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A Review Of The 4+1 Accelerated Masters Degree Program:Student Awareness Presages Student Opportunities

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

New Trends in Graduate Engineering Education

Tagged Division

Graduate Studies

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.97.1 - 13.97.8

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Paper Authors


Daniel Walsh California Polytechnic State University

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Daniel Walsh is currently Associate Dean of the College of Engineering at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. He received his B.S. (Biomedical Engineering) , M.S. (Biomedical Engineering) and Ph.D. (Materials Engineering) degrees from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. Prior to joining Cal Poly, Dr. Walsh was employed by General Dynamics Corporation, as a principal engineer and group leader in the Materials Division.

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Stacey Breitenbach California Polytechnic State University

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Stacey Breitenbach is currently Assistant Dean for Advising and Student Success Initiatives at the College of Engineering at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. She received her B.S. and M.A. from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Prior to becoming Assistant Dean, she was the Executive Director of the College of Engineering Advising Center.

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

A Review of the 4+1 Accelerated Masters Degree Program: Student Awareness Presages Student Opportunities


The 4 + 1 Program is an accelerated route to the professional masters (MS) degree. In many evolving technical areas, four years is not enough time for the formal education of an engineer about to enter a lifelong career of professional practice, even when the individual is committed to life long learning. The 4 + 1 program started in the General Engineering program in 1996 and now allows General Engineering, Aeronautical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Industrial Engineering, Manufacturing Engineering, Computer Science, Computer Engineering, Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Materials Engineering students to progress toward the terminal applied MS in Engineering degree appropriate to their interests, or in existing specializations in Biochemical Engineering, Bioengineering, Biomedical Engineering, Integrated Technology Management, while still undergraduates.

This paper describes the implementation of the 4+1 blended dual-degree program offered in the College of Engineering, and the outcomes it has produced for students. This program was designed to fill the needs of students, the needs of society and the needs of industry. Ten years after its formal implementation, results indicate that the program is achieving many of its goals. Data indicates that the 4+1 provides a win-win situation for all participants, and has been strongly supported by students, faculty and industry. The program has dramatically increased the number of students pursuing advanced degrees at our primarily undergraduate institution. Data presented in the paper also show that the program has met its original objectives, to provide an accelerated route to an empowering terminal professional degree for students who intend to become practicing engineers, to provide an accelerated route to job-entry education for the more complex and evolving interdisciplinary areas of engineering, and to provide an accelerated route to preparation for further study in engineering, leading to the Doctor of Engineering or Ph.D. degree.


The Council of Graduate Schools in the United States presents the following statement: "Master's programs are intended to answer the personal needs of the student and the special needs of society that are not satisfied by the Baccalaureate program - needs that can only be met by more advanced and specialized study in a particular field. Candidates need such programs to prepare for scholarly or professional careers or perhaps merely to slake a thirst for further knowledge. Society, in turn, has a need for scholars, scientists, teachers, and professionals in a multitude of fields, and for generally well-educated men and women whatever their walk of life." This is an excellent definition, it implies a matching of needs and a win-win situation for the degree candidate and the society that will place value on their education. As academics we must recognize these needs and strive to find suitable candidates for our graduate programs and to match them to societal demand.

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2008 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015