Courtesy of UCR Today
Courtesy of UCR Today

To expand UC Riverside’s growing graduate division, the Bourns College of Engineering (BCOE) is launching an online master of science program (MSOL) fall 2013. Announced on Jan. 28, the graduate program is aimed at improving the technical skills of professional engineers as opposed to the traditional research-based curriculum.

Kambiz Vafai, the director of the program, expressed enthusiasm about the potential for an online degree. “The MSOL program is unique among competing programs in offering a well-balanced blend of core engineering management and specialization courses together with design experience,” Vafai said.

Interactive courses are videotaped in-person and made available online for repeated views. Vafai emphasized that an online program provides greater academic flexibility for graduate students who face busier work schedules.

Students will also have the benefit of participating in online discussions with fellow classmates and professors. The discussion boards offer students the option of collaborating with another person, asking questions or for help.

Another benefit is that physical attendance is not mandatory, except for the examination period, when students are required to attend the nearest campus. This would cut down living expenses for on-campus residents and help commuters save gas. Students also have the option of receiving their degree during a commencement ceremony.

The degree is a two-year, nine-course program that consists of 36 units. The total estimated cost for completion of the degree will be $30,000. Students concentrating in bioengineering will be the first group admitted to the program. The nine courses required to graduate have already been established.

The admission process is more competitive compared to traditional graduate school programs. Unlike most master’s programs, admission for the MSOL will require proof of significant professional engineering experience and certifications by a prospective student. The criterias for admissions also include a bachelor’s degree and ongoing employment in their field of study.

“The Master of Science in Engineering Online program is flexible and multidisciplinary and enables the participants to concentrate in depth on specific areas, which are most beneficial to them,” Vafai said.