Earning a Master's degree can increase one's career options and earnings potential in the marketplace.  For WPI undergraduates who are on their way towards a Bachelors of Science in either chemistry or in biochemistry, the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry offers the opportunity to earn a combined B.S./M.S. degree in four or five years.

Students interested in the program should read the page below.  Any additional questions should be directed to Prof. Grimm within the department.

Basic four-year model

Per university requirements, a coursework-based Masters degree as part of a combined BS/MS program constitutes (see page 20 of the 2019-2020 Graduate Catalog):

  • A minimum of 30 credit hours of acceptable courses.
    • 18 of the 30 credit hours must be graduate-level (5xx-level or 6xx-level) courses or thesis (Ch 598 directed research).
      • 15 of the 18 credits must be in the major field of the student​​.
    • The remainder 12 of the 30 credit hours may include advanced undergraduate courses at the 4xxx level.
  • Only registered WPI undergraduates may enroll in the combined BS/MS program. (Page 21 of the 2019-2020 handbook.)
  • Up to 40% of he credit hours required for a master's degree may be double counted as part of the undergraduate degree requirements.  The conversion between undergraduate "units" and graduate "credits" is 1/6 of an undergraduate unit = 1 credit hour of graduate study.
  • For a coursework-based masters, a maximum of 9 credit hours of Ch 598 directed research may be counted towards the master's degree requirements.

CBC-specific details

Course distribution

Students may take graduate courses in any number of departments to tailor a degree to best suit the candidate's needs in consultation with a student's undergraduate advisor and the departmental graduate committee.  However, the department only allows a maximum of 10 credits of elective (non-CBC) coursework (e.g. eng, math, manag.) to count towards the masters degree in a combined BS/MS program.  Overrides to this policy must be considered by the departmental graduate committee.

Graduate research

Because the undergraduate degree requires a research component (i.e. the Major Qualifying Project), students are not allowed to register for undergraduate MQP work and graduate research, Ch 598, concurrently.

The department follows university guidelines for a maximum of of 9 credits of Ch 598 being allowed towards the completion of this coursework-based master's degree.

If Ch 598 is to comprise some part of a student's degree, that student must reach out to a research advisor and secure an agreement to participate in graduate-level research concurrently with applying for the BS/MS program and discuss with the graduate committee how that research will be separate from any MQP work.

WPI expects graduate students to put in 56 hours of effort per one credit hour earned.  Thus, if a student is registering for Ch598 during a seven-week term, the department will expect students to put in eight hours of research effort per week per credit-hour earned in Ch598. (See page 13 of the 2019-2020 graduate catalog, or page 15 of the 2018-2019 graduate catalog).

The graduate committee expects a "product" of graduate research irrespective of the number of hours of Ch 598 that is completed.  This may include a write-up of the research completed, or preparation of a manuscript to be submitted to a peer-reviewed journal.

Credit hour conversion

When matriculating as an undergraduate student, the university registrar counts both 4xxx-level courses and 5xx-level courses at 1.5x the credit hours that would be earned if being counted towards a graduate degree.  For example, a student having completed the biochemistry sequence, Ch4110, 4120, 4130, and 4140 would see each of those courses appear as three credit-hours of effort on their undergraduate transcript.  However, when being counted for graduate credit, those courses would only count as two credit-hours of effort.  Similarly, Ch516 would show up as 4.5 credit-hours of effort for an undergraduate, but will only be counted as three credit hours of effort towards a graduate degree.  Since students in a combined BS/MS program have not yet earned an undergraduate degree, courses will remain listed on transcripts at the undergraduate level of effort and not directly reflect credit-hours earned towards a graduate degree.

With that conversion in mind, the simplest trajectory through the requirements are the completion of six 4xxx-level, 1/3 unit courses, and six 5xx-level 3-credit-hour courses.

Example schedule for a Biochemistry B.S./M.S.

  • Six free elective courses worth of space
  • Six graduate courses at 3 credits each = 18 credits
  • Six double-counted, 1/3-ungraduate-unit courses at the 4000 level at 2 credits each = 12 credits.
  • Total = 30 credits
  • The actual distribution may change as courses may not run in the term originally devised, and may only run every-other year. 
Year Term A Term B Term C Term D
First CH1010
BB 2550
MA
CH1020
HU
MA
CH1030
BB 2920
MA
CH1040
HU
MA
Second CH 3510
CH 2640
HU
CH 2310
SS
HU
CH 2320
HU
PH
CH 2330
HU
PH
Third CH 4110
BB
CH 516
CH 4120
Sci. elect.
IQP
CH 4130
CH 4150
IQP
CH 4170
BB
IQP
Fourth

MQP
SS
BB 565
CH 554

MQP
CH 538
BB 565

MQP
CH 3410
BB 575
MQP
CH 4190
CH 555

Example Schedule for a combined Chemistry B.S./M.S.

  • Six free elective courses worth of space
  • Six graduate courses at 3 credits each = 18 credits
  • Six double-counted, 1/3-ungraduate-unit courses at the 4000 level at 2 credits each = 12 credits.
  • Total = 30 credits
  • The actual distribution may change as courses may not run in the term originally devised, and may only run every-other year.
  • Given the relative paucity of chemistry courses at the 4000-level, substitutions throughout other departments may be allowed.  Similarly, 5xx-level graduate classes may serve as the double-counted classes.  Given the 1.5x credit multiplier for undergraduates completing graduate classes, a 3-credit-hour 5xx-level graduate class would be counted as 4.5 credit hours or 3/4 of a unit for the purposes of the undergraduate degree requirements.
Year Term A Term B Term C Term D
First CH1010
SS
MA
CH1020
HU
MA
CH1030
HU
MA
CH1040
HU
MA
Second CH 3510
CH 2640
HU
CH 2310
CH 2650
HU
CH 2320
CH 2660
PH
CH 2330
CH 2670
PH
Third CH 4110
MA
CH 516
CH 3550
SS
IQP
CH 3410
CH 3530
IQP
CH 4420
HU
IQP
Fourth

MQP
CH 554
BB 5xx
BB 40xx

MQP
CH 4330
CH 538
MQP
CH 4520
CH 4150
MQP
CH 555
CH 536

Requirements and process for application

Students interested in pursuing a combined B.S./M.S. degree must apply to the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry in their third or fourth year of matriculation. Only applicants with a departmental (i.e. CH #### classes) GPA of 3.7 or higher will be considered.  However, in exceptional circumstances candidates with a lower departmental GPA may petition the graduate committee by contacting Prof. Grimm prior to submitting an application.  The department will only consider applicants to the combined B.S./M.S. program that are pursuing an undergraduate degree in chemistry or biochemistry.  

For a combined four-year B.S./M.S. degree, students should apply in the spring of their third year of matriculation.  The department does not have a strict cut-off date, however applications received prior to these start of D-term will receive the strongest consideration and preference.

Applicants need not solicit recommendation letters concurrently with the submission of an application, but rather should include in their personal statement the names of three WPI professors from whom the graduate committee may request such letters.  Letter writers should be WPI (or WPI-affiliated) professors who can speak positively towards the applicant's scholarship, work ethic, and ability to handle the rigors of a four-year combined B.S./M.S. degree.

First step:

Students wishing to initiate an application should apply here and make sure that you select "B.S./M.S. application" in that process.  Remember that this should happen in the spring (C or D terms) of the third year of matriculation.

Second step:

Once the application is received and entered into the university's graduate application system, the student must develop a schedule of courses for their final year that successfully navigates the B.S./M.S. dual-degree requirements.  A representative from the departmental graduate committee will supply each student with a spreadsheet that is designed to help the students navigate their previously taken and anticipated courses.  Each applicant will have to fill this spreadsheet out and indicate which 4000-level courses are meant for double counting, and what remaining courses will count towards the M.S. degree requirements.

Students must fill out an actual schedule based on upcoming university course schedules for the following school year, and this must be submitted to a departmental representative.  Students will not be accepted into the program until a viable course schedule exists.

While 9-credits of Ch 598 (directed graduate research) may be taken for this coursework-based M.S. degree, the department strongly discourages concurrent registration of Ch 598 and MQP work.

Third step:

Once admitted to the program, students must fill out a "Combined Bachelor's/Master's Degree Program Course Designation Form" document from the registrar's office.  This must be signed by the instructors of all 4000-level classes that are being double counted for the combined B.S./M.S. degree.  While this form is supposed to be filled out prior to registration for each courses, many students often choose to double count courses that they have already completed or are currently taking.  To accommodate this issue, have instructors sign the form for any upcoming double-counted classes, but have instructors sign off on all previous/current courses that apply as well.