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.
What was your experience ? Did you change Majors ?