Frequently Asked Questions About Graduate Studies in Fire Protection Engineering (FPE)

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For more information,see the online program's Frequently Asked Questions page or our FPE Graduate Guide (PDF).


What is the benefit of earning a Master's degree?

There are numerous benefits to earning a Master's degree in fire protection engineering. Our programs are designed to widen our students' horizons, stimulate their intellectual growth, and expand their technical tool box in order to become better fire safety engineers or researchers. Benefits may include:

  • obtaining a degree that offers immediate access to more interesting, better-paid jobs (e.g., consulting)
  • obtaining a degree that offers future access to technical or business leadership positions (e.g., project leader, manager, entrepreneur)
  • the opportunity to participate in an advanced research project that pushes the boundaries of fire safety engineering and/or fire science (M.S. program); and
  • preparing for Ph.D.-level studies (M.S. program).


What are my options for earning a Master's degree in FPE at UMD?

There are three options:


How does the Combined Bachelor's / Master's program work?

If you meet the credit and GPA requirements (see above), you must submit a request to take graduate courses (as an undergraduate) and apply to the Graduate School. Students take three (3) graduate-level courses while earning their B.S., and complete the remainder of their coursework and thesis if accepted by the Graduate School. The entire program takes approximately five to five and a half years. See the Combined Bachelor / Master of Science or Combined Bachelor / Master of Engineering program page for more information.


What are the differences between the M.S. and the M.Eng. programs?

The Department of Fire Protection Engineering's Master of Science and Master of Engineering programs are not the same. Each program has its own requirments and options. Briefly, the M.S. program is offered only on campus and requires a thesis, while the M.Eng. program can be completed on campus, online, or both, and does not require a thesis. For complete information, see our M.S. vs. M.Eng. page.


What are minimum requirements for admission to your M.S. and M.Eng. programs?

Prospective students must meet the department's minimum requirements for admission:

  • applicants should have a B.S. degree in engineering or a related field from an accredited institution;
  • applicants should have an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0/4.0;
  • applicants should have taken the following four (4) prerequisite courses:
    • differential equations
    • fluid mechanics
    • heat transfer
    • structural mechanics (or strength of materials); and
  • in most cases, applicants are required to submit their scores from the Graduate Record Examination (GRE).

Applicants who have not completed all prerequisite courses may still be admitted on a provisional basis if they demonstrate satisfactory academic performance in a related field and/or relevant work experience. These applicants are required to complete the prerequisite courses during their first semester at the University of Maryland.


Is admission to the M.S. and M.Eng. programs competitive?

The Department of Fire Protection Engineering does not have a minimum requirement for Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) scores and the prospective student's entire application file will be considered for admission. This includes the applicant's undergraduate GPA, academic performance in four prerequisite courses (see above), GRE scores, familiarity with fire safety problems, and previous professional experience.


Do I need to take the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE)?

If you are applying to the Master of Engineering (M.Eng.) program, you do not need to submit GRE results.

If you are applying to the M.S. program, in most cases, the application process requires scores from the Graduate Record Examination (GRE).


Is financial support available?

Yes. Graduate research assistantships and teaching assistantships are available. Some FPE-specific scholarships are also available to graduate students. Please see our financial support page for more information.


Can I earn my degree online?

Yes, but only if enrolled in the Master of Engineering (M.Eng.) program.


Am I assigned a research topic?

If you are admitted to our M.S. program, you should start a discussion with the FPE Graduate Director and/or individual faculty members in order to identify both a research topic and a faculty advisor. Information on the Department's current research activities can be found at The M.Eng. program does not have a research component.


Can I earn a Ph.D. in FPE?

FPE does not confer a Ph.D. degree at this time; however, students may pursue a Ph.D. with a strong emphasis on fire protection engineering by enrolling in the doctoral programs of other departments in the A.James Clark School of Engineering, such as Mechanical, Aerospace or Civil Engineering. Department of Fire Protection Engineering faculty are affiliated with these departments and can serve as Ph.D. advisors. Students must fulfill the requirements of the department in which they are enrolled. Information on Ph.D. degree options may be obtained from the FPE Director of Graduate Studies, Professor Arnaud Trouvé (


How many courses do I need to take?

It depends on which program you choose. The M.S. program requires successful completion of eight (8) approved courses (24 credits), plus six (6) credits of thesis research (30 credits total). The M.Eng. program requires successful completion of ten (10) approved courses (30 credits total). For information on Combined Bachelor's / Master's program course requirements, please visit the Combined Bachelor / Master of Science or Combined Bachelor / Master of Engineering program page for more information.


Can I take courses online?

The M.Eng. program and Graduate Certificate program allow students to take courses online, on campus, or both.

The M.S. program does not offer online learning and is on campus-only.


I am an international student. Do I need to take the TOEFL?

Applicants from non-English speaking countries may be required to provide evidence of proficiency in English by submitting scored from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IETLS). For more information, visit the university's office of International Students and Scholars Services (ISSS) and ISSS's graduate admissions page for a complete overview of the application process.