When Memorial University’s Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science launched course-based master’s degree programs in 2004, the goal was to add diversity to existing graduate offerings for students and to respond to market needs in specialized program areas. While the master's programs in computer engineering (MASCE), environmental systems engineering and management (MESEM), oil and gas engineering (MOGE) and engineering management (MEM) are challenging, they have been very successful.
“Since the inception of the MASCE program in 2004, more than 80 per cent of the students registered have graduated and gone on to successful and exciting engineering careers in Canada and abroad. The other three premium tuition programs have met with equal success. Currently, there are 108 students registered in these programs,” said Dr. Greg Naterer, dean, Engineering and Applied Science, Memorial University.
Liang Zhang graduated from the MASCE program and moved on to a successful career as a validation engineer.
“I found that the Memorial engineering instructors and student advisors in this program were friendly and eager to help. They gave me a lot of assistance while I was in the MASCE program,” he said.
Marat Gabdeyev is a graduate of the MOGE program and currently working as a field crew manager with one of the world’s leading international geophysical companies.
“Being a graduate student at Memorial was a great experience. The quality of students is very impressive. The university has strong links all around Canada. With a mixture of lectures, tutorials and labs, the teaching is excellent. The lecturers are very approachable if you need help with anything and lab helpers are in the labs to help with course work. Overall, I would recommend Memorial’s MOGE program as it helped me a lot to achieve my life and career goals,” he said.
For these specialized course-based graduate programs, students pay premium tuition, which is higher than tuition fees for research-based graduate programs because of a heavier course load and additional faculty hired to teach the curriculum. However, when compared to other premium tuition graduate programs across Canada, Memorial’s tuition is among the lowest in Canada.
“Course-based graduate programs are unique and specialized. Tuition ranges depending on the program that a student chooses. The tuition for international students in the MASCE program is $26,000 CDN and $20,000 CDN for Canadian students. For the remaining three programs, international students pay $22,000 CDN and Canadian students pay $16,000 CDN. For students to enroll in similar premium tuition programs across Canada, they would typically pay between $25,000 and $46,000,” said Dr. Naterer.
“These premium tuition programs are cost-recovery programs. When one factors in the cost of hiring additional professors and the need for additional computing resources, infrastructure and support staff to operate such programs, the students are the ones who are benefiting the most by having access to programs in specialized areas", he added.
For all students in these premium tuition programs, a portion of the premium tuition is non-refundable while the remainder follows a payment schedule that is the same as any other graduate program at Memorial.
The specialized programs attract many international students who want access to a high-quality education at Memorial University, while learning a new culture. For many, studying abroad is a valuable life experience. The graduate programs are not meant only for international students, as many domestic students have also benefitted from the programs. The curriculum is the same for Canadian and international students.
“International students pay $6,000 CDN more than Canadian students to enroll in these premium tuition programs at Memorial. This is due to additional recruitment costs, English language skills development and other extra support to help them succeed once they arrive and during their program,” explained Dr. Naterer.
“For countries such as China, the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science uses a recruitment agency. With a population of more than 1.3 billion in China, it is impractical for Memorial to do all recruitment on its own. Like other universities, we use a recruitment agency and the agency assists us in China,” said Dr. Lye, associate dean (Graduate Studies) with Memorial’s Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science. Typically, a faculty member and a staff person from the associate dean’s office travel to China twice a year for recruiting purposes.
“The use of a recruitment agency assists in achieving our recruitment goal of attracting quality students who meet our high standards. The recruitment and admission processes are rigorously controlled by Memorial’s School of Graduate Studies and a board of studies for each program. In most cases, applicants are personally interviewed and given technical and English language tests by Memorial representatives, in addition to meeting the minimum academic entrance requirements. Students from abroad can apply directly to Memorial or through an agency. If they are not pre-screened by the agency, Memorial verifies the authenticity of their transcripts and other documentation,” added Dr. Lye.
Once students have successfully completed two semesters in their program with an overall average of 75 per cent, they have the option of completing an internship. These internships can last from four to eight months. And provide students with valuable practical work experience, especially for international students without prior work experience. Internships are not guaranteed, but faculty and staff members make every effort to help qualified students secure internship opportunities.
A student can switch to another program in another faculty or even to another university should they so decide after they have registered and there is no transfer fee. The premium tuition (non-refundable) for the course-based programs is charged at the time of registration. If students have difficulties with their program, faculty and staff members assist and advise students to help them have as positive an educational experience as possible.
“Our main goal is to see our students succeed in their program of study. Once a student registers for one of our premium tuition programs, appropriate resources are put in place for the students to help them succeed, well in advance of the start of the program,” explained Dr. Naterer.
Dr. Naterer is pleased with the success of these premium tuition graduate programs.
“Our graduates from these programs have gone on to rewarding and successful careers after graduation, or they have successfully pursued PhD studies at Memorial and elsewhere. The programs provide a valuable master's degree education in a specialized field at a tuition level that is among the lowest in Canada for premium tuition programs,” he said.
Memorial’s Engineering programs are currently undergoing the university’s academic review process, including its premium tuition programs.