Asee peer logo

Graduate Recruiting for Emerging One-Year Professional Master’s Programs

Download Paper |


2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

Potpourri: Various Issues and Topics in Graduate Studies

Tagged Division

Graduate Studies

Page Count




Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Donna M Mohr Lehigh University

visit author page

Donna Mohr is the Director of Graduate Recruiting and Program Development for the P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science. In 1999, she earned a B.S. in chemistry from Drexel University. She pursued her graduate studies at Michigan State University, earning an M.S. in forensic science (2002) and a Ph.D. in chemistry (2003). She completed her postdoctoral work at the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Counterterrorism and Forensic Science Research Unit before joining the faculty of Cedar Crest College as an Assistant Professor in chemistry. In her current position, she works with engineering faculty and industry to develop new market-sensitive professional master’s degree programs. She has developed programs in structural engineering, energy systems engineering, healthcare systems engineering, and technical entrepreneurship.

visit author page


Jennifer H. Gross P.E. Lehigh University

visit author page

Jennifer H. Gross is a Professor of Practice and Director of the Master's of Engineering in Structural Engineering program at Lehigh University. She earned her B.S. in civil engineering at Lehigh University and M.S. in structural engineering at University of Texas, Austin. She is a licensed Professional Engineer, with experience in structural engineering of building systems.

visit author page


Raymond A Pearson Lehigh University

visit author page

Ray Pearson is the Interim Associate Dean of the P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science at Lehigh University. Ray is also a professor in the Materials Science and Engineering Department and the Director of the Center for Polymer Science and Engineering. Ray actively teaches graduate courses in polymer science and engineering to on-campus and distance-ed students.

visit author page


John B Ochs Lehigh University

visit author page

Professor John B. Ochs is the co-founder and director of Lehigh University’s engineering master's degree program in technical entrepreneurship ( He joined the Lehigh faculty in 1979 as an assistant professor of mechanical engineering, was promoted to associate professor in 1983, and to full professor in 1990. He founded and directed the computer-aided design labs in the mechanical engineering and mechanics department from 1980 to 2001. From 1996 to the present, he has directed the university’s Integrated Product Development (IPD) capstone program ( The IPD and TE program bring together students from all three undergraduate colleges to work in multidisciplinary teams on industry-sponsored product development projects and student–led start-ups. In 2006, Prof. Ochs received the Olympus Innovation Award for his work in technical entrepreneurship through the IPD program. In 2012, the National Academy of Engineering recognized Lehigh’s IPD program as one of the top programs for infusing real-world experiences in engineering education. Prof. Ochs is a member of ASEE and past chairman of its Entrepreneurship and Engineering Innovation Division.

visit author page

author page

Ana-Iulia Alexandrescu Lehigh University

Download Paper |


Session topics that fit this paper: 1. Graduate student recruitment 2. Professional graduate education relevant to needs of engineering practice 3. Inspiring undergraduate students to pursue graduate degrees / research

Students pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in engineering are typically presented with a number of lucrative career options upon graduation. Traditionally, they are in high demand for industrial jobs with attractive starting salaries and are actively recruited by engineering graduate schools offering a “free” education to pursue a research-based M.S. or Ph.D. In actuality, the average number of engineering students who opt for the latter hovers around 30%. Consequently, the pool of highly qualified engineering prospective graduate students is already relatively small.

In more recent years, a surge of a new type of master’s degree program has been flooding the market, which has opened up a whole new set of challenges for program directors recruiting students. These so-called cutting-edge professional engineering Master's programs focus on specific industry needs, preparing students for leadership roles in areas such as energy systems, healthcare operations, structural engineering, and entrepreneurship. These graduate programs are designed for both recent graduates and working professionals. The curriculum of professional masters programs are typically organized to be completed in a one year time period. Such programs attract students with diverse backgrounds that not only represent challenges in teaching but also in recruiting. For example, one major difference is unlike traditional research-based master’s programs, students are expected to pay for such unique, fast-paced experiences. How do you create a value proposition to convince a soon-to-be graduate to either turn down a high paying job or a fully-funded M.S. position?

This paper will identify the unique recruiting challenges encountered in four such professional master’s programs, which have slightly different set-ups. In addition, the paper will describe what each program has done to overcome these challenges. Example topics include but are not limited to, the challenges encountered when recruiting traditional graduate students directly out of their undergraduate institution versus working professionals, recruiting for a strictly in-residence program versus a hybrid program (on-campus and online options), and recruiting for a more narrowly focused disciplinary program versus a highly multi-disciplinary program. Broad reaching informational marketing campaigns versus more in-depth marketing approaches to a selective audience will be discussed. The effectiveness of the practices will be evaluated.

Mohr, D. M., & Gross, J. H., & Pearson, R. A., & Ochs, J. B., & Alexandrescu, A. (2016, June), Graduate Recruiting for Emerging One-Year Professional Master’s Programs Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.25417

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: © 2016 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