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3-2 Dual Degree Programs

  1. Mar 9, 2012 #1
    I am currently a freshman a liberal arts college and have recently taken an interest in engineering as a possible career path. While my school does not directly offer an engineering degree, it does offer a 3-2 dual degree program at Dartmouth, where I spend my junior year and a 5th year there to complete an engineering degree.

    So that sounds great to me but I do have a few concerns. Firstly, I hear that one can only earn a general engineering degree at Dartmouth, as opposed to one in a specific field. How much does this matter and does this significantly devalue my appeal to employers? Any ideas on how this may impact me if I decide to want to apply to a graduate program? And secondly, I have been hearing that Dartmouth's engineering program is not very highly regarded. Should I be concerned about this?

    Thank you very much for taking the time to read this.
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 9, 2012 #2


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    I had a friend who did the 3-2 program with Dartmouth, and then went on to get a masters from Stanford in electrical engineering. So it's not going to limit you very much, if at all.
  4. Mar 9, 2012 #3


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    Generally 3-2 programs are scams used by liberal arts schools to entice enrollments with the illusion of a future engineering degree. The number of students who actually complete the who process is exceedingly small. There are simply too many places to fall through the cracks.

    Go on to the engineering college now, and get to work on a real engineering degree, whether it be at Dartmouth or some other engineering school.

    I have taught for many years, and I have seen both sides of this thing, and it does not serve students well.
  5. Mar 10, 2012 #4
    Reed, for instance, have another one of those "3+2 engineering programs" where one gets a Reed BA and CalTech BS. The catch, as OldEng63 pointed out, is that few persons get in. See if you can find some data with regards to this. Are there many people applying for this program every year? How many get in? Is there a number N of places that won't change regardless of the number of good applicants?

    Once you know that, make a decision. If things look bleak and you really want to do engineering, I'd say transfer out of there.
  6. Mar 10, 2012 #5
    I am looking at a similar program because I missed the chance to get into a good school straight out of high school, and it's probably almost impossible to transfer to a school like Dartmouth from some low-ranked city college, but the 3-2 program gives some hope (whether it's false hope or not) that I might have the opportunity to get into a school with well-known professors in the field which in turn would get me much better opportunities at research programs as opposed to a professor from a small state college recommending me to good REU programs such as the ones overseas in Germany where you even get paid, since the more high-powered professor's word would have more heavy consideration for their respective student.

    That in turn would make my graduate application look better when I apply to top research schools such as Harvard/MIT, where I would have more resources at hand for research due to higher funding at those schools and have access to equipment other lower-ranked schools probably do not have.

    That in turn would probably get me better career opportunities. People always say that your graduate school doesn't matter, but consider the following:
    A prospective employer meets two people with similar credentials and would like both to work for him/her, but one has a PhD from a relatively unknown school, and the other from a brand name school such as Harvard/MIT. As ignorant as it may sound, would the employer not choose the brand name over the other person if they both had similar qualifications? The reality of it is, I feel like, is that no matter what people in the circle of their respective fields think and say that the school itself doesn't matter, I think that people outside of that have no idea and would intuitively pick the guy from Harvard/MIT.

    That, and a personal boost of encouragement. I spoke with someone who never got into top research programs for his field, and he was always second-guessing his abilities by comparing it to colleagues who do almost the same work he does except he gets paid a fraction of what they get, and thinking if he was ever good enough when in reality he was probably just as proficient.

    If a company has to let one of two people go, and both are performing rather similarly, would they not take the risk of keeping the guy from Harvard/MIT and dropping the other person? I mean, that seems to make the most sense.

    For 3-2 programs, I believe you only apply if you meet all the prerequisites, and if you have those then you are automatically granted a guaranteed admission, which is why the 3-2 programs have raised their requirements as of 2011. Previously the minimum GPA was 3.0, but so many people were getting in that they raised their minimum to 3.3 last year. So you need to retain a 3.3 GPA in accordance with the transfer school's standards (not the school you are currently matriculated in), a minimum of 3.0 in all your science and math classes (depending on the major you are applying for) without having retaken any classes (you must achieve a 3.0 on your first attempt at each class) and have 3 LORs. That and of course you need to have been matriculated at that same school for at least 2 years and completed all the required classes for your major, etc.
  7. Mar 10, 2012 #6
    Let me first thank everyone for all the responses. I would really prefer not transferring out of my current school because it really is a large hassle that I don't really want to get myself into. I'm pretty happy with my school right now anyway.

    And I believe getting into the 3-2 program isn't that difficult. The requirements have been raised as of recently (3.5 GPA, a bunch of physics classes that would probably make it impossible to do for anyone who did not come into college skipping intro physics, etc) but I've been told that the just about everybody who apply and fulfill those conditions get in. I guess it helps that physics isn't really that popular at my school.

    Hm, this is interesting. Can you elaborate on the last part and why you feel that it doesn't serve the students well?
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