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Wrong Undergraduate Degree for an MSE -- Help please

  1. Feb 9, 2015 #1
    I didn't have any direction going into college. I went to UNC Chapel-Hill (a liberal arts school, which doesn't offer engineering). To start with I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with my life, so I took lots of Biology and Chemistry courses and some Psychology and History courses (which I found interesting.)

    I ended up with a Psychology Bachelor's of Science degree with a History minor... 2 bio classes short of a Psych/Bio Double-major and 2 Bio/3 Chem classes short of a triple major. Now I'm stuck with a Psych major and people think I'm retarded.

    My father runs a successful consulting company specialized in industrial casting/metallurgical engineering. He gets contracts from companies to analyze metal quality issues and pin-point the cause. My parents are divorced, and it was only after I graduated that he reached out to me. We talked for a long while, then asked if I would like to take over his company when he retired. He has an MSE from MIT, and his one caveat was that I get an MSE, as well. He believes I can handle the company but doesn't want me doing it without a broad knowledge about materials science.

    Now I'm stuck with the problem with having a Psychology (BS) degree trying to get an MSE. I've e-mailed several MSE departments and applied to one, all say that a Psychology degree does not meet requirements. My second option is to go back to college to get a Chemistry undergraduate degree, then apply for an MSE degree, but I don't think I can afford it and I already have student loans on top of what an MSE would cost.

    I don't know if anyone has been in this situation before, however I would appreciate any advice.
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2015
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 9, 2015 #2

    Quantum Defect

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    When I taught, I had a number of students just like you (returning students). Some of them were my best students.

    You might look into working for a University while you finish your BS in Chemistry. Many schools will have programs that will allow you to take a limited number of classes for free (tuition remission) if you are a full-time employee. Several of my non-traditional students fit into this category. You get a job that will pay the rent, etc. but that allows you to take one or two classes a year. It doesn't sound like you have many credits necessary to get a degree in Chemistry. A degree in Chemistry would probably be an acceptable entry-level degree for many Materials Science Programs. Graduate programs in the sciences, especially a PhD Program, is often no-fee for the student.
  4. Feb 9, 2015 #3


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    Got to ask. Are you in fact motivated enough to go get an undergrad degree in chemistry? Only a few years ago you were prepared to get a psych BSc. Do you think you are mentally prepared to do the work to get a hard science degree?

    Your father's desires are not your desires. Your father's drive and determination are not yours. Him wanting you to take over the company does not make you prepared to do what is required.

    Also, how is your math? Chemistry requires calculus and some algebra. Depending on what part of chem you get into maybe a lot of other math. Probably you will want some computational methods.

    If you are serious about it, it may be a good plan. But examine yourself as honestly as you can before sitting down for probably another four years of undergrad, and probably 2 to 4 years more for the masters.
  5. Feb 9, 2015 #4

    This is what I meant when I wrote "Now I'm stuck with a Psych major and people think I'm retarded."

    I've already taken Calc 1 and 2, as well as analytical chem/orgo chem 1, and bio up to the 300-levels.

    You have a good point, though. The reason I posted this is because I have the motivation not to just get a degree in chemistry, but because I want an MSE. This is what I want, the stuff about my dad was background for why I feel that way.

    Getting a degree in chemistry is the last resort (I was wondering if anyone knew a way without going back to another undergrad degree.)

    Edit: Quantum Defect thank you for your response, I will start applying for staff positions and seeing if I can get free classes :)
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2015
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