Is it possible for someone without an engineering bachelors degree to go to grad school for engineering?
At the time I applied for college I was interested in Comp Sci so I entered school as a Math - CS major (about to end my first year). After seeing career fairs, I feel like mechanical engineering seems much more interesting and fun but my GPA is not high enough to switch majors (the cutoff is normally around 3.8 at my school). I have a lot of course work to get through so I normally balance 4 classes a quarter with my part time job. I am currently a math - applied science major and was wondering if I could get into a grad school for Mech E with this degree? I am allowed to pick out Mech E courses to fulfill my upper division requirements (the science part of my major) and was hoping it would either demonstrate an interest in the subject or at least lessen the amount of catch up courses I would need to take. I am also hoping to land some sort of internship once social distancing is no longer a necessity. Does this goal seem realistic? How high of a GPA would I need to even get past the cut off for grad school? Has anyone been a in a similar position? I would like some sort of advice on how to reach my goal and stuff.
To take UCLA's graduate program in mechanical engineering as an example, they address this question specifically in Q5 if you scroll down at this link: https://www.mae.ucla.edu/graduate-admissions/
In summary, if your background is another STEM area, the steps you can take to make yourself competitive include:
1) Mechanical engineering coursework (lower divisional and upper divisional, if possible)
2) Projects and experience relevant to mechanical engineering
For #1, you already mention you're doing this, which is great! Try to do well in these courses (especially the upper divisional ones down the road), as grad school admissions committees will pay particular attention there.
For #2, I feel that one of the better routes would be to try to pick up research experience in the mechanical engineering department at your university. In general, research experience is very good to have to make you competitive for grad school. In addition however, it'll show that you have practical experience in a *mechanical engineering* research environment.
Your CS background in particular can be extremely useful to professors in more computational areas of mechanical engineering. For example, computational fluid dynamics would be one of these sorts of areas. There will be other positions and niches that are heavy in simulations (ex. some energy groups), so these may be good targets. Once you get your foot in the door, you'll have practical mechanical engineering experience + a potential recommendation letter down the road.
One more thing that you could do is join one of your school's mechanical engineering design teams! Again, this will give you a sense for what practical mechanical engineering is about while also adding to your profile for grad school admissions. A common team that many schools will have is Formula One, for example.
To your question on grad school admissions in general, the overall requirements will vary depending on the school. UCLA for example has a competitive admissions process and students have an average of ~3.7 GPA. In general, if you can be >3.5, you should be in good shape at most places. You can look up average entry GPA's for your target schools. It's important to note however that GPA is just one factor. The other main factors include your research experience, your letters of recommendation, and your GRE score. The best things you can do to keep your odds high are to (1) keep your grades up, (2) get some research experience and do a great job, (3) down the line, do well on the GRE.
Best of luck, Ashley!
Herman recommends the following next steps:
Drew Peake, M.Eng., MBA, PE, CIH
Engineering schools' ABET accreditation requirements drive the curriculum to the same skill set. If you really want to learn, the material will be presented and available; your hard work will allow you to learn as much at any engineering school. And when you graduate you will be able to work in industry, utilities, federal government as an engineer. However, getting licensed as a Professional Engineer will be a challenge. However, there is a path for you to eventually get your license.
By way of background, about ten years after completing my M.Eng. and becoming licensed, I went back to school for my MBA. Now at 72 years old, I am about to complete my third Masters Degree, this one MS Mechanical Engineering. In most professions, life long learning is both a requirement and a reward. My thirst for knowledge continues as my joy in the profession. I am a Forensic Engineer serving as an expert consultant and witness in Environmental, Safety and Mechanical Engineering and Industrial Hygiene. Good luck in your endeavors.
Drew recommends the following next steps:
when you join the program you should be able to keep up or have to take extra courses to build your capabilities.
By the way, I did it after my Ph.D. in physics, a Masters in E.E.
Rebecca recommends the following next steps:
Rebecca recommends the following next steps:
I majored in Music Education for both a bachelor's and master's degree, then went on to major in Electrical Engineering (Computer Engineering focus) for another master's degree. I have worked as an engineer, programmer, and am now a business analyst in IT.
In my particular case, I set up a meeting with the EE head at the school I wanted to attend. He advised me I could join the program if I would agree to take many of the basic undergrad courses so that I would have a good foundation before starting all of the graduate EE classes. It took a little longer to complete my program than a traditional grad student, but it was worth it.
Also, I would advise pursuing internships or a co-op program so that you can gain real-world experience while you are in school. This will help immensely when it comes time to look for a job.