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For graduate schools in STEM which take students with a Bachelor's degree (BS/BE/BTech etc.) and graduate them with an MS and/or PhD, what do they assume about the student's prerequisite knowledge when designing courses, their difficulty and overall dynamics?

My question is pointed towards knowledge and not what is on the student's transcripts. For instance, a student might have "Linear Algebra" on his transcripts but might not remember Singular Value Decomposition very well.

Do they:

  • assume that student knows all the courses he has taken very well and build from there? (What happens to people who had a BS in allied fields? For instance a student may have a BS in Pure Math but enrol for a MS/PhD in Computational Math with little idea about a "compiler".)
  • assume he knows nothing and take him to proficiency?
  • anything in between?

1 Answer 1

This is a very difficult question to answer, since there are so many disciplines and so many programs at so many universities, all of which have their own rules.

But in general, the standard master's program (or coursework phase of a doctoral program) is designed to take someone who has a bachelor's degree in the same field and bring them up to a level of competence sufficient to pursue graduate-level research in that field. Very little allowances, if any, are made for people coming from other disciplines and programs, and they're certainly not designed for someone starting with no knowledge whatsoever.