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What are my next steps! - help


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I'm going to be starting my junior year this upcoming fall in electrical engineering and am just beginning to think about graduate school. I have heard that by getting a masters/PhD in electrical engineering it'll be easier to move up past just being a test engineer my whole career (is this true?). 


I have an ok GPA, 3.44. Switched majors and as a result took some classes that no longer are relevant but remain on my transcript :( . Question one: Will my GPA hold me back from getting into a well known competitive graduate school?


Question 2: I have no research experience. What advice do you guys have for getting involved in undergraduate research? I know of a couple professors whose work is interesting to me so do I go with them and just hope it lines up with what I end up doing in graduate school or is some research better than none?


Question 3: Is my geographic location going to be a problem? I am in the Midwest (USA) and am looking at schools on the West Coast as well as a couple in the Midwest region. 


Question 4: What should I go for MS or PhD? My career goal right now is not be in academia but in industry. So will a MS open the same doors as a PhD will in terms of industry jobs?



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4. It would be a tough shot applying for a PhD without research experience. If you can afford it, go for an MS. However, I still suggest you to contact professors in your department for possible research experience. Take an undergrad thesis as well.

You're only starting your third year right now, you still have a lot of time to think about this. There's no need to start worrying already. When I was in your place, I didn't even know if I wanted to pursue graduate education.


3. I'm from overseas and I still got into grad school in the US, just like thousands of others. The Midwest has a lot of good schools too (plus you'll be eligible for in-state tuition in case you didn't get into a funded program).


2. Better have some rather than none, yep. :) My undergrad thesis and personal research areas (digital electronics/computer architecture) don't match with the one I'm going to (solid state and nanotechnology).


1. Like I said, you have a lot of time. Study hard and do well in the last two years so that you can hopefully raise it (aim for A/A+). You may even want to consider applying after graduation (like I did). The higher courses weigh more than the earlier ones. Also, since some of the courses pulling your GPA down aren't relevant to your major, the grad schools won't weigh them equally. You should talk about this in your SOP, though.

Additionally, apply for summer internships to enhance your resume.


Finally, stop worrying! And no, you won't remain a test engineer, that's an entry level job, LOL. You'll later get senior engineer posts with time and experience. My dad is an electrical engineer too, and he's never been to grad school. He's the chief engineer in control of a tv channel now, so yeah... Most engineers do well in their careers without a graduate degree. The only reason you might want one is if you're going to a research-oriented job. Engineers with service-oriented careers usually end up doing an MBA. Only a some consider an MS in engineering, but that's usually due to a work requirement. Some others like myself hope to become industrial research scientists, so I'm entering MS now so that I can get into a PhD afterwards.

Edited by shinigamiasuka
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