In recent years, several research efforts have aimed to understand the issues surrounding engineering professionals returning to the academic environment for graduate degrees in engineering. This research focuses on a variety of issues: why they return, what they hope to do afterwards, and what their experiences are in the academic environment. While those are important issues, interaction with professional societies while in the workplace and pursuing graduate work are also of concern. Many engineering professionals, both in industry and in academia, value activities with these organizations while advancing in membership levels as they advance through their careers. Advancement may be complicated when a professional society member returns to school for full time study; they often find themselves choosing between paying the higher dues of a professional or returning to student status. We discuss the options available in a sampling of different professional engineering societies, including several engineering disciplinary societies and interdisciplinary societies focused on underrepresented minorities within engineering. The intent is to examine the differences, and highlight successful policies for use by professional societies and other organizations serving the returning student population.
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