All posts by dwatkins

Is graduate student health insurance available?

Graduate students can purchase health insurance that is available for all Michigan Tech students for approximately $700 per year. If you receive a graduate teaching assistantship (GTA) or graduate research assistantship (GRA), you are eligible to purchase the health insurance available to Michigan Tech faculty and staff for only about $250 per year.

What is the student cost of living in Houghton?

The student cost of living in Houghton is relatively inexpensive when compared to major cities and other university towns. For example, student rent typically ranges from $150 to $400 per month. Some graduate students even own their own houses. Food and entertainment is also inexpensive relative to other areas of the country. An electronic off-campus housing list and on-campus housing list are available to assist graduate students in obtaining housing.

What is the difference between the M.S. Environmental Engineering and M.S. Environmental Engineering Science degrees?

Students who consider the M.S. Environmental Engineering Science have a first degree that is a non-engineering degree (e.g., chemistry, biology, physics, geology, environmental science, etc.). The M.S. Environmental Engineering degree requires that a student either have an ABET accredited engineering degree as their first degree (can be a B.S. degree in any engineering field) or demonstrate through a combination of the coursework associated with their first degree and graduate degree that they meet engineering accreditation requirements. The amount of additional coursework (if any) is student specific; however, it typically requires 1-2 semesters of additional coursework beyond the 30 credits required for the M.S. degree. After reviewing a student’s transcript from their previous degree, we can make a determination on the actual number of additional credits that would be required. In contrast, an individual with a first degree that is non-engineering can obtain the 30-credit M.S. Environmental Engineering Science degree without doing any make-up coursework. Students who pursue this option should understand that they will still be in demand by employers of our graduate students; however, they may not be able to become a professionally registered engineer at a later date. Also, students in the Master’s International program that is affiliated with the U.S. Peace Corps can not apply for the M.S. Environmental Engineering Science degree and must apply for the M.S. Environmental Engineering or the M.S. Civil Engineering degree.

What is the difference between the Master of Engineering and Master of Science degrees?

  1. Both degrees require 30 semester credits. However, the Master of Engineering (MEng) degree consists primarily of coursework (with an optional independent design project), and the Master of Science (MS) includes a research project or research thesis (2-10 credits). The Master of Engineering degree also provides more flexibility in coursework a student may wish to take outside the department. For example, with approval from their graduate committees, Master of Engineering students may take several courses in business, policy, computer science, and other engineering disciplines.
  2. The Master of Engineering degree is designed so a student can complete their degree requirements in 2 semesters (9 months). A student will typically complete the degree requirements for a Master of Science degree in 4-6 semesters (1.5-2 years).
  3. In our experience, the engineering profession views the Master of Engineering and Master of Science degrees as equal. Graduates of both degree programs obtain employment in government, industry, and consulting. Our department’s Professional Advisory Committee (which consists of practitioners) has endorsed the Master of Engineering degree.
  4. Master of Engineering students do not receive financial support, while many Master of Science students receive support in the form of a graduate teaching assistantship or graduate research assistantship.
  5. You must have an ABET-accredited undergraduate degree to enter the Master of Engineering Program. Students without an ABET-accredited undergraduate degree can obtain the MS degree. Those students who wish to obtain the MS degree in Civil Engineering or Environmental Engineering, however, must meet specific ABET requirements through a combination of their BS and MS degrees.

Michigan Tech began the Master of Engineering program in 1999 for several reasons which include: 1) many employers want a 5th year of studies but not necessarily the research component of the Master of Science degree, and 2) many students do not want to be in an MS program for 2 years, for financial and personal reasons.

In addition, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) has stated that they are considering the 5th year of school to be a requirement for becoming a professional engineer (plus passing FE exam, having work experience, and PE exam). Also, we have discussed this with our department’s industrial advisory committee (which consists primarily of practitioners), and they are very supportive.

How long do I have to consider an offer of financial assistance, and what should I do if I am offered funding at more than one university?

Michigan Tech is a member of the consortium that includes most U.S. universities, which have agreed to the following procedure for offers of financial aid.

You will be allowed to consider all financial aid offers until April 15. Any offer of financial assistance made before April 15 will be held for you until at least that date. When you accept an offer of financial aid at one university, you are making a contract stating that you will attend that university. The participating universities have agreed that any student who has accepted an offer of financial assistance and stated that they will attend a given university will not be offered financial aid at a second university unless the first university formally rescinds its offer, through a letter releasing the student. This system has been designed to protect both you, the student, and the universities. You are protected, because you can wait until April 15 to find out what universities have accepted your application, and what universities offer financial assistance, before making a decision. At the same time, the requirement that acceptance of an offer is final ensures that the university will not reserve offers of financial aid for students who may not attend.

What if I do not receive financial aid?

While most of our graduate students receive some type of financial aid, the system is competitive. Some students prefer to support themselves and concentrate on their academic studies. Other students are picked up on research or teaching assistantships as the year progresses. There are also some hourly jobs available as a grader or laboratory assistant. These hourly jobs are typically awarded to students who are physically on campus. We also have a program where students can receive a non-research based Master of Engineering (MEng) degree in 9 months. Students in the MEng program do not receive any financial aid. You may contact the department for more information on this program if this situation applies to you. For students interested in our Master’s International Program, if you have been “nominated” by the Peace Corps, you will be charged in-state tuition.

How is financial aid awarded?

We have no separate application form for financial aid. Your application to the graduate program automatically results in your consideration for financial aid. We cannot evaluate your chances for receiving financial aid until we complete the review of your completed application. Typically, most new graduate students begin study in the fall, and most financial aid offers are sent out during March and April for those students. However, it is also possible to begin a program of study in January or June. Students beginning at those times may also receive financial aid.

For graduate students, financial assistance is normally awarded in the form of a Graduate Research Assistantship (GRA) or Graduate Teaching Assistantship (GTA). GRA students receive a stipend to support their education while they work on a project, under the guidance of one or more faculty members. The research project normally constitutes part of their thesis research. Students may improve their chances of receiving a GRA by contacting specific faculty with whom they would like to work.

GTA students receive a stipend to support their education in exchange for assisting with teaching of undergraduate laboratory courses. GTA positions are decided at the department level. These positions are not typically awarded to applicants from outside the U.S., although foreign students can compete for GTA positions after they have spent one or more semesters at Michigan Tech and demonstrated adequate English speaking skills. Foreign students can receive a research assistantship or fellowship during their first semester of residence.

What GRE or TOEFL scores are required?

For international students for whom English has not been the official language of instruction, the TOEFL is required. We recommend a TOEFL score of 600 (100 ibt), but there is no strict cut-off. All applicants must submit a GRE score to be considered for fellowships or graduate teaching assistantships. While your GRE score is important, we also have no specific cut-off for GRE scores, and consider the GRE score to be just one part of your overall application.

What is holding up my application – why have I not heard back yet?

Many things may hold up applications. First, the Graduate School must receive your application, GRE score, application fee, transcripts, and TOEFL score for international applicants. It is your responsibility to ensure that these materials arrive at the Graduate School. Secondly, your reference letters may not have been received at the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering. You should check with your references to ensure they have written a letter on your behalf, and that they submitted it on-line or mailed it to the Department.

Is there a deadline for applying?

There is no deadline for receipt of your application. Graduate applications are considered as they are received, once they are complete. However, financial assistance is usually awarded by mid-March (see “How is financial aid awarded”). To be considered for assistance at that time, your completed application must begin review up to 1.5 months earlier, so all materials should be in by the end of January (somewhat earlier for international applicants).