Master of Engineering versus Master of Science Degrees

Master of Engineering degrees are typically viewed as terminal degrees allowing maximum flexibility in course selection. Master of Science degrees are more structured in terms of required course work, and students with undergraduate degrees specifically in engineering are often better prepared to enter these master's programs. Graduates from Master of Science programs are better prepared to move forward to doctoral programs, as they often become more involved in research experience. However, Master of Science programs also include course only options for those not interested in doing research.

There are different ways to earn a master's degree at Washington University:

  • There are a number of Engineering disciplines that admit students to pursue a terminal master's degree. In some programs both the course option and thesis option are available. The course option may be of particular interest to part-time students who, because of their employment, might find it more convenient than the thesis requirement.
  • Undergraduate students at Washington University may apply for the BS/Master's or AB/Master's program in Engineering, in which graduation with a BS or AB is followed by one year of graduate study leading to the MS degree. This option is described in the Combined Majors and/or Multiple Degrees section of this Bulletin.
  • Students who have not previously earned a master's degree in the same field as their PhD may earn the Master of Science (MS) on the way to their PhD. This option is available in some disciplines but not in all of them.
  • Students who have not previously earned a master's degree in the same field as their PhD may be awarded an MS for work done in a PhD program that they are leaving without completing. This option is available in some disciplines but not in all of them.

ELP English Placement Exams: These exams are taken by new international graduate students (in any graduate degree program) upon arrival. Students may be placed into Engr 510A or Engr 510B, courses customized to the needs of Engineering students and offered only in the spring.