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Schools Boston University's LEAP program and similar

  1. Jun 9, 2008 #1
    Hi all, first post here. I've searched the forum but didn't find anything so I figured I'd ask!

    I have a Master's degree in music but, and I'm sure you're shocked, I'm working in a job that really has nothing to do with music and my life is going nowhere. So I've decided to go back to school for my second love, science.

    After a ton of research I've settled on engineering (aero/astro). While poking around, looking for options *other* than going back to school to get another Bachelor's I came across the LEAP program at Boston University. LEAP stands for Late Entry Accelerated Program. Basically you take a year or two to get up to get up to the basic speed of a graduating senior (they do, however, come right out and say that there will be things you'll need to study on your own.) If you're interested - http://www.bu.edu/eng/leap/

    Has anyone here done this program or heard anything about it? I've checked out BU in U.S. News' listing and they come in at... 43, I think? So, a pretty decent school, but any insight on how BU's Engineering school is viewed?

    Also, does anyone know of programs like this at other schools? If you go to BU's Engineering website there's no mention of the LEAP program, I really stumbled upon it by accident, so I'm feeling a little stymied in my search for programs like this.

    Any help or input would be appreciated!
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 10, 2008 #2
    I've heard of it and applied to it when I was an undergrad in 2005. I didn't get accepted but I still think its a neat idea. I can't offer too much more than that since I didn't make it too far. If you did well in your previous education and do well on the general GRE you probably have a good shot.

    Good luck!
  4. Jul 9, 2008 #3
    Hi there,

    I read with interest your post regarding Boston University's LEAP program. I actually have spent a considerable amount of time looking into this program over the last year. Since my move up to the Boston area last summer I’ve given serious consideration to a career move into the engineering sector and was looking extensively for an entry point without doing another bachelor’s—so LEAP naturally appealed to me. I applied to the program this spring, was accepted, and will be officially starting in two months. And so having done a fair amount of research on the program, I’m happy to share my perspective. I approach this task also as one who has spent eight of the last nine years in an academic setting (I have previous master’s degrees in humanities-related fields and comparative education), and so feel somewhat qualified to speak about the characteristics of graduate student life. Finally, I might add that part of the irony of this new journey for me is that I’m returning to a path that I started on years ago; once upon a time I was a pre-engineering major in college, but later switched my major to the humanities.

    With these points said, I’ll start by giving an overview of LEAP, most of which you are probably already aware of, but that may help orient other readers in the forum to the specifics of the program . . .

    Boston University’s LEAP (Late Entry Accelerated Program) is a one-of-a-kind program that enables applicants with a non-engineering Bachelor’s degree to matriculate into and complete a Master of Science degree in a specific engineering discipline of their choice within 2-4 years, depending on full or part-time status. The program originated in 1980 through a National Science Foundation grant initiative to encourage more women to participate in engineering and research related careers. Since its inception LEAP has continued to expand and currently attracts attention as an innovative approach to graduate engineering education—enhanced by BU's strong reputation in various engineering disciplines. There are a number of requirements for acceptance into the program: applicants must already have a bachelor’s degree in a non-engineering field, must have taken at least one college-level calculus course with a grade of ‘B’ or better, and must also have taken the GRE.

    The financial aid package for the program is excellent. If they qualify, based on income and financial information reported on the government FAFSA, LEAP students can receive a scholarship that covers 75% of tuition throughout the duration of the program, whether studying part-time or full-time. At the present rate of $1142 per credit hour, the cost of education at BU is certainly not cheap. An outstanding feature of LEAP, however, is that every effort is made to ensure that qualified students can finance their engineering education without having to work full-time. The condition for receiving the scholarship is that full-time students must be eligible to take $8500 per academic year in the form of a subsidized Stafford loan or, for those who choose to study part-time, $4250 per year. But the trade-off of taking loans is well worth it if considering the educational benefit and financial assistance that is available in return.

    There are two phases to the LEAP curriculum. Phase I encompasses 10-12 undergraduate level courses that bring students up to speed in the science, computer, math, and engineering related knowledge-bases required to enter a graduate engineering program. The Phase I courses are determined, with the help of an adviser, by the type of engineering curriculum that the student ultimately wishes to pursue. The options available at BU are computer, manufacturing, electrical, mechanical, and biomedical engineering, as well as photonics. Upon completion of Phase I a LEAP student will then proceed to enter Phase II, which is the regular 32-credit M.S. curriculum that is open to all qualified students who apply to the Boston University College of Engineering. At this juncture LEAP students will enter formally into a specific engineering concentration which they elected in the Phase I course of study, and so will be prepared to work at the same level or higher as other non-LEAP students studying in the College of Engineering. Upon completion of the two distinct phases of the LEAP program graduates are awarded an M.S. in the engineering discipline of their choice.

    Now on to your specific queries . . . . I totally understand your conundrum of wanting to progress into the science/engineering sector without returning to school for another bachelor’s degree—especially since you already have a master’s degree. And I think this speaks to the very appeal of LEAP. In my estimation the program provides students with backgrounds in music, humanities, business, or education an efficient, innovative, and competitive means to position themselves for entrance into a well-paying engineering career—without reinventing the wheel. Furthermore, I believe the program’s major strengths is its commitment to the idea that the strengths and variety of experiences, skill sets, and educational backgrounds that various candidates bring to the program all serve to enhance their capital as future research engineers working in an expansive and globally diverse network of affiliations. A good number of students from the LEAP program continue into Ph.D. programs in engineering following their graduation from the M.S. degree. It is worth mentioning as well that LEAP students are eligible during their studies to participate in co-op programs with competitive engineering firms and companies in the Boston area in order to gain invaluable on-the-job experience.

    As someone with a background in higher education, I think I can fairly well assess that the LEAP program represents one of the most progressive and innovative approaches to graduate engineering education available today in North America. It’s probably safe to say as well that this program has for years represented a very forward looking approach to helping non-traditional students meet their educational and professional goals in the engineering field. To my knowledge, there is no other program quite like it!--which I think is somewhat surprising, especially in this day and age when there are (at least, in the U.S.) such a large number of online/distance learning options geared to a mostly older demographic of non-traditional students who return to school to complete their degrees and/or change careers.

    As far as rankings go, I’ve confirmed that the BU College of Engineering stands at 44 overall on the 2008 U.S. News & World Reports' yearly rankings of graduate engineering schools—close in rank to other reputable schools like University of Colorado Boulder, Vanderbilt, Iowa State, Yale, and Lehigh. However, the REAL pride and joy of Boston University is the Biomedical/Bioengineering Department, which is currently number 7 in the country in U.S. News & World Reports’ discipline specific rankings, and boasts one of the largest programs of its kind in the country.

    Regarding specifics about LEAP, there is an information session every October and March. I attended the session last fall and it was very helpful, with talks hosted by professors and current and previous students; all the attendees received a large collection of materials and brochures about the LEAP program as well as the BU College of Engineering. The program administrator for LEAP is deeply committed to the welfare of the program and its students and will promptly and efficiently answer any of your questions.

    From what I’ve gathered so far in my research and personal dealings regarding LEAP at BU, the program is excellent! In fact, I can’t wait to start this fall and am anticipating a very positive, rewarding, if not challenging, experience over the next few years. I would strongly suggest that anyone who is seriously interested in entering the engineering field as a second career, but who may feel dissuaded because of a lack of requisite undergraduate engineering background and the prohibitive costs of education, give the LEAP program at Boston University full consideration
  5. Apr 15, 2010 #4
    Bump for any updates on this program?

    I graduated with a degree in Econ, and I'm more or less going nowhere with this degree. I got really interested in science and engineering, but towards the end of my college career... too late to turn back. I looked into this program about a year ago, but I've had to put off more schooling to pay off undergrad debt and save up for more schooling. Also knowing how expensive this program is, I'm going to have to save a whole lot. I've also looked into going back to school for another Bachelors, this time obviously in Engineering.
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2010
  6. Oct 10, 2010 #5
    I am too interested for this program, but afraid of getting job as bachelor will be different from masters degree, can anyone help, will this be a drawback ( bachelor is in non engineering field), for getting job?? We will be considered same as student with BS/MS in engineering degree, in employement point of view????
  7. Oct 11, 2010 #6
    I have taken classes at BU and met students in the LEAP program. Basically they started out with taking freshman and sophomore year math, physics, and engineering classes with the other regular freshmen and sophomores. BU's engineering program has a good reputation from everything I've heard. The classes I took there (Calc 1 and 2, physics 1 for engineers) were rigorous and the professors were good at teaching and generally very willing to help students.

    rajyad87, to try and answer your question, I think getting a MS degree from LEAP won't be worse than getting a BS/MS in engineering. Like I said to get the MS from LEAP, you have to take the same classes that regular engineering majors take. It's not a shortcut or an easy way out.
  8. Oct 11, 2010 #7
    Is it possible to get a job after completing the phase 1 of the Leap programe
  9. Oct 11, 2010 #8
    I don't know whether employers would see Phase I as the equivalent of a regular BS in engineering. For starters, a good BS in engineering will be ABET accredited, while Phase I is probably not (though I don't know for sure).
  10. Oct 12, 2010 #9


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    I'm a grad student at BU and I have had some LEAP students in the classes I TA'd.

    LEAP students are required to take all the prerequisite undergrad courses needed for their M.S. So, I don't think you will have to worry about missing the undergrad background. That's the point of the program- taking in people without that background.
  11. Oct 14, 2010 #10
    I am 29 & I dont want to spend 4 or 5 years in it. What do you think. How fast one can complete this.
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