3-2 Engineering FAQ
Below are some of the frequently asked questions about the 3-2 engineering program.
- If I follow the recommended curriculum, achieving at least the minimum GPA for those courses, will I automatically be accepted into an engineering school? In other words, could a student possibly go through the three year program and then miss out on the goal of completing his or her degree at Caltech or Columbia?
To qualify for the program, a student must meet all of Oxy's requirements for graduation (save for the completion of a major). Then with a strong academic record and a letter of recommendation by the Liaison Officer on behalf of the faculty, he or she is automatically accepted by Columbia. Caltech, by contrast, reviews the applications themselves. However, we never submit applications to Caltech unless we truly feel the student is up to the challenge -- and in the last many years most of the names we've submitted have been accepted for admission. But it's not automatic.
- If I'm not yet certain what form of engineering I wish to pursue, which Sequence should I follow?
You should discuss the situation with your adviser, but generally speaking the Physical Sequence confers the greatest flexibility for students who have not yet decided on a field of engineering. Note, however, that the three sequences are largely identical in the first year.
- If I follow the recommended 3-2 curriculum but then elect to stay at Oxy, will I still be able to graduate after four years?
A student working to enter the 3-2 program can switch to any major the College offers during the first or second year, and to most physical science majors during the junior year. In addition, advisers will insist that juniors take courses which will enable them to graduate at the end of the fourth year should they decide for whatever reason to stay at Oxy.
- How many students typically enroll in this program each year?
In a typical incoming class, a good 20 students express interest; by the time they get to junior year, we rarely have more than 3. The reasons for this are varied: some students don't make the grade, some decide that engineering (and sometimes even science) is not for them. Some students, who would certainly make the cut, decide they'd rather spend the 4th year at Oxy, get their degree, and then go on to a (typically two year) master's degree program in engineering.
- Of those accepted into the 3-2 program, what percentage go on to complete the two-degree program?
So far, 100%
- How do I enroll in the program?
Sometime during the junior year -- typically mid-fall semester for Columbia, early spring semester for Caltech -- prospective engineering students are contacted by the 3-2 Liaison Officer to discuss their academic records and obtain copies of all the required forms.
- When a student enters the two year program at Caltech or Columbia, does his or her Oxy scholarship transfer too?
Alas, no, Oxy financial aid does not generally travel with the student. Financial aid for 3-2 students once they matriculate to Caltech or Columbia is completely determined by the engineering school. Having said that, we have not had a single case in which a 3-2 student was unable to attend Caltech or Columbia due to financial constraints.
- Can a student who transfers into Oxy qualify for the 3-2 program?
Generally speaking, no. In order to qualify for a degree from Occidental College a student must earn a minimum of 64 units at Oxy (typically two years of coursework). Moreover, the engineering programs require that students actually spend three years at Oxy.
- I've heard there's also a 4-2 Program. How does it differ from the 3-2 Program.
The 4-2 Program requires that the student complete a four-year Bachelor of Arts degree at Occidental, followed by two years of work in engineering leading to a Master of Science degree. Note that this program is only in conjunction with Columbia, and as a graduate program admission is not automatic.
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