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Master of Science and 4+1
Duke undergrads can earn a bachelor's degree and a Master of Science degree in just five years through Duke's progressive 4+1 program. Students who are admitted as undergraduates get a head start in this accelerated program by taking graduate level courses during their senior year.
Students should be in a position where bachelor’s degree requirements can be completed by taking fewer than eight (8) courses [typically four (4) to six (6)] in the senior year. Students meeting this condition may take graduate courses that map to the MS curriculum of their choice. The courses are then transferred to their graduate record upon enrollment in the MS program after the BSE is completed, which allows them to complete the MS in only one additional year at Duke.
The Graduate School publishes a list of master's application deadlines by department, but generally, the deadline for 4+1 entry is October 1.
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 Master's Studies in your MS program to look over your academic plan before you register for your senior year of classes.
A full course load is customarily taken, with the schedule designed so that those courses not needed for completion of the bachelor’s degree 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. 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 a minimum of two (2) courses that are transferred to the graduate program within 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.
Students may allocate up to four departmental graduate courses* taken in the senior year toward MS degree requirements using the Pratt Credit Transfer form. Transferred courses must fulfill MS degree requirements in the major of interest. Note: Only the credits transfer, the grade remains on your undergraduate transcript and is part of your undergraduate GPA.
Student must earn at least a B in each graduate level course for it to count toward your MS degree.
Graduate courses used for your MS degree cannot be used for your undergraduate degree.
*The transfer of credit requires approval of the Director of Master’s Studies (DMS) for the major of interest
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.
Students who are interested in a thesis option may find it possible to complete the program within a single additional year if they continue research from their undergraduate degree.
For more information, contact the Director of Master's Studies (DMS) in your department of interest or the admissions office.
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, typically October 1. They are given early graduate student admission while still an undergraduate
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 taking graduate courses?
No. While enrolled as an undergradaute students, you will only be charged undergraduate tuition & fees (from the Pratt School) and you should be charged nothing from the graduate school.
What full-time courses do I take in this program?
In your final undergraduate year, you take the remainder of your required undergraduate courses (usually 4 or 6) 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?
You can maintain your undergraduate housing and other undergraduate benefits while you are an undergraduate. 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.