Why should I go to Grad School?

  • You will gain advanced training & knowledge through coursework and other study
  • Advanced analysis
  • Advanced technologies
  • Direct mentoring while conducting a sophisticated engineering project (also called a thesis) (Master of Science program)
  • Advanced coursework that can be done while working (Master of Engineering)
  • Taking a postgraduate degree will differentiate you from the rest of your peers
  • Enhanced career options (technical and/or managerial)
  • Enhanced earnings potential: approximately 20% higher ultimate earning potential compared to a BSc (source: NSERC/Statscan)
  • Graduate school can be a highly rewarding, enriching, growing, and FUN experience
  • Interesting people (including many students and professors from other countries)
  • Opportunities to explore topics more thoroughly than is possible in undergraduate training
  • Access to cultural, religious, sporting, leisure, and events on campus and through student clubs

What Do You Actually Do in Grad School?

  • Concentrated study in a particular technical area. 
  • Mostly coursework in first eight months
  • Advanced learning verses specific knowledge, Fewer, more focused courses than in many undergraduate programs
  • Thesis students focus on a research project after completing their coursework
  • Literature review to gain state of the art knowledge
  • Learning analysis and experimental techniques Solution methodology
  • Self-motivated study and work to complete project
  • Students often work in groups, with the actual project completed individually
  • Publications and oral presentations Oral defense and poster

How long will it take to finish?

It's up to the individual student! Typical completion times, including coursework and thesis or project (where applicable), are as follows:

  • MSc (thesis) students: 2 to 2.5 years
  • PhD students: 3.5 years

The maximum duration of a MSc program is 4 years and for PhD is 6 years. A leave of absence may be granted in some circumstances, such as parental leave. Multiple extensions are almost never granted.

What are the expectations?

Here is a brief and incomplete list of reasonable expectations:
Supervisor expectations:
  • Meet contractual obligations
  • Good experience
  • Supervisory support
  • Fair and equitable treatment of all students

Student expectations:

  • Must meet or exceed the minimum cumulative GPA requirement for the program and must successfully complete thesis and coursework in a timely manner (typically > 3.0 GPA at Master level and >3.3 in PhD)
  • Work well with supervisor and other students
  • Must meet the expectations of the Faculty of Graduate Studies & Research
  • Must pay all fees
  • Must act with academic integrity, and must comply with University regulations and procedures and with the Code of Student Behaviour.

What courses do I need to take?

Each program has specific requirements regarding number and type of courses. At least five grad courses and six registrations of thesis research for the MSc and PhD programs. Please see the Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Management program manual for details.

Do I really have to take the ENGG 600 ethics course?

Yes! and you must pass ENGG 600!

What is the difference between 500, 600, and 700 Graduate courses?

  • 500 level courses: Graduate courses that senior undergraduates take on a regular basis. PhD students in MEC E may not apply credits from 500 level courses toward their degree. MEC E MSc students may take only a limited number of 500 level MEC E courses.
  • 600 level courses: Graduate courses taken on a regular basis by graduate students.
  • 700-level courses: Newer courses that have not yet been formally included in the calendar. Students may take only a limited number of 700 level courses for credit toward their graduate degree.details.

What is a reading course? May I take one?

A reading course is a custom coursework of directed studies that may not be applied for credit toward a Mechanical Engineering graduate degree.

May I take courses from another institution(s) and apply the credit(s) toward my degree from the U of A?

Course credits earned at select western Canadian universities may be eligible for transfer towards a degree from the U of A through the Western Canadian Deans’ Agreement. For all other universities not covered by this agreement, consent for transferring credits depends on what university the student attended, as well as what course(s) were taken. The department would make any recommendations for transfer credit to the FGSR. Typically, credits from a maximum of two courses may be transferred. Courses may not have already been applied toward an awarded degree. The student should contact the graduate program coordinator to determine if this would be appropriate in their case . See information about transfer credit on the FGSR website. http://www.gradstudies.ualberta.ca/gradmanual/6.3.html

What happens if I fail a course?

A grade of C or lower is considered a fail in graduate courses. Unless there are compelling circumstances, academic probation will be imposed, with terms that must be met in order to complete the degree. Specific conditions are decided on a case-by-case basis, and the student will have to repeat the course or take a substitute course. All courses taken for credit count toward cumulative GPA (even any failed courses).

What happens if I want to change my topic, program, or supervisor?

While the Department forms a supervisory committee to oversee the thesis work of each MSc and PhD student, one academic typically has the primary responsibility of supervising the student and providing funding support. Changing supervisors is possible, but not recommended. Options include adding a co-supervisor or modifying the project terms.
If a student decides to change supervisors, the student's supervisory committee is dissolved and financial support from the former supervisor portion ends; departmental support will only remain in effect for a limited time while a new supervisor is sought (four months maximum for PhD students). If a new supervisor isn’t found within the allowable period, the student must withdraw from the program. Students may change their program only with approval from Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research.

If I withdraw from the program, may I reapply later?

Students are welcome to reapply, but are not guaranteed reacceptance.

May I get a conditional admission and then take my English language proficiency test?

No, the Department of Mechanical Engineering requires proof of English proficiency before an applicant may be considered for graduate studies admission.

Do you require the GRE Test?

No, we do not require this test.

How do I find out more?