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Masters without bachelors in EE

  1. Sep 26, 2011 #1
    I am currently in a bachelors EE program and since I already hold a bachelors (psychology) I have the opportunity to just finish the core courses and go into the masters program. I am with NC State and was looking into their new MS-EPSE, http://www.ece.ncsu.edu/graduate.php/msepse (link is work family safe) program they have and I had a question or two about taking this route. I would not be starting the masters until 1.5 years from now but I was wondering if that route is ok since I wouldn't technically have a BSEE. And since it is Electrical Power Systems Engineering would I still be able to be certified (EIT/PE). NC State created this program due to a lot of demand from big places like ABB so I am sure there are jobs, just wondering if not having a BSEE will hurt me resume wise. The only experience I have to day is that I am a prior Navy Electronics tech. Any advice would be great,
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 26, 2011 #2
    I don't see a problem with that, you have a bachelors degree, you are taking all the EE undergrad courses, and presumably you will finish your MSEE with flying colors. Also, you have some previous hands on experience in troubleshooting. Take at least 2 more senior level EE courses beyond what they recommend.

    I'd hire you with that resume. You will still be an entry level engineer at that point, but you will be no worse off than any other entry level engineer with an MSEE degree.
  4. Sep 26, 2011 #3
    Thank you for the reply Steven, I appreciate it. I'm glad to hear that is a viable option because I am definitely looking forward to it! Thanks again,
  5. Sep 26, 2011 #4
    You may have difficulty becoming a PE though without a BSEE, and electric power is an area where a PE is recommended. However, most other areas of EE a PE is not necessary.
  6. Sep 27, 2011 #5
    Unfortunately, leright may be right. As stupid as it sounds (and is), some states (not most) will not let you get a PE license if you do not have a BS in engineering from an accredited school. It doesn't matter if you have a PhD, publish papers, and invented the world's most efficient air conditioner, the law is written a certain way, and there are still some states where no one has sued some sense into the law.

    That said, personally I made the decision to pursue an MSME in lieu of a BSME as my second degree. In my state (PA) you can get a PE license if your education is deemed "ABET Equivalent" by the NCEES. They have done this for years for people with foreign engineering degrees, but they just recently started doing it for domestic education. Basically, when you're ready to apply as a PE, you send your transcripts to NCEES and they decide whether or not your education history as a whole is equivalent to a BS in Engineering from an ABET accredited school. If they feel that it is, you take that to the state in which you are applying for a license, and if that state accepts "ABET equivalent" applicants the same way they do ABET accredited applicants (not all do), your education requirements are fulfilled.

    To decide whether your education history is "ABET equivalent," they review your transcripts on a basis of credit hours in different categories of subject matter. Some states have this written into their law, that the degree must contain so many credit hours of math, so many credit hours of physics, etc. Other states rely on the NCEES "ABET equivalent" ruling, and others have no exception to the requirement for an ABET accredited BS degree.

    The kicker for a lot of people is that they require over 40 credit hours (I think they told me 46 on the phone but don't quote me on that) of engineering classes, while a Master's degree is only 30 credits. This means that if while getting your first BS degree you did not take any engineering classes, and you went straight from there to an MS in engineering, you would not qualify.

    However, this was not my experience and it sounds like it wouldn't be yours either, as you already have some undergraduate engineering under your belt from the start of your BSEE degree. If the total of your engineering credits (30 from the MS program, however many more from undergrad prerequisites) is at least equal to whatever the NCEES requirement is, and you have all the other requirements (Math, Physics, core, etc) from your first degree, you can still get your PE in states that accept "ABET Equivalent."

    I would definitely check with your home state. Are you working in engineering now? Another thing to consider is whether that time counts and, if it does, how many years of experience you'll have by the time you finish school. A lot of states have an option for you to get your PE based on experience alone.

    So basically, getting a second BS is a safer bet than an MS with regard to PE licensure, but like I said I made the decision to go for the MS anyway and here's why:

    1- These rules are stupid, and hopefully will change in the future. Obviously, you're going to learn more about engineering by completing a Master's program than by completing a Bacholer's

    2- I'm 30 years old. A year ago I decided that I wanted to get a degree in engineering, since that's the field I work in (as a designer) and I started to realize I needed to get a PE license to move up. I took one year (part time) of a BSME program, and it made me physically ill to admit that those pimple-faced 19 year old children sitting beside me were my "peers." Not only are the other students children, but the teachers aren't exactly in the habit of treating their students like adults.

    3- Graduate level classes dig deeper into the subject matter, and are challenging by virtue of actually making you think about the physics of the what you are learning. Undergraduate classes, on the other hand, tend to teach you medium amount about the material, and make up for the lack of depth by cramming too many problems into not enough time during the tests. If you memorize the formulas and can do math quickly enough, you can pass them without learning any physics at all.

    4- I want my options open beyond the construction industry in the future. Where I work now (MEP consulting). A PE is all that matters, and once you pass that test you only use a small fraction of what you learned in school, and only spend part of your time applying that knowledge. As you move up the chain of command, you spend less and less time doing calculations and designing. I want a higher degree because I want out of this silly rat-race of credentials and reputation. I'm not sure what I want to do, maybe academic research or manufacturing, but when I'm finished with the MSME I want to keep thinking, not just acquiring notches in my belt to make more money. Therefore I'm looking at the PE and the AEC industry in general as a stepping stone for something better, as well as a way to make going to college something that has a positive cash flow.

    Sorry this was so long, but good luck
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2011
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