Santa Clara University


Frequently Asked Questions

Graduate Program


  1. Do I apply specifically to the School of Engineering?
    Students apply to the School of Engineering, School of Business or College of Arts & Sciences. Students applying to the Engineering School may either declare a major on their application or apply as undeclared in Engineering.

  2. What is the ratio of male to female students?
    Currently 24% percent of our students are female which is well above the national average. One of the reasons for this is our national ranking in regard to the percentage of female faculty members (approximately 33%; 3rd highest in the U.S.).

  3. When do I have to decide on a major?
    Students may choose to declare (or change) a major at anytime, though declaration (or change) requires the approval of the department chair. It is advisable to have at least informally decided on a major by the middle of your sophomore year to make sure you can still graduate in four years. We suggest that you declare a major on your application even if you are wavering between two or three different major choices. You will be assigned an advisor in that department who will help you determine if that field of engineering is right for you.

  4. Can I transfer into the School of Engineering once at Santa Clara University?
    Yes, it is possible to transfer into the School of Engineering from the College of Arts & Sciences or the School of Business. Interested students are allowed to apply for transfer in the spring quarter of their first year by submitting an Internal Transfer Application to the School of Engineering. Applications are evaluated by the Faculty Chair of the department of interest based on space available (which changes from year to year) and the student’s academic performance in their prior quarters at Santa Clara University. With interest in several engineering departments on the rise, it is becoming increasingly difficult to gain approval for transfer into certain majors from outside of Engineering. It is impossible to forecast how many internal transfers a particular department will be able to accept for the upcoming year before the deposit deadline.

  5. Do engineering students graduate in four years?
    At the entire university, around 78% of students graduate in four years. In the School of Engineering, our students have a comparable rate of graduation. Proper course planning through adherence to department four-year plans and academic success ensure graduating within four years. Students who begin in the School of Engineering are more likely to graduate on time.

  6. Can engineering students study abroad?
    Engineering students can study abroad and, with proper planning, still graduate in four years. The best time to study abroad is normally during the SCU fall term of the junior year. This allows students to go abroad for either a quarter or a semester term overseas. Students will then return to SCU for the beginning of winter term. To stay on track in critical course sequences, students need to work with their academic advisors to select an appropriate institution and SCU-equivalent courses. SCU is a member of the Global Engineering Education Exchange (GE3), a consortium of universities around the world who offer engineering courses in English. The Study Abroad Office provides major specific guidelines to many opportunities abroad. Studying abroad provides engineering students with an excellent global perspective on the profession.

  7. Are there opportunities to do research as an Undergraduate?
    While each department differs, SCU undergraduate engineering students have numerous opportunities to be involved with faculty research projects. Many faculty members actually depend heavily on undergraduate students to help conduct their research. Interested students should consult faculty members conducting research in a particular area of interest to learn more about such opportunities. In addition to several University resources available to undergraduate students, the School of Engineering supports 10-15 students to do paid summer research with a faculty member each year through an endowed fund.

  8. Do you accept transfer students?
    Yes, contact the SCU Admissions Office to learn more about transfer requirements and guidelines for each major.

  9. How about international students?
    International students are also welcome. Contact the SCU Admissions Office to learn more about international student requirements.

  10. What is the average salary of a SCU engineering student after they graduate?
    Median starting salary for engineering graduates in 2013 was $60,500.

  11. Do I need a computer? Apple or PC?
    Students need not have their own personal computer although having a computer will offer many conveniences. The University, School of Engineering, and many of the departments all provide computing facilities for student use. These computing labs allow students to access the technical software packages needed for course assignments, laboratory write-ups, and special projects. Since personal computers now serve so many functions, most students do own either a desktop or a laptop system. Most student use PCs, but since students can utilize computer labs for any PC required software, many students also use Apple computers and laptops.

  12. Can I double major or have a minor?
    While Computer Science and Engineering is the most popular second major, we have students who double major or minor in many different fields from music, dance, and history to business, physics, and Spanish.

  13. What is the difference between engineering disciplines?
    Bioengineering is the application of electrical, chemical, mechanical, and other engineering principles to understand, modify, or control biological systems. Examples of bioengineering advances include: artificial knee and hip joints, cardiac pacemakers, kidney dialysis machines, arthroscopic surgical tools, MRI and CAT Scanning systems, inhaleable insulin systems, automated defibrillators, genomics and proteomics.

    Civil Engineers plan, design, build, and maintain the facilities essential to our civilization: bridges, dams, highways, transit systems, airports, tunnels, irrigation systems, water supply, and industrial and commercial buildings.

    Computer Engineers are concerned with all aspects of computer hardware and software as well as the mathematical foundations of computation.

    Electrical Engineers are concerned with information representation and transmission, advancing integrated circuit design for digital, analog and mixed systems, new devices and architectures, and all the areas of circuits and systems that have traditionally supported these efforts. This includes all phases of the digital or analog transmission of information such as radio, television, telephone systems, fiber optics, wireless communication, and satellite communications, as well as control and robotics, electric power, information processing and storage.

    Mechanical Engineers are concerned with all aspects of design, development, control, and manufacture of mechanical systems and energy conversion systems.

  14. Can I participate in athletics and still study engineering?
    We have had many successful students in engineering and athletics. It requires dedication and a demanding schedule. (Athletes are often familiar with managing a tightly constrained schedule.)

  15. What internship opportunities are available for engineering students?
    Internships are becoming increasingly important in helping prepare engineering students for their professional careers. Internships allow students to see first-hand how companies and their employees function on a day-to-day basis. Intern positions frequently serve as a bridge between the problem-solving skills learned at school and the skills needed for professional practice. Employers often check a student’s resume to see if such experience has been obtained prior to graduation. With our Silicon Valley location, our students are in a prime position to find numerous internship opportunities. Students as early as the summer following their freshman year find internships in the area. The University Career Center collects lists of internship opportunities and works with engineering students to find companies in their area of interest. Many students receive full-time, post-graduation employment offers from the companies they have worked for as interns.


  1. Is Santa Clara University nationally ranked?
    Yes, most definitely. For more than 18 years, SCU has been ranked by U.S. News and World Report as 2nd best in the West among predominately master degree granting universities. In addition, U.S. News and World Report ranks SCU the 3rd best in academic reputation among the nation's college presidents and deans, 5th highest graduation rate, and 2nd highest freshman retention rate at 93%, while the national average in retention is about 75%.

  2. How many times a year do you accept students?
    We review and accept students for the fall, winter, and spring quarters. For the summer quarter, we accept students to our Open University program only.

  3. Are you on a quarter or semester system?
    The Engineering Graduate Programs are on a quarter system.

  4. I last attended graduate classes five years ago; may I come back?
    Yes, you may. You will need to submit another online application, after which we will work with you to recreate your file. Applications for admissions are completed on-line.

  5. When are your classes held?
    Classes meet at the following convenient times Monday through Friday: 7:10 - 9 A.M.; 5:10 - 7 P.M.; 7:10 - 9 P.M. Some classes are also scheduled on Saturdays and Sundays.

  6. How long does the program take to complete?
    Full-time students (enrolling in 8 or more units each Quarter) generally take 1.5 to 2 years to complete the M.S. Program. Students enrolling part-time take 2.5 to 6 years on average to complete their M.S.

  7. Do you accept all formats of the TOEFL tests and IELTS?
    Yes, we accept both TOEFL and IELTS. We accept computer-based, paper-based, and Internet-based (iBT) TOEFL tests. Santa Clara University's TOEFL code is 4851 and scores should be sent directly to us by testing agencies. While waiting for the official scores to be sent to us, students are encouraged to send us a photocopy of the test results as a place holder. Exceptions: TOEFL is not required of international students who received a degree (undergraduate or graduate) from an English-speaking country (e.g. India, Singapore, Canada). TOEFL can also be waived for students who have been in the U.S. with strong English ability. To request a waiver and an interview, please contact the Engineering Graduate Services by email,, or call 408-554-4748.

  8. How long are my scores good?
    Scores will be accepted as long as they are no more than five years old.

  9. Do you require a translation of my transcripts?
    Yes! Students with non-U.S. degrees must submit one English translation of their transcript and diploma.
  10. What goes on during an admissions information session?
    On-campus information sessions are held almost every month. During the 45-minute program, an admissions representative will provide a detailed overview of the School's distinctive features, discuss the degree and non-degree programs, and offer tips on admissions procedures. After the presentation, you will have an opportunity to ask questions.

  11. What if I can't make it to campus? Can you come to my company to do an information session?
    Yes, we can. We will be happy to meet with you at a location and time that is convenient for you. We do, however, require a minimum of five people for us to host an off-campus session. Please contact us to set this up, at 408-554-7839, or email

  12. What if I can't afford the application fee?
    If the application fee poses a financial hardship on you, please let us know by sending us an email to, stating your inability to pay this fee and explaining the circumstances.

  13. Is a Statement of Purpose required if I'm applying to the M.S. Program?
    No, it is not required. A Statement of Purpose is only required for Ph.D. applicants.

  14. What is required to enter your master's degree program?
    A four-year technical bachelor's degree from an ABET accredited program, one official transcript from the undergraduate college attended, General Test of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), and Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) for international applicants. There are exceptions, however. The Software Engineering master's degree program would also require the Computer Science GRE Subject Test if the applicant does not have a computer science or computer engineering background. If this proves problematic, you may wish to consider applying to the M.S. in Computer Engineering, which does not have such a requirement and does have an emphasis in software engineering. The Engineering Management and Leadership master's degree also does not require the GRE, and the Computer Engineering Department is receptive in accepting qualified master's degree candidates who have a non-ABET accredited relevant four-year bachelor's degree and have taken one year of calculus. Students who would like to request a GRE waiver will need to complete a GRE Waiver Request Form. For more details and admissions exceptions, please visit our Admissions Required Documents.

  15. I've heard you can earn an undergraduate degree and a graduate degree from Santa Clara in five years. How does that work?
    Yes, we do offer such a program, but it is only available to current Santa Clara University undergraduate students. Students first complete their undergraduate degrees. They then start taking graduate level courses as early as in the spring of their junior year and complete a master's degree in only one year, as opposed to two. Students in the Five-Year Program are also exempted from the application fees and taking the GRE. Having both a BS and MS degrees can be valuable when progressing in a professional career.

  16. How do I check the status of my application?
    You can send us an email,, or call at (408) 554-4313.

  17. How long does it take for the committee to reach a decision?
    Please allow approximately two weeks for the review of M.S. applications. The review for Ph.D. applicants takes approximately two to three weeks. Open University and Certificate Programs take approximately one week.

  18. Can I defer my application?
    Yes, if you are unable to furnish all of the required materials by an application deadline, please send an email to and specify for which quarter you are seeking admission instead.

  19. How big are the graduate engineering classes? Are they all taught by professors or are some taught by teaching assistants?
    On average, there are 15 students in a class. All courses are taught by full-time professors or part-time lecturers who are from industry.

  20. I've taken some graduate courses outside SCU. Can I transfer those credits?
    Graduate level courses that you took in an accredited university may be considered for transfer credit to SCU if they have not been applied to any other graduate degrees. You must have a grade of C or better in those courses. M.S. students may transfer a maximum of 6 semester or 9 quarter units toward the required 45 units to graduate from SCU, and Ph.D. students can transfer a maximum of 18 quarter units or 12 semester units toward the required 72 units. Ph.D. students usually take 36 units of courses and 36 units for dissertation.
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