3+2: the hidden gem of the US University System

In talks and workshops, I spend a lot of time discussing the wonderful flexibility of the US educational system: how a credit-based system when combined with GPA for assessment and a semester scheduling process allows a ‘buffet style’ educational experience of truly personalised learning.

More recently, I have found myself speaking to students who are seriously considering the field of engineering, but who are not completely sold on this as a route of study for them. They definitely want to apply to university in the USA, but want a broader curriculum than just studying engineering.

It has been wonderful to explain to these students that, for them, there is a solution.

Across the US are a number of what have been termed “3+2” programmes, which allow a student to start with a broad curriculum at a Liberal Arts college for three years, and then move to a research university for the final two years, typically to focus on Engineering. 

The most popular options are those linked to Columbia, Penn State, Georgia Tech, Dartmouth and WashU which I include links to here:

https://undergrad.admissions.columbia.edu/learn/academiclife/engineering/combined-plan-program

https://engineering.wustl.edu/prospective-students/dual-degree/Pages/default.aspx

https://www.engr.psu.edu/academics/dual-degree-program.aspx

https://engineering.case.edu/academics/dual-degree-program

Students following these programmes have the best of both worlds, and for those who are studying at a UK boarding school the transition through a liberal arts college and then into a bigger engineering school can work very well. More students should consider these options, and the potential pathway that they provide.

USADavid Hawkins