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A Graduate Seminar Series For Dual B.S./M.S. Degree Students

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Emerging Trends in Engineering Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.44.1 - 9.44.13



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Paper Authors

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Edward Hensel

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Elizabeth DeBartolo

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 1793

A Graduate Seminar Series for Dual BS/MS Degree Students

Elizabeth A. DeBartolo and Edward Hensel

Mechanical Engineering Department, Rochester Institute of Technology


At the Rochester Institute of Technology, undergraduate students have the unique opportunity to pursue a dual BS and MS degree in engineering. Many outstanding students take advantage of this opportunity but in order to obtain both degrees in a reasonable amount of time, work on the thesis must begin during the student’s third or fourth year. While the students are technically capable of completing the early stages of their thesis work at this time, they often lack the softer skills that many educators remember learning from their graduate student peer groups when they were in school. Since RIT is a primarily undergraduate institution, where many of the MS students are just advanced undergraduates, this peer group does not exist for many of our dual- degree students who are taking four courses per quarter, holding down jobs, and participating in a variety of on-campus extracurricular activities. To facilitate this skill set development in early BS/MS students, a graduate seminar series has been piloted this year. Topics have been selected and timed to help guide students through the process of finding a thesis topic/advisor, starting their thesis research, and developing a plan of action. The long-term goal is to use the Graduate Seminar course as a way to help entering BS/MS students to learn the soft skills needed to succeed from upperclassmen and build a support network among these students.


RIT’s Mechanical Engineering department has a primarily undergraduate focus, and it is a co-op institution, where ME students are required to complete five co-op blocks beginning in their third year. RIT also offers an MS or MEng degree, depending on whether or not the student wants to pursue thesis research. There are two options for pursuing a master’s-level degree: the student may enter as a full- or part-time student who has already completed the bachelor’s degree, or the student may apply for a dual BS/Masters program as a second-year student at RIT. The focus of this paper is the BS/MS student, who wishes to complete all the standard undergraduate requirements and graduate from RIT with a BS and MS degree at the same time.

BS/MS students have a very rigorous schedule (Table 1) that provides them with two extra quarters of coursework during their five years at RIT. This is done by waiving one of the five co-op blocks and allowing them to begin co-ops over the summer after their second year instead of during the third year. While BS/MS students are required to take two fewer courses toward their MS degrees than full-time MS-only students are, they are still required to take an extra eight courses beyond the BS to satisfy the MS requirements. This means that no additional course release is available for thesis work, if the students are to graduate with their BS-only

Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2004, American Society for Engineering Education

Hensel, E., & DeBartolo, E. (2004, June), A Graduate Seminar Series For Dual B.S./M.S. Degree Students Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--14065

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