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Why Don’t Undergraduate STEM Students Pursue Combined (4+1) B.S./M.S. Degrees?

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Minorities in Engineering Division Technical Session 5

Tagged Division

Minorities in Engineering

Tagged Topic


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Paper Authors


Mais Kayyali Florida International University

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Mais Kayyali is the Associate Director of Academic Support Services in the Office of the Dean at Florida International University’s (FIU) College of Engineering and Computing (CEC). In her current role, she oversees all aspects of Graduate Education and Admissions for all the schools and departments under CEC. Her duties vary from admissions, recruitment, marketing, data analysis, graduate funding, etc. She also provides administrative support to the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. Prior to her current position, she was the Program Coordinator/Coordinator of Administrative Services for the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) and prior to that the Program Assistant for the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) at the college. Mais holds a bachelor’s degree in Finance as well as a master’s degree in Hospitality Management from FIU.

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Mohamed ElZomor Florida International University

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Dr. Mohamed ElZomor is an Assistant Professor at Florida International University (FIU), College of Engineering and Computing and teaches at the Moss School of Construction, Infrastructure and Sustainability. Dr. ElZomor completed his doctorate at Arizona State University (ASU), Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. Prior to attending ASU, Dr. ElZomor received a master’s of science degree in Architecture from University of Arizona, a master’s degree in Engineering and a bachelor of science in Construction Engineering from American University in Cairo. Dr. ElZomor moved to FIU from State University of New York, where he was an Assistant Professor at the college of Environmental Science and Forestry. Mohamed’s work focuses on Sustainability of the Built Environment, Engineering Education, Construction Engineering, Energy Efficiency Measures and Modeling, Project Management, and Infrastructure Resilience. Dr. ElZomor has extensive professional project management experience as well as a diverse cross-disciplinary academic knowledge. Mohamed, distinct expertise supports fostering interdisciplinary research in addition to embracing innovative pedagogical approaches in STEM education. Dr. ElZomor has been integrating innovative and novel educational paradigms in STEM education to support student engagement, retention, and diversity.

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Piyush Pradhananga Florida International University

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Piyush Pradhananga is a Ph.D. student in Civil and Environmental Engineering at Florida International University (FIU). Piyush holds a B.S. in Civil Engineering from Tribhuwan University (TU). Following his graduation in 2016, he joined a leading real estate corporation in Nepal as the site engineer working on a multi-million project. He later joined a research firm based in London where he worked as an Engineering Graduate Researcher. Piyush is currently a Graduate Research Assistant at the Moss School of Construction, Sustainability, and Infrastructure at FIU where he focuses on multidisciplinary research that harmonizes sustainability in construction. His other research interests include Sustainable Construction, Construction Safety, Engineering Education, Green Building, and Energy Efficiency Measures.

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In the U.S., engineering and computing programs usually follow a 128-credit bachelor’s degree requirement followed by a 30-credit master’s degree program. A combined bachelor’s and master’s degree, commonly known as the 4+1, is designed to reduce the conventional time by educating students on engineering fundamentals as well as advanced discipline-specific knowledge content. With the increased competitiveness and demands of the workforce, such combined programs provide minority students with a competitive edge. However, fewer students take advantage of such combined programs. Therefore, this research aims to identify the reasons behind the low interest towards applying and enrolling in the 4+1 programs. This research utilizes a mixed research method approach to understand and assess student’s knowledge, level of understanding and perception of the 4+1 programs through the administration of a survey to 486 undergraduate students at the College of Engineering and Computing in a minority-serving institution, Florida International University. A binary logistic regression model was then developed to determine the variables influencing the expected student enrollment in the combined programs. From the obtained results of the undergraduate exit survey, 25% of the students indicated their intention to apply for graduate studies post their undergraduate and 58% maintained a GPA above 3.0, which reflects their readiness and possible eligibility to apply for a 4+1 program prior to their graduation. The findings of the study provide a deeper understanding of students’ motivational factors for joining 4+1 programs, current effective and ineffective recruiting practices, and the various opportunities offered by such programs. As poor and lack of diversity continues to be an issue in engineering especially in graduate programs, 4+1 programs foster an immense potential to attract and increase the number of underrepresented students in graduate education as well as retain and recruit top candidates for the doctoral programs.

Kayyali, M., & ElZomor, M., & Pradhananga, P. (2020, June), Why Don’t Undergraduate STEM Students Pursue Combined (4+1) B.S./M.S. Degrees? Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--35513

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