right arrow
Examples: Monday, today, last week, Mar 26, 3/26/04

Engineering as Undergrad major versus Grad degree?

profdad2021profdad2021 498 replies12 threadsRegistered User Member
edited March 1 in Parents Forum
Seeking info about engineering in college, as an undergrad major versus graduate program. I have heard of ABET accreditation for undergrad programs. Does this exist at the grad level? Is it unusual for STEM majors (not in engineering) to attend grad school in engineering.

Or better way to ask: can a student without an undergraduate ABET accredited engineering degree go to grad school and get ABET accreditation? If yes, would it be possible with an M.S. degree or would the PhD be necessary? And at that level, is the ABET accreditation relevant?

Current thinking is an undergraduate degree in engineering physics which does not come with the accreditation. Grad school maybe aerospace but possibly some other type of engineering.
edited March 1
17 replies
· Reply · Share

Replies to: Engineering as Undergrad major versus Grad degree?

  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 78266 replies690 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    I have heard of ABET accreditation for undergrad programs. Does this exist at the grad level?

    Yes, but rarely. Graduate engineering programs typically have specialized focus rather than general coverage of all relevant areas in that area of engineering.

    http://main.abet.org/aps/Accreditedprogramsearch.aspx lets you look for ABET accredited programs. Note that there are only 36 schools with ABET-accredited programs at the master's degree level, many of which are in other areas that ABET accredits that are not engineering.
    Is it unusual for STEM majors (not in engineering) to attend grad school in engineering.

    Depends on the undergraduate major and the graduate major and subarea. For example, math or statistics to industrial engineering, or computer science to computer engineering, may be more doable than biology to electrical engineering. Engineering physics may be more likely than most other majors to be able to enter a graduate engineering program with less "catch up" work.
    And at that level, is the ABET accreditation relevant?

    Strictly speaking, it is mainly as a prerequisite to Professional Engineering licensing (most common in civil engineering) or the patent exam. However, employers commonly see ABET accreditation as a marker of meeting a minimum quality standard, at least if they do not know the school, even if PE licensing or the patent exam is not applicable.
    Current thinking is an undergraduate degree in engineering physics which does not come with the accreditation. Grad school maybe aerospace but possibly some other type of engineering.

    What is the reason for this, as opposed to studying mechanical or aerospace engineering?
    · Reply · Share
  • profdad2021profdad2021 498 replies12 threadsRegistered User Member
    @ucbalumnus The reasoning is complicated. Are you up for a message?
    · Reply · Share
  • PurpleTitanPurpleTitan 12668 replies29 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Yeah, I don't really understand the rationale either.
    · Reply · Share
  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 7282 replies56 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Some undergrad schools have applied engineering physics majors, that are very much engineering degrees. No issues with applying to engineering grad programs.

    I think I’m confused by your initial post. Is the school your child considering not ABET accredited at all or just in engineering physics? Some very well regarded programs don’t have ABET accreditation so I think it’s very school dependent.
    · Reply · Share
  • profdad2021profdad2021 498 replies12 threadsRegistered User Member
    Thanks for the responses.

    Engineering physics as a major is an option under consideration. But the straight engineering major with the ABET accreditation is probably still feasible as well.

    I think the key concern was this: how many career options are shut down by not getting the undergraduate degree with the ABET accreditation, given that the student does feel like grad school is on the agenda. What I am thinking now, and more relevantly, I think the student concurs, is that it would not do that much to reduce options but still matters some. Probably most significantly, it would put more pressure on heading straight to grad school rather than getting some real world experience upon earning the undergraduate degree. But even that impact might not be that substantive.

    So the kid is thinking on it!
    · Reply · Share
  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 7282 replies56 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    I think the reality is that if you are at a well respected school, ABET probably doesn't matter all that much, unless you want a career in something that requires special licensing (like civil eng), you want your PE, or potentially working for the government.

    IMO, I think the ABET accreditation matters more for students that are lesser known schools. If I recall, I think I remember you posting about Brown? U of Chicago also isn't ABET accredited. I don't think a student graduating from either of those schools is going to have a credibility issue with employers. If your student has internships or co-op experiences as an undergrad, they absolutely could be hirable with a BS in engineering.

    Personally though, my DD choose to only apply to ABET accredited schools. She didn't want to put any limitations on her potential job prospects at 18 years old.
    · Reply · Share
  • thumper1thumper1 74816 replies3279 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    I think the key concern was this: how many career options are shut down by not getting the undergraduate degree with the ABET accreditation, given that the student does feel like grad school is on the agenda.

    According to my husband....getting the PE (professional engineer) matters for certain engineering jobs...anything that requires a PE stamp. He says...one can get the PE without attending an ABET accredited undergrad school, but it is a far easier process to get it if you DO attend a school with ABET accreditation.

    According to my husband, most government work...at the local, state and federal levels...requires that someone have that PE stamp. In addition, if your son wants to be a department chairperson in some businesses, or perhaps have his own business...the PE is important.

    @MaineLonghorn ?
    · Reply · Share
  • PurpleTitanPurpleTitan 12668 replies29 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    But why is graduate school (in engineering) a definite? What are goals?
    · Reply · Share
  • sylvan8798sylvan8798 6648 replies140 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    ^MaineLonghorn is a structural engineer, as is her husband I believe. As they have their own firm, they would both likely have PE licenses. Some engineering fields have little need for a PE. Structural engineering is one where it is almost mandatory to get one at some point. (I had mine before I quit doing that sort of thing.)
    · Reply · Share
  • MaineLonghornMaineLonghorn 38451 replies2107 threadsSuper Moderator Super Moderator
    edited March 3
    ^Yes, that's true. I know it's very hard to get a master's in civil (including structural) engineering without a BS in engineering - my dad was a professor and told me that. Each field is different - you should talk to engineers in the area of your interest.

    Grad school in structures is important because there is so much to learn that it's hard to fit everything in during the time it takes to get a bachelor's.
    edited March 3
    Post edited by MaineLonghorn on
    · Reply · Share
  • LonghaulLonghaul 2616 replies137 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    My son chose ABET for 2 reasons. 1. He felt it opened up more job prospects. 2. Co-op was easier to get and that could permit him to really know if Engineering career was for him.

    I commend you and your son for considering all aspects at this juncture.
    · Reply · Share
  • bopperbopper 14080 replies100 threadsForum Champion CWRU Forum Champion
    At Case Western, the Engineering Physics major is ABET accredited.
    http://bulletin.case.edu/schoolofengineering/engineeringphysics/

    "The Engineering Physics major allows students with strong interests in both physics and engineering to concentrate their studies in the common areas of these disciplines. The Engineering Physics major prepares students to pursue careers in industry, either directly after undergraduate studies, or following graduate study in engineering or physics. Many employers value the unique problem-solving approach of physics, especially in industrial research and development. Its engineering science and design components prepare students to work as professional engineers.

    Students majoring in engineering physics complete the Engineering Core as well as a rigorous course of study in physics. Students select a concentration area from an engineering discipline and must complete a sequence of at least four courses in this discipline. In addition, a senior research project under the guidance of a faculty member is required. The project includes a written report and participation in the senior seminar and symposium.

    The Bachelor of Science in Engineering degree program with a major in Engineering Physics is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET, http://www.abet.org.";

    · Reply · Share
  • doughmomdoughmom 197 replies0 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    DS double majored in math and physics at an LAC and subsequently got a MS in electrical engineering at UCLA. He is now a PE in mechanical engineering (long story) For him the PE was quite important, as it is $25K more a year in salary. In California at least, as long as the grad program is part of a school that has ABET undergrad, you don't have to have the undergrad degree.

    That being said, the MS was difficult at his school at least without previous engineering experience, because you need to finish it before two years. Basically he was forced to take classes without having the prerequisites, and because of that he had to specialize in a narrow (and more physics related) area. The only reason he could do it at all was his very strong math and physics background. But he never got a broader ee background. He had been recruited by a number of engineering PhD programs, and in retrospect that would have been a better way to go in some ways. He would have had more opportunity to take the introductory and mid-level classes without the strict time limit.

    Btw, surprisingly, the engineering board didn't care if he studied ee and not me, as long as he had an engineering degree and passed the me licensing test.
    · Reply · Share
  • MaterSMaterS 1815 replies51 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    The University of Wisconsin offers a BS in Engineering Physics major within the College of Engineering.

    https://www.engr.wisc.edu/department/engineering-physics/

    "Our programs in engineering mechanics and nuclear engineering are accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET, http://www.abet.org.

    The Department of Engineering Physics has not sought ABET accreditation for the engineering physics undergraduate degree because it is intended for those who plan to go on to graduate studies and/or a research-related career. Although the lack of ABET accreditation does not preclude one from obtaining professional licensing, the process is somewhat longer in most states that license professional engineers."
    · Reply · Share
  • gwnorthgwnorth 377 replies8 threadsRegistered User Member
    @profdad2021 an interesting question and one I've been researching as well. DS19 has applied to predominantly Physics programs as it is his preference for a variety of reasons (the flexibility of the degree structure over engineering being a big one). He has applied to one engineering program however and it is Engineering Physics. This program in particular is accredited and gives the option of 4 different engineering streams: electrical, mechanical, computer, and materials. It's a 4 year program but with a very heavy course load. It also will severely limit his ability to take non-program electives but the post-graduation flexibility it would give in terms of employment and graduate school are an upside. I am personally hoping he decides to go this route as I am concerned that if he goes strictly for a B.Sc. in Physics his options will be much more limited. For this reason I've been researching the feasibility of getting an MS in engineering with a Physics undergraduate degree. From what I can see it is a possibility at some schools but the road to professional licencing would be less direct with more hurdles to jump. On the other hand I've been told that not all engineering jobs require you to have professional licencing so I guess it would be an option.
    · Reply · Share
  • OHMomof2OHMomof2 12883 replies242 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    One of my kids' friends did an undergrad Physics (at a LAC where he got a great deal) and then a masters in (mech?) engineering. He wanted an aerospace career and he got it with a very well known manufacturer.
    · Reply · Share
Sign In or Register to comment.

Recent Activity