Can you Apply to different Specialization or Major for MS in USA? Change Majors ?

In Decide MS - MBA in US by Kumar210 Comments

When I was planning to pursue MS in USA, I used to talk to many people. The most common advice that I used to get was “your Bachelor’s degree ( B.Tech/ BE) is in Computer Sciences, so just apply for MS in Computer Sciences.” I was naïve at that time and never gave it second thought. The reason is that in country like India, your specialization or major is decided at a very early stage of your career after you pass 10th or 12th grade. I was under the same impression that if I have B.tech in Comp Sciences, then I can only go for MS in Comp Sciences. But, my perception was wrong !  Education system in America works differently. To get an idea of some the differences check this Education in USA vs. India . Coming back to changing majors or specializations, Here are some of the very common questions.

  • I have B.Tech in ECE (electronics & Comm. Engg.  ), can I apply to MS in Computer Sciences ?
  • I have B.E in Civil Engineering, Can I apply to MS in Electrical Engineering ?
  • I have Bachelors in English, Can I apply to MS in Robotics ?
  • I have B.tech in Mechanical engineering, Can I apply to MS in Marketing ?

Many such questions.  If you are in such dilemma or do not know how it works with changing majors read along.

How does Specialization and  Majors work in America ?  Can you change it in Masters  ?

In America, education institutions recognize your degree’s major or specialization based on the number of credits or courses  you have taken in a specific subject area. If you want a Major in a specific field, say Electrical Engineering, after you are done with basic courses,  you will be required to take certain number of credits in that subject area. Once you complete so many credits, you get major in that field and your bachelor’s degree would state that. You can have two majors or as many as you want, all you need to do is take extra courses and get credits…If you have done Major in Biology and did not like it, you can get another major in Computer sciences, all you need to do is take extra courses and get enough credits.  I have had friends with double major of both Biology and Computer Sciences in Bachelor’s degree.

Can you apply to different Major or specialization when you apply for MS in USA   ?

Yes, you can.  Because of the open education system in USA, you are free to apply for any specialization or major as you wish. You would need to articulate in your Statement of Purpose, when you apply for MS, why you decided to pursue a different major.  For instance, you have a B.tech in Computer Sciences and you want to apply for MS in Finance, you can do that. It is same for other degrees as well.  Your admission decision is not based on your Major or specialization in Bachelors. It will depend on your academic excellence and standardized test scores like GRE and TOEFL.

How does it work ? How can I get a Masters in certain field, without having any background ?

If you get admission, the school will include in your admission letter stating all the pre-requisite courses that you need to do for the MS program.  The pre-requisites are mandatory as you are switching majors or getting acquainted with a new specialization.  So, all your basics and foundations of any major or specialization are covered with pre-requisites and you can pursue your dream education !  In fact, when I did my MBA, I had to take many pre-requisites like Foundations of Marketing, Finance, and Accounting before I could start the MBA courses, because my degree was in Computer Sciences.

Check out How to change Majors in MS after admission  and arrival in USA

What was your experience ? Did you change Majors ?

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Comments ( 210 )

  1. Piyusha

    I am a student of electronics and communication engineering and got placed in IT company. My cgpa is 7 and gre score is 320. Will working for 2 years in an IT company be relevant and helpful in getting good universities if I want to do MS in electronics side or should i just go for 1 year of work experience?

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      Piyusha,
      I cannot really speak for admission chances as it vary by school and also the requirements vary. You need to look at the average scores of the schools you plan to apply to have an understanding. Yes, your experience should help, when you apply to have a better SOP. Experience does not really matters as you will be doing MS and not MBA.

  2. Ashwin

    Hi Kumar,
    I have a bachelors degree in mechatronics engineering(SRM University) and a work experience in an IT firm for around 18 months.I want to do my masters in Computer Science or Networking in the US. How should I apply for this ?

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      Ashwin,
      It is quite straightforward, you look for schools, look at their requirements and apply. You will need to take GRE and TOEFL, if you want to get into decent schools. Check at the school’s website you plan to apply, it should be well documented.

      1. Ashwin

        Thanks Kumar.
        I am taking GRE in February and I just wanted to know my probability of getting admits in CS since i’m not from that background. My only CS thing in my profile is my work experience which is under 2 years.

        1. administrator
          Kumar

          Ashwin,
          You should be have equal chances like anyone else without a CS background. You need a strong SOP on your compelling reason to switch to increase your chances. Getting good GRE and TOEFL scores will always help. Yes, that work experience is good and you can use that to position yourself well for the admission.

  3. Simran

    Hi
    I am Btech graduate in electronics and communication.
    I want to change my field ti theatre-acting to pursue my masters in the US.
    What all I have to do to get selected in the top universities?

  4. Balaji

    Hi Kumar,
    in short U.G in mech, want to do my Ms in CS. i have decided Canada is way cheaper than U.S. Or is my perception wrong? Can i get quality education in the U.S for the same cost? my spending cap is around 10 to 15 lakh INR(for both the years).

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      Balaji,
      Well, I cannot speak for Canada…I would assume both would be about same cost, you should check few schools to get some idea. Quality is quite relative…you have Harvard in US, also you have some of the schools that are run out of no where…so, it all depends on the school…the structure is good most of the decent schools. You can read MS Education in US vs India . I am not familiar with canada. Again, your total cost depends on the school and there is no fixed estimate. Read cost of MS in US

  5. ronak

    hy .hi.
    .. I’ve completed my b.e in mechanical engineering and planning to do masters in computer science. so is that possible? is that possible in Canada too? or this can only done in usa?

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      ronak,
      Yes, you can. It should be possible in Canada too, as the system is pretty similar. If you want to confirmation for Canada, you can write to specific schools to get the confirmation.

  6. Rohit Paudel

    Hello,

    I am planning to do Bachelor’s degree from US. I wounder if I could apply for Robotics related field for MS right there in US? If yes will it be possible to join Robotics engineering in MS?

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