What effect might it have on my chances of getting into a graduate school and my employment prospects if it took 5 years (or 4.5 years) to graduate?

My plan currently is to take a double major in mechanical engineering and electrical engineering, while going through all the Japanese and Russian language courses.

If I were to do it in four years, I would have to take 4 semesters with 6 classes and 4 semesters with 7 classes, as well as all 19 available classes from the summer and winter sessions available to me. My university does not allow 7 classes in a semester without permission and everyone I know who's been to college has told me that it would be too much.

If I were to do it in 5 years, I could do 9 semesters with 5 classes and 1 semester with 6 as well as 3 summer sessions and 5 winter sessions. The 4th summer session could serve as a cushion in case of limited availability or study abroad programs/interships/co-ops.

I will be attending my first semester at Hofstra University this fall, and am hoping to work for NASA or SpaceX as an engineer while pursuing a masters part time, if that information helps.

  • 2
    Good luck! My general sense is that 5 years for a BA/BS is easily acceptable by many programs and employers, especially if there's an obvious good reason for it (e.g. a double major, international study, internship, language classes--basically all the things you've mentioned). May 5, 2018 at 1:31
  • If you'd be studying a lot of Japanese/Russian, then would you be planning on earning minors or majors in those fields as well?
    – Nat
    May 5, 2018 at 1:43
  • What about 7 years? I have a B.S. in computer science and a B.A. in French and Applied Linguistics. I don’t think I’ll have any problems entering graduate school (I’m currently teaching English in France). But, I have no idea since I haven’t applied and have just been doing freelance software development on the side for travel money. All in all I think that if you take a really long time to graduate, committees might question your motivation. But that’s not the case for you and I highly suggest you pace yourself. I was studying/working 80 hours per week for 5/7 years... major burnout. May 5, 2018 at 17:33

2 Answers 2


Your circumstances are very different than when someone does a single-major program in five years. Two majors—in this case, both in engineering!—and effectively two minors (if you do years of Japanese and Russian) are non-trivial, and as you mentioned, trying to do it in four years would require extensive "credit overloading." If you can afford to do so, it would be better to do things well in five years rather than rush in four years and do a mediocre job, if your goal is to go to graduate school in the long term.


While I agree with aeismail that it isn't good to rush things, I don't feel your plan is optimal.

In particular, the number of credits you are talking about will be sufficient for a masters degree, and it is perfectly feasible to change subjects within engineering between BS and MS. You'll need to coordinate and get advisors in both departments during your undergraduate years even while you are officially working only on one degree at a time, but you should plan for a BS in 4 years and an MS in the fifth. Whether you pivot from ME to EE or vice versa really doesn't affect the feasibility.

As long as you plan for this at least from your sophomore year and use your electives to prepare, you should be able to finish the masters in one year (conventionally a switch between departments will add an extra semester, you will avoid this).

A dual BS in five years will be perfectly acceptable, but a BS/MS in five years covering two engineering disciplines is better yet.

  • That last line makes lots of sense, especially with more institutions offering accelerated 5yr BS/MS programs that let you take grad courses during your undergrad and benefit from dual-crediting. As for OP, I'd also explore ME/EE Bachelor's followed by perhaps IE.
    – CKM
    May 7, 2018 at 19:51

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