3-2 Engineering FAQ

Below are some of the frequently asked questions about the 3-2 Engineering Program.

1. If I follow the recommended curriculum at Oxy, achieving at least the minimum GPA for those courses, will I automatically be accepted into an engineering school? [Or in other words, could a student potentially go through the three-year program and then miss out on the goal of completing his or her second degree at Columbia or Caltech?

To qualify for the program, a student must meet all of Oxy's requirements for graduation (apart from the completion of a major). Then, with a strong academic record and letters of recommendation from Oxy faculty, he or she must apply to an engineering school. Beginning for students entering college in the Fall of 2019, admission to Columbia will no longer be guaranteed; however, Oxy students will receive priority in admission review. Caltech also does not guarantee admission, and generally expects a higher gpa.

2. 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 offers the greatest flexibility for students who have not yet decided on a field of engineering. Note that the three sequences are largely identical in the first year.

3. 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 undertaking the 3-2 program can switch to any major the College offers during their first or second year, and to most physical science majors during their junior year. Advisers will insist that juniors pursue coursework that will enable them to graduate at the end of the fourth year, should they decide to stay at Oxy.

4. 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, there are rarely 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 make the cut decide they'd rather spend their 4th year at Oxy, get their degree, and then go on to a (typically two-year) master's degree program in engineering. (See Question #9, below.)

5. Of those accepted into the 3-2 program, what percentage go on to complete it?

So far, 100%.

6. How do I enroll in the second phase of 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 all the required forms.

7. When a student enters the two-year program at Columbia or Caltech, 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 Columbia or Caltech is completely determined by the engineering school. That said, we have not had a single case in which a 3-2 student was unable to attend either institution due to financial constraints.

8. 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.

9. I've heard there's also a “4-2 Program.” How does it differ from the 3-2 program?

This not a formal program, but rather an alternative approach to studying engineering. In the 4-2 scenario, the student completes a four-year bachelor of arts degree at Oxy (usually in physics, chemistry, math, or computer science), and then applies to graduate schools for two-year master of science programs in engineering. Many students opt for this approach because it allows them to get the most out of their Oxy experience.