16 March 2020
3  min.

Engineering is a very popular field of study among Russian students who are interested in getting an education in the United States. All of those people have different goals, preferences, interests, and plans for their future; so, it is very important for them to know about different options available. Today, I would like to discuss the 3-2 engineering programs that could be a good fit for some of the high school students exploring this field of study as well as career paths in it. Here are several frequently asked questions and answers for them on that topic.


What are the 3-2 engineering programs?
The 3-2 programs are dual degree programs offering an opportunity to get a combination of two bachelor’s degrees: Bachelor of Arts (BA) and Bachelor of Science (BS) within the five years of study in two different schools. The first three years a student spends at a liberal arts college and the next two ones at an engineering school at another college, institute or university. Some liberal arts colleges have partnerships with several engineering schools at once, so interested students may have several choices for transferring after three years of study. These programs are great options for candidates who want to benefit from gaining both soft skills and technical skills. The combination of traditional liberal arts education and strong engineering programs could make them stronger candidates in a competitive job market.

Which schools in the U.S. have these programs?
There are two types of schools taking part in the 3-2 scheme: engineering schools hosted by large universities and multiple affiliated liberal arts colleges. Look at the selected list of institutes of higher education offering dual-degree engineering programs at the College Transitions site.
You will see two lists: a list of several major universities (sponsoring) schools among which are two “giants” like Columbia and Washington in St Louis, and a list of more than a hundred liberal arts colleges affiliated with one or several of those major engineering schools.

How many students typically start these programs at liberal arts schools and how many enroll in engineering programs?
I looked up the statistics at 3-2 engineering program colleges and found that the numbers of initially interested students varied from 20 to 60 in different places but the number of people who ultimately have transferred was a very modest one: from 1 to 6. The “loss” of so many potential transfers could be explained by the inability of some potential candidates to meet the admission requirements of major universities as well as altering their plans in general by choosing the more traditional path to engineering degrees by attending 4-2 programs. After three years of education, at a liberal arts college many students also express their reluctance to leave faculty, the intimate, friendly environment of a small college as well as their strong desire to graduate with their peers.

Does the transfer process to engineering programs as well as awarding of both degrees happen automatically?
Starting 3-2 engineering programs at liberal arts colleges does not guarantee automatic entrance to engineering schools. Interested students need to meet certain requirements at both venues to get a BA/BS engineering degree. A typical list of essential tasks for those considering transferring includes but is not limited to applying, completing a set of foundational courses in sciences and mathematics, having a clear plan of study in both schools, keeping a certain GPA (3+ or higher), submitting letters of recommendation from the faculty of the program, etc. Students should consult with college officials, i.e. dean or pre-engineering academic advisors regarding the acceptability of engineering school. There might be additional features and requirements specific to particular schools, so students need to look very carefully at the websites of respective schools before applying to them.

Is there any additional information international students applying for 3-2 engineering programs should be aware of?
There are certain specifics regarding visa sponsorships provided by two partnering institutes of higher education that offer these programs to international students. Financial aid could be also an issue for foreigners who have chosen that track. The liberal arts colleges may be very generous in terms of giving financial aid to international students while engineering schools may not. Unfortunately, financial aid does not accompany a student in his/her “journey” to a new place. Financial aid is still available at some places, but students need to carefully research the information regarding a financial aid policy as well as deadlines and eligibility conditions to apply to it.

Useful links:
3-2 Engineering Program: Is It for You?
Is a 3-2 Engineering Program Right for You?
Considering a 3-2 Dual Engineering Program
3-2 Engineering Programs at Liberal Arts Colleges
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