December 8, 2023

Allen Xu enrolled in the Master of Science in Electrical Engineering (MS-EE) on Coursera when it was first announced in May 2019. He began this learning journey by taking the non-credit version of Professor Won Park’s Semiconductor Device course. We asked Allen a series of questions about his experience with the program, and hearing his answers can help you figure out what you can do with performance-based admissions.

What do you think about performance-based hiring?

Admission based on performance gives someone like me, who had the right work experience and motivation, but didn’t study electrical engineering at the bachelor’s level, the opportunity to get a master’s degree in the field.

What was your relevant experience before you applied?

My background is in Mechanical Engineering with III-IV compound semiconductor manufacturing experience. I worked mainly with electrical engineers on process development and integration. I gained the necessary knowledge through practical work experience, on-the-job training and also through my own studies. At some point I realized that my knowledge was fragmented and needed structuring. Taking postgraduate courses and studying for exams was the best way for me to consolidate and validate my knowledge.

What attracted you to the program?

The course content provided the structured learning I needed. I really like the professors and course facilitators, as well as the highly flexible schedule that I can adapt to my own timeline and goals.

How does the program fit into your life?

I was a part-time student when I started. I studied about eight to twelve hours a week full time. After I found out how much time I needed to study and graduate. I realized that I had an opportunity to elevate my career. So I planned my schedule, stopped working full-time for about seven months and focused on finishing my degree and completing my courses.

What are your favorite parts of the program?

My favorite course is Active Optical Devices, for which I currently work as a course instructor. The course is one of the reasons why I decided to study full time.

What did you do with your MS-EE degree?

With a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, I learned that a master’s in electrical engineering made me stand out in a pile of resumes. I believe it opened career doors. I got an internship before graduation and three months later I got a full-time job.

What advice do you have for other students like you?

If someone is already considering a few courses, a graduate certificate or a master’s degree in electrical engineering, I recommend trying out the courses they are interested in to see how much time it will take and if they are a good fit. A student could first take the non-credit versions of the courses and take the exams from those courses when he enrolls later.

If you’re like Allen and interested in using performance-based admissions for an electrical engineering master’s degree, check out CU Boulder’s MS-EE on Coursera today!

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