no clue what I want to specialize in yet. </p>

<p>So first of all, am I even allowed to apply to grad for Science when I'm in Engineering? Some schools say that the department I'm applying to should be related to my undergrad degree. Is Science and Engineering considered related enough (E.g., Biomedical Engineering vs. Biology)? </p>

<p>And secondly, how much extra work am I looking at, if it's possible? I don't mind taking extra Science courses in the summer, but I heard that the undergrad research I do should be focused and related. </p>

<p>So how practical is this? </p>

<p>Thanks so much and I appreciate all the feedback I can get.</p>

<p>First, if you are interested in a science grad program, why not transfer into a science undergrad program? It sounds like you should still have plenty of time!</p>

<p>Second, it is pretty common to switch fields between undergrad and grad. For admissions, adcoms mostly consider your quality as a student, as indicated by your LOR's, your research experience (doesn't have to be your specific field), your GPA, etc. However, preparation does often have some influence in admissions, and definitely impacts your grad career. When switching "close" fields, like most engineering programs to physics, you can expect about a semester's worth of catch-up classes. When switching to "distant" fields, like most engineering programs to chemistry or biology, you can expect a year of catch-up as well as a much harder sell in admissions.</p>

<p>Finally, try not to stress. It sounds like you are earlier in your college career, and you should just try to focus on your first choice of career options - if you want to be an engineer, go for an undergrad engineering degree, if you want to be a scientist, gor for a science degree, if you want to be a doctor, go for an appropriate preparatory degree (but not pre-med). If it turns out later that your interests change, doors will not be shut.</p>

<p>You don't need to major in a subject to later enter a PhD program in it, although you definitely need the prerequisite courses. Sometimes major requirements in one department intersect with those from another. You'll have to narrow down your other field before you'll be able to see which elective courses you'll need to take for preparation. For biology-related fields, you'll need to take biology at least through cell bio and chemistry at least through organic chemistry. In engineering, you'll easily get the math and the (sometimes optional) physics. If you have a background in computer science, that may help as well. </p>

<p>As for research, there's a lot of interdisciplinary collaboration going at at universities right now. It may take some work to find those labs, but they are probably there. Research in bioengineering may impress a biochemistry or umbrella biology program. Research in computer science (which I know is different from computer engineering) may impress a neuroscience program with a computational track. Physics programs may accept research in a theoretical aspect of engineering. </p>

<p>If you are thinking of applying to medical school, engineering is not a recommended major. Although the pre-med requirements can be met even without majoring in a science, GPA is a huge part of the application, and engineering is known for grade deflation. (Look in the pre-med forum for information about the requirements.)</p>

<p>Keep in mind that top PhD programs are extremely competitive, so you'll need to be better prepared than most of your fellow applicants. Sometimes this means majoring in the same field, but sometimes this means having an unusual but applicable background.</p>

<p>Thanks so much for the responses so far!</p>

<p>I'm leaning more towards grad school than med school, but med is still an option. If I want to go to grad school, my GPA needs to be high anyways.</p>

<p>I'd definitely want to go straight into PhD if possible, but I'll settle for a Masters if not. </p>

<p>I'm sitting on the fence between Science and Engineering and I like them both equally. I picked Engineering in the end because I thought it'd give me more options after graduation. I heard it's much harder to switch from Science to Engineering than vice versa and if I for some reason change my mind and want to work after graduation, it's much easier to find a job with Engineering. </p>

<p>The Engineering program at my school is very rigid so I'd have to do a lot of planning ahead of time. I'm not sure if it's the same with other schools, but the courses at my school are only offered at certain semesters so it'd take a lot of planning to take other courses or to jump ahead (if at all possible). I'd take summer courses as early as possible and choose my few electives really carefully. </p>

<p>I don't mind doing extra work as long as it's not too impractical. I'm looking at majoring in either Biomedical Engineering or Engineering Physics (leaning more towards Physics), so hopefully, it's not too far fetched. I'd be happy to take extra upper year Chemistry/Biology courses if possible. </p>

<p>So they just want research experience and it doesn't have to match your intended major too much? As for research, it seems that my school doesn't even give a lot of opportunities to have my own research project. I'd definitely try to get one, but I'll pretty much have to settle for whatever I get. </p>

<p>Thanks again for all the feedback so far.</p>