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Bachelor's in math + master's engineering or just bachelor's eng?

Which path should I take?

Poll closed Apr 9, 2014.
  1. Master's in Engineering

    1 vote(s)
  2. Bachelor's in Engineering

    8 vote(s)
  3. Become homeless

    5 vote(s)
  1. Apr 4, 2014 #1
    Hello all,

    I'm currently attending university and majoring in Applied Math. My school is not an engineering school. It's a liberal arts university.

    Long story short, I didn't know I liked engineering when I applied. (I was majoring in Theology.)

    My question is whether I should get a bachelor's in math and then a master's in engineering or just transfer to an engineering school right away?

    - my school's applied math program is compatible with nearby engineering schools
    - I have good scholarships at my current school
    - transfer scholarships are not guaranteed at the engineering school I'm looking at

    Let me know if you need any more information to answer... thank you so much!
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 4, 2014 #2


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    If you want to be an engineer, transfer to a BS engineering degree at an accredited (ABET) college.

    "Engineering" isn't "applied math" (but of course it uses a lot of math).
  4. Apr 5, 2014 #3
    Agree with the above.
  5. Apr 5, 2014 #4
    Absolutely try to enter a BS in engineering. If that didn't work out, then I think it's still better to do something like physics instead of mathematics.

    An applied math major is vastly inferior to an actual engineering degree (well, for the purpose of being an engineer).
  6. Apr 6, 2014 #5
    Thanks for the replies so far guys. They've been helpful. Do people EVER do applied math or just mathematics before going onto engineering?

    Also, let's say that switching to engineering right now were to cost me $15,000 extra in school fees over the next few years. Would you all still recommend it? (Just a hypothetical, but it is likely to cost me more if I switch schools.)

    Thanks again.
  7. Apr 6, 2014 #6
    I'm sure it happens, but that doesn't mean it's good idea.

    Depends on your monetary situation. If you can reasonably afford it, then I would switch. Also, as an engineer, you likely won't be getting a job that pays poorly, so you might consider taking out student loans.
  8. Apr 6, 2014 #7
    I see. When I first told my adviser that I wanted to pursue engineering, he recommended doing applied math at the university he worked for... some of my naivete is wearing off and I'm beginning to think he had the school's monetary interests in mind more than my own!

    Thank you all once again. I will probably return with a different thread to discuss the comparative perks of electrical vs mechanical engineering, both of which are alluring... :)
  9. Apr 6, 2014 #8
    It's doable. I did it myself. But it is MUCH harder. What I did was take extra physics courses which did not even pertain to my mathematics degree. I took E&M and plasma physics since I am wanting to go into plasmas for my research, and I did a part-time stint at a local engineering school which I had to commute to for 2 hours both ways just to take thermodynamics and a radiation course. But I was accepted into several nuclear and aerospace engineering PhD programs, even top 10 ones.

    *some of the physics courses I had to take in the form of a "directed study" 1 on 1 with faculty since the courses are not regularly offered at my school.

    *also be sure and take applicable math courses like numerical analysis, complex analysis, ODE, PDE, advanced linear algebra, etc. and not useless stuff like abstract algebraic topology or whatever.

    All in all if you are successful in getting into a master's program in engineering, you will ultimately come out ahead of someone who only has a BS in engineering.
  10. Apr 6, 2014 #9
    Congratulations on the success you've seen so far, Hecuflea! I hope I can tout the same one day. One downside of my school is that it doesn't even offer many physics courses -- just general college physics. Also, I've already taken algebraic topology! Zoinks...

    For my specific situation, you seem to have reaffirmed what others have said so far -- get a BS in engineering.

    Edit: It is possible that the professors here would be compliant in offering direct study physics courses. My question is whether jumping through all these hoops would be worth it.
  11. Apr 7, 2014 #10
    I earned a BS in Math and I am now in engineering. If you are a solid math student, the transfer at grad school will be easy. With only a May degree, I was accepted to Colorado School of Mines, Embry Riddle Aeronautical Institute, University of Vermont, and a few others. I am at UVM since my gf is in Dartmouth Med.

    Also, not having a engineering background hasn't hindered me. The problem solving is easy. You just have to learn some concepts to the problem solving which you don't have coming from math.
  12. Apr 7, 2014 #11
    Did you take a lot of physics? Or was it strictly mathematics that you studied in your undergrad?
  13. Apr 7, 2014 #12

    You having taken algebraic topology makes me wonder how far along are you already with your math degree? I am graduating this semester with my math BS and I have never taken algebraic topology. Sounds like you could just go ahead and graduate with your degree pretty soon? Then you could just take whatever necessary prereqs you need before going to graduate school for your master's. It would save you time and money vs. going to school for a whole extra BS in engineering which isn't really necessary since most of the classes you would be taking are design/labs and not necessarily fundamentals.
  14. Apr 7, 2014 #13
    Mainly math. Then in the MS program, I took classical mechanics and mathematical physics besides engineering courses.
  15. Apr 7, 2014 #14
    I suppose I misspoke -- mainly out of ignorance. I have taken Abstract Algebra, which probably isn't equivalent with an actual algebraic topology class.

    I'm a sophomore. I've taken Computer Science 1 & 2 (CSharp and C++), Gen Chem 1 & 2, Calc 1 & 2, Abstract Algebra, and a host of generals: writing classes, general psychology, etc.

    I haven't spoken to an adviser yet, but it looks like it will take me an additional 3 years to complete the engineering degree, if I were to transfer. PERHAPS it could be done in 2 with lucky scheduling and a lot of sweat.

    Staying at my current school would, of course, take 2 years to obtain my BS in Applied Math and an additional 2 for my MS in engineering at a different school -- assuming I'm accepted into a program.

    The following are my own crude estimates...
    non-transfer total cost: 40,000
    transfer total cost: 38,000
  16. Apr 7, 2014 #15
    It still sounds like you're not taking into account the added benefit of a master's degree in engineering over a bachelors. If you get your BS in Applied Math and minor in physics or some engineering field that should be enough to get you into graduate school in engineering as long as you make good grades (and try to get some undergraduate research in).

    You gotta think about what kind of work and salary you would be doing once you got out with a MS vs a BS. MS will probably qualify you for higher level positions and thus higher salary. The only downside is that if you want to get your Professional Engineer's license, I believe it is required that you have a BS in engineering unless you have a ton of years of experience working in the field. However I don't think a PE license is that important in industry except for certain specific positions where you have to sign off on a design or testify in court about safety, etc.

    Of course, if you like school like some people ;) you would stay on for the sake of the learning.
  17. Apr 7, 2014 #16
    I do enjoy school! I'm just anxious to start studying things that are more directly related to engineering :)

    What's most concerning to me is that my school literally does not offer anything besides math or applied math that would fit well for one pursuing mechanical / electrical engineering. But you seem to have managed just fine... so I suppose I could.
  18. Apr 8, 2014 #17
    Unfortunately I think you'll have to move to a different one then. I personally would not recommend completing your current degree if you know that it is engineering that you want to enter. You will easily be able to get a position on a masters course, but finding employment without the full engineering undergraduate background will be much more difficult than if you were to just switch to the engineering bachelors.
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