June 20, 2010
June 20, 2010
June 23, 2010
15.289.1 - 15.289.10
Combined BS/MS Programs in Mechanical Engineering: A Benchmark Study
The G.W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) started offering a combined BS/MS degree in fall 2001. This program allows meritorious undergraduate students, desiring graduate studies beyond the bachelor of science degree, an accelerated path towards the granting of the master of science degree. Students may pursue a thesis or non-thesis option in completing the MS degree.
Since inception of this program, a majority of the BS/MS students have chosen the non-thesis (course work only) option. A recent goal of this BS/MS program in mechanical engineering at Georgia Tech is to increase the number of students choosing the thesis, or research, option. This paper compares BS/MS programs in mechanical engineering at Georgia Tech and its peer institutions. The purpose is to analyze how various academic institutions address this issue (minority of BS/MS students doing a thesis), to collect lessons learned, and to provide recommendations that could promote an increase in thesis participation in BS/MS programs in the future.
Engineering curricula in the United States has typically changed very little in the past 30-50 years. Most changes that did occur typically have been in the form of course redesign and new courses replacing existing ones. However, there is a growing call for fundamental changes in the engineering curriculum to address the dramatic technological challenges in fields such as healthcare, energy, and security, and to continue to develop and maintain the appropriate infrastructure to support such new areas of research.
A recent development has been the creation of combined BS/MS programs within engineering disciplines. The BS/MS program is usually defined as an accelerated curriculum geared towards providing both degrees faster than if pursued sequentially. This is a relatively new approach in American universities, generally observed since the late 1980’s, though in other parts of the world such as Europe, the first engineering degree has always required a minimum of five years of study and been considered equivalent to the MS degree.
These BS/MS programs vary in their details at different academic institutions. For the most part, they offer the qualified student: 1) the possibility to earn their BS and MS degrees in less time than it would take to pursue both degrees separately, and 2) the opportunity to deepen and diversify their technical and professional skills, which will help make them more competitive and marketable in the global marketplace.
As BS/MS programs grew more popular with both students and faculty, many different programs have reported on their implementation and lessons learned 1-8.
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