The Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) offers a five-year program through which students can obtain a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering or Computer Engineering as well as a Master of Science degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering within a five-year time frame. The B.S. and M.S. degrees offered through this program are identical to the individual B.S. and M.S. degrees offered by the ECE department. The combined five-year program provides students with the opportunity to obtain these degrees in less time than would be required when pursuing them independently. In addition, the five-year program offers a simplified process for admission to the Graduate School.
Structure of the Five-Year B.S./M.S. Program
To fit all the required courses for the B.S. and M.S. degrees into five years, several adjustments to the B.S. degree schedule are necessary. The main changes are:
- During the first four years (typically the senior year), one or two additional graduate-level courses* are taken that are later transferred into the M.S. program.
- Two graduate-level courses can be counted toward both the B.S. and M.S. degrees, provided that they are ECE courses at the 500-level or above. Thus, up to four courses may be transferred from when you were an undergraduate. However, only three may be 500-level, so you need to take at least one 600-level ECE course in order to transfer four courses.
- During the fifth year, six, seven or eight graduate courses* are taken in the M.S. program (depending on how many UG courses were successfully transferred). These graduate courses may include two project courses* taken during the summer between the fourth and fifth years.
It might be necessary to shift some electives or General Education courses to make room for the additional graduate courses necessary for finishing the M.S. degree in one year. Summer or winter courses, or credit overloads, might be also be needed to create space needed for extra courses. Participants in the five-year program will be advised on an individual basis to ensure that their academic plan meets the necessary requirements.
* Courses are assumed to be 3 or 4 credit hours.
The five-year B.S./M.S. program in Electrical and Computer Engineering is open to all undergraduate students at UMass Amherst who are enrolled as majors in Electrical Engineering or Computer Engineering and that meet the necessary GPA requirements*. For the GPA requirements, the cumulative GPA when they apply, usually at the end of the third year (i.e., including all required 300-level ECE courses) is used. Based on this GPA, eligibility for the five-year program is determined as follows:
- GPA ≥ 3.5: Automatic admission to five-year program.
- 3.5> GPA ≥ 3.3: Admission to five-year program based on committee review.
- GPA < 3.3: Not eligible for five-year program, but application to M.S. program through the regular admission process is possible. Students may also wait until their GPA is above 3.3 to apply.
All admissions into the five-year B.S./M.S. program are conditional. Specifically, admitted students are required to complete their B.S. degree with a cumulative GPA of 3.3 or higher.
* Rules are subject to change.
Application and Admission Process
Students who are interested in being admitted to the five-year program need to fill out and submit the appropriate application form (below). Applications should be submitted to the director of the Five-Year B.S./M.S. Program (for contact information, see below). The primary application deadline is May 31 (or the first business day thereafter, if May 31 falls on a weekend or holiday). In other words, most people will apply soon after spring grades are official after their junior year, as this makes it easiest to plan their senior coursework. Decisions on admission are made by late June. Students who are applying to the five-year program are encouraged to plan their course schedule for the fall semester accordingly. In other words, they should plan on being accepted, as it's easier to drop classes than it is to add classes.
A secondary application deadline is December 15 (or the first business day following December 15). Decisions will be made by mid January. For instance, if your GPA is below 3.3 or if you have not completed all your junior level classes by May 31, then you might need to wait until the fall semester of your senior year to apply.
Late applications will be considered, but if students have not taken extra classes during their last year of undergraduate work, it might not be possible to finish in one year. You may to take longer than one year, if needed.
Once admitted to the five-year program, students have the commitment of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering that they will be recommended for admission to the M.S. program in Electrical and Computer Engineering after completion of their B.S. degree (assuming that the minimum GPA requirement for the B.S. degree has been met) Final decisions on admissions to graduate programs are made by the Graduate School. (Thus, the ECE department cannot guarantee admission to the M.S. program.)
Once admitted to the M.S. program in Electrical and Computer Engineering, students can transfer up to nine credit hours of prior courses completed prior to finishing their B.S. degree into the M.S. degree. The remaining courses are taken while enrolled in the M.S. program.
All degree requirements for the B.S. degree and the M.S. degree need to be met. The five-year program does not affect the requirements for either one of these degree programs.
Frequently Asked Questions
I have not taken any extra graduate-level courses as an undergraduate. May I still apply to the program?
YES! You can think of this program as a stream-lined application process for gaining admission into the UMass ECE graduate program. It might take a little longer to complete your M.S. degree, but you may still apply and you may still enter the graduate program with only one course or even no extra courses completed as an undergraduate.
May I take longer than one year to finish an M.S. degree?
Yes. There is no requirement that you take extra courses in the summer or that you finish in one year. Many people prefer to finish in one year, but it is not a requirement. You may also include an internship or co-op experience before you finish your M.S. degree requirements.
Is there a thesis option in the M.S. program if I am admitted?
Yes. Although it's easier to finish in one year using only coursework, you may instead choose to do a Master's thesis as fulfilling part of your degree requirements. Further, joining a faculty member’s research group is a great experience, as is doing an M.S. thesis. Both are in arrangement with an ECE faculty member. An M.S. thesis provides an excellent pathway for a research career and/or the Ph.D.
May I go on to earn a Ph.D. after I complete the M.S.?
Yes. The M.S. program provides a venue for both the student and potential faculty advisor to determine if entry into the Ph.D. program makes sense. Most people complete the M.S. and then join the Ph.D. program, by receiving a research assistantship from an ECE faculty member. Many of our current Ph.D. students entered through the M.S. program.
I am an ECE major (CompE or EE) and my GPA at the end of the junior year is less than 3.3. Can I sign up for the five-year program?
No, because a GPA of at least 3.3 is required. However, you may wait another semester and apply when your GPA is at least 3.3, or you may apply to the M.S. program through the normal graduate school application process.
I am an ECE major and my GPA is above 3.3 at the end of the junior year. I am missing one required junior-level ECE course. Can I sign up for the five-year program?
No, because all required junior-level ECE courses need to be completed by the time of application. However, you may apply once you have completed all of your junior-level ECE courses.
I am a transfer student. Can I sign up for the five-year program?
Yes, if all eligibility requirements are met.
I am majoring in something other than Electrical Engineering or Computer Engineering, but I am planning on pursuing an M.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering. Can I sign up for the five-year program?
No, because the five-year program is only available to students who are majoring in Electrical Engineering or Computer Engineering. You can apply to the M.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering via the normal graduate school application process.
I have already completed my B.S. in Electrical Engineering or Computer Engineering. Can I sign up for the five-year program?
No, this program is for current B.S. students. You can apply to the M.S. through the normal graduate school application process.
I am in currently pursuing / have completed my B.S. at a university other than the University of Massachusetts Amherst. I would like to do my M.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Can I sign up for the five-year program?
No, because the program is for B.S. students who are enrolled at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. You can apply to the M.S. through the normal graduate school application process.
I have been admitted to the five-year program and I am in my senior year. The GPA for my B.S. degree is going to be below 3.3. Will I be admitted to the M.S. program?
No, because the minimum GPA requirement is not met.
I have been admitted to the five-year program. Do I need to take the GRE to be admitted into the M.S. program?
No, because the simplified admission process of the five-year program does not require a GRE.
I have been admitted to the five-year program and thus into the M.S. program after completing my B.S. degree. Can I transfer a course into the M.S. program that I have used to meet my B.S. requirements?
You may transfer up to FOUR courses, as long as two were NOT used to fulfill any requirements for your B.S. degree and as long as one is 600-level.
I have been admitted to the five-year program and thus into the M.S. program after completing my B.S. degree. Can I transfer more than six credit hours of courses into the M.S. that I have taken in addition to my B.S. requirements?
Yes, you may "double-count" two courses, then take one or two "extra" courses (not used to fulfill any B.S. requirements), for a total up four courses (usually 16 credits in all). Note that you may use only three 500-level classes for your M.S. degree, so at least one of these four must be at the 600-level. (And you will need instructor permission to be able to take a 600-level ECE class as an undergraduate student.)
Can I get financial support for the fifth year?
During the fifth year, you are enrolled as a graduate student. You might be eligible for financial support accordingly. The ECE department currently does not have a program to provide support specific to the five-year B.S./M.S. program. You may apply for teaching assistantships (TAs), research assistantships (RAs), and graduate assistantships (GAs).
Prof. Mario Parente
Director, Five-Year B.S./M.S. Program
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
113F Knowles Building (KEB)
University of Massachusetts Amherst
Amherst, MA 01003