We will sometimes have a student interested in a traditional pre-med program also be considering a major in some field of engineering. I have discussed in the past my concerns about majoring in engineering if you want medical school in your future. But for the student who really wants an engineering background, there is another option.
3/2 Engineering Programs.
These are programs at many small liberal arts colleges around the country that combine a liberal arts degree with a degree from an affiliated engineering college. Many of the engineering schools have such agreements but two of the most common are with the engineering schools at Washington University in St. Louis and Columbia University.
Typically in these programs the student spends 3 years at their liberal arts college and 2 years at the engineering school. There are several potential benefits with this approach over a traditional engineering degree for pre-meds.
First, having three years of grades outside an engineering program means that the average GPA of students in these programs is often higher than students who spent the entire time at an engineering school. This is because historically, the grading at engineering colleges is harder than in other fields.
The second potential benefit with a 3/2 program is the broader exposure to the liberal arts that comes from such a program. You may wonder why I say that a broader exposure to liberal arts is a benefit and all I have to do is to point to the new MCAT. The old MCAT was 2/3 science and 1/3 non-science. The new MCAT is 1/2 science and 1/2 non-science. Yes, you read that right, medical schools want to see students with an education beyond the basic sciences.
The obvious downside here is that you are spending 5 years in college rather than 4 but since many medical schools prefer to see students with some varied experiences before medical school, that isn’t necessarily bad from an admissions standpoint.
If you are planning on applying to medical school after college but want an engineering degree to make sure you get a job in case you don’t get into medical school, the 3/2 program is definitely something to consider.