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3-2 BA Physics/ BS Engineering OR BA Physics and then Masters Engineering?

  1. Dec 13, 2011 #1
    I want to be an engineer. I am doing my undergrad at a small private school that does not offer engineering and only offers a BA Physics (no BS Physics). I'm going to school here because a family member works here and tuition is fully covered.

    My school offers a 3/2 program in conjunction with the University of Maryland College Park. I am earning my physics BA right now and will complete it in Spring '13. I could then start at UMD in Fall '13 to complete an engineering BS in two years. The Physics BA would not be officially awarded until I earn the BS engineering.

    Alternatively, I could graduate with a BA Physics in Spring '13 and then pursue a graduate degree in engineering (2-3 yr).

    I know that the best way to be an engineer is to start out with a BS in engineering so that you can actually earn your PE license. My understanding is that you cannot earn a PE without a BS. And I really want to have lots of job opportunities and lots of flexibility when I put my resume out there. I don't want to be limited.

    The problem is that I'm 23 and am anxious to move on from the bachelors degree so that I can start earning a salary. I'm tired of waiting tables! If I go with the 3/2 program, I will still be pursuing a bachelors at age 26 and I'd be 2 months shy of 27 by the time I would hit the job market. Am I wrong to be horrified by that thought? I think it would be different if I was pursuing a graduate degree at that age.

    Admittedly, I spent 2 years out of school before transferring. It was a tough time for me and I didn't know what I wanted to do with my life. That, combined with the delaying effect of transferring (lost credits, etc.) has put me in this position.

    I'm considering abandoning the engineering goal. My interests are wide-ranging (I started out as a Political Science major).

    What should I do? Where are my level-headed career veterans out there?
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 13, 2011 #2


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    I don't see what the point of 3/2 programs are unless you get a Masters. 2 Bachelor's degrees is a complete waste of time in my opinion.
  4. Dec 13, 2011 #3
    Do you think I would be alright without the Professional Engineer's License?
  5. Dec 13, 2011 #4
    I guess "alright" is pretty vague...

    Do you think I could find plenty of employment without a PE?
  6. Dec 13, 2011 #5
    i'd go for the 3/2, cause you can essentially stay on at UMD and do your masters there with some of the same professors you have for undergrad. also, it's really dumb imo to not get an ABET engineering BS if you have the option. a BS engineering degree + 5 yrs work experience is much better than a graduate degree and no experience (in terms of pay).
  7. Dec 13, 2011 #6
    Yeah, this is what I'm thinking...maybe I just need to get over the age thing. Thanks for the post!
  8. Dec 13, 2011 #7


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    I advise going for the 3-2, too. Since you want to be an engineer anyway, you might as well go that route. It's not unusual for someone to spend 5 years getting an engineering degree so it's not like you're wasting time.

    Advice from someone with a BS physics: it's possible to get an engineering job with a physics degree, but not easy. You have to be a good salesman...something we're not exactly known to be good at.

    Oh and don't worry about entering the job market a bit late...you have decades and decades to be in the work force. Chances are, when you're in your 60s, you won't regret those "lost" few years.
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