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Graduate School Preparation within an Undergraduate Program (Work in Progress)

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Professionalism and Preparations Developed by Graduate Study Programs—Graduate Studies Division Technical Session 7

Tagged Division

Graduate Studies

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Paper Authors


Aaron Carpenter Wentworth Institute of Technology

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Professor Carpenter is an Assistant Professor at the Wentworth Institute of Technology, focusing on Computer Engineering. In 2012, he completed his PhD on the performance and energy of the on-chip interconnect at the University of Rochester.

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Nate Derbinsky Wentworth Institute of Technology

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Yugu Yang-Keathley Wentworth Institute of Technology


Durga Suresh Wentworth Institute of Technology

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Durga Suresh is an associate professor in the department of computer science and networking and has been teaching at WIT for over fifteen years, including courses in software engineering, databases, architecture, and capstone projects.
She has been involved in service-learning projects in urban Boston and has developed CS-outreach-oriented seminar classes in which college juniors and seniors develop and deploy CS curricula to middle school students. She has extensive experience with designing and teaching project based, multidisciplinary courses with collaboration and input from industry partners.

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Graduate school is becoming a necessity for long-term success in the STEM fields. Unfortunately, many students are ill-prepared for the graduate school application process or for the graduate school experience, particularly if their undergraduate institution has primarily undergraduate programs, which is precisely the case at Wentworth Institute of Technology (WIT). Students at WIT get a first-rate undergraduate education, as well as a minimum of two semesters working in a co-op (typically paid, in industry). However, preliminary student surveys have broadly shown that they feel under-prepared for graduate school. To fix this feeling of deficiency among majors in Electrical and Computer Engineering, as well as Computer Science and Computer Networking, a consortium of faculty developed and delivered graduate-school seminars to (a) gauge student interest in graduate school, (b) provide students the information necessary for the graduate-school application process, and (c) inform students of their options for graduate degrees and programs.

This work-in-progress reports on the first rounds of seminars, describing the seminars’ organization and proceedings, as well as the results of surveys given before and after the seminars. The seminar was organized to first introduce our undergraduates, consisting largely of first-generation college students focused on job preparation, to their options for graduate school. This includes types of degrees (MS, PhD, MBA, etc.), sources of financing (grants, assistantships, employer-assisted, etc.), the application process (CV, personal statement, recommendations), and what to expect as a graduate student doing research and/or attending graduate classes.

The survey focused on the students’ interest and knowledge both before and after the seminar. Preliminary data reveal that students show reluctance about finances and a general lack of information. After the seminar, students felt more comfortable, claiming they are now more interested in pursuing a graduate degree (mainly MS).

In order to help colleges better prepare their students for graduate school, we present our seminar organization and survey results. The work also presents tips for preparing students and insights into the student motivation and interest in graduate school.

Carpenter, A., & Derbinsky, N., & Yang-Keathley, Y., & Suresh, D. (2017, June), Graduate School Preparation within an Undergraduate Program (Work in Progress) Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28418

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