3-2 Engineering Program

Students planning advanced study in engineering may complete a full bachelor of arts course at Grinnell before graduate school, or they can follow a 3-2 program in engineering. The 3-2 program allows students to spend three years at Grinnell and two years in one of the engineering programs affiliated with Grinnell:

  • Columbia University
  • California Institute of Technology
  • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
  • Washington University

(Second-year students interested in engineering can alternatively consider the year-long off-campus-study 2-1-1-1 track in  Dartmouth College’s Dual Degree Program)

At the end of the fourth year the student receives a bachelor of arts degree from Grinnell. At the end of the fifth year the student receives a bachelor of science or bachelor of engineering degree from the affiliated university in a major not offered at Grinnell.

In either case, the prospective engineer studies the natural sciences as an integral part of a liberal education. Students are required to establish at Grinnell a strong foundation in mathematics, physics, and chemistry. A broad base of knowledge in the humanities and social sciences also is strongly recommended. The required science courses are those taken by any student with a serious interest in science, so a definite commitment to engineering is not necessary until enrollment at the engineering school.

For more information about the 3-2 program, please contact the 3-2 liaison officer, Paul Tjossem.

If you would like to be added to the 3-2 program email list, please contact Kylie Rawlins.

Requirements for transfer to Columbia University, Washington University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, or California Institute of Technology

Typical Requirements of All Four Schools

(Please check affiliate’s individual requirements.)

  • Mathematics through Linear Algebra (Math 215) and Differential Equations (Math 220)
  • Two semesters of physics (Physics 131-132)
  • One semester of chemistry (Chemistry 129 or 210); more for chemical engineering programs
  • 3.3 GPA; higher GPA is required for some programs and some schools

Special Requirements: Columbia University (Combined Plan)

  • One course in computing, a knowledge of C, C++, Java, Python, or MATLAB
  • One course of economics
  • 27 non-technical credit hours

Washington University (Dual Degree) 

  • One course in computing (CSC 161)
  • Fifteen hours of humanities and social studies, with at least six hours in humanities and at least three hours in social studies

California Institute of Technology (3-2)

  • Recommended: two additional courses in physics (Modern Physics and Mechanics)
  • A year of chemistry
  • Twenty-four semester hours of humanities and social studies. At least six of these hours must be in humanities (art, history, languages, literature, music, philosophy) and at least six hours must be in social studies (anthropology, economics, political science, psychology).

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (Transfer Admission)

  • One additional semester of physics
  • Four courses in humanities and social studies
  • Persons interested in chemical engineering should have a year of organic chemistry.
  • Those interested in environmental or biomedical engineering should have some cell biology.
  • A major at Grinnell must be completed, but credit to complete it can be transferred back from the engineering school. Usually a Grinnell major in chemistry, computer science, mathematics, or physics is required.

Please note that Grinnell College financial aid does not extend to the student's time at the engineering school. Check with the engineering school for their current financial aid policy.

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