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

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,  Majors work in USA ?  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  that 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.

Now, let’s look at how that works for Masters in US…

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

Yes, you can apply for different major or specialization, when you apply for Masters admission in US.  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(SOP), when you apply for MS, why you decided to pursue a different major. 

For instance, let’s say, 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 pre-requisites work for my new degree without having any background ?

If you get admission for Masters in different major or specialization than your bachelors degree, then the school will include in your admission letter all the pre-requisite courses that you need to do for the Masters program.  The prerequisites are mandatory as you are switching majors and 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 ! 

The pre-requisites are done after you arrive in US and join the school for Masters program. You do not have to do it in your home country. 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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319 Comments

  1. i have done btech mechanical engineering from india and having 2 years of experience in manufacturing company as designer and CNC programmer . now i am planing to do ms in USA in mechanical which major will be best to get job easily there . so there are more vacancy in that particular major.

    Reply
    • niraj,
      There is nothing called easy…I always believe that higher education should help you add value to your career. You should not be jumping the bandwagon randomly just that you will get a job in that…Read Goals for MS in US

      Reply
  2. Hello,
    I am in my final year of B.Tech Mechanical Engineer in Kolkata.
    Can I apply for M.S. in Computer Science or related disciplines?
    Are there also provisions for dual Masters degree – I mean MS+MBA?

    Reply
    • Aditya,
      Yes, you can apply for any of the major of your choice. Yes, there are some schools that offer such programs…but, you would need to some research on such schools. Many schools offer MS + PhD programs as it is quite common…

      Reply
  3. Hello Sir,
    Just came across this article while searching for the answer to my queries. My doubt is that I want to go for an MS in Nutrition Science but i have done my B.Tech from Computer Science. So is it possible to do MS in nutrition without having an undergraduate degree or any knowledge in nutrition ?

    Reply
    • Prachi,
      Yes, you can apply for it. You will probably be asked to do some pre-requisites of nutrition specific courses. Also, you will need a good SOP / essay explaining why you want to do that for getting admission.

      Reply
  4. hello sir..can i do MS in mechanical after electronics background..suggest some courses that will boost my mechanical knowledge.

    Reply
    • ritesh rangari,
      Yes, you can. There is nothing specific you need to do now. After you get admission, the school will suggest you the pre-requisite courses that you need do.

      Reply
  5. Hi,
    I have completed my B.Tech EEE and would like to pursue MS in VLSI. Is it possible to change the specializations from VLSI to Nanoelectronics if I find it too difficult? Many thanks in advance.

    Reply
  6. Hi, I am Philip, B.Tech Petroleum Engg 2015 passout. I would like to pursue MS in CS due to drastic change in Oil industry(drop in oil price). Can this be an apt answer for why I am changing my stream?

    Reply
    • Philip,
      If that’s your real answer, think about follow up questions that you can expect, etc. In general, career aspiration may not directly depend on macroeconomic conditions. If you really try to fabricate answers, it will miss the conviction and confidence.

      Reply
    • Hello,
      I have done my B.tech in Chemical engineering.
      Can i do MS in interior?
      Please suggest me some better way

      Reply
  7. Hello Sir,
    I am an Automobile engineering student, currently in third year. I plan to give GRE this August. I want to pursue MS in Computer science in US.
    Is that possible? Will I face problems during Visa Interview.
    Thanks.

    Reply
    • Harsh,
      Yes, you can apply for MS in CS, you may have to do some pre-requisites. There is nothing like a problem, you need to have an answer to VO why you want to change careers.

      Reply
  8. Sir, I am a student in first year mechanical engineering but, want to pursue my M.S. (specialization ) in computer science. Sir is it really possible to do so from any prestigious univ. in USA and can you please guide me through the process to achieve the required goal. like any another things that i must do other than gre and toefl exam in order to achieve it.

    Reply
  9. Hello,
    I had done my BTech in electrical bot now I’m going of ms in computer information systems.what will be the excellent answer for why ee to cis at the visa interview?

    Reply
    • Bhargavi,
      No offense, I would ask you the same question, why are you changing careers ? I am sure you know why you are changing. Your answer should come with conviction and should not be fabricated by best answers on the internet…if you try to fabricate and you get another related question around that, you will be stuck and the VO will make it out that you have just made up the answer and it is not what you want out of your education…so, it can be trick…

      Reply
  10. hello sir
    i am persuing btech in ece stream.
    i am intrested to do masters in information systems,
    what should i say if visaa officer aksed about why are you chaninging your major,

    Reply
    • Vivek,
      First, think about why you want to change major in the first place. You do not need to fabricate anything. Just tell why you want to do that to the VO, it should be fine. Make sure you speak about that with confidence and conviction…

      Reply
  11. hello
    My background
    i have completed my 10th with 83%
    and 12th with 89%
    currently i am studying b.tech in mechanical engineering 3rd year with an 75%
    can i do ms in usa in computer science or mechanical which one is better to choose to get a good job in usa
    thank you

    Reply
  12. Hello Sir,
    I am also going through this dilemma nowadays.
    I have completed B.E. in Mechatronics (which is a combination of Mechanical and Electronics) in 2014 from a well-known college of Gujarat. I am planning to apply in Spring/Fall 2017 as I am currently working in an IT MNC; having total experience of 1.5 years till Dec-2015 (obviously, I was not sure till now that I don’t want to be in IT).

    I am pretty much interested in pursuing ‘MS in Mechanical field’. By Spring 2017, my exp. in IT field will be more than 2.5 years.
    My question is, “can I get admission in decent college for MS in Mechanical after almost 3 years of experience in IT?” If yes, what are the things I need to take care of?

    Reply
    • Jaydeep, You should be able to get admission, provided you get good scores and you position yourself well in the application. Try to get good scores in GRE, TOEFL and then good SOP combined with good recommendation letters will help you get into your dream schools. It is hard to tell, if one thing will it as the admission decision is based on many factors and they look at holistic application.

      Reply
  13. Hi Sir,

    I am a “BE EEE” graduate from a Well reputed college in Chennai and I want to pursue my “MS in CS”. My score shots and a brief profile of myself are below:

    10th:89% – CBSE
    12th:97% – State Board ( Got general proficiency award )
    GPA: 8.2/10
    GRE: 307 ; AWA: 3.5
    TOEFL: 103
    Received merit scholarship during my First year Undergrad. I have published 2 IEEE papers, followed by a national level presentation at a Texas Competition and 1 ARPN journal( its in my EEE field) ; My Final year project was selected for full funding by the College.
    Working since last 1.5 Yrs in a Leading IT company in the Data Warehouse-Business Intelligence Domain.
    Additionally i have other co-curriculars as to being organizer for various events, 2 in-plant trainings and am a classical dancer for 15 yrs having given many performances in India and abroad.

    Is it possible for me to switch my Major to CS? And regd LORs, I can get from my EEE professors and from my current workplace. Is it necessary to get from a CS professor specifically?

    Thanks in advance:)

    Reply
    • Maneesha, You have a great profile ! Absolutely yes ! Your LORs from EEE professors should be fine and thats the right thing to do as well. Logically, how can you get from CS professors, if you have not taken much classes with them. If you are passionate about studying MS in CS, go for it and the success is yours…you may be asked to take some pre-requisites for CS, which should be fine I guess…

      Reply
      • Thank you so much sir…and I would like to know if the IEEE papers and journal which I have published add value to my profile since they are in EE field and am wanting to purse CS line…

        Reply
  14. Hello Sir,

    First of all I am relieved after reading your post that major can be changed. Because I really don’t have any idea regarding this! I completed my BTech in ECE with 72% in the year 2015 and I aim to do MS for fall 2016. I was always passionate about space research and wanted to pursue my dreams in that field. Now, I am seriously concerned to change my major in MS. How is it possible for me to go in that way?

    1. As you have mentioned in the above article that one can change their majors by following pre requisites. Assuming that I changed my major, which specialization exactly matches to my ambition- aerospace engineering or aeronautical engineering or antenna and satellite communications or astrophysics or physics and astrophysics or high energy physics and cosmology or should I completely transfer to study of fundamental physics?

    2. I am about to give my gre and ielts in the first week of january. So, accordingly what score should I aim to get into top 50 ranked colleges which offer me specializations towards space research?

    3. Can you give me the good colleges list to pursue MS in this specializaion?

    Please kindly drop a reply

    Thank you Sir

    Reply
    • Vasantha, Here are my thoughts.
      1. I am not an expert in the major you are talking about, I suggest you check with few schools on these topics for the degrees offered in that area and then take it from there.
      2. It is hard to tell that. I suggest you look at the average scores at some of the top schools in your area of interest and then take it from there. It is available publicly. You should be able to get that information in the Universtiy department websites.
      3. We do not advise on schools, you need to do your research on schools.

      Reply
  15. Hello Sir,
    I am pursuing Chemical engineering from an Indian Institute but I am interested in Computer Sciences. I have also taken many standard CS Courses as electives. I came across an option of taking International transfer to US State Universities. I also want t pursue Masters later. So should I try for a transfer and get a Bachelors in CS from a US University or continue with my Bachelors in Chemical and try for a Masters later? (The fee for US Universities are high even if manage to get a good scholarship based on recommendations and GSoC Credits)

    Reply
    • Himangi, Yes, you can transfer your credits and can get a bachelors from US school. As you said the fee would be high depending on the school you transfer to. If you can afford to pay for your undergrad, I suggest you look at transferring your credits and getting B.S in Computer Sciences. If you think, it is complicated, you can always apply for CS in Masters and get MS in CS at later point of time…I suggest you look at transfer options and check with the schools, if there are any kind of funding options for transfer students.

      Reply
  16. Hello Sir,
    I have question. Can we change from masters to bachelors after coming to usa or else we will have any immigration problem. stating if we are on masters visa why did we change to bachelors?

    Reply
    • Pinkey, Why would you do that first of all moving from Masters to Bachelors ? Your F1 Visa is not given for degree levels, it ties to your international student status…

      Reply
      • I mean there is a huge demand for nurses that’s the reason I want switch.. So you there is no harm I can go ahead and change from masters to bachelors program?

        Reply
        • Pinkey, why don’t you apply for bachelors itself from your home country, rather than trying to shift at later point…You can always speak to admissions counselor at US schools and seek their advice on your best approach to pursue your dreams.

          Reply
  17. Hello Sir
    I’m a final year student pursuing BTech. in Electronics and Communication Engineering. I would like to apply for MS in Computer Science in the US. However, many colleges ask for a number of courses as prerequisites that one must have done in undergrad. But in India there is no system of doing courses outside your field. How can I overcome this? I have done a few projects related to MS but no formal courses.

    Reply
    • Himani,
      As you are switching your major in MS, it is very common to get the pre-requisites. In fact, I was given some pre-requisites for MS in CS, though I had B.tech in computer science. US schools typically will NOT recognize anything that you do outside of your degree like from a coaching institute. First get the admission, then once you are in the US, you can speak to the academic advisor and see, if you can waive some of them based on your background or work experience. For now, do not worry too much on this.

      Reply
  18. hello sir. i’m in my final year of btech in IT. i would like to peruse Masters in psychology in US. most of the universities demand for letters of recommendation during application. I am confused as to how to arrange for it in psychology as i have not done any course regarding it. i am very passionate about the subject though. is it possible for me to get accepted into a good college considering i have a btech degree in IT? Thank you.

    Reply
    • Furti, You do not need any specific recommendation around psychology area from your professors. All you need is a good recommendation letter from your professors in B.Tech.

      Reply
  19. Hello sir!
    I am currently doing my BE in a well reputed college in E.C.E. However ,I also have loads of interest in Biotechnology and its related fields and would like to pursue an MS in the US,where I was born. Is it possible for me to be admitted in a good college for a bio- related field?

    Reply
    • Ramesh, Yes you can apply. You will be asked for pre-requisites…expect to take a lot of them as your background is not Biology. Nevertheless, it should be possible. You need to write a compelling essay / statement of purpose on why you would like to change the field to help with the admission decision in your favor. Also, good scores in GRE and TOEFL matter for admission in good schools !

      Reply
  20. Dear sir/madam

    I had completed my Batchelor degree B Pharmacy in India and now I want to study ms computer science in USA, Can I study or not? Please tell me

    Reply
  21. Hi,
    I have done B.sc in microbiology and M.sc Bioinformatics,in bioinformatics we had different programming languages in our curriculum. I want to know, will I be eligible for pursuing MS in computer science?

    Thanks

    Reply
    • Sharada,
      You can apply and study MS in Computer Science. You may be asked to do some pre-requisites depending on your courses you have done in your B.Sc and M.Sc. It varies by school, there is no standard list. You need to work with the school you apply to understand more.

      Reply
  22. hello sir/mam
    I have complited my bechlor degree with mining engineering from to GTU but i want to change my field ..than i want to do master degree in civil and make my career in civil. becouse i am so intrested in all civil engineer work.. so my que is that can i will do master in civil
    non-gate .. plz give me reply earlier sir

    thank you

    Reply
    • Karan, I am assuming you are asking this question regarding doing it in US schools, if so, the answer is yes. You can change your major in US. You can do that while you apply, the only catch is that, you may be asked to do some foundation or pre-requisite courses, thats it.

      Reply
  23. next year i m going to usa to pursue ms in computer science my batchelor is in b.pharmacy…my question is that what would be the scenario of job if i have to come back india after ms in cs with 1-2 years of experience…

    Reply
  24. Hello,am pursuing my btech in cs and am not interested to continue in this technical area.Can I pursue my ms in psychology or criminal justice after my bachelor’s ?

    Reply
  25. Sir can I do Master in comp sci aftr doing BE in civil engg
    If yes then what is the procedure for that.
    And plzz tell me about pre-requisites

    Reply
  26. Respected Sir
    I completed my BE in ECE and I’m planning to apply to CS for Fall’16. Are there any recognized courses which I can do so that I can get the pre-requisites waived?

    Reply
    • It varies by school. You need to check with the school you plan to apply for MS degree. Just write to the admissions or department in the university you plan to apply to, they will suggest you.

      Reply
  27. Hiiii,
    I have completed my b.tech in mechanical and I want to study ms in cs ..can i change my major mechanical to cs …please tell me

    Reply
    • Yes Nitesh you can. You can check with schools on the best option of doing it. Either you transfer some of your undergrad credits and start in 2nd or 3rd year in Bachelors in US. Speak to few universities and write to them, they will advise you the best path.

      Reply
  28. Hi all,
    My friend did BE in mechanical . he wants to do MS in finance or computer science in USA .
    Could you please suggest good universities ,procedure for doing MS.
    Thanks in advance

    Reply
  29. Hi,
    Please help me.
    I have Completed my Bachelors degree in B.Com(Computers)-(3 year degree) in 2014. I want to do MS in CS because I love programming. Please suggest me some universities which will accept me for Masters program in computer science.I want to apply for fall 2016 and currently I am working in MNC accounts related job.

    Reply
    • Charan, You can apply to any school. There is no restriction as such. All you need to make sure is that make sure you mention your reason for change to CS in Statement of Purpose for admissions panel’s discretion.

      Reply
  30. Hello..
    I’m a graduate of ece (b.tech).
    I don’t have an interest in software or core sides.. Is there any chance to do masters in tourism or hospitality with this background? Do I need to take any pre requisit courses..? Wot is the process?

    Reply
  31. Hi,

    Like you have explained above. I want to pursue MS in computer science but i had my undergraduate degree in ECE and also i have 2 years of experience in IT field. now i want to expand and gain in depth knowledge in cs, so that i can work on my own to my get projects in to live..

    Reply
  32. Hi
    I am ramesh i am complte my beachelor ece just i convert to cse in ms which type of question asking in visa intetview give me answer sir

    Reply
  33. i have completed B.TECH in electronics & communication now i am inresting in computer field. i want to do ms in cs in india. it is possible. which university is better for it.

    Reply
  34. Hi
    At Present i am Working in chemical Company, i Pursued my Bachelor degree in Mechanical engineering can i apply for Ms in computer science

    Reply
  35. hi

    i have finished my b-tech in distance and having 5 years of experiance
    I would like to study MSc in USA .Is that possible?Please suggest me.

    Reply
  36. hi
    My name ankit , I am currently working civil construction company , i have 6 six year experience in the same field but I had done my B.tech in computer & science. now that this i have facing a degree problem to change my job, every company asking a civil degree. so please tell me any specialization course available in civil that i can do .

    Reply
  37. Hai i have completed my BE Mechatronics Engineering and presently have one and half year work experience. i like to pursue MS in information or computer science, but i am not a programmer, but i like dealing with computers. can u please help me out of this.

    Reply
    • Naveen, You can apply for Computer Science. The school will ask you to some pre-requisites so that you can get foundations better and then you will be good to go.

      Reply
  38. I did mca in India,worked as a computer teacher in a cbse school for 9 months,now I am working as a club ambassador in a 5 star hotel from last 5 months,the point is this I want to go to Canada or Australia,but I don’t I want to take admission in any technical course,I want to change my stream now,I don’t like technical study.Is that possible?Please suggest me.

    Reply
  39. Hi,
    I’ve completed my B.Tech in ECE n am planning to do MBA or MS in US
    I’m good neither ECE nor programming. so thought of MBA n i just came to know that there ia also a specialisation option in human resources for MS. i just can’t decide whether to do MSHR or MBA. because tution fee is v.high for MBA. Can u please suggest me which is the best..

    Reply
  40. hello,
    I did my under graduation in BE ECE in India. I got an admit from WSU in Electrical Engineering department. After coming to the US and seeing too many Software Companies based here, I no later realized that US is an IT nation… Immediately I spoke to the Graduate Director of CSC and explained my interest, he was happy to accept me into the CS Engg. department with a pre-requisite. Now, I have the second I20… but is it possible for a student who had very little knowledge in Computer Science, go to a department which involves too much intricacies of that field?

    please reply me. I am a bit tensed:(

    Reply
    • Hi Suresh, I recently completed my BTech and I’m having the same background as yours. I’m planning to apply for Computer Science but I’m in the same dilemma whether I’ll be able to successfully study in this new field, given my limited knowledge in it.
      I want to know your experience with it.
      And when do we have to complete the pre-reqs, before the program starts or we can take it along with other subjects?

      Please help me out as I want to apply for the coming Spring intake and I’m too much confused with this.

      Reply
  41. hi,

    I am in the final year of B.tech in mechanical engineering and want to persue MS in automation and robotics but cant find out the best collages for that in US.

    Need your help

    Thank you

    Reply
  42. Hi,

    I have done my B.TECH in IT. And have 2 and a half years of work experience at a reputed Indian IT company. I would like to pursue MS in Electrical Engineering from a decent US university.

    When i consulted an educational consultant asking them what are the chances of a student with a different undergraduate degree to get into a graduate school to pursue MS in Electrical Engineering. They said that it is not recommended and if so the chances of acceptance are slim. Even if i get accepted i have to pursue foundation courses in the field of study.

    Reply
  43. Hello Saurabh,

    My background :-
    I have completed BA economics in the year of 2002 and completed Bed in the year of 2005.

    Once completed my BEd, i have joined software company in the year of 2005 and now i have around 8 years of Experiece in IT field and working good MNC company in Bangalore and additionally i have completed my MS Computer Sceince from Sikkim Manipal Univesity in the year of 2010 (Distance Education).

    My Wifte got H1 B stamped recently and she will be travelling to US on March and i am also going file the my H1 B petition this year April 2014.

    Most of the application picked up last year lottery system from my company. i hoping the same this year aswell.

    Rare cases if my application not selected in lottery i would like to pursue some course in US and apply for OPT.
    Please suggest what course would match my creteria.
    i would like pursue MS in Computer science again , will US accepts this because i had already did MS in Computer science in india from distance eductation.
    OR
    if I would go for MBA , what are the options for getting OPT for working.
    OR
    will i need to convert F1 and apply for OPT again ?

    Plaese suggest some tips to me .

    Thanks
    MK

    Reply
  44. hi,

    I am on H4 and m staying at schaumburg (near chicago) for more than 14 months.
    I completed my MCA in India itself and worked in india for 2 years.
    Now i wanted to do my MS IT here, Can you please tell me suggestions about my following questions,
    On which visa can i study ? If I continue my studies with H4, later is it possible to convert my visa from h4 to f1 to avail OPT CPT ?
    On what basis i have to select my school ? Public or private?
    Can u please suggest some good universities?
    I heard private schools did not approve instate fee reduction.

    Really I am in confusion. hope u can help me.

    Reply
  45. True that you can change the major but still you would like to go for a related major so that a school can justify admitting you as opposed to other applicants from the same major. So, it comes to risk vs benefit scenario.

    Reply
  46. Hi Saurabh,

    I am in US on H4 for the past 10 months and i would like to know how can cos from H4 to H1 (April2014 or if pos before that)?

    Who and where can i find good consultant or companies?
    I used to work in India as a BA till i came here last year

    Need your advice.

    Regards,
    SM

    Reply

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