Aug 02, 2021  
Course Catalog 2010-2011 
Course Catalog 2010-2011 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]


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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 Case Western Reserve University (Cleveland), the California Institute of Technology (Caltech; Pasadena, California), Columbia University (New York), and Washington University (St. Louis).

To ensure fulfillment of entry requirements at partner engineering schools, students are encouraged to discuss their interest in the program as early as possible with Oberlin’s engineering advisor, Taylor Allen (Biology Department), who is trained as a biomedical engineer (specialization in chemical engineering).

Advanced Placement

AP credit for the courses listed under Major, below, may be granted by the individual departments. See relevant departments in this catalog.

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.


A student may declare 3-2 Engineering as her or his major at Oberlin and take a schedule including the courses listed below. To be accepted by the engineering school, a student normally must maintain a grade point average of 3.0 or greater. If a student does not proceed to an engineering school, she or he must satisfy the requirements for some other major at Oberlin.

Courses in which a student has earned a letter grade lower than a C-/CR or P cannot be used to fulfill the requirements of the major.

The recommendations of the partner engineering schools differ slightly; however, it is generally required that a 3-2 engineering student take the following math and science courses at Oberlin:

Chemistry (CHEM)

Computer Science (CSCI)

Mathematics (MATH)

Physics and Astronomy (PHYS) (ASTR)

Additional Courses

Additional courses are recommended and should be selected in consultation with the engineering advisor, Professor Allen.


There is no minor in engineering.

Graduation Requirements

Because students in this program spend only three years at Oberlin, they must satisfy modified general requirements for the Oberlin degree:

  1. At least 84 credit hours, no more than 63 hours of which may be in a single division and no more than 42 hours of which may be in a single department or program.
  2. Two Winter Term credits.
  3. At least four semesters in residence at Oberlin or on Oberlin College programs, completing not less than 56 hours of College work. Ordinarily, the last 12 Oberlin credit hours must be taken while in residence.
  4. The following general requirements are more completely specified in the section “Requirements for Graduation” in this catalog:
    1. Writing proficiency;
    2. Quantitative proficiency;
    3. Nine credit hours in each of the three divisions of the College;
    4. Nine credit hours in courses from at least two different departments or programs, and dealing mainly with cultural diversity.


There is no Honors Program in engineering.

Other Programs

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.

Winter Term

Students may arrange engineering internships with companies during January. In addition,Washington University offers intensive courses in several engineering fields during January, and one of these may be taken for Oberlin Winter Term credit.

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