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Why is masters "harder" than Bachelors?

Guest ketodietman

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Guest ketodietman

People have said that masters in science/engineering is harder than bachelors in engineering, but how difficult is it?

are there more essays to write? Or labs? more field work? Stricter grading policies? 

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All of the above. 

The workload is usually a significant increase, with courses covering 1.5-3x more material than corresponding undergraduate courses. Depending, obviously, on what you were used to. 

Papers are generally expected to be lied and more thorough, and the reading load is a lot higher. 

Lab work is almost nonexistent in courses, but you're expected to be working 40ish hours a week on your thesis project outside of classes. 

Grading is generally harder, but if you went to a top notch undergrad and are comparing to a lower tier grad school, it may not be as different.

That said, the main challenge isn't coursework, as courses matter less. It's learning to do independent research. 

If you're looking at coursework only programs, some of the above might not apply to you. 

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I think this really depends on what you yourself find easier, the type of engineering education you had in your Bachelor's, and the school you would be going to for your Masters, as well as if your Masters in a bridge to a PhD like many of the programs in the US offer or a terminal masters.  

I honestly can't see how a Masters program would be that much more difficult than a CEAB or ABET accredited engineering program.  The number of courses, breadth, and detail required to excel in these programs is often overwhelming to even the best students.  (That is not to say it can't be done, there are lots of people who can and many are on this forum)  In fact these programs were so difficult that people used to take "easier" undergraduate programs such as physics and chemistry and then do a masters in engineering or master or applied science (MEng in Canada is typically course work and MASc is research) so that they could then apply (as a loophole which is now harder to over come) to become licensed professional engineers in Canada.  The CEAB does not offer accreditation to any programs aside from a Bachelors, though time of service of 1 year is given towards a professional certification by many bodies in Canada and the USA.

Again this all depends on where you attend school both in the past and in the future.  I think that my Master's will be more difficult in someways (many that Eigen has said) since I will be attending a top research school and the university I came from was not and I was near the top of my class.  I don't have an issue with personal motivation however and this could be why I feel this way.  I should note that there hasn't been a single individual that I have met that has said a masters is more difficult.  But I have met plenty that said a PhD (due to its length, demand for new discovery, and financial impacts) to be devastating.

I agree with Eigen in that independently it is far more of a challenge.  You need to be tenacious.  Most of the time students are spoon fed in their Undergrad and many of the supports people have come to rely on will have evaporated.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I have taken over 10 grad courses now, all in STEM subject matter. I find them to be harder in some ways, easier in others. More topics are covered and sometimes in more depth, but they are specialized. Cell and Microbe Cultivation is not a harder subject than Organic or Physical Chemistry were, but it is focused more tightly, and you are learning more that you are expected to use directly, rather than foundationally. Grad courses sometimes do not have finals, and it is rare to see a C in those classes, but partly because students in there are already advanced. Some graduate math and physics courses can be very hard indeed, but I feel that many grad courses were actually easier than the hardest undergrad subjects. Just my 0.02

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