Students Interested in Engineering and Liberal Arts Studies Now Get the Best of Both Worlds
Students interested in becoming engineers have traditionally enrolled in four-year degree programs at large universities with comprehensive engineering programs. These programs allow students to specialize in a particular type of engineering, such as mechanical, chemical, or civil. However, different paths for studying engineering have begun to diverge from the more traditional trajectory.
Some students are recognizing the appeal of attending small liberal arts colleges, many of which do not offer comprehensive engineering degree programs. Liberal arts colleges tend to have smaller student bodies than universities and focus on a higher level of interdisciplinary instruction and interaction between students and professors.
For some students, liberal arts colleges provide a more intimate learning environment than they might experience at a larger university. However, for students who wish to study engineering, they can have a difficult time finding a liberal arts college with an all-inclusive engineering program of study.
As a result, an increasing number of students are pursuing “3-2” engineering programs. This is a great option for students who want to pursue a traditional liberal arts degree as well as an engineering degree. It can also help students who find it difficult gaining entry to a traditional 4-year engineering program as freshmen.
Through this type of program, engineering students attend a liberal arts colleges for the first three years of their college careers. Their studies are fast-tracked in order to earn Bachelor of Arts or Science degrees in a relevant field, such as physics, math, or chemistry, within three years. They then apply for admission to two-year engineering programs at a larger university where, having already met the necessary prerequisites at their previous colleges, they will ultimately receive Bachelor of Science degrees in their particular engineering specialization.
This allows many students to experience “the best of both worlds.” Students who learn better in smaller classroom settings with more personal attention can take advantage of completing their challenging science and math prerequisites in liberal arts colleges while still earning an engineering degree from a prestigious research institution.
These students learn valuable writing and critical thinking skills during their first three years of college that can better prepare them for their final two years in a university setting. They may be able to offer a different set of proficiencies than their peers pursuing traditional 4-year engineering degrees.
Students who follow the 3-2 engineering path may also have a certain appeal to prospective employers. Having two bachelor degrees can serve as an advantage in the competitive job market and can make the applicant stand out during an initial review.
Of course, there are some challenges when pursuing a 3-2 program. Admission to a two-year engineering program is not guaranteed. Many liberal arts colleges have partnerships with bigger engineering schools, but students must still meet the minimum requirements for transferring. They need to have strong academic records and solid recommendations to demonstrate that they’ll be able to complete the rigorous coursework demanded of an engineering student.
Furthermore, students will have to complete an extra year of college, delaying their entry into the workforce, which may be a financial burden. For some students, it can also be difficult to leave close friends and a college they love for an entirely new experience at a different school.
Despite these realities, many students find 3-2 engineering programs to be very rewarding and advantageous. Major universities that take part in 3-2 programs include:
Washington University in St. Louis
So if you think that pursuing an engineering degree is the right move for you, but you also want the experience of a liberal arts education, look into 3-2 programs. It just might be the best-fit program for you!