3+2 Online Engineering Programs: How To Earn Dual Degrees in 5 Years

On average, engineering schools tend to be more expensive than traditional liberal arts colleges. They also tend to be quite rigorous. The 3+2 engineering program is a great way to save some money, and ease into the undergraduate experience before diving headlong into the engineering discipline. This unique program is designed for students who are interested in a well-rounded educational experience but who also wish to ultimately graduate with an undergraduate degree in engineering. Students who complete a 3+2 engineering program will earn two bachelor’s degrees over the course of five years—one in a liberal arts subject of their choosing, and the other in engineering.

If you’ve already earned an associate’s degree, or you’ve completed a significant number of credits toward a bachelor’s degree in engineering, you might be better served by a degree completion program. If this describes your situation, check out our Guide to Online Engineering Bachelor’s Degree Completion Programs to learn more.

Otherwise, read on to find out if an online 3+2 engineering degree program is right for you.

What Is a 3+2 Engineering Degree Program?

A 3+2 engineering degree program is a course of education in which participating students can earn a bachelor’s degree from a liberal arts college over the course of three years. Upon completion, students then transfer to an engineering school, where they have an opportunity to earn their bachelor’s degree in engineering. At the end of this five year program, students will depart with two bachelor’s degrees.

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How Does a 3+2 Engineering Degree Program Work?

3+2 engineering degree programs work through agreements between liberal arts colleges and engineering schools. Typically, the liberal arts school you attend will be directly affiliated with one or several engineering schools. By enrolling in this program, you’ll pursue a traditional (though slightly accelerated) liberal arts degree, where you can focus on subjects such as literature, political science, history, sociology, and much more.

As you pursue this degree, your program will also include an array of engineering prerequisites designed to prequalify you for your engineering degree program and to help prepare you for the challenges of this rigorous math- and science-intensive course of education.

Once this program is completed, and all prerequisites are satisfied, students will transfer directly into an affiliated two-year engineering program. This dual degree program removes many of the practical and bureaucratic hurdles that can accompany the traditional transfer process.

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What Is an Online 3+2 Engineering Degree Program?

The online variation of the 3+2 engineering degree program allows students to earn all or parts of both degrees through remote education. This is a particularly appealing option for students who may plan to seek part-time employment in their field either while, or immediately after, working toward a liberal arts degree. The online variation of this dual degree program makes it possible to pursue one or both degrees through asynchronous and remote learning channels. As a result, the online 3+2 engineering degree program is a great option for students who must balance the pursuit of a degree with work and personal responsibilities.

It is important to note, as you pursue the engineering degree portion of your program, that many engineering degree programs will require you to participate in some amount of in-person collaboration, lab work or internship. This is often true even for online programs so be sure that you are aware of any in-person requirements and be prepared for travel if necessary. Depending on the nature of your program, you may be expected to visit campus at least once, or several times, during a semester. Some programs may allow you to complete these in-person requirements through an internship program in your locality.

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How Can I Be Eligible for an Online 3+2 Engineering Program?

The 3+2 engineering program is typically one that you undertake at the very start of your undergraduate education. Therefore, this is a program that really is reserved for students who know early on in their education that they plan to pursue the engineering discipline. If you can make this determination as you approach high school graduation, gaining access to a 3+2 program will be similar to the traditional application process.

The major difference, of course, is that you must find schools that actually offer such programs. There are two ways to do this. The first option is to research undergraduate liberal arts schools and find out who offers this dual degree program. The other option is to research engineering schools and find out if any maintain such affiliations with liberal arts colleges.

The other thing to note about eligibility is that your acceptance into an engineering school following completion of your liberal arts degree is not necessarily guaranteed, even if you are enrolled in a 3+2 program. Some engineering programs may require you to have met a certain performance threshold (such as a 3.0 GPA) before you can be admitted. Others may require an admission process with application, essay, and letters of recommendation similar to the process that you underwent before admission to your liberal arts school. These terms of admission vary from one program to the next. Be sure that you understand, and are prepared to satisfy, all the requirements for transfer as you work toward completion of your liberal arts degree.

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What Are the Benefits of an Online 3+2 Engineering Degree Program?

As noted above, engineering schools are often more expensive than traditional liberal arts colleges. The dual degree program allows you to pursue your basic education building blocks at an affordable liberal arts school before moving into a more costly engineering school in the final phase of your education.

But the benefits are more than just financial. For many students, making the transition into undergraduate studies at a large school can be extremely challenging, both academically and emotionally. These challenges may be compounded for students facing the unique rigors of an engineering program.

Many 3+2 programs are housed at smaller and more intimate liberal arts colleges. This provides the participating student with a chance to acclimate to the demands of higher education in a more supportive environment before moving into the more competitive and fast-paced world of engineering.

But perhaps the most important benefit is the access that this program gives students to a well-rounded educational experience. Though engineering is a technical field driven by mathematics and the hard sciences, employers prize job candidates who possess valuable transferable skills like communication, collaboration, and creativity. These are skills that you’ll get the chance to discover, build and refine through your liberal arts education. Ultimately, these skills will improve your employment opportunities and generally help you to become a more well-rounded and versatile engineering professional.

If a 3+2 dual degree program sounds like the right path for you, start by checking out the Best Online Bachelor’s Degrees in Engineering. Contact the schools on your list to find out who offers this specialized degree opportunity.

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