North Central offering 'seamless transition' to Illinois Tech graduate school for engineering students
North Central College is providing engineering students with an expedited path to graduate school through a new partnership with the Illinois Institute of Technology.
The agreement offers dual-credit opportunities, consulting services and financial support to undergraduates interested in earning their master's degree from Illinois Tech's Armour College of Engineering, said Frank Harwath, professor and director of North Central's engineering program.
While completing their bachelor's degree at the Naperville college, he said, prospective applicants will be able to take upper-level and graduate courses through Illinois Tech, while also having access to their admissions counselors for advice on applying and meeting degree requirements. Application fees will be waived for North Central students, and those admitted will be granted a one-time scholarship, according to program details.
"This is about as seamless and as quick as you can get," Harwath said. "The ability to get a bachelor's and master's (degree) in engineering in five years -- and have the costs reduced as much as possible -- makes this a very, very good program for the students who want to come to North Central."
The college has about 100 undergraduate students in its computer, electrical and mechanical engineering programs, which launched in 2018, Harwath said. Officials anticipate the enrollment will grow to about 135 students next year, he said, noting this year's numbers took a hit because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Having worked as a professional engineer before transitioning to North Central, Harwath said he has watched the industry become more competitive over the last 35 years. The experience and versatility of earning a master's degree make students more desirable as they enter the workforce, he said, especially if they study a different specialty in graduate school.
The partnership with Illinois Tech "vastly expands the playbook" for North Central students in engineering and other related fields, such as physics, college President Troy D. Hammond said in a statement.
Available graduate programs include artificial intelligence, computer vision, and control; architectural engineering; biomedical engineering; electrical and computer engineering; and mechanical and aerospace engineering.
"Through partnerships like these, Illinois Tech is further committing itself to fueling the continued tech rise of the entire Chicago region," Illinois Tech Provost Peter Kilpatrick said in a statement. "We are thrilled to be able to welcome North Central College students to our graduate programs through a seamless transition that will help enable their future success, both in and out of the classroom."
Eligible students must have a minimum cumulative grade-point average of 3.0 at North Central and a technical GPA of 2.8 or higher for all relevant math and science courses taken at Illinois Tech. Applications to the Accelerated Master's Admissions program must be submitted by Aug. 1 for the fall semester or Dec. 1 for the spring semester.