Whereas pure scientists seek to understand phenomena and to gain new insights, practicing engineers devise solutions to real-world problems within an array of constraints ranging from laws and ethics to costs and environmental impacts. As indicated by the etymology of engineer, engineers need to be ingenious in their design of solutions.
The 3-2 Engineering Program is designed to develop within students not just the requisite grounding in science and mathematics, but also the creativity, effectiveness in communication, and sensitivity to real-world problems that are hallmarks of successful engineers. In the program, students pursue studies in the liberal arts, including mathematics and sciences, during three years at Oberlin and then complete an accredited schedule of engineering courses during two years at an affiliated engineering school. At the end of five years, students receive two degrees: a Bachelor of Arts from Oberlin and a Bachelor of Science in Engineering from the engineering school. The latter degree allows recipients to sit for the professional licensing examination for engineers. Oberlin’s partners for the 3-2 program are California Institute of Technology (Caltech; Pasadena), Case Western Reserve University (Cleveland), Columbia University (New York), and Washington University (St. Louis).
The 3-2 program strives to prepare students for professional practice of engineering as licensed engineers, as well as for graduate research training. Graduates of the program are expected early in their careers to emerge as leaders in their chosen field, whether design, analysis, management, education, or research. The specific learning outcomes for students at the time of graduation after three years at Oberlin and two years at engineering school follow.
See information about Research, Internships, Study Away and Experiential Learning (RISE).
Students interested in engineering may spend four years at Oberlin, major in an appropriate natural science or in mathematics, and then work toward a Bachelor of Science in Engineering degree or an advanced degree at an engineering school. Please note that generally it is the BSE degree, not an advanced degree, that is needed for one to become a licensed professional engineer.
AP credit for the courses listed under Major, below, may be granted by the individual departments. See relevant departments in this catalog.
Majors and Minors
Entry-Level Course Sequence Suggestions
It is suggested that first-year students interested in engineering take a mathematics course (MATH 133, 134, 231, or 234), as well as either chemistry or physics during their first year at Oberlin.