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Changing Majors for Grad School...BA--> MS/Meng Civil Engineering


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I was hoping to receive some feedback and advice pertaining to the topic title.  I want to enter into a civil engineering program at the graduate level.  The problem is, my bachelor's degree is of the art variety, English specifically.  Is it possible to make this switch?  


I am planning on applying for the 2016 Fall semester.  I would like to go to a UC as I am a California native.  I have already taken the GRE (V:166 Q:165).  The BA is from San Francisco State University with an Jr/Sr term GPA of 3.1.  My work experience has been six years teaching at home and abroad (S. Korea).  


I know experience in the desired field is severely lacking.  That is where I need advice.  What can I do to make a compelling application this winter?  Is it even possible?  Is it heard of for schools to accept a student but require them to take prerequisites before beginning the graduate load?  What is the best avenue to bolster my academic record / tackle prerequisites (extension classes, etc..)?  


Any information provided will be greatly appreciated.  Thank you in advance for your time.

Edited by MrDavid
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Sounds like pretty different fields, I'd be curious exactly what math/physics/engineering classes you have under your belt. Most English majors obviously don't take any of the STEM classes required by engineering majors, but perhaps if you were taking a bunch on the side then you'll be okay.


Like ExponentialDecay said above, a lot of the classes can't be taken at the same time (calc 1 -> 3 for instance), and would require too much catch up time for them to really consider it.

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Thank you for the valuable input (and dose of reality).


I understand that my background is severely lacking in STEM classes.  To satiate your wondering DerpTastic, the classes that I have under my belt are lower division statistics, algebra and oceanography.  Not too impressive, I know.  


From your advice, I take it I should figure out how to address this inadequacy.  I have looked into some extension classes at UCLA and some other universities.  Besides Calculus, what other classes are the most crucial to aid in my application's viability?  Physics? Thermodynamics?  Even if I am unable to complete all of the prerequisites, do you think that if I complete a large chunk of them with excellent grades I will be closer to being admissible?


Also, I understand applying for this winter may be crazy and I may have to wait.  That being said, if I do apply this winter, is it possible for me to state the prerequisites that I plan to complete before the term begins (i.e. in Spring and Summer 2016) in addition to the ones that will hopefully be completed Spring Summer and Fall of this year?


Thank you again~

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As someone coming from an engineering background (ChE but I took a few civil courses), I'll tell you this - you will not be ready to apply by this winter (according to the info you provided, though your GRE scores are good enough). Here are the following courses (from what I remember from talking to my civil friends) you will need for civil engineering:


1. Math: Calculus I-III, Differential Equations, Linear Algebra, Calculus-based Statistics

2. Science: University Physics I-II, General Chemistry I-II, Material Science

3. Programming: This can vary but getting familiar with MATLAB or some object oriented language would be useful; Also a GIS (Geographic Info Systems) program would be helpful

4. General Engineering: Statics, Dynamics, Basics of Electrical Engineering, Mechanics of Materials, Thermodynamics

5. Civil Engineering: Surveying, Engineering Design, Transportation Engineering, Hydraulic Engineering, Codes & Regulation, Water Resources Engineering, Steel Design, Environmental Engineering


Then you have to do well (GPA = 3.7+) in the aforementioned courses in order to prove to the adcomm that you are a viable candidate. Good luck with this transition - it won't be an easy route but it is doable. 

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Thank you eteshoe!  for your exhaustive list above.


Are courses offered by Extended Ed programs the best avenue to tackle that list?  Which classes are most important to take before applying? 


Also, looking around the 'net for ways to increase my knowledge-base I found some relevant classes on Coursera.  For instance, they have a MATLAB course.  If I focused my $$ on the extension route for core classes like Calc and Physics, would have completing supplementary classes on Coursera help in any way?  Or is it just a waste of time?  The prohibitive price of extension classes is hard to surmount.  


Does anybody have suggestions for low-cost, high-rigor online education?


The above list is a great boon! 

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Coursera (and things like MIT OpenCourseware) is very good - however it is highly dependent on the motivation of the individual. There are plenty of free course classes online but you will need to be self-motivated to make this drastic transition. That means actually following the instructions of the courses and following them all the way through. Classrooms @ colleges are helpful in their expense in that they give students a bit more of an incentive to learn the material - i.e. "I paid so much money for this course that I better learn this material". I've done both but I can tell you that free + go-at-your-pace = very difficult to follow all the way through. I would also contact the graduate departments at a few of the programs you're thinking about attending and explain your situation. They may have better advise than anything I could tell you anyhow. Good luck though!

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