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), two or three additional graduate-level courses* are taken that are later transferred into the M.S. program. One of these graduate-level courses can be counted toward both the B.S. and M.S. degrees, provided that it is an ECE course chosen from the Core Requirement Course Choices listed in Section I.A.3 of this document.
- During the fifth year, seven or eight courses* are taken in the M.S. program. These 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 the M.S. degree. The recent changes in the B.S. requirements for thematic elective for Electrical Engineering and Computer Engineering should provide sufficient flexibility to accommodate the additional courses. Participants in the five-year program will be advised on an individual basis to ensure that their study 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 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 ≥ 3.7: Automatic admission to five-year program.
- 3.7 > 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.
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. Applications should be submitted to the director of the five-Year B.S./M.S. Program (for contact information, see below). The annual application deadline is May 1 (or the first business day thereafter if May 1 falls on a weekend or holiday). Decisions on admission are made by late May (after the spring semester grades are available). Students who are applying to the five-year program are encouraged to plan their course schedule for the fall semester accordingly.
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 the minimum GPA requirement for the B.S. degree is 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 six credit hours of prior courses taken beyond 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 two or three extra graduate-level courses. May I still apply to the program?
YES! You can think of this program as a streamlined 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 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 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.
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 ONE course, as long as it's an ECE course chosen from the list of Core Requirement Course Choices found in Section I.A.3 of this document.
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?
No, because the current limit on transfers into the M.S. is six credit hours (not including any Core Course you are using for both).
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