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Physics major to graduate engineering?

GrapesOfMathGrapesOfMath Posts: 2Registered User New Member
edited November 2012 in College Admissions
I'm interested in physics, CS, and mech engineering, particularly in robotics, but I'm not sure where I want to eventually end up. I don't want to go directly into engineering; it seems like that would really limit my options in the future.

So far I've been thinking of doing a phyics major with a focus on engineering courses (or a minor). Is this a reasonable plan? Would it be possible to get into a good engineering graduate program from this, if I decide to go down that path?
Post edited by GrapesOfMath on

Replies to: Physics major to graduate engineering?

  • drusbadrusba Posts: 7,872Registered User Senior Member
    The issue you face is this: ABET (google it) accredits many undergraduate engineering programs but not graduate programs. To become a licensed "professional engineer" you need an ABET accredited degree although in some states a masters program may qualify. The importance of a PE license is that it is required for certain kinds of management level positions for government, consulting, and building projects, e.g., you need it to be designated the project engineer of a building project. Thus, it is actually the physics to grad school engineering route that may limit your employment opportunities rather than doing an undergrad engineering program.

    If you choose the physics to grad engineering route, it is very possible to get into graduate engineering program although you may have to take as part of the graduate program some undergrad catch up courses that may not count toward the total you need to get a graduate degree.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Posts: 36,837Registered User Senior Member
    If PE licensing and ABET accreditation is a concern, you can look for engineering physics degree programs in the ABET accreditation list at ABET - .

    Note, however, that the ABET engineering physics / engineering science category may include various types of degree programs:

    * Degree programs based on physics, but with some engineering courses in addition, or in substitution of similar physics courses.
    * Degree programs at small schools, where only a single engineering major is offered, but with options to specialize in electrical, mechanical, etc..
    * Degree programs that do not fit into one of the more usual categories.
  • BeanTownGirlBeanTownGirl Posts: 2,725Registered User Senior Member
    Consider applying to an engineering school that has robotics and Mech Eng but that also is strong in sciences. Start out in engineering to see if you like that and go from there. Mech E should be able to minor in physics. Easier to switch out of engineering than into it and graduate in 4 years. Check that the school has a good program to help kids figure out their Engineering major (see Bucknell's intro course) since it will help you decide if engineering is for you.
    In high school my son started out thinking MechEng would be his focus in college, but then he started thinking robotics, then ECE, then ultimately chose CS when he entered college. He feels CS gives you great flexibility for the future and many students do pick up a minor in another subject such as robotics, ECE or even business.
    ABET accreditation is not important in CS.
    If I were you I would at least focus on finding colleges strong in all your interests which shouldn't be hard since they are so interrelated.
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