Integrated BS/MS Program in Electrical Engineering

The Department of Electrical Engineering recently initiated an Integrated Bachelors/Masters degree program in Electrical Engineering. Application to this program is open to a select group of Columbia EE juniors with a cumulative GPA at Columbia of at least 3.400. The program makes possible the earning of both a BS and an MS degree simultaneously.

Many employers are favoring applicants with the additional education and experience implied by the MS degree. By merging the two programs, we can provide the degree in a very flexible and efficient manner.

Advantages

  • The Integrated Bachelors/Masters degree offers several advantages to qualified students. They can get a MS degree seamlessly, knowing that the advanced courses they will be taking have been designed to have the exact prerequisites they have taken as undergraduates.
  • They do not have to move to a new place for their MS program, but instead continue to be in an institution and city they already know, increasing efficiency.
  • They can take graduate classes in their senior year, and have them count towards the MS degree.  Spreading out MS requirements over a longer period can increase flexibility and options for program depth and breadth.
  • They can count up to 6 points of 4000-level technical electives taken in fulfillment of the BS requirements towards the MS degree as well.
  • They can count summer projects for research credit taken immediately after the senior year towards the MS degree, provided they can find a suitable advisor willing to supervise the work.
  • A very simple application process has been established for this program.

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Application process

  • EE juniors with a Columbia GPA of at least 3.400 can complete and submit a simple single-page on-line form (see below).  If possible, notice should also be given to the EE Academic Programs Officer in 1300 S. W. Mudd, Elsa Sanchez (elsa at ee.columbia.edu). 
  • Three faculty members from Columbia who are willing to act as references should be listed on the form, but do not need to be asked by the applicant to write letters; the Department will contact them.
  • No submission of transcript is required; the Department will obtain the transcript.
  • No GRE is required.
  • No TOEFL is required of foreign students.
  • No application fee is required.
  • The deadline for submission isApril 30 of the junior year.  Students will be notified of a decision within about a month.

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Awarding of BS and MS degrees

BS and MS requirements must be satisfied separately before the corresponding degree is awarded. If students in the program finish the BS requirements early, they can opt to receive the BS degree without waiting until the end of the program.  Most students completing the program so far have chosen to get their BS degree after their fourth (senior) year.  Students who have opted for the program but must interrupt their studies can get the BS degree provided all BS requirements have been satisfied.  

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Continuing beyond the MS degree

If an integrated BS/MS student later decides to apply for admission to the Professional or Ph.D. programs at Columbia, he/she will have to satisfy all admission requirements for those programs, including the GRE.  Integrated BS/MS students who might want to do this should consider taking the GRE during their fourth year.

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Caution for Combined-Plan students

Combined-plan students are required to finish their BS requirements within two years, i.e., at the end of their senior year, as part of the combined-plan program.  That rule still applies to combined-plan students who are admitted into the Integrated BS/MS program.

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Caution concerning undergraduate financial aid and housing

Some types of financial aid may apply only as long as a student is an undergraduate, and may be rendered invalid if MS coursework is taken or graduate-student standing is obtained before the awarding of a BS degree.  Students considering this program should check carefully with their funding organizations if this might be an issue.

Undergraduate housing and financial aid is not provided beyond what would normally be the senior year of undergraduate studies.  Beyond the fourth year, standard graduate tuition rates apply.  In the past, some students in the program have worked as course lab assistants or graders to help cover some of the costs of their fifth year, although the availability of such positions cannot be guaranteed.

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Integrated BS/MS Program versus Express MS Application

The Integrated BS/MS program is sometimes confused with the Express MS Application because the application forms are similar, and both involve continuing on to get a MS degree at Columbia.  But Express MS is just a simplified, early MS application process for qualified seniors. The Integrated BS/MS is a new program, merging the BS and MS degrees, and the application for the program must be completed in the junior year.

The Integrated BS/MS program offers greater flexibility to schedule courses so as to complete prerequisites for advanced study.  To take advantage of this, students must enter the program before the senior year.  Therefore, the Integrated BS/MS program is only open to juniors.

There is no change in the credit hour requirements for either degree for students admitted to the MS program through the Express application process.  In the Integrated BS/MS program, however, up to 6 points of courses can count twice, once for the BS and once for the MS.

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