Undergraduate Study
Combined BS/MS Program

If you are talented and highly motivated to do graduate-level work, and have earned advanced placement credit to complete your bachelor's degree requirements in fewer than four years, you may be eligible to begin the Combined BS/MS Program before you complete your undergraduate requirements.

Some students complete both degrees in four years, while others need one or more quarters beyond the completion of the BS degree to complete the MS degree. Students can pursue master’s degrees in the same department as their bachelor’s or in a different department.

The Benefits of Earning a Master’s Degree

  • Increased starting salary
  • Enhanced job opportunities
  • Greater potential for job advancement
  • Familiarity with McCormick programs and faculty
  • Greater convenience prior to starting employment

Application Procedures

The application for the Combined BS/MS Program can be submitted in the quarter prior to a student being within four courses of completing his or her undergraduate degree.

Learn more about applying to the Combined BS/MS Program

Additional Information

The department participates in the McCormick BS/MS program. Students should consult with Bruce Lindvall in the Dean's Office and their MSE adviser and/or the Department Director of Graduate Studies (currently Prof. Shull) to determine if the program is suitable. The decision should be made two quarters before registration for the last course required for the BS degree. Note that undergraduate financial aid is available for 12 quarters or through the completion of the requirements for the BS degree, whichever is first. There are two MS degree options for BS/MS students, as described below:

a)  Courses only option:  Students take 12 classes beyond those required for the BS.  Eight of these classes must be advanced MSE classes listed in the Graduate School Bulletin, and 5 of these must be 400 level MSE classes.  All classes must be taken for a grade rather than pass/fail.

b)  Thesis option: Students may extend their 396 Senior Project into a Master’s Thesis to satisfy the requirements of this program. In addition, students must take six advanced classes, listed in the Graduate School Bulletin.  At least four of these classes should be MSE classes, with at least 3 being 400-level MSE classes.  All classes must be taken for a grade rather than pass/fail.

The time required to complete the M.S. thesis research will depend on the student and on the specific project details.  The following general guidelines are provided so that the student can design a program with sufficient time to complete a strong thesis.
i.  In addition to the six classes described above, the student should register for 596 during at least three successive quarters.
ii.  No more than two additional courses should be taken concurrently with 596 registration.

Thesis Defense

Full-time students must write a thesis on their research work and defend it at an oral examination within six quarters (counting summer) after they are enrolled in the MS program.

The Department also has an option whereby, in lieu of a thesis, an MS student may submit a paper published (or a manuscript refereed and accepted for publication) in a scientific or technical journal that is based upon research carried out while a grad student in the department. The paper must be approved by the faculty adviser and defended in an oral examination. The MS student should be first author on the paper. If not, a letter from the adviser is required specifying the contribution of the student to the research described. A copy of the paper should be provided for the student’s file.

In either case, the examination committee will be composed of the student's faculty adviser plus at least two other faculty members, one of whom may be from another department in the University. The committee is approved by the adviser and appointed by the Department Chair. The student may elect to present a public summary of the research, which is then followed by a private examination by the committee.


Jeannine Hall must be notified at least 3 weeks before the exam of the names of the committee members and the date, time, and place the exam is to be taken. The student should reserve a suitable conference room and complete the Request for Master’s Degree Defense form.  In addition, the student must complete the Application for Degree and Master’s Degree Completion Form on the Caesar website. Each member of the committee must be furnished with a copy of the thesis at least two weeks before the exam, so that the committee will have time to review it. Generally, MS thesis formatting follows the Graduate School’s “Dissertation Formatting Guidelines for Students

For more information about the Combined BS/MS Program, please visit the McCormick School of Engineering website. You may also contact Bruce Lindvall, assistant dean for graduate studies, or Kathleen Stair, assistant chair and Professor of Instruction in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering.