Worcester Polytechnic Institute

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Updated August 6, 2020

Worcester Polytechnic Institute was founded in 1865 by manufacturers John Boynton and Ichabod Washburn using a land grant from Stephen Salisbury II. Originally called the Worcester County Free Institute of Industrial Science, the college was one of America's first engineering universities. Throughout World War II, WPI directed the V-12 Navy College Training Program. Worcester Polytechnic Institute now stands as a prestigious private, non-profit research institution for the technical sciences. More than 4,100 undergraduates and 1,700 post-graduates enroll annually in 14 departments. WPI spreads across an 80-acre suburban campus in Worcester within Central Massachusetts just 40 miles west of Boston.

According to the U.S. News, Worcester Polytechnic Institute is the 57th best national, 46th top value school, and 46th best college for veterans. In particular, WPI hosts America's 87th best graduate engineering department and 36th top online engineering degrees. With a "B+" financial grade, Forbes ranked WPI the 38th best research university nationally. The Princeton Review recognized WPI for the country's 10th best career placement services and 11th most studious students. BusinessWeek named Worcester Polytechnic Institute the 15th best college for return on investment. In 2003, WPI earned the TIAA's Hesburgh Certificate of Excellence. Business Insider listed WPI among the top 50 most underrated U.S. colleges.

Worcester Polytechnic Institute Accreditation Details

Last reviewed in 2012, Worcester Polytechnic Institute is accredited by the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education (CIHE) of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). This regional accreditation is approved by the U.S. Department of Education. The School of Engineering holds specialized credentials from the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). Chemical engineering programs meet the standards for the American Chemical Society (ACS). Computational engineering courses align with the Computing Sciences Accreditation Board (CSAB).

Worcester Polytechnic Institute Application Requirements

Getting into Worcester Polytechnic Institute isn't effortless with the selective acceptance rate of 43 percent. For Master's of Engineering programs, applicants must have attained or be completing a regionally accredited bachelor's degree from a four-year university. Having an undergraduate engineering major isn't required. However, taking at least three credits each in calculus, physics, chemistry, biology, and computer science is suggested. Master's applicants should maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0. RA or TA positions may require up to 3.5 GPA. Submitting GRE scores no more than five years old is required. International learners must also score at least 21 on all TOEFL iBT sub-sections.

Interested graduate students should apply to Worcester Polytechnic Institute before October 1st for Spring or January 1st for Fall enrollment. Online applications must be accompanied by:

  • $70 application fee by credit card or check
  • Official transcripts for all collegiate work
  • Graduate Record Exam scores via code 3969
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (international)
  • Current resume or curriculum vitae

Tuition and Financial Aid

Regardless of state residence, full-time WPI graduate students pay $25,344 each year for tuition. Part-time learners are charged $1,408 per credit hour. Master's programs require paying a $60 graduate fee. Campus-owned housing will cost $7,654 annually. Residential graduates must also afford $5,756 for meal plans. Health insurance, unless waived, adds an extra $1,104 every year. Worcester Polytechnic Institute also suggests budgeting $1,000 for textbooks and $8,193 for personal expenses. Total full-time annual cost of attendance is estimated at $49,111.

The NCES reports that 92 percent of full-time WPI students earn financial aid. More than $78.1 million is granted in institutional assistance. Master's students who obtain teaching or research assistantships will receive tuition waivers for 10 credits per semester and monthly stipends. Engineering majors could benefit from the Institute's GAANN Fellowships in Big Data Computing Research, CyberCorps Scholarship, or NSF Graduate Education Traineeship. The Alumni Tuition Incentive is available for recent bachelor's graduates from WPI. Federal financial aid is granted with interest through Direct Unsubsidized, Perkins, Stafford, and Grad PLUS loans. In-state residents may qualify for the MASS Grant or Massachusetts Gilbert Matching Student Grant. Other options are VA benefits, employer tuition assistance, and private loans.

Master's of Engineering Degree(s) Available

In the School of Engineering, Worcester Polytechnic Institute grants 16 master's programs for diverse engineering disciplines. Eight of these are delivered online for flexibility. WPI is known for housing one of the 35 licensed research nuclear reactors in America. Hands-on training is offered in the Bioengineering Institute, Metal Processing Institute, Center for Inorganic Membrane Studies, and more. There's also a WPI-UMass partnership to expand students' access to innovative research projects. Available master's degrees include:

Master of Science in Environmental Engineering

WPI's M.S. in Environmental Engineering follows an ABET-accredited curriculum of 33 credits for students to focus their technical capabilities in preserving and restoring Earth's resources. Either on-campus or online, students will engage in coursework ranging from pollutant modeling and wastewater treatment to sustainability and structural design. Campus students benefit from working in Fuller Environmental Laboratory with its ion chromatograph, atomic absorption spectrophotometer, and organic carbon analyzer. Thesis and non-thesis tracks are offered.

Master of Science in Robotics Engineering

Consisting of 30 credits, the M.S. in Robotics Engineering program can be completed on-campus in Worcester or online with a master's thesis or applied capstone. Students spend at least 18 months full-time studying how engineering and computer science converge in designing innovative robotics technology. Courses will study robot dynamics, systems engineering, project management, robot navigation, and human-computer interaction. M.S. majors are encouraged to join WPI's DRC team and help build humanoid robotics for national competitions.

Master of Science in Fire Protection Engineering

Delivered fully online or face-to-face, the M.S. in Fire Protection Engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute trains students to apply engineering principles in minimizing fire's destructive potential. Online learners can engage in live, virtual classes to study everything from fire dynamics and smoke control to explosion prevention and building safety. The 30-credit curriculum includes 10 courses, including a master's thesis or capstone project. There's also an optional Fire Protection Engineering Graduate Internship Program.

Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering

The part-time, non-thesis M.S. in Mechanical Engineering program features 30 credits for WPI graduate students to master the design of structurally robust systems. Students select a specialization in Aerospace, Structures and Materials, Dynamics and Control, Fluid Engineering, or Design & Manufacturing. The two-year program can be completed on-campus or wholly online, including the capstone. Graduates have an average job placement rate of 91 percent.

Students at Worcester Polytechnic Institute could also pursue the M.S. in Biomedical Engineering, M.S. in Electrical & Computer Engineering, M.S. in Material Science, or M.S. in Power Systems Engineering.

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