Frequently Asked Questions

Why study robotics at the Minnesota Robotics Institute

  • MnRI takes a multidisciplinary approach to education — take 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 the state of Minnesota and beyond. We are currently adding on-campus staff from Honeywell, and there are vast research options in the form of Minnesota, which has significant local presences 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.

Program Duration

  • 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.

Application Requirements

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:

  1. Degree - The Master's in Robotics program is very interdisciplinary, and we look forward to accepting a wide variety of 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.
  2. Resumé - You must upload a current resume or CV in the online application.
  3. 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. Be sure to state your top three areas of interest in the robotics research field.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Letters of Recommendation - No minimum number of letters of recommendation is 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.
  7. Application Fee - The Office of Graduate Admissions charges a one-time fee for the application
  8. 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.

I don’t see my official English Proficiency scores yet. Do I need to do anything, so my application is 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.

Admissions Eligibility

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 do not 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.

Does the program admit students more interested in specific research areas?

  • Because Robotics is a vast, interdisciplinary subject, interests that involve Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, and Computer Vision are acceptable.

Who is on the board of admissions for this program?

  • The admissions board comprises various faculty and staff members, and these members do not remain fixed from year to year.

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, modeling of dynamic systems, control theory, and algorithms. Often, students that apply to our program are under-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 applications are taken as S/N. Still, the board will consider this if a disproportionate amount of the credits are taken S/N.

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?

  • Regarding the following deadline: National or international is the same for everyone. The March 15 deadline would be for an early acceptance notice if you were to be accepted. The May 1st deadline is the last day you can apply for the program for the upcoming year. Applicants who apply before the March deadline will receive priority consideration for financial support from MnRI.

What are the GPA requirements for this program?

  • Since the program has many students worldwide, we do not keep normalized GPAs. We would like to see at least a 3.0 minimum.

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.

 I was placed on the 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 Masters's students, you are welcome to visit the Robotics Institute on your own at any time. 

Can I defer admission?

  • The MSR program typically grants an admission deferral for up to one year. To request a one-year deferral, the student must send a written request (email is acceptable) to the Program Coordinator, Nicole Kennedy, no later than June 30th. 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.

Important information for the program

TOEFL, IELTS & GRE Deadlines:

If you need to take/retake your TOEFL, IELTS, and GRE for this application, we highly recommend you take the exam no later than the month before the early admission date. Reportable scores can take two weeks to process, and we may not be able to review any scores that arrive after our May 1 deadline.

GRE & TOEFL Codes

GRE Report Codes: Institution Code - 6874

TOEFL Report Codes: Institution Code – 6874

TOEFL Minimum Scores for Admission

  • Total Score: 79
  • Writing Subscore: 21
  • Reading Subscore: 19

English Language Proficiency

Information for New International Students

The University of Minnesota's International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) and campus partners are diligently working to address 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 isssnew@umn.edu. 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.

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: gsquest@umn.edu.
  • For documents issued by the UMN: I-20: ISSS is issuing electronic I-20s for students through spring 2022. DS-2019: 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.

Tuition and Financial Aid

  • 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.
  • Teaching assistantships may be available to qualified applicants.
  • Please email mnrigrad@umn.edu if you have further questions about aspects of financing graduate school.

Funding Questions

Can I obtain funding in the first semester or the future?

  • We cannot predict if funding will become available during any part of your program. It would be best if you were prepared to be a self-supported master’s student throughout the program.

What percentage of students receive funding (as a Research Assistant - RA) in subsequent semesters?

  • A decent percentage of MSR students receive funding for at least a portion of their program. The percentage of students funded varies significantly on the semester and incoming funding opportunities. There is no way for us to predict your chances of funding. We cannot expect funding will become available during any part of your program. It would be best if you were prepared to be a self-supported master’s student throughout the program.

Are there Teaching Assistantships (TA) available?

  • While a few Teaching Assistantships (TA) are available, it is not encouraged unless you have taken the course here; even then, balancing research, coursework, a personal life, and being a TA is challenging. You are eligible for a TA position beginning in your second semester. Most MS-Research students do not consider being a TA a viable option.

If you have additional questions, don't hesitate to contact the MSR Program Coordinator, Nicole Kennedy, at mnrigrad@umn.edu.

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 costs associated with the study. To find the estimated costs of studying in the Robotics Program, please use the link above 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.

Understanding an Offer

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 is used to give 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.

I have received a MnRI financial aid offer. What work will I be doing?

  • This depends on the type of offers received. Recipients of financial support may do work that could include research in faculty members’ laboratories, outreach, recruitment activities for the Institute, or other activities.

I have not received MnRI financial aid offer yet. What does this mean?

  • If you have not received a financial aid offer from MnRI shortly upon acceptance into the program, it is unlikely that you will receive an offer of financial assistance for the fall semester, and you will need to pursue other avenues of funding if you want to reduce your tuition and living expenses.

I am interested in getting a Teaching Assistantship (TA). How do I apply?

  • You may still apply for a TA appointment, subject to the application deadlines of the department where the TA appointment is housed (e.g., Mechanical Engineering, Electrical & Computer Engineering, Aerospace Engineering & Mechanics, Computer Science & Engineering, etc.). Please go to the specific department’s website to find more information regarding their eligibility requirements and how to apply. Also, please note that the results of TA applications are generally published in August, close to the beginning of the fall semester.

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, we strongly discourage 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 there were interest, a faculty member would have already contacted you. If you 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.

Insurance (Health etc.)

What are health insurance options available to me as a graduate student?

Financial Assistance

Students in the master’s degree program are expected to be self-supporting, independently or through their employer.

Coursework

  • 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 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.

MSR Program Questions

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?

  • First-year graduate students focus on classes during the initial semester, and we encourage them to reach out to Travis Henderson at mnriadvising@umn.edu to plan their program path and find advisors.

Where can I find a listing of the Robotics faculty and their research interests?

  • Please refer to the listing of research projects on the research pages for details.

How do I choose and sign up for courses?

I am from a non-Computer Science background; what classes should I take?

  • We recommend that students in this category take a 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 computer science students usually need additional Signals and Controls coursework. MnRI recommends taking an introductory course in signals and controls, one of which is EE 8950 - Advanced Topics: Introduction to Signals and Controls for Robotics. This course does count for credit in the robotics Master’s program.

Industry and Academic Collaboration

  • As mentioned under the benefits section, MnRI faculty is connected to critical industries and top companies in the state of 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.
  • MnRI enjoys many benefits of connecting to about three dozen faculty from across the University of Minnesota. However, the connections do not stop 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.

Quick Links

MS Program Info. 

Apply Now 

Curriculum

Tuition and Funding

Students in the Master of Science in Robotics (MSR) program are expected to be self-supporting.

Tuition Rates

Tuition 

Cost of Attendance 

Financial Aid Resources

Funding Your Graduate Studies

International Student