Frequently Asked Questions
Why study robotics at the Minnesota Robotics Institute?
- MnRI takes a multidisciplinary approach to education — taking classes from different departments while engaging in a master's program that gathers the expertise, knowledge, and educational assets from across the University of Minnesota, several industries within the state, and beyond.
- MnRI prioritizes real-world learning — unlike other graduate programs in robotics, the program offered by MnRI features a capstone project to introduce its participants to deploying the algorithms and systems in the real world.
- The MnRI faculty— and the University of Minnesota, in general—are connected to critical industries and top companies in Minnesota and beyond. We are currently adding on-campus staff from Honeywell, and there are vast research options in Minnesota, which has a significant local presence from 3M, Amazon, Honeywell, Toro, General Mills, Boston Scientific, Medtronic, Land O'Lakes, and much more.
- The newly renovated Gemini-Huntley Robotics Research Lab inside Shepherd Laboratories offers state-of-the-art lab spaces, spacious conference rooms, public study spaces, and even a two-story drone lab.
- The program features 31 credits, meant to be taken over three semesters for an average of 10 credits a semester.
- Unlike other competitive master's programs in robotics, this new program allows students to complete either a master's thesis or a capstone project to receive their degree.
- Visit the full M.S. in Robotics Coursework page for complete information about classes, credit requirements, and tracks.
What items are required in the application?
You will need to submit several pieces of information when applying to the M.S program; they are as follows:
- Degree - The Master's in Robotics program is interdisciplinary, and we look forward to accepting various research interests and backgrounds. A bachelor's degree in a robotics-related field is required (mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, biomedical engineering, computer science, aerospace engineering, bioproducts, biosystems engineering, etc.) to ensure that our applicants are ready for the program.
- Resumé - You must upload a current resume or CV in the online application.
- Personal Statement - A short description of research interests and technical background is required in the online application. Please write about why you are interested in this specific program, what you have done so far that would make you a good fit, and how completing the program would align with your future career plans. In addition, state your top three areas of interest in robotics using the link to the standard research areas.
- Transcripts - The online application requires you to submit a scanned, unofficial copy of your transcript from each college or university you have attended. If you are accepted into the M.S. in Robotics program and decide to enroll, you must submit one official copy of each transcript.
- GRE scores - GRE scores are NOT currently required for admission. However, you can still enter your GRE scores in the online application—if you choose, please upload your score report with your transcripts.
- Letters of Recommendation - No minimum number of letters of recommendation are required. Ideally, the program would like to see two letters from your teachers or supervisors who are familiar with your work. Only letters submitted from official University/employer e-mail addresses will be considered; letters submitted from personal e-mail addresses (e.g., @gmail) will not be considered.
- Application Fee - The Office of Graduate Admissions charges a one-time fee for the application
- International Students must also submit English Language test scores (TOEFL, IELTS, etc.). Non-native English speakers must provide ESL test scores. Enter your scores in the online application and upload your score report with your transcripts.
What are the average and minimum GRE scores for acceptance?
- The Minnesota Robotics Institute is waiving the requirement to include GRE scores in the application.
What is the Average GPA of accepted candidates, and what is the minimum GPA to get into the program?
- Since the program has many students worldwide, we must keep normalized GPAs. While a U.S.-scale minimum GPA of 3.0 is preferred for admittance to the program, candidates are evaluated during the application process in a holistic manner.
Important information for the program: TOEFL, IELTS & GRE
|English Language Proficiency|
I don’t see my official English Proficiency scores yet. Do I need to do anything for my application to be processed correctly?
- We commend the applicant for thoroughness; however, nothing extra needs to be added to the standard application. The self-reported scores submitted as part of the original application are sufficient for the admissions team to evaluate the application. The official scores are only needed after admission to the program. At least in the case of TOEFL scores, it takes about 4-6 weeks from application submission for the official scores to be integrated with the student's application in Slate.
The M.S. in Robotics admissions page gives the early and final application deadline dates. What is the difference between these, and are these the same for international students, or are there different deadlines?
- The early and final deadlines apply to national and international applicants alike. While the May 1st deadline is the last day that applications will be accepted for admission in the coming fall, applicants who apply before the March 15th deadline receives priority consideration for financial support from MnRI.
What are my chances of getting admitted to the Robotics Master’s program?
- Unfortunately, we cannot offer advice on an individual student’s chances of being admitted to the program. We have a comprehensive and holistic approach to admissions and review hundreds of applications each admissions cycle. The best thing a prospective student can do to find the answer to this question is to apply.
Who is on the board of admissions for this program?
- The admissions board comprises various faculty and staff members, and these members remain flexible from year to year.
Can I defer admission?
- The MSR program typically grants an admission deferral for up to one year on a case-by-case basis. To request a one-year deferral, the student must send a written request (email is acceptable) to the Program Coordinator, Nicole Kennedy, email@example.com, by June 30th and provide the required documentation when asked. Deferral of admission comes with the stipulation that by May 1st of the following year, the student will provide written confirmation and deposit to secure their spot in the program for the subsequent fall semester.
- Tuition Deposit
- The non-refundable $1,000 tuition deposit will be applied toward the first academic term.
- A deposit payment is required to request a deferral.
Why were some candidates asked to have a zoom discussion and others were not?
A short zoom discussion with candidates is done to understand candidates' backgrounds and expectations of the program. These discussions do not increase or decrease your chances of admission so not everyone will be asked.
I was asked for a short zoom discussion; how can I prepare?
Even though there is no required preparation for these zoom discussions; below are some examples of questions we may ask.
What is your long-term goal? (for example, industry or academia)
What is your experience with research?
How have you handled past challenges or failures?
What is a past achievement you enjoy speaking about?
Please view our website and bring any questions you may have: https://cse.umn.edu/mnri
General Question on the MSR Program
Does the program admit students more interested in specific research areas?
- Because Robotics is an interdisciplinary subject, the program generally admits students who have interests in one or more of the following general categories:
- Cognition: Allowing robots to learn, plan, predict, and make intelligent decisions. Machine learning and artificial intelligence are in this category.
- Perception: Enabling robots to extract meaningful information about its environment via sensors and algorithms. Computer vision is part of this category.
- Modeling: Producing accurate representations of a robot's physical design and dynamic behavior.
- Control: Allowing robots to act safely and swiftly in the physical world.
What can I do in undergrad to prepare myself for a robotics M.S. program?
- An excellent way to prepare for the interdisciplinary nature of robotics is to take a wide variety of courses during your undergraduate experience that covers the basic sub-areas of robotics, especially data structures, dynamic systems modeling, control theory, and algorithms. Often, students applying to our program must be prepared in at least one of these areas.
How is the admissions committee view coursework taken S/N during undergrad (considering COVID)?
- The admissions board does not rigidly penalize if some of the undergraduate credits on a student’s application are taken as S/N. Still, the board will consider this if a disproportionate amount of the credits is taken S/N.
I was placed on the admissions waitlist; what is the likelihood of being admitted?
- Congratulations on being on our waitlist. We understand this is stressful for you, and you are likely balancing offers from other programs and institutions. Know that we will do our best to keep you updated about your status.
Is there an open house for admitted MSR students?
- While there is no scheduled open house for admitted master’s students, you are welcome to visit the Robotics Institute at any time by scheduling a tour with the MnRI Grad Coordinator.
About the I-20 Certificate of Eligibility form, will this be mailed to me if I get accepted? If so, when will I receive this?
- For specific answers related to your situation, you can reach out to Graduate students at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- For documents issued by the UMN: I-20: ISSS is issuing electronic I-20s for students. We can send an unsigned, digital document copy for information and visa scheduling purposes. The digital copy cannot be used during the visa interview or to enter the United States. You must receive the signed, original DS-2019 before your visa interview.
Where can I find course work information for the MSR program?
- The program focuses on three key areas of robotics: Cognition, Perception, and Robot Modeling and Control.
- Available classes range across several departments, including Aerospace Engineering, Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering.
- Unlike other competitive master's programs in robotics, this program allows students to complete either a master's thesis or a capstone project to receive their degree.
- Visit the full M.S. in Robotics Coursework page for complete information about classes, credit requirements, and tracks.
Can I transfer courses or get credit for coursework at a different institution?
- While we do not transfer courses taken at other institutions, you may request a core course waiver based on previous experience with course material. If the core course waiver is approved, the core course is waived, and students select an additional approved elective method in its place.
How do I find a research advisor?
Where can I ﬁnd a listing of the Robotics faculty and their research interests?
How do I choose and sign up for courses?
- The MnRI robotics coursework page contains information about the eligible courses that are part of the M.S. program. Furthermore, brief course descriptions are available on the University of Minnesota Robotics Master's Degree catalog page, which lists the semester each course tends to be offered.
- When choosing and registering for fall courses, that can start at the class search resources page. Most resources require a U of M internet ID (x500) and password.
I am from a non-Computer Science background; what classes should I take?
- We recommend that students in this category take an Algorithms and Data Structures course. A perfect course offered at the University is CSCI 4041 - Algorithms and Data Structures. This course does not count for credit in the Robotics Master’s program because it is a 4xxx-level course. Students interested in alternative opportunities to learn the content may find similar course offerings through online learning platforms.
I am from a Computer Science background; what classes should I take?
- Students from a computer science background usually need additional coursework in Signals, Dynamics, and Control.
- MnRI recommends such students begin their modeling and control studies with CSCI 5551: Introduction to Intelligent Robotic Systems. This course does count for credit in the Robotics Master’s Program.
- For a focused study on the fundamental methods for modeling physical systems, please consider ME 3281: System Dynamics & Control. This course does not count for credit in the Robotics Master's Program.
Industry and Academic Collaboration Information
- MnRI faculty is connected to critical industries and top companies in Minnesota and beyond. We are currently adding on-campus staff from Honeywell in addition to vast research options with local presence from 3M, Amazon, Honeywell, Toro, General Mills, Boston Scientific, Medtronic, Land O'Lakes, and much more.
- MnRI enjoys many benefits of connecting to about three dozen faculty from across the University of Minnesota. However, the connections continue in the Twin Cities. We entertain almost weekly speakers from across the world to talk about their research and issues within the robotics industry and collaborate with many educational and governmental institutions.
General Tuition and Financial Aid Information
- The Office of Graduate Studies sets tuition rates for all graduate programs; see the Graduate School Funding page for information about the financial aspects of a graduate program at the University of Minnesota, strategic planning, and other economic opportunities.
- The Minnesota Robotics Institute will offer a top percentage of each cohort full and partial scholarships for their first semester.
- Teaching assistantships may be available to qualified applicants.
- Please email email@example.com if you have further questions about aspects of financing graduate school.
What will my tuition cost?
- Tuition for the Robotics Master’s Program follows the Graduate General Tuition rates for graduate or professional students. Full-time semester tuition is a flat rate, one for residents and one for non-residents. This flat rate applies to a “full-time” semester course load of 6-14 credits. Each credit above or below this plateau is assessed on a per-credit basis.
What will my total cost of attendance be?
- The cost of attendance depends on many factors, varying from student to student, but Onestop estimates graduate students' total cost of attendance associated with the program. To find the estimated costs of studying in the Robotics Program, please use the link and select "Graduate" in the Program field. You may also optionally filter the results by choosing “resident” or “non-resident” from the Enrollment field. Please remember that the link only estimates the total cost of attendance; individual cases will vary depending on the costs of housing, food, transportation, etc.
Are there Teaching Assistantships (TA) available?
- Teaching Assistantships (TA) are work opportunities awarded to students through a merit-based application process. There is no guarantee that a robotics student will be awarded a TA-ship. As a TA-ship can be a time-consuming work opportunity, students must be prepared to manage their time exceptionally well. Robotics students are eligible for a TA position beginning in their second semester.
- If you have additional questions, please contact the MSR Program Coordinator, Nicole Kennedy: firstname.lastname@example.org
I am interested in getting a Teaching Assistantship (TA). How do I apply?
- Students may apply for a Graduate TA appointment in the Computer Science and Engineering (CS&E) Department using the provided link. Further questions about Graduate TA-ships may be directed to email@example.com. CS&E determines the application deadline and submission deadline dates. Please also note that the results of TA applications for the fall semester are generally published in August, close to the beginning of the fall semester.
- Soliciting other departments outside CS&E regarding TA opportunities is generally discouraged.
What percentage of students receive funding (as a Research Assistant - RA) in subsequent semesters?
- While a decent percentage of MSR students receive funding for at least a portion of their program, the percentage of students funded varies significantly depending on the number and kind of research opportunities available in any given semester. The Robotics Program can predict neither the amount of funding nor the timeline during which it may become available. As such, it cannot guarantee research funding for its students; accordingly, MSR students should be prepared to be self-supported throughout the program and consider research opportunities as they arise.
I am interested in getting a Research Assistantship (RA) with a professor. How do I apply?
- Admission for incoming graduate students involves in-depth processes to evaluate and invite exceptional students to work with faculty through RA appointments. For this reason, the Robotics program strongly discourages incoming students from contacting faculty by email to solicit an RA appointment before the conclusion of the first semester, as this is redundant to the processes already in place. If students are interested in getting a research assistantship with a professor sometime during your program, seek opportunities to learn from and interact with faculty: take a class they teach, attend a talk they give, etc.
I have received a MnRI financial aid offer. What work will I be doing?
- A MnRI financial offer may include a graduate assistantship. Activities required of the student during the assistantship may include educational STEM outreach in the local community, generation of electronic educational content on behalf of MnRI, and assistance with recruitment activities for the Robotics program. Please see the specific offer for further details.
My MnRI financial aid offer says that I am compensated for a certain number of hours per week. What does this mean?
- The hours-per-week declaration gives an idea of the compensation you will receive and does not generally signify a rigid number of hours you must work each week. The offer works more like a fixed amount of funding that will pay towards some of your tuition and a small stipend. In return, MnRI expects that the hours the awardee works throughout the assistantship will be commensurate with the compensation awarded.
Can I obtain funding in the first semester or in the future?
- While it is possible for a student to receive funding in the first semester and afterward, the Robotics program cannot predict if funding will become or remain available during any part of your program. MSR students should be prepared to be self-supported throughout the program.
I have not received MnRI financial aid offer yet. What does this mean?
- If you have not received a financial aid offer from MnRI by July 15 upon acceptance into the program. In that case, it is unlikely that you will receive an offer of financial assistance for the fall semester. You will need to pursue other funding avenues to reduce your tuition and living expenses.
- Tuition and Funding: Students in the Master of Science in Robotics (MSR) program are expected to be self-supporting.
Information for New International Students
The University of Minnesota's International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) and campus partners are diligently working to address the unique challenges international students and scholars encounter.
ISSS has created Frequently Asked Questions for New International Students that will be updated in response to the questions we receive from international students and scholars. If you have questions that are not answered here, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. They will be happy to answer your question or connect you to the appropriate office.
Visit the ISSS Announcement webpage for more information.
What are Minnesota winters like, and how do I prepare for them?
- Winter in Minnesota tends to be cold, with short days and long nights, typically lasting from November through March. Wear layers of clothing to be comfortable inside and build up for going outside. Please see the ISSS climate and clothing page for further information on Minnesota weather and how to prepare.
What are health insurance options available to me as a graduate student?
- The University of Minnesota requires that all students have health insurance. Accordingly, the University offers several health plans for students. Most will be eligible for the Student Health Benefit Plan, while graduate assistants may be eligible for the Graduate Assistant Health Plan. Please visit the Office of Student Health Benefits for more information.