Department of Physics

PLU Dual-Degree Engineering Program


The Dual-Degree Engineering Program at Pacific Lutheran University provides students with the opportunity to combine a liberal arts education with rigorous study in engineering. Students who complete the program earn two degrees -- one from PLU and the other from an ABET-accredited engineering school. For the well-prepared student, the total length of study is five years: three years at PLU and two years at the engineering school. Hence, the program is often referred to as the "Three-Two Engineering Program."

Many subdisciplines of engineering are available to students in the dual-degree program, including electrical, mechanical, civil, chemical, aerospace, and biomedical engineering. Formal agreements are maintained with Columbia University in New York City and Washington University in St. Louis (WUSTL). At both schools, three-two students form a community. They share residence facilities, and often are enrolled in many of the same courses. PLU students who have participated in the three-two program tell us of their rich cultural and academic experiences at both schools, and they are routinely very pleased with their decision to have participated in the three-two program.

The PLU Degree

The dual-degree student is awarded a PLU degree when the PLU requirements are satisfied and the program of study at the engineering school is completed.

 The PLU degree that is typically awarded to dual-degree students is the Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Physics. The B.A. in Physics is well-recognized by engineering schools, and is the most frequently-awarded degree by four-year schools with dual-degree programs. The physics degree can be selected by three-two students in all engineering subdisciplines, but students wishing to study chemical engineering often choose to obtain the B.A. in Chemistry from PLU.     

Transferring to non-affiliated engineering schools

Occasionally, PLU students choose to transfer to a non-affiliated engineering school (institutions other than Columbia or WUSTL) for the final two years of their undergraduate studies. PLU nonetheless recognizes these students as participants in the three-two program, and a PLU degree is awarded upon successful completion of an ABET-accredited engineering program. However, since our curriculum is not specifically designed to mesh smoothly with the courses offered by unaffiliated institutions, the total time required for completion of requirements is often more than five years.

It is therefore highly advised that students who transfer to any school other than Columbia or WUSTL identify their chosen institution early in their academic careers, so we can work to minimize inefficiencies in the transfer process.  Also, since in those cases the engineering school views our dual degree students as ordinary transfer students, there is no special accommodation for advising or housing.

Students who choose to attend non-affiliated engineering schools assume their own advising responsibility for the transfer process; while PLU's Dual-Degree Director will be happy to offer some general guidance in such cases, specific advice about the engineering school's entrance requirements and transferability of PLU's courses must be sought by the student directly from the engineering school's undergraduate advisers.

Student Advising

Individual departments do not provide advice on the dual-degree program. All prospective dual-degree students, regardless of their intended engineering subdiscipline, should consult with the dual-degree director very early in their academic program. Entering students who are interested in the dual-degree program should meet with the program director before registering for their first year of coursework at PLU. Current PLU students who wish to select the dual-degree program should meet with the program director as soon as possible.

PLU and the participating engineering schools recommend that three-two students use their time at PLU to secure their academic foundations in mathematics, physics and chemistry rather than trying to specialize too early in their program of study. Math skills are particularly important to develop. Students should concentrate on the fundamentals while at PLU and leave the engineering courses to the engineering schools.

PLU Requirements

In order to earn a PLU degree in the Dual Degree program, the following requirements must be satisfied:

   (1) Completion of the following science and mathematics courses (44 hours)

Mathematics (16 hours): 151, 152, 253 and either MATH 351 or PHYS 354
(14 hours): 153 and 163, 154 and 164, and 223
Chemistry (8 hours): 115, 116
Computer Science and Computer Engineering (6 hours): 131 and 144.

   (2) (a) For the B.A. in Physics: completion of an additional 12 semester hours of electives in science and mathematics from the following courses: MATH 331, 356; PHYS 221, 240, 331, 333, 334, 336; CSCE 245. CHEM 341 may be substituted for PHYS 333. The particular courses chosen will depend on the intended subdiscipline and the engineering school's entrance requirements. Students should consult with the program director before choosing their electives.

        (b) For the B.A. in Chemistry: completion of organic chemistry (CHEM 331, 332, 333, 334) and physical chemistry (CHEM 341, 342, 343).

   (3) Completion of the General University Requirements as specified in the catalog, except that the following general requirements are waived for all dual-degree students:
      (a) completion of a minimum of 128 semester hours on the PLU transcript;
      (b) completion of a minimum of 40 semester hours from courses numbered 300 and above;
      (c) the requirement that at least 20 of the minimum 40 semester hours of upper division work must be taken at PLU;
      (d) the requirement that the final 32 semester hours of a student's program be completed in residence at PLU;
      (e) the requirement that the senior seminar/project be completed at PLU. Senior projects from the engineering school (a characteristic of ABET-accredited schools) will satisfy the PLU senior project requirement for dual-degree students upon approval of the project by the appropriate PLU department chair.

   (4) Completion of an engineering degree from an ABET-accredited engineering school.

Engineering School Requirements

The course of study at the engineering school will depend on both the school and the subdiscipline. Between Columbia and Washington University, approximately twenty different engineering subdisciplines are available to dual-degree students. These include the usual subdisciplines (civil, chemical, electrical, mechanical) and others such as operations research, applied mathematics, geological engineering and systems science. Details are available from their websites, or the PLU program director.

Academic Expectations

The minimum GPA requirements for all baccalaureate degrees that would normally apply to a PLU student are not sufficient to gain guaranteed entry into an engineering school in the Dual-degree program. Both Columbia and Washington University require a cumulative grade point average of 3.30/3.25 or higher, AND that average or better in mathematics, science and engineering courses. PLU's corresponding requirements are 2.0 and C-, respectively. Students who do not meet these requirements for guaranteed entry are considered on a case-by-case basis. Although students who choose to transfer to another engineering school may be able to gain admission with slightly lower grades than those required by Columbia University and WUSTL, all prospective engineering students are well-advised to use the higher standard as a more realistic indication of what will be expected of them in the engineering school.

You should not take any pass-fail courses in mathematics, science, or engineering. Although the pass-fail option for major courses is allowed by PLU in some cases (e.g., before a major is declared), it is often not allowed by the engineering school. 

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Faculty: William Greenwood (Physics), 2012-2013 Dual Degree Program Director.