Dual-Degree for computer engineering?

Ever since I was a young kid I knew I wanted to work with computers. Well I’m a senior now, and I am kind of second guessing myself. Being first generation and raised by a single mother I always thought my 3.3 GPA was great. On top of that I played varsity football every single year and took 3 AP classes a year. I had that mindset that a 3.3 was okay because I was pushing myself. And that’s why I never took opted to take entry level classes because I was always under the impression that I wouldn’t be pushing myself hard enough. And now I’m looking at decent engineering schools (UCLA, RPI, Georgia Tech) like wow…theyre so competitive and the average gpa is 4.0+. Although my SAT score is mid 1400s (I plan on breaking 1500 in october), I feel like my gpa has compromised by ability to go to a decent engineering schools. I’m looking into alternatives and I came across a dual degree program between Morehouse College and Georgia Tech. Morehouse is a liberal arts black college (my sister went to the sister school, Spelman). It’s known as the 3-2 program because you spend 3 years at your liberal arts college taking a science based curriculum and then spend 2 years at Georgia Tech. You end up with your degree from your liberal arts school and a bachelors in whatever engineering program you took at Georgia Tech. Given that I’m highly competitive for Morehouse, would this be a good idea? Would I be in just as good a position to get a good job than if I did all 4 years at an engineering school? I still plan on applying to USC, UCLA, RPI, GT, although my chances are virtually non existent. Maybe the fact that I’m first generation and a minority would help, but i wouldnt bank on this. Thoughts?

p.s. Sorry for the long paragraph, i’ve been trying to get information on the net for a bit now so this is my last resort for advice. I go to a huge highschool so getting in touch with my counselors for advice is hard.

Liberal arts colleges commonly offer 3-2 engineering programs in conjunction with more technically oriented universities. If you go the Morehouse 3/2 route, then you would ultimately get a Georgia Tech engineering degree, which would be just as good as other Georgia Tech engineering degree. So in theory, it’s a perfectly valid idea.

In practice, however, 3-2 programs are not actually very popular. If you look at liberal arts colleges with such programs, ask about the number of students who actually complete them, because you may find that there are very few. Drawbacks include the following:

  • The 3/2 approach takes 5 years, rather than 4, to get the engineering degree, which obviously means more time and $;
  • liberal arts colleges tend to be comfortable places with strong senses of community. Many students find it very difficult to leave them for good after 3 years, with the prospect of starting over as a new student at a much larger and unfamiliar institution;
  • most liberal arts colleges (including Morehouse) offer degrees in computer science (which is oriented towards software, rather than hardware). So you could work with computers with a 4-year liberal arts degree, without actually transferring to an engineering school. You may not need a computer engineering degree, unless you want to design computer hardware (as opposed to software). http://morehouse.edu/academics/comp/

I couldnt have asked for more of an informative response, thank you! Regarding the amount of students who actually transfer into the 2 year program, how do I find this information? Am I able to call and ask?

Three-two programs can be tough to coordinate unless the two schools are in close proximity as these schools are. I would look very closely at the “joint” program from the prospective of both of the school’s admissions offices. You want to be sure you know the rules before you are too far into the program. What grades are they looking for in the calculus and physics classes for you to jump over to the math/physics classes at Georgia tech?

Morehouse is an excellent school! The applied math focus at GT may be more intense because of the University’s subject focus. Do you need to gain admission to the program after some time at Morehouse or are you assured admission after certain grades in certain courses?

Good luck! May the force be with you!

Most liberal arts colleges will have a 3/2 advisor, most likely a faculty member in the Physics department. Search the website, figure out who it is, and email that person for more info. Don’t be shy, it’s a liberal arts college, so the faculty will be friendly. See, for example:

How good are you at football? Maybe not good enough for Georgia Tech or USC, but what about the NCAA Division III level? Would you be good enough to play DIII football for a school like Morehouse?

Turns out that engineering ability and football ability don’t commonly occur together. So some engineering-oriented schools might be interested in a prospective engineering student that is also good enough to play football at the DIII level. Possible examples: RPI, WPI, Rose-Hulman (or maybe even Carnegie Mellon or MIT). In this case, you would email the football coach for more info.

I’m good, but whether I’m good enough to play at those schools, I don’t know. The most disqualifying factor is my size (6’1 200 lb) which is small for a defensive end. But it’s a choice I can better look into when I get further into my football season.

@eaglesalex It really doesn’t matter what school you get your engineering degree from as long as it is ABET accredited. One thing to factor in with your college choice decision is the GPA you must maintain to keep merit scholarships. If it is a 3.3 then that will likely by too much pressure. What is more important as a future engineer will be your internships.

Start with your safety school. Being at a school that is not so intense could actually help you become more successful. You can always go to your favorite schools for grad school. Your plan to start at Morehouse could be a good one. What are you thinking about for a second major? What is the highest level of math have you taken at high school?

@eaglesalex Just wanted to add, regarding adding in football… I only went to school for mechanical engineering. Computer engineering has to be the most difficult discipline of engineering IMO. My son is a dual major Computer Engineering/Japanese. It’s hard enough to get enough sleep without the additional pressure of a sports program. College will be very different than high school. Adding in football with Computer Engineering sounds absolutely exhausting. If you HAVE to do that for financial reasons, then just take it one step at a time and consider lightening up with a summer program. You will likely have to have certain core classes at Morehouse so you can transition into CE but you might want to consider a second major like Communications. Being a Computer Engineer who was accomplished at technical writing and public speaking would make you more valuable.

A second major is business econ. I’m currently in ap government/honors economics and it has made me quite interested in the field. Math wise, I’ve only worked my way up to precalculus. ( I know! ): ) I wanted to take it over summer to so I could do calculus this year but I couldn’t afford it and I was at West Point for their Summer Leadership Experience.

Also, I feel like a 3.3 is not hard to maintain, especially since a majority (all but math) of the classes I’ve taken in highschool were college level AP + I could never get started on my homework until 8pmish because of football. I don’t plan on playing football anymore so I definitely feel that with my intelligence level I can maintain a 3.4-3.6. But i could just be overconfident.

@eaglesalex A 3.3 is difficult for engineering majors to maintain period. That is no reflection of intelligence level. Many, many times on here we have students who had to maintain the 3.3 for engineering and simply couldn’t do it. I think I was only a 3.4 ish. GPA at graduation. My son who found high school easy and his first year at college easy only has just above a 3.3 now. That can be a high bar with a lot of pressure. One or two bad classes have such a big imoact.

All I am saying is that if you can choose a college with a merit requirement of 3.0 ( or the ideal 2.7) it should be a strong consideration. Some of the computer classes are all or nothing. If your programs break, you don’t get partial credit. You get a zero. If you were my son, I’d recommend the larger safety net if possible. Also, and it took my son a semester or two to figure this out, never hesitate to go to tutoring. It’s kind of like survival in CE.

Business Economic sounds great. Pre Cal is O’k . I was just trying to get a feel for your freshman year and your wiggle room for being able to lighten up. If you can take AP Chemistry, that is nice not to have to take in college. AP Physics AB did not count for graduation credits for my son in CE.

@eaglesalex The nice thing about your 3/2 plan is that you could buffer your GPA before you hit the hard core classes at GTech. I don’t think you should second guess yourself. You sound very hard working and determined and those are the people who succeed at college. You will be valued for the work you produce not the school you attend but your last school will stand out the most. Your mom must be very proud of you. That is a great field to aspire to and your future looks very bright.

okay, thank you! Virginia Tech, another one of my options, have a merit requirement of 3.0. But once again in terms of admissions, my GPA is 3 points below their average. My SAT is 150 points above. I hope they look at my GPA in terms of the course load I took and the amount of hours I had to dedicate to athletics, and not just think I’m not qualified or lazy.

edit: I just saw your last reply & and I very much appreciate the confident boost. The rigor of the engineering path must be the reason why so many people switch out of it. But I’m motivated and really cant see myself being outside of the field. Business econ is the only alternative I think i would want to do.

I’m guessing your not a CA resident. You should know there is absolutely no financial aid given to OOS students at UC schools regardless of their financial need.

You should look more into what career you want. CS people work with computers (both standalone and those embedded in other devices) and the field is in huge demand today, although I won’t try to predict what it will be like in 5 years or in 15 years. Computer engineers work on the hardware side on things, but with the increasing use of VLSI chips and the consolidation of the industry (Sun, SGI, Apollo, DEC, Data General, Tandem, are all gone) it is a declining field. And to get a job where you are making decisions about overall design and features rather than just working on some small piece of a chip you’ll need a PhD. Really do some research into the field, talk to some actual engineers, before you make a bunch of college decisions based on the name “computer engineering”

I’ve lived in CA my whole life haha :slight_smile:

@eaglesalex I don’t think that anyone would look at your transcript and think you’re either unqualified or lazy. Being an athlete/scholar like you are requires enormous amounts of self discipline and hard work. What might happen is that you are admitted to the university and then admitted to the college of engineering after a good freshman year.

I know that you want to go to a decent engineering school and I like your ambition (BTW GTech is 5th in the US for CE, more of a top school rather than decent :wink: ) but the reality for many engineering students is affordability. What is your home state? Georgia? It may be that a BS at Morehouse in say Computer Science and then a graduate degree at GTech (which your employer might pay for - cross fingers) makes the most sense financially.

You might be interested in cyber security or forensics or information retrieval in Computer Science more than hardware design of Computer Engineering. It’s hard to know exactly what direction to go in but visit the colleges and sit in on classes. Engineering is a practical field. Name won’t be as important as performance.

You need to run the NPC for each college to see what the financial aid package could be. Just for kicks, I reviewed the CS curriculum at Morehouse. Looks solid but if you went there because it made the most financial sense, I would consider the National Student Exchange program which would allow to to go to one of hundreds of universities in the US where you could take specialized CS classes.


are you using computer science and computer engineering interchangeably ? Or are you suggesting computer science is a field in high demand whereas computer engineering is in decline?

@gearmom those focuses in computer science seem like a career I’d like, I’ll look into them. My home state is California. I listed Morehouse and Georgia Tech because my sister went to school at Spelman across the street from Morehouse. I’m not really interested in going to school in-state, and my family keeps telling me to not let our financial situation affect my college choice- that they’d figure a way out for me. Another thing is, I feel like the engineering schools in California are impossible for me to get into and thats another thing leading me to out of state schools.

@eaglesalex That is so funny. Everyone everywhere else is trying to get instate tuition for California.

Well, this puts you at square one. I don’t know anything about affordability but since it is in your part of the US, you may want to look at the University of Washington, University of Arizona and Arizona State for Computer Science. Probably the University of Arizona might come in the lowest. For super value in engineering, most people seem to include the University of Alabama Huntsville. And there are the Midwestern colleges, Colorado School of Mines, Montana State that I don’t know much about. Another value option could be UMass Lowell in the Northeast and the more expensive flagship UMass Amherst. Maybe check out Rutgers in NJ also.

A place like UMass would specialize in Artificial Intelligence and Information Retrieval and the University of Washington big data.


@eaglesalex per post #15. I wasn’t trying to use Computer Science and Computer Engineering interchangeably. Morehouse only seemed to have CS. Are you certain you are more interested in hardware rather than software? Both should be increasingly important in the future. I don’t think that you could go wrong.

California does have some of the best universities for computer fields in the country. Maybe don’t remove all of those options but perhaps choose your favorite California uni as a safety. California as your home state would have changed the advice you have received IMO.

@gearmom well that’s a lot of more research I’m gonna have to start doing. Just when I thought I was starting to figure things out. This process is so complicated. I just looked at some of the out of state tuitions, and Im just like wow…I heard that private institutions will give more financial aid though I don’t even know where to start looking. But I’ll take advantage of my 3 day weekend and get started.