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Master of Science and 4+1
Students should be in a position where BSE requirements can be completed by taking fewer than four (4) courses [typically two (2)] in the last undergraduate semester. Students meeting this condition may apply for provisional admission to the Duke Graduate School to be effective in their last undergraduate semester.
Typically this is the spring of the senior year. The Graduate School publishes a list of master's application deadlines by department.
Completing a master's degree in in the 4+1 leaves little room for error. It is the student's responsibility to ensure that courses taken during the second semester of the senior year both:
- Complete the requirements for the BSE degree, and
- Will be credited toward the requirements for the MS degree
Also note: None of the courses can "double count" for both the BSE and MS degrees.
Each department MS program has specific requirements and lists of permissible and non-permissible courses.
Please meet with the Director of Graduate Studies in your MS program to look over your academic plan before you register for your last semester of classes.
Upon acceptance by the graduate school, students complete their last undergraduate semester in what amounts to dual status: they are still considered undergraduate students but have provisional graduate admission as mentioned above.
A full course load is customarily taken, with the schedule designed so that those courses not needed for completion of the BSE will be applicable to an approved master's course of study (as determined by each Pratt Department). Under ordinary circumstances, the cost to the student for this semester is the usual full-time undergraduate tuition (under whatever financial aid arrangement Duke has offered).
The Next Year
After the final undergraduate, full-time semester the student is granted his/her BSE. Beginning in the subsequent semester (usually either Summer or Fall following the senior year) the student becomes a master's student in the usual sense. During this time, each department's financial aid arrangements for students are consistent with procedures for other master's students until the student finishes program requirements.
Nominally, students taking two (2) courses while provisionally admitted to the Duke Graduate School and the Pratt School of Engineering can complete the master's program with two more semesters of course work, depending on individual departmental requirements.
Coursework-Only Option Most Suitable
The 4+1 MS program is more suited to a coursework-only ("non-thesis") master’s degree.
Although both coursework-only and thesis options are offered by different Duke Engineering departments, thesis options require "satisfactory completion of the thesis," which typically takes more time than coursework-only options and may not be possible to complete within the single additional year.
For more information, contact the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) in your department of interest.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do students apply for the Pratt BSE/MS Degree, 4+1 Program?
Students apply to the program for their specific department through the Graduate School in the fall of their senior year before the standard graduate school application deadline for a January start. They are given provisional graduate student status while still an undergraduate.
Provisional means that you are admitted even though you do not yet have your undergraduate degree. During your final undergraduate semester you are enrolled in both graduate and undergraduate courses.
Is acceptance into the 4+1 program automatic?
Each department, in collaboration with the Graduate School, controls admission to their masters programs. It is not automatic, but there are no specific requirements other than graduate program admission standards such as grades, GREs, references, etc. and room in your schedule to take courses that are not required for your undergraduate degree.
See admission statistics for each department at the links below:
- Biomedical Engineering
- Civil and Environmental Engineering
- Electrical and Computer Engineering
- Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science
Do I need to pay graduate and undergraduate tuition during the semester I am enrolled as an undergraduate student and a provisional graduate student?
No. You will only be charged undergraduate tuition & fees (from the Pratt School) and they should be charged nothing from the graduate school.
What full-time courses do I take in this program?
In your final undergraduate semester you take the remainder of your required undergraduate courses (usually 1 or 2) and the other classes you take in that semester then count toward your Masters degree. The following year (or years) are like any other Masters program.
Can I keep my undergraduate housing during the 4+1 Program?
For the final semester of your undergraduate program (i.e., your 8th semester) when you have both undergraduate and provisional graduate student status, you can maintain your undergraduate housing and other undergraduate benefits. During the 5th year when you become a graduate student, you are no longer eligible for undergraduate housing or other undergraduate privileges on campus.
Can I take courses in the summer between my senior and 5th year for the master's degree?
Yes, but options are very limited due to the limited number of graduate courses that are taught in the summer. Courses must fulfill departmental Master Degree requirements.