Joint Bachelors/Masters (5th Yr MS) Program

Program Description Comparing Programs Degree Requirements Program Policies FAQ Contacts
Prospective Students Current Students

5th Year MS Program Description

The Five Year Bachelors/Masters Program, called the 5th Year M.S. Program for short, offers qualified EECS and L&S CS undergraduate students a unique opportunity to begin graduate study during their undergraduate years, thereby accelerating the Masters degree by requiring only one additional year beyond the Bachelors degree. This is not a concurrent degree program. Students earn their Bachelors degree first and then the Masters. However, careful planning during the undergraduate program allows motivated students to begin a research project and complete some Master's course requirements while still in undergraduate standing. Depending on how quickly a student progresses through the undergraduate program, the additional graduate year may come sooner than the fifth year at Berkeley. The Five Year Program is not intended for those who wish to pursue a Ph.D. Upon completion of the program, one receives either a Master's of Science in Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences (EE) or a Master's of Science in Computer Science (CS).

(NOTE: Only courses taken in the FINAL undergraduate semester may be petitioned to fulfill the Master's degree requirements.)

Comparing Programs

This program is geared toward students who would like to pursue an education beyond the B.S./B.A., allowing them to achieve greater breadth and/or depth of knowledge, and who would like to try their hand at research as well. It is not intended for students who have definitely decided to pursue a Ph.D. immediately following graduation. Those students are advised to apply for a Ph.D. program at Berkeley or elsewhere during their senior year. Students who have been accepted into the Five Year B.A./M.S. or B.S./M.S. are free to change their minds later and apply to enter the Ph.D. program or apply to a Ph.D. program at another university. Note that admission is competitive with all our Ph.D. applicants.

The program is focused on inter-disciplinary training at a graduate level; with at least 8 units of course work outside EECS required. Students will emerge as leaders in their technical and professional fields.

  • Focused on inter-disciplinary study and more experience in aligned technical fields such as Physics, Materials Science, Statistics, Biology, etc., and/or professional disciplines such as Management of Technology, Business, Law and Public Policy.
  • If admitted to the program, students must begin the graduate portion in the semester immediately following the conferral of the Bachelor degree.
  • Only one additional year (two semesters) beyond the Bachelor degree.
  • Only available to Berkeley EECS and L&S CS undergraduates.
  • Participants in program may serve as Graduate Student Instructors with approval from their faculty research adviser and the 5th Year MS Committee.
  • Participants in program are self-funded.

Degree Requirements

The 5th year MS program entails three main components: technical courses, a research project with a faculty advisor, and breadth courses.

  • Technical Courses: Students take 10+ units of 200-level (graduate) courses in EE or CS as approved by your 5th year MS faculty advisor. Usually these will be very closely related to your project and research area.

  • Research Project & Report: Under the supervision of an EECS Faculty Research Advisor, students choose a specific topic or project on which to conduct research. Students are expected to commit a significant amount of time and energy to the research, integrating and fusing what has been learned in the classroom, to reach a deep level of involvement in and understanding of the project. Carefully planning required courses to span three semesters (final undergrad semester and two graduate semesters) should allow the necessary time for research. Possible Masters projects may include, but are not limited to:
    • Traditional independent research project.
    • In-depth follow-up to EECS199 project.
    • Extension of class project.
    • Product development with business plan.
    • Interdisciplinary project in outside area such as Health Care, Education, Technology for 3rd World, etc.
    • Industry collaborative project.

    Students complete the degree program with a written culmination of their research. The report must be approved by the student's faculty advisor and an additional faculty reader who has expertise on the topic of the report. This report must be submitted before the end of the student's second semester in the 5th year MS program. This report should be at the level of a conference paper or other publishable contribution to the field of EECS and represent at least 3-6 units of EECS299 research.

    Past project reports online.

  • Breadth Courses: Students take 8-11 units of 100- or 200-level courses outside of EECS as approved by your faculty advisor. These courses are meant to provide students with the leadership, management, entrepreneurial, or interdisciplinary technical skills to prepare them for their future career in industry.

NOTE: Berkeley undergraduates who take graduate course work during their last undergraduate semester may petition to backdate graduate standing in order to receive graduate credit for that course work. Graduate standing may be backdated for only one semester, and students may petition for credit only for the course work that was not previously used to satisfy requirements for another degree and/or honors program at Berkeley or at any other institution.

Program Policies

GSI Instructions Breadth Courses Transfer of Credit Backdate Graduate Standing
Change Degree Goal Maximum Duration in the Program Collaborative Projects with Industry

Graduate Student Instruction (GSI)

EECS 5th Year Bachelor/Masters (5th Yr MS) Program students may serve as GSIs during the graduate program, with the usual fee remission applied to UGGSI. 5th Yr MS students wishing to serve as GSIs must submit a petition and attach a statement from their research advisor explaining why a GSI appointment will not delay the student's graduation. These petitions should be submitted to Master's Services Adviser (currently Heather Levien). Decisions will be communicated to the petitioner and the faculty GSI Coordinators. GSI Applications may not be submitted until a petition has been approved.

Breadth courses

  1. Requires at least 8 units outside EECS.
  2. Must form a coherent set of courses that well prepares the student for leadership goals.
  3. No courses cross listed with EE or CS will be approved.
  4. Breadth courses must be approved by the student's research faculty advisor.

Transfer of Credit

Transfer credit may be awarded for a maximum of 4 semester or 6 quarter units of graduate coursework from another institution. The university only allows you to use 4 units toward your M.S. from when you were an undergraduate.

Backdate Graduate Standing

Berkeley undergraduates who take graduate course work during their last undergraduate semester may petition to backdate graduate standing in order to receive graduate credit for that course work. Graduate standing may be backdated for only one semester, and students may petition for credit only for the course work that was not previously used to satisfy requirements for another degree and/or honors program at Berkeley or at any other institution.

The petition to backdate graduate standing cannot be processed until a student has

  1. been admitted to the EECS Five Year Bachelor/Master Program,
  2. been admitted for the Master's degree by the Graduate Division, and
  3. started one semester of coursework while in graduate standing.

The petition will be processed by the Graduate Student Services Advisor.

Also note:

  • All courses must be taken for a letter grade, EXCEPT for 299s which must be taken for the S/U option.
  • You need a minimum cumulative graduate GPA of 3.0.

Maximum Duration in the Program

This program is intended to be a maximum of two (2) semesters after conferral of Bachelor degree.

Collaborative Projects with Industry

Research Advisor approval is required for any student conducting M.S. or Ph.D. research off-campus.

Frequently Asked Questions

How is this program different from the existing M.S. program?  

While the degree requirements are identical to the B.S. and the M.S.-only program (with one exception, see below), both degrees give considerable flexibility to choose a curriculum that is more or less specialized and more or less interdisciplinary. The fifth year of education with the combined Bachelors/Masters program can enable a student to pursue a program of study that is more interdisciplinary, including concentrations in EECS and allied fields like the sciences, other engineering, or business, law, or public policy, and at the same time achieve mastery of a specialized area of technology. For this reason, the M.S. component of the five year program has a breadth requirement that is not present in the regular M.S., with candidates required to take at least eight units outside of EECS. An education that includes interdisciplinary technical skills as well as a broader understanding of business, legal, and social context of technology development and use is valuable for many future careers as well as future graduate study in engineering, business, law, public policy, etc.

Does EECS accept applications for the Spring semester?

Currently, we are only accepting applications for fall admission. For more information, please see our Admissions page.

I don't quite meet the GPA requirement of 3.5. Will exceptional applicants be considered with a cumulative GPA of less than 3.5?

Chances of admission are not good with a cumulative GPA of less than 3.5. However, demonstrated leadership and interdisciplinary (technical or otherwise) skills could augment a slightly lower cumulative GPA.

I don't have any research experience. How important is this for my application?

Undergraduate research is definitely a plus, but is not required for admission. What is required is a letter of recommendation from a faculty member in EECS who will advise you during the MS program.

I'd like to take some time off between completing my bachelor's degree and starting the master's degree. Is this possible?

No. This program will not accommodate leaves of absence. Admitted students are expected to transition immediately from the undergrad program to the grad program in order to complete the entire program in five consecutive years. You are encouraged to apply to any of our other graduate programs if you would like to take time off.

How does financial support for the graduate year work?

Students are expected to provide their own financial support for the year of graduate work. Students should be aware that there are NO undergraduate-style, need-based grants for graduate students.

Can 5th Year Students be appointed as Graduate Student Instructors (GSI)?

Sometimes. Completing the requirements for the M.S. degree in two semesters will be very challenging and time consuming and the student will likely not have time to commit to teaching. Students may petition to GSI during this program. More about these policies.

Can 5th Year Students receive Graduate Research Assistantship (GSR) support?

Sometimes. If a faculty member wishes to support a 5th year student to complete his or her M.S. program within two semesters, then that is the decision of the individual professor.

Is this program well suited for someone who eventually wants a Ph.D.?

This program is not intended for students who want a Ph.D. It is intended as a terminal M.S. degree.

I am considering applying to the Five Year Bachelor/Master Program, but I may also apply for a Ph.D. program at other schools and Berkeley as well? If I am accepted into the Five Year Program, how will that affect my potential Ph.D. application?

You can most definitely apply to other schools when you apply to this program.

If you are admitted to this program and in the midst of it decide that you would like to continue to a Ph.D. at Berkeley, you can petition to add the PhD. There is no guarantee you will be accepted, but you will not have to go through the regular admissions process again.

There is nothing to stop you from applying to another school's Ph.D. program.

Am I allowed to apply to this program and, if not admitted, move my application to the MEng, MAS-IC, or M.S./Ph.D. program later?

According to UC Berkeley Graduate Admissions policy, applicants may only apply to one single degree program per admission term. If you are more interested in a different masters program or our PhD program, please plan on applying directly to that program instead.

If you have questions regarding which program may be the best fit for your career and academic goals, please contact the EECS Graduate Admissions Office located in 205 Cory Hall.


Please first consult our Frequently Asked Questions section for your question to be answered the most quickly.


Michael Sun
Masters Student Services Advisor
205 Cory Hall
Email (preferred contact method):
Phone: 510.643.8107

Contact Michael regarding degree requirements, faculty advisors, admissions, and degree completion requirements.

International Office

2299 Piedmont Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94720-2321
Phone: 510.642.2818

Contact the International Office regarding visa information.