Frequently Asked Questions
I’ve heard of a thesis vs. non-thesis option for an MS degree. Is this program a thesis or non-thesis program?
A thesis provides students with an opportunity to “cut their teeth” on important, challenging, but ill-defined problems. These are tremendous learning opportunities and a “thesis experience” is highly valued by industry. In this program, the ambitious, yearlong, team design project serves the purpose of a thesis. Although it is not technically a thesis, each student’s written report of their contribution is roughly equivalent to a Master’s thesis.
How does the Professional Masters Program (PMP) differ from the traditional thesis or non-thesis MS program?
The PMP is designed to prepare students for careers in industry. The major difference is the yearlong design project during which student teams take projects from start to finish while learning the success skills needed to turn ideas into products and businesses. A second difference is that students in the PMP acquire more technical breadth than is possible in the traditional program. This is done through a unique suite of 1-credit courses. A third difference is the close interaction with partners in industry that occurs in the PMP.
Is the diploma/degree given for the Professional Masters different from the regular MS ECE program?
No. Students who graduate from the Professional Masters program will receive the exact same diploma/degree that all Masters students in ECE receive - the MSECE degree. The Professional Masters program is a specific concentration within the regular ECE Masters program with several curricular innovations such as a suite of unique “breadth at the edges” 1-credit courses, a yearlong project with professional skills integrated, etc.
The traditional MS program typically takes about two years to complete. How can students complete the PMP program in only one year?
Both programs require 30 credits. Students in the traditional MS program are typically half-time students. The PMP is an ambitious program for students who are able to devote a full-time effort. Note that the program is a 12 month program – two semesters plus the summer. It is also possible for students to transfer up to six graduate credits from other universities.
What happens if a student is unable to complete the program in one calendar year?
We anticipate that most students enrolled in the program will be able to complete the program in one calendar year, but students who are unable to complete in one year will be given an extra semester to complete their coursework. Note, however, that the yearlong project will have to be completed in the first year since it is a team project. An extra semester can be used to complete other coursework. It may also be possible to complete the additional coursework online through Purdue Online Learning (https://engineering.purdue.edu/ProEd/). Extensions beyond one extra semester will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
Can I start in the Spring semester?
All admissions will be for the Fall semester. A student may, however, request to defer admission to Spring semester in order to complete some coursework in advance of the yearlong design project which only begins in the Fall, and then runs through Spring and Summer.
Can I begin in the traditional ECE MS program and transfer into the PMP in the second year.
It is not possible to transfer from the traditional MS program into the PMP. However, students in the traditional MS program may apply for admission to the PMP and, if admitted, all coursework credits acquired in the traditional program will count towards the PMP.
I am unsure as to whether I will be pursing a career in industry or go on for a Ph.D. Is this the program for me?
While the PMP is designed to prepare students for careers in industry, we also believe that it is superb preparation for Ph.D. studies.
Students in the Professional Masters program are not eligible to receive financial support (e.g., teaching assistantships and research assistantships) whereas the regular Masters program allows students to receive such financial assistance. Does it still make financial sense for a student to enroll in the Professional Masters program?
The average time to graduation in the regular Masters program is over two years, whereas the Professional Masters program is designed to be completed in one calendar year. This means that by the time students in the regular Masters program graduate, students who joined the Professional Masters program would have been out in industry working for a year. According to 2017 data collected from graduating Purdue University students, the average starting salary for new MSECE graduates was $95,082. Compared to this income for one year, the tuition for one year of the Professional Masters program is $37,116.50 for non-residents and $13,614.00 for residents. As is evident from the above data, Professional MS students are likely to come out ahead financially overall, due to the decreased graduation time.
What pathways to positions in industry does this program provide?
This program will provide students with tight connections to industry to maximize opportunities for employment upon graduation. You’ll have opportunities to meet and interact with some of our industry advisors (https://engineering.purdue.edu/ECE/Academics/PMP/advisors), which will provide you with a connection point to their companies. Working engineers from these and other companies will visit campus to advise and mentor students and to participate in design reviews.