At liberal arts colleges across the U.S., many students wishing to pursue a career in engineering or nursing opt to leave their undergraduate institution a year earlier than most students.
Wheaton is one of many liberal arts colleges to offer 3-2 engineering and nursing programs rather than a four year bachelor of science of engineering or nursing degree. This structure allows students to take foundational classes for their career while also experiencing the richness of a liberal arts education.
It is uncommon to find a liberal arts college that offers a four year engineering or nursing degree. Lafayette College in Pennsylvania and Smith College in Massachusetts are two exceptions, according to U.S. News. Both schools offer a four-year Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts in engineering degree. After earning a B.S. or B.A. in engineering, a student can immediately begin working or can go on to earn a master’s or Ph.D.
Students who complete a 3-2 program in engineering earn a B.S. or B.A. in engineering from the liberal arts college and a B.S. in their chosen engineering discipline from an engineering school.
Students who complete a 3-2 nursing program earn a B.S. from their liberal arts college and an appropriate degree (BSN, MSN) from a two-year nursing school.
The 3-2 program, as compared to a four-year program offered by universities, produces prospective students with the necessary technical skills for their profession as well as proficiency in writing, communication and diversity.
Provost Stanton Jones stated, “We believe this provides a superior education, one with a firm grounding in the Christian liberal arts as well as the well-honed professional skills that come through the advanced training at the partner institutions.”
Sophomore Leandra Price has found the dual-degree nursing program at Wheaton to be, overall, a “huge blessing” because it will allow her to “participate in a direct-entry Master’s program at top caliber schools after only 3 years of undergraduate education.”
However, she has had to sacrifice certain opportunities unique to Wheaton. Price came to Wheaton hoping to participate in the HNGR program, but “after talking with the program directors, learned that there would be no way to work that out without having to add another year” to her undergraduate education.
Engineering student Adam Dansdill had to take a semester off in order to play football his senior year, forcing the originally five year program to become a five and half year program. Dansdill said, “I wish I could finish the entire program within 4 years and stay at Wheaton for all 4 years and graduate with all my friends.”
Many students have found this to be the greatest disadvantage to the dual degree program at Wheaton.
Wheaton works with several universities for engineering, including the University of Illinois in Urbana, which ranked sixth in a list of the best engineering schools in the United States, according to U.S. News.
The nursing program is school-specific and includes Emory University and Vanderbilt University, whose nursing schools ranked tenth and eleventh in the U.S. in 2015.