A uniquely efficient way to experience grad school
It’s called many things depending on where you are and where you go:
- a combined BS/MS degree or BSE/MSE degree
- an accelerated master’s degree
- a Sequential Undergraduate-Graduate Studies (SUGS) program
That last one might just be here at the University of Michigan. But the outcome is the same: a student graduating with both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree at once.
You’ll complete both of your degrees in 5-ish years, which is significantly shorter than the average time it takes to complete a bachelor’s and master’s degree separately—usually 6-7 years.
It’s a cost-effective way to get ahead in your field, but is it worth it?
Why should I get a master’s in engineering?
When most students ask this question, they are thinking about future salary. Having a master’s degree increases your earning potential out of school, between 12-28% annually, depending on the field. It also widens your choices—there are roles that you can only get access to with an advanced degree or experience—while also providing you with a nurturing learning environment (rather than a competitive work environment).
However, it’s still full-time grad school; there are financial considerations that you need to think about, and unlike PhDs, master degrees are not funded. To help with that, there are positions like graduate student instructor or researcher roles that can deepen your self-understanding of your interests and career goals, while helping pay for the bills. And if you already know you want a master’s degree someday, this will save you about a year’s worth of time and cost.
Should I go straight to grad school after undergrad?
As engineers, we know that it takes less energy to continue moving in a similar direction. Less credits, less time, less friction between you and your goal—this might be the best time for you to get your graduate degree.
Ricard Lopez (BSE NERS ’20, MSE ’21) and SUGS graduate, said it’s about having a college mindset and using it while you still have it, instead of setting yourself up for a drastic change later on. In simple terms, it’ll be harder to go back to school.
In addition, instead of exiting as an entry-level engineer, you graduate as a master of engineering.
Is the SUGS program worth it?
For most students, SUGS is a one- year commitment to add to your undergraduate experience. In that year, you can take classes to specialize in the field you’re interested in, building on both the knowledge and skills that you have from your undergraduate experience–getting a whole new degree for your efforts, one that’s tailored to your passions.
What if you don’t know what you’re passionate about yet? Or just as likely for a Michigan Engineer, you’re passionate about too many things.
Something SUGS students report is that it’s a great opportunity to expand your horizons so that you don’t spend as much of your working career “figuring things out.” SUGS alumni report that getting a master’s degree, especially one that’s accelerated, helped them quickly figure out whether they were interested in research, industry or expanding into another field.
What’s the process to apply to the SUGS program?
This engineering program results in a faster master’s but it’s still a full-time University of Michigan graduate program, administered by the Rackham Graduate School. If you’re interested in an engineering degree or are early on in your Michigan Engineering undergraduate program, you might be wondering:
- When should I start thinking about this?
- How long do I have to decide?
- When can I apply?
- How much will it cost?
Rackham has these answers and more.
Engineering students confirm their interest in SUGS the second term of their junior year.
Our best advice to all first-year and second-year students: you can ensure SUGS is an option for you later on by focusing on doing well in your classes in order to meet the minimum grade point average.
Don’t be afraid to adjust your academic plan for success as early as your first semester. Engineering is a rigorous curriculum, so don’t beat yourself up at the first sign of trouble — instead connect w/ support systems or reach out to the C.A.R.E. Center. Michigan Engineering is where you don’t engineer alone!
Once you are fairly confident about your interests and passions, you can get on the “inside track” where you’ll need to choose specific departments and degrees. Check the Michigan Engineering Bulletin for answers to department specific questions, including these:
- What are the requirements for SUGS in my_____ department?
- What kind of GPA do I need for ____ department?
- What kind of grad degrees does SUGS offer?
- What’s the difference between MS and MSE and MEng?
Each of these depends on the department you’re interested in for your graduate studies. You can explore the Bulletin on your own or fill out the SUGS interest form to find out more from the SUGS coordinator in your department of interest.