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Spotlight on Graduate Engineering at Rochester (GEAR)

Let me introduce you to one of my close friends, Jack. Jack is going to be at the University of Rochester for an extra fifth year, just like me. He is staying on for a master’s in engineering (rather than a degree in nursing like me) through a program called Graduate Engineering at Rochester (GEAR). In short, GEAR is a program for engineering students that ties both a four-year bachelor’s degree and a two-year master’s degree into just five years.

What are the benefits of GEAR?

If you’re interested in engineering, GEAR can save you time, money, and energy! It condenses a six-year track into just five years. You’ll begin taking graduate classes during your senior year. Rather than paying for six years of schooling, you would only pay for five years. In fact, the final fifth year of graduate study is subsidized at half the cost for GEAR students. During the fifth year, GEAR students gain real-world skills when they are hired as teaching assistants or research assistants for the university. GEAR also allows you to skip the GRE exam, which is required for entrance into most master’s programs. It’s convenient to apply for both your undergraduate and graduate program at once; it’ll save you more admissions stress later in your college career.
As a GEAR student, you’ll also have tons of support toward forging your career path. Through GEAR, you have individualized attention from professors and GEAR mentors. You do have minimum GPA requirements to keep up with, too. It is helpful to be part of a small community of dedicated engineering students on a similar track. Furthermore, GEAR pushes you to continue your engineering education. A master’s degree may be your ticket to a new world of job opportunities and salaries.
The Engineering Quad was recently renovated. Definitely worth a tour.

What is the application process?

Prospective students can apply to GEAR, but current undergraduate students cannot apply. Your acceptance into GEAR is tied into your acceptance as an undergraduate student at the University of Rochester. As you apply to the University of Rochester, you’ll notice a question on the Common Application about Dual Degree Programs. Select that you are interested and you can complete a supplemental essay about your interest in GEAR (or another Dual Degree Program).
As a finalist, you’ll be invited to campus for an overnight visit. You’ll meet other GEAR applicants, current GEAR students like Jack, and professors from the Hajim School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. You’ll have an interview and participate in a number of workshops. You might even attend some classes with current engineering students.
Jack is the true photographer but I have to brag that I took this beautiful photo.


While GEAR students can specialize in any engineering track (audio and music, biomedical, chemical, computer science, electrical, geomechanics, mechanical, or optical to name just a few!), Jack chose optical engineering and astrophysics. Jack aspires to pursue a photonics career in the aerospace or consumer industry. Jack is currently a teaching assistant for the honors modern physics lab. He’s also the president of physics society. Last summer, he was an optical engineering intern with Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control.
This upcoming summer, he will be interning at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in their space and engineering group. In his free time, he is interested in photography (I highly recommend that you check out his website!) and he plays on the Ultimate Frisbee team (he has the fastest disc on the team). He is one of the most intelligent, humorous, and creative people I know!
If GEAR intrigues you, get more details. Take a look at the nine possible Master’s programs and see which ones strike your interest.
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