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I would like to know does it help if I take a graduate course related to my major in engineering as an undergraduate and do very well in it? will it increase my chance of getting to graduate school in case if graduate school committee sees the graduate course in my transcript?

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    Yes, it will help! In fact, you can repeat the procedure and expect it to help even more. – Pete L. Clark Oct 14 '14 at 2:29
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Yes, I think most admissions committees would see this as good evidence of your preparation for graduate study.

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There are two specific reasons why it will help:

  1. It shows that you can work at a high level;
  2. If the course is in the area where you are applying to study, it shows that you have investigated that specific area and have some level of commitment to it.

However, in my experience the graduate level course may not compensate for poor or patchy performance on the undergraduate programme that you're meant to be completing at the time (not saying that this is the case, but I've seen some try). Some recruiters see patchy UG performance with additional courses that you didn't need to take as an indication that you can't focus on the most important, immediate task. In either case, I'd expect detailed questions on why you took additional graduate courses, and how you balanced your workload, at interview.

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It really depends on the student and the graduate course(s). Consider two students.

Graduate courses are unlikely to help a student with a strong academic record and a near perfect GPA, but no previous research experience and recommendation letters that only speak about classroom abilities. There will be little doubt from the admissions committee about the ability of this student to learn advanced concepts and the weakness of the application is the limited evidence to evaluate research potential.

Graduate courses may help an applicant with a good record of relevant research experience and recommendation letters that focus on the research, but a weak academic record. The weak part of this type of applicant is fear over the ability to learn advanced concepts. The ability of a graduate course to sway the decision of the admissions committee will depend on both the grade and the content of the course. Anything less than a B in a graduate course is likely a disaster and it may take an A to sway an admissions committee. Similarly, taking a course that is unrelated to your research interests or is viewed as a "soft" topic will likely decrease the value of the course.

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I would say overall, yes.

My school offers what's called a "project course" and it's intended to get senior students aiming for their masters experience with research and writing a thesis. You speak to a professor in your faculty who's research revolves around a topic that interests you and you will write an honours thesis related to that under their supervision throughout the year. I study Computer Science, so my project courses also contained an application aspect. If I want to get into grad school, they will see that I have built a large program, written a thesis, and worked under the supervision of a professor at my institution. All desirable traits in a grad student.

It is very, very common for students who take these courses to get their position as a masters student under the same professor the very next year. Definitely something an academic advisor will recommend you do.

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    It is not clear to me that this is a graduate course if it is aimed at "senior students". Further, I think this is a relatively unique course that it is difficult to draw inferences from it. – StrongBad Oct 14 '14 at 9:07
  • We have multiple course offerings across several faculties, and from my own network of friends at a variety of different schools across the country, they have the same opportunities. Although it may not be a graduate course, it is a course where you can prepare a thesis and application on graduate level content. This serves the purpose of preparing senior students for their masters degree by giving them experience working with a professor. Hope this clears it up a bit. – James Oct 14 '14 at 14:06

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