Five Reasons a 3-2 Engineering Program Could Be Right For You

3-2 Engineering Programs partner liberal arts colleges with engineering programs at larger universities so that students can experience the perks of a small school with flexible major options and then go on to pursue their passion for engineering. The student ends up with two bachelor degrees, one in a liberal arts discipline and one in engineering, completing the program in a full five years.


  1. You want experience a variety of classes in other disciplines, but want to ultimately go into engineering. According to the Columbia Combined Plan program, a 3-2 degree “enables students to receive both a liberal arts and an engineering education, getting the best of what each educational experience has to offer. Students will receive a B.A. degree in a liberal arts field as well as a B.S. in an engineering discipline from Columbia.” It will take three years in the liberal arts and two years in the engineering school.

  2. You want to strengthen your writing skills, while also receiving a quality STEM education. Having courses in a traditional liberal arts setting will prepare you for the academic rigor of later engineering courses, while also giving you a solid foundation in writing and speaking skills that you might not gain otherwise. If you don’t want to give up your humanities courses for a full engineering load, a 3-2 program might help facilitate that more easily.

  3. A low teacher-to-student ratio is important to your learning style. Through a 3-2 program, you can take courses at smaller colleges in classrooms with fewer students and more one-on-one interactions with professors, but transfer to a larger university’s engineering program with the skills of hands-on research and communicating with instructors.

  4. You might want to go into engineering, but you don’t want to commit too early. You can always start out in a 3-2 program and complete your undergraduate degree at that four year small liberal arts college. It’s much more difficult to transfer into engineering programs later. It keeps your options open, and lets you explore as you learn and attend school.

  5. You’re looking for a potential leg up with future employers. Jobs in engineering are growing more competitive, and having writing and thinking skills outside of a strict engineering route might help with a job search when you’re out in the world.

If you want more advice on applying to 3-2 programs or what an engineering route might look like, contact Hughes College Prep to meet one-on-one with an advisor to discuss your options and interests.

Mary Milodragovich