Category: Graduate School

What is graduate school?

After your Bachelors degree you can continue going to school to get an advanced degree. In engineering this would be a Masters or PhD.

In our program you can get a coursework Masters, thesis Masters, or PhD. The coursework Masters is just like it sounds. It’s where you take additional advanced engineering classes. You can complete a coursework Masters in a year.

The thesis Masters and PhD are both research degrees. There is a coursework component to them, but you will also work on a research project with a faculty member. A thesis Masters usually takes 1.5-2 years to complete. A PhD takes several years to complete.

If you’d like to work at a university, national lab, or in research and development for a company then you will likely need a PhD.

You can change disciplines. Your graduate degree can be in a different or more specialized discipline than your undergraduate degree.

Can I take graduate courses while still an undergrad?

Yes, but you will need special permission to enroll. You can either:

  • use the courses as technical electives. Many of our graduate courses are approved for this.
  • or, you can use the courses towards a Michigan Tech graduate degree under “Senior Rule”.

Senior Rule

You are allowed to take courses to apply to a graduate degree during your last year of undergraduate. However, once a course is approved for senior rule then it may no longer be used towards your undergraduate degree.

You will need to submit the approval to the Registrar’s Office by Wednesday of week 2 for the course semester. Read all the details on the Registrar’s Office webpage.

We allow up to 6 credits of graduate courses to be completed under senior rule.

Accelerated Master’s

This program allows you to double count up to 6 credits towards both an undergraduate and graduate degree. You need to apply before graduating to be eligible. Read all the details on the Accelerated Master’s webpage.

What can I do to prepare myself for graduate school in engineering?

There are things you can do now to prepare for graduate school.

Participate in undergraduate research

This is important. A PhD or thesis masters is a research degree, and doing research as an undergraduate can open many doors. This is true even if you eventually decide to do a coursework masters. We recommend looking for opportunities at Michigan Tech, and off-campus at another university, business, or research lab.

Take additional math classes

Graduate engineering classes are very math intensive and so additional math courses work can help prepare you. Statistics is useful in almost all areas. Dr. Morrison also has some recommendations.

Practice your writing and presenting skills

You need these skills to be successful in graduate school and your career. If you participate in undergraduate research there are opportunities to present a poster of your research during department events, campus events, and professional conferences.

Keep your books

Your books and notes will be useful for reviewing core engineering topics when you’re taking the more advanced graduate courses.

Attend research seminars and graduate defenses

These events happen on campus throughout the year and are open to the public. Look for posters and emails announcing them. Seek out presentations in areas that interest you, even if they are in other departments. Research is interdisciplinary and the things you learn and people you meet could help you in the future.

How do I get permission to enroll in graduate-level courses?

You will need to have earned a C or better at the undergraduate-level for permission to enroll in the graduate-level course. Contact the academic advisor to request permission.

  • CM 5100 (Grad Math): C or better in MA 3160 (Multivariable Calc) and MA 3520 or MA 3521 (Diff Eq)
  • CM 5200 (Grad Thermo): C or better in CM 3230 (Thermo)
  • CM 5300 (Grad Transport): C or better in CM 3120 (Transport & UO II) and a B or better in CM 5100 (Grad Math)
  • CM 5400 (Grad Kinetics): C or better in CM 3510 (ChE Rxn Engineering)

The following classes are typically available only to graduate students.

  • CM 5310 (Lab Safety): Requires special permission
  • CM 5500 (Theory and Methods of Research): Requires special permission

Where can I learn more about the NSF Research Experiences for Undergraduates program?

The Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program, sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF), is a set of summer research programs hosted at at many universities, including Michigan Tech.  These are competitive programs and an excellent way to check out if you are interested in graduate school.  A good time to do an REU is the summer after you have completed the spring junior classes in chemical engineering.  If you can get one earlier than that, that’s great too, but the best time is just before senior year.

The REU programs are the opportunity to participate in a funded research program at a research university.  You will work with other REU undergraduates, graduate students, postdocs, and the professor in the program (0ften in a lab) on a real project that is aiming towards publication.  They are looking for bright students who may be interested in going to graduate school.  They will be showing you what graduate school and research is all about.  You will make friends and gain colleagues and you will gain research experience and skills. You will get the opportunity to live in a new place and in general check out the scene.  You may get to be on a publication.  If you are not sure about going to graduate school the REU experience will likely give you the experience you need to come to a decision.

The REU fellowships are well funded–you will have enough to live on and to enjoy your summer and to save up for college.  The deadlines for REU applications range from January to late March annually.  There may be some with later deadlines, but they are accepting people in February and March so if they fill up they fill up.

You may obtain more information about the REU program from the NSF website.  Undergraduate students sponsored with NSF funds must be a citizen or permanent resident of the United States or its possessions.  NSF maintains a website that allows you to search by topic for REU programs throughout the country.  A contact person and contact information is listed for each site.

I highly recommend this program to students who are interested in research and/or graduate school.

Dow Chemical and MIT ACCESS program: Encouraging graduate study

This looks like a cool program; and we have an alum of this program in the Michigan Tech Chem Eng graduate program!  Spread the word.

Overview of program

The mission of the ACCESS program is to increase the diversity of qualified applicants to PHD programs in chemistry, chemical engineering and materials science throughout the United States. ACCESS is a weekend of educational and informative events that will introduce talented sophomores, juniors and seniors to the benefits of a graduate education in chemistry, chemical engineering, and materials science. The goal of ACCESS is not to prepare students for graduate school at MIT specifically, but rather to introduce them to the advantages of choosing a graduate career path at an institution that best meets each participant’s individual needs.

The weekend-long program offers students an overview of graduate education through seminars, faculty talks, and interactive sessions, all designed to give a greater understanding of the application process and an insight into the doors a graduate career can open.

ACCESS will give participants:

A broad exposure to the opportunities that can be gained from a graduate education in chemistry, chemical engineering, and materials science;

  • An introduction to the various career paths that can result from a graduate education in chemistry, chemical engineering, and materials science;
  • An opportunity to hear directly from faculty and students their reasons for choosing a graduate career;
  • An explanation of the funding structure for graduate education and information on graduate fellowships;
  • A chance to meet and socialize with fellow undergraduates from around the nation who are pursuing similar goals;
  • And a fun Cambridge/Boston experience!

Contact Info:

For more information about the ACCESS program, email mit-access@mit.edu.

Continuous Enrollment Rules on BS/MS

The Dean of the Graduate School, Jackie Huntoon, sent an email updating the continuous enrollment rule as it applies to the BS/MS program.

Students must be continuously enrolled. The idea behind these is that students begin the MS immediately after completion of the BS. The way these programs are all set up is that as soon as students complete the BS they are considered to be enrolled in the MS and they therefore must adhere to the graduate level continuously enrollment policy – like all other graduate students. If they don’t remain continuously enrolled they will be dropped from the program and have to reapply – and if they reapply they can’t be in the “accelerated program” since the Senate policy requires that students apply prior to graduation with the BS. This could have financial implications for students (loss of ability to double count credits) so it is important that they understand this. Kristi Isaacson (kris@mtu.edu) is the point person for the accelerated master’s programs so if you have a question – feel free to contact her.

(by email 20Feb2014)

How do I apply for the new BS/MS in ChemE?

To apply for the BS/MS program you follow this procedure:

1.  Go to the Grad School website and go to the Admissions section and follow all instructions.
2.  In your “areas of interest” on the form, put “accelerated masters”.  This will signal that you’re applying for the BS/MS

All other application requirements for the BS/MS program are the same as for the MS program in general.  For more on the BS/MS in Chemical Engineering, go to the Advising website FAQ page.

How much does it cost to go to grad school in chemical engineering?

Ph.D. study in chemical engineering is often paid for by research funds obtained by your grad-school faculty advisor, and thus it will not cost you anything if you are able to obtain such support.  In addition to receiving a tuition award, you will typically receive an offer of financial support for your living expenses.

When you apply to graduate school, you will automatically be considered for support, either in the form of a research assistantship, a teaching assistantship, or a fellowship.  These assistantships will usually include full tuition and fees.  It’s a great deal for which good students will often qualify, and it is not usually based on need, rather is based on merit.  There are also very prestigious graduate research fellowships offered by the National Science Foundation for the best students in the country.  If you are able to obtain an NSF graduate research fellowship, you will be highly courted by all the top graduate schools.  You must apply directly to NSF for these fellowships.

M.S. study in chemical engineering can be done either in coursework mode (never supported; you are charged tuition and fees) or in thesis mode (may be supported; may include a living stipend).  The two-year coursework masters has the advantage of being straightforward to get:  you apply, are admitted, take for the necessary courses, get your degree.  There is no research project.  The M.S. thesis path also starts with you applying and taking courses, but students are working from the beginning on a masters thesis that must be completed before the degree is awarded.  There are funded research projects that lead to the M.S., and it is competitive to obtain this funding.

For more on graduate school, please visit the Department’s website on graduate studies.