Here's my situation: I've want to get into a master's or PhD level program in biomedical engineering. However, the college I go to does not offer a biomedical engineering degree. So, out of the options I was given and at a advice of my advisor, I decided to major in chemical engineering degree.

I pursued research with a professor in the chemical engineering department and was preparing to take the GRE. Once, I got to my actual Chemical engineering courses in the second semester of my sophomore year. I really ended up disliking my courses and not doing well in them (I got mostly Bs and two Cs and it's my fault). I went to my academic advisor for advice on the situation and I was told that the average GPA for the chemical engineering class was a 3.2, and that it's really hard for people to make a high enough GPA in this major to get into graduate school and the my grades are what most people make in the classes.

I don't know if this is the standard for engineering or something but it feels really discouraging to me cause it feels like I can't fix my grades and grind through to get a good enough GPA to just get into graduate school. I like my research, but I'm unable to handle the rigor and intensity of my chemical engineering engineering classes despite reaching out to my professors and my university's tutoring center. I feel like me not liking the major is also a major factor in why I am unable to pass my classes. I will be a junior this year.

Should I just stick it out with this major that I don't like at this point and work harder to keep up my grades since I will be doing BME master's anyway? I really want to get into a good masters program for biomedical engineering, but I really dislike my current major. Would changing majors hurt my graduate school admission chances?

  • This is a cliche, but it can be really different country by country how negatively changing major is viewed. That being said bad grades are viewed negatively everywhere, so maybe changing your major is a much safer choice than you realize.
    – Greg
    Commented Aug 21, 2020 at 7:50

3 Answers 3


TLDR: You should switch majors

Engineering (of any kind) is hard. If you are excited about it and love it, then putting in the work is possible. But if you hate the classes, you are going to find it very hard to be motivated enough to do the work needed to get As.

And you do want As for grad school. One bad semester won't kill your grad school chances. Four more bad semesters in a row will.

Either Electrical or Mechanical are both good starting points for BME (just as good as if not better than Chemical). Pick whichever you suits you best and switch.


Changing majors isn't likely to be a factor in itself. When creating a CV or resumé, you can choose what to put in and omit. Ultimately you will want to shine a spotlight on a particular qualification as the proof that you meet the criteria for the particular job (or course in this case). To this end the particular major you have pursued, followed by the grade you achieve, are the most important factors. If you change major you can simply leave out the previous course your pursued.

In my experience a 1.1 or 2.1 or even 2.2 degree in a relevant subject is plenty qualification for a masters (perhaps not a 2.2 for research masters). That's what... about > 3.08 GPA. I'm not privy to your specific circumstances, either in terms of the university you are going to, or the particular course you are attending, but demanding an exceptionally high GPA to qualify for a masters seems unusual to me (unless there's some sort of scholarship element)

The issues with changing course stem from monetary concerns and those relating to motivation. Going back to scratch in terms of most of your degree is a big ask, and you would be wise to work out in advance if it's something you will be prepared for, both mentally and financially. A degree with an average GPA is infinitely better than a hypothetical degree with an excellent GPA that never gets finished. On the flip side if you don't think it's likely that you will be able to finish the current major you are doing (either because you find it too difficult or just not enjoyable enough) then you have nothing to lose by switching.

  • You likely have more experience than me. However, a hard cut off of 3.0 GPA in the final year of school was the criteria for masters (considering undergrad) and PhD (considering masters) was standard at my university. The masters had a GRE requirement but the BSc -> PhD track was grade based. Over the years I've gotten the feeling a high GPA isn't required but useful as a second metric if your GRE is +/- the acceptable range.
    – user117751
    Commented Aug 21, 2020 at 4:02

Changing majors is actually more or less a good thing when it comes to graduate. It's actually more common than you think, with some people changing major in the middle of their undergrad career, between undergraduate and graduate, or even maybe during graduate studies itself. It's a sign that you know what you like and you don't like, which is a good thing when you eventually apply for graduate school. And if you know what you want to study for graduate school, you might as well get a head start while you still can, and it will also be a good thing to explain if graduate schools question your lower grades in ChemE, especially if you experience more success as a BME major.

The only issues that this will present here, is how much of the undergraduate curriculum for BME you would be able to cover, as you noted you would be a junior when transferring in. Is there any of the chemical engineering coursework that would transfer to satisfy requirements for the BME major? Since you have two years left, assuming you want to graduate within the four years, would you be able to satisfy all the BME degree requirements, as well as gain research experience or an interest into a specific subfield (through electives) by the time you graduate? You may find yourself needing to take a extra semester or two in order to finish the requirements of your new major.

TLDR: If you feel you would be happier in the new major, and you can do so with more success, I would go for it and change to the BME major. Hope this helps.

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