Ah, grad school — the ultimate challenge for any aspiring engineer. If you’re looking to get in, the competition is fierce. But no need to panic. You can learn how to get into grad school for engineering quickly.
With a little bit of hard work and dedication, it is possible to make your way into that coveted spot in engineering school. In this blog post, we will be discussing some tips and tricks on how to prepare and apply for grad school so that you can take advantage of all its incredible opportunities as an engineer!
Define your academic and professional goals
A statement of purpose is an essential component of any engineering application – and without a clear understanding of your short-term and long-term goals, it becomes increasingly difficult to craft such a compelling essay. After all, how can you express the reasons why obtaining a graduate degree in engineering are important if you don’t know what those objectives are?
An increasing number of engineering undergraduates are opting for advanced studies, motivated by several key factors. For some, developing skills beyond an undergraduate degree is essential. Alternatively, others may want to hone their engineering proficiency or further define the trajectory of their career path.
All of these are important reasons to pursue a graduate engineering degree. However, they fall short when it comes to being adequately prepared for the job market. The best students understand what type of work they want post-graduation and use that knowledge as a guide during their program; this way, once graduated, they’re setting themselves up with the highest probability of success in finding meaningful employment. Completing a master’s degree in applied engineering is only one to two years long, thus eliminating the opportunity afforded by undergraduate education for exploration. Having a goal at the beginning of your academic journey will significantly support your success in school and make you more prepared to ace interviews with potential employers upon graduation.
Align your goals with each program’s goals
Through a distinct set of values, some top engineering programs and departments clearly define their strategic vision to ensure that future engineers are equipped with the necessary knowledge needed to advance research. Having a good grasp of the department’s vision and strengths is not only necessary for you to achieve your ambitions but also essential to learning how to apply to grad school for engineering. Having this understanding will help you leverage these qualities to reach your goals.
When crafting your statement of purpose for your engineering application, you must include a description of both short-term and long-term goals. What do you envision yourself doing in the 3-5 years after graduation? Make sure that your goals are articulated with clarity and detail to strengthen the overall impact of your story, essay, and application. Doing so will increase the likelihood of being accepted into an educational institution suited for you and which reflects both your ambition as well as academic qualifications.
Figure out GPA and test score requirements
If you’re seeking admission to a renowned engineering school, your GPA must usually be 3.0 or higher. It’s true that many schools primarily consider the grades earned in junior and senior years; however, if your GPA is lower than 3.0, there are still options for you! A high score on the GRE combined with significant research or work accomplishments can help offset any deficiency in your GPA.
For admission to the best engineering schools, a GRE math score between 164-167 is highly desirable. Although a higher verbal score is not as critical for acceptance, programs still prefer something above 150.
Program selection: be realistic!
Don’t waste time and resources applying to programs where acceptance is unlikely. Learning how to apply to grad school in engineering is all about being realistic! Well-known universities can only take a limited number of applicants, so it would be wise to focus on those with higher chances of being admitted. However, if you have your heart set on one or two dream schools – go for it! With adequate preparation and effort, there’s always a chance that you might achieve admission into your top choices. It’s important to be reasonable when it comes to your applications; those with lower GRE scores or GPAs are savvy enough to know which schools they have the best chances of being admitted into. Don’t just aim high, apply where you can compete!
Get to know the program well
Not only is it essential to read a school’s website, but you must go the extra mile by visiting campus and meeting with faculty members, current students, and admissions ambassadors. If that isn’t an option, try reaching out to previous graduates or current students to learn about their experiences. This way you’ll gain valuable insight into the culture of the school.
There are plenty of ways you can learn firsthand from students and alumni. Start by looking at the school website for student club officers’ contact details, or contact the admissions office and ask if anyone is willing to share their educational journey with potential applicants.
Establishing relationships with those who are attending or have graduated from the university you’re interested in will provide you with more information about courses, professors, internship opportunities, and student organizations than simply skimming through the school’s website. Additionally, a brief sentence highlighting the insight you acquired from these contacts in your essay will demonstrate that you went out of your way to secure information – demonstrating to admissions officers just how deeply interested you are in their institution.
Check for potential research requirements
Those seeking admission to an applied engineering program, such as a Master of Engineering, typically do not need prior research experience. Nevertheless, if you are applying for a Master of Science in Engineering degree, programs may expect evidence that demonstrates your enthusiasm for research and ask questions related to the undergraduate research you conducted as well as what publications (if any) cite your work. For additional information, be sure to reference the school’s website or read through the application itself.
Ace your statement of purpose
Engineering undergraduates typically have limited opportunities to take courses that involve essay writing, as the curriculum is usually more quant-focused. Writing a succinct yet compelling statement of purpose can be an intimidating task for such students; many find themselves uncertain about what content should even be included in their SOP.
Crafting a phenomenal SOP is an essential piece of any graduate school application. Make sure your story has all the components necessary to effectively persuade and engage the reader: explain why you’re interested in engineering, describe how having a graduate degree will help further your goals, discuss why this particular program at this specific school can support those aims, have an engaging introductory hook that keeps them intrigued through completion, and tie everything from start to finish back into each other for cohesive flow.
Don’t forget: learning how to get into grad school for engineering is all about having a clear vision of your short-term and long-term goals. Schools need to understand why you are pursuing a graduate degree, how it will benefit both yourself and others when completed, as well as the positive impact this degree can make in society or your community.
As you write your statement of purpose, make sure to clearly explain why this particular program is the best fit for you. Demonstrate your enthusiasm and genuine interest by citing how specific courses or professors will help further your professional aspirations in engineering while also taking into account extracurricular activities and local attractions that could benefit from being part of the graduate study experience.
Craft a resume that makes you shine
A professional-looking resume is an essential part of any school application process. Yours should be tailored to the format requested by the university, as well as include all necessary content – usually in one page. It needs to provide a concise overview of your most recent work and educational experiences, including any promotions you may have received during engineering internships or full-time jobs. Don’t forget to add a brief list of technical/software skills too! Make sure each sentence begins with action verbs that emphasize your accomplishments and make them stand out from other applicants’ resumes.
Secure top-notch letters of recommendation
To give schools additional insights into your candidacy, most require 2-3 letters of recommendation. These letters should work in tandem with the other materials included in your application and provide a well-rounded view of who you are as an individual. By deliberately selecting the people that are most familiar with you to write your recommendations, they can paint an accurate depiction of who you are and what sets you apart for admissions committees.
To acquire outstanding letters of recommendation that will help you reach your goals, the first step is to build strong relationships with instructors and supervisors. It’s also essential for them to witness your superior work ethic firsthand. After those two things are taken care of, it’s time to humbly ask potential recommenders if they would be willing and able to write commendable references on behalf of you – but don’t settle for anything less than an enthusiastic yes! If someone appears hesitant when asked, look elsewhere – there are always other options available.
Create a manageable action plan and timeline
Learning how to apply to grad school for engineering involves great time-management skills. Crafting a successful application requires strategic planning, astute organization, precise implementation, and enough time to do it all. It is essential to begin early so you have enough opportunity to take standardized tests, write a comprehensive essay that illustrates your capabilities, submit educational transcripts, and refine your resume. You should also allow yourself the necessary time to line up recommenders and give them the time they need to deliver remarkable letters before the submission deadline arrives.
You can organize your schedule in whatever way you see fit, taking into consideration any study, work, or family matters that may be relevant. No matter how you decide to manage the timeline, it is essential for you to thoroughly reflect and apply thought when completing each component of the application if you wish to present a competitive submission. When applying for a particular program, many applicants enlist the help of a graduate school admissions consultant to ensure that their application is as strong and effective as possible. Working with an objective listener can be incredibly beneficial; they will work closely with you to ascertain which details should or shouldn’t be included in your statement of purpose (SOP), provide feedback on drafts, give direction on where to start, and much more.
Grad school has a reputation for being intimidating and overwhelming, but with the right resources in hand and a plan of action, learning how to apply to grad school for engineering successfully is within reach. Remember to thoroughly research the various graduate degrees that are out there, take the time to prepare strong applications, and most importantly have confidence in yourself and your abilities when you submit them.
And if you’re looking for more help with preparing for grad school applications, then check out our master’s application services – I would love to assist you on this journey as preparation is half the battle. Whatever graduate program you decide to pursue, know it will open countless doors of opportunities and help launch a successful career. Let’s make that dream happen together!
With a Master’s from McGill University and a PhD from New York University, Philippe Barr is the founder of The Admit Lab. As a tenure-track professor, Philippe spent a decade teaching and serving on several graduate admission committees at UNC-Chapel Hill before turning to full-time consulting. With more than seven years of experience as a graduate school admissions consultant, Philippe has stewarded the candidate journey across multiple master’s and PhD programs and helped hundreds of students get admitted to top-tier graduate programs all over the world.