I would like to go to a strong graduate school. Currently I have a somewhat high GPA at about 3.8. However, there is a program at my university where we can spend an extra year to obtain a Master's Degree.

I initially intended on spreading my workload and graduate on time by taking about 3 classes per semester. Would it better for me to take 4 classes per semester and graduate about half a semester late with a Master's degree? Currently, the workload is very hard, so I know my GPA will drop a lot, maybe 0.3 points or more if I take 4 classes.

I would like to attend a strong graduate school in Electrical engineering, so which choice would be more suitable?


There is no rush.

Admissions won't give you bonus points for finishing early, so you're having to compete with people who took more time on the same amount of classes.

From my personal experience, I rushed and completed my undergrad a year early and my masters a semester early, but it didn't gain me much. In fact, my GPA took a beating.

Also, I wouldn't call it late if you're completing the masters in one additional semester, that would still be one semester early since it sounds like a 5 year program (4 + 1).

If you want the best chances of getting into a top school: take your time. Either graduate with your bachelors or spend the two additional semesters getting your masters while attempting to get good letters, some research experience, and maybe even a publication. Trying to rush it further isn't going to help and gives you less time to do the important stuff for admissions (e.g., research and letters).


My initial impression is that the master's degree won't count for too much in your graduate admissions unless it is giving you a substantial benefit in some way - i.e. access to more research experience, or a depth of knowledge in an area tangential to your undergraduate work but applicable to the graduate work you want to do. Since you are describing this as something you can fit in with your undergraduate work, I don't get that impression.

I would get some advice from faculty at your current institution - an "add-on" 1 year masters sounds a bit sketchy to me - if it isn't a full masters program it sounds like just an add-on, and is probably intended more for people who are ending their education there.

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