BS/MS Combined Degree

For undergraduate students interested in pursuing a Master’s of Science (M.S.) degree, the Department offers a combined degree program intended to foster undergraduate research (thesis option) and to accelerate progress toward the M.S. degree (thesis or non-thesis option). The program allows advanced students to complete both their B.S. and M.S. degrees in five years, one year earlier than if the degrees were done separately. This gives students an advantage in the job market by providing them with more training, an advanced degree, more research experience (thesis option) and increased earning potential.

M.S. Thesis option

For undergraduate students interested in vigorous pursuit of research, students are pre-screened to participate in the BS/MS-thesis program in the second semester of their junior year and need to begin doing research in a lab as soon as possible. During the senior year, 2 of the 4 undergraduate technical electives are taken at the graduate level and are counted toward the M.S. degree. This means the B.S. degree is shortened by 6 credit hours. The students also use their senior year to work on their independent thesis research. Then, during the final year (the 5th year of a 4-year B.S. degree), students finish their graduate coursework and research and defend their thesis. At the end of the program, students graduate with their B.S. and M.S. simultaneously. This is the best option for students intending to advance to a PhD program or pursue research-oriented positions in industry.  Students need a faculty advisor to be admitted as a thesis Master’s student. This option may take longer than one extra year to complete depending on at what point the student started their research and how long it takes to complete and defend the thesis.

M.S. Non-Thesis option

For undergraduate students not interested in pursuing research, the M.S. Non-Thesis option provides an in-depth educational experience in a specific area of interest and more breath at an advanced level in mechanical engineering through courses in complementary areas. Students may be pre-screened for participation in this program as early as junior year and as late as the first semester of their senior year.  During the senior year, 2 of the 4 undergraduate technical electives are taken at the graduate level and are counted toward the M.S. degree. This means the B.S. degree is shortened by 6 credit hours. At the end of the program, students must complete an exit interview with the Graduate Advisor and they graduate with their B.S. and M.S. simultaneously.

Financial Aid Opportunities

Students in the BS/MS Program may receive financial support in the form of an hourly position during the fourth year. After students are admitted to the Graduate School and classified as an M.S. student, they may receive funding as a research or teaching assistant or grader and are eligible for the University of Utah Tuition Benefit Program.

Program Requirements

To be accepted into the BS/MS Program, students must meet the following requirements:

  • Mechanical Engineering Major at the University of Utah
  • Junior status in the major (i.e., anticipating B.S. graduation after one more year, thesis option; can apply later but may take longer to complete thesis and graduate)
  • Junior or first-semester senior status in the major (non-thesis option)
  • 3.0 GPA
  • Taken the GRE exam, if required (80th percentile or higher on the quantitative section is required)–Optional for 2021 and 2022 due to COVID-19; check back about 2023 pending pandemic conditions but likely required again.

Students are encouraged to begin their research work for the M.S.-thesis degree during the summer between their third and fourth years of the four-year undergraduate program or sooner. Research work may be incorporated into the Senior Capstone Design Sequence. Examples of potential ways to combine research and other course requirements during the senior year are given below.

  • Incorporate work on the senior design project into the thesis research. Projects begun in Senior Design may form the foundation for the thesis research. This will require some adapting on the student’s part. Thesis research must be more in-depth than senior design projects and must be original research that contributes new knowledge to the field. Students expecting to specialize in Design and Manufacturing at the graduate level may be best suited for this alternative.
  • Work independently with the faculty advisor on thesis research which is separate from the senior design project. This work will need to be done in the student’s spare time, such as during the summers and in lieu of heavy course loads. Students using this option may also participate in UROP opportunities.
Other BS/MS Program Policies

All policies and procedures for the M.S. degrees also apply to BS/MS students. Please see that section for further details. Students complete a minimum of 152.5 semester credit hours of qualified study for both degrees:

  • A minimum of 30 semester credit hours must satisfy the Department’s requirements for the M.S. degree (thesis or non-thesis).
  • A minimum of 122.5 semester credit hours must meet the B.S. degree requirements of the University of Utah, the College of Engineering, and the Department. The minimum number of credit hours for the combined programs is 6 less than that required for the traditional B.S. and M.S. degrees obtained separately.

The only graduate degree that students may pursue in the combined program is the Masters of Science (thesis or non-thesis). Courses listed at both the 5000 and 6000 level must be taken at the 6000 level if they are to be applied to the M.S. degree (see Director of Graduate Studies for exceptions). Students must take a minimum of 6 credit hours of graduate credit the senior year. They may take up to a maximum of 12 credit hours of graduate credit. Transfer from undergraduate to graduate status occurs after completion of the B.S. degree requirements and admission to the Graduate School. A student is eligible for the Tuition Benefit Program administered by the Graduate School after graduate status is conferred.  Both the B.S. and M.S. degrees are conferred simultaneously following completion of the program. No student will be awarded a separate M.S. degree without satisfying all requirements for the B.S. degree. Students wishing to exit the combined program can apply qualified coursework toward the traditional B.S. and M.S. degree requirements without penalty but wouldn’t get the benefit of counting the graduate courses taken as an undergraduate towards the M.S. degree unless they took more than 4 total technical electives needed for their B.S. degree (would need to fill out a petition for graduate credit to use extra courses for a future Master’s degree).

More Information

For more information about this program from the graduate end, please visit the graduate academic program to learn more!  Official participation in the BS/MS program is contingent on the student being admitted to the University of Utah Graduate School.