Get a masters in civil engineering or continue with dual degree and get a mechanical?

I am a first-year and currently go to Vassar, an LAC with no engineering. We have a dual degree with Dartmouth, but the problem is that Dartmouth does not have a civil engineering bachelors. I am thinking about just getting a masters in civil with a physics undergrad, but then I have found out almost all masters are not ABET-accredited. Should I continue with the dual degree even though it is a mechanical bachelors? If I do not have ABET-accreditation with a civil masters what jobs could I get? I have read that a PE in civil is almost required, and NY state says to even sit for the FE exam I need a bachelors in civil. My goal is to work at an architectural/engineering firm such as Arup, SOM, or Foster as I am majoring in physics with a minor in architectural studies. Technically, I am undecided between civil engineering and architecture so I am not sure whether I will get an M.Eng/M.S or M.Arch. Is it necessary for me to transfer?

Civil engineering is probably the one engineering major where ABET accreditation is most important for job placement. And you are correct that you will need to sit for the PE exam.

Could you connect with the career services office at Dartmouth to discuss this with them?

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Other option is to transfer to any affordable college which offers an ABET accredited civil engineering major.


Unfortunately, I’d have to agree with this. Your career aspirations and college choice seem extremely unaligned,

I am a practicing structural engineer. I was an Architectural Engineering major, which meant I studied building design almost exclusively (I didn’t major in civil because I cared nothing about road design, wastewater plants, hydraulics, etc.). You really need to decide if you want to pursue engineering or architecture, first off. Although both disciplines are involved with buildings, they are as different as night and day. If you enjoy figuring out how buildings LOOK, go with architecture. If you enjoy the math of making them withstand wind, snow, seismic loads, etc., go with engineering. There are very few people who are good at both. Because of my major, I did have to take two semesters or architectural design. Even though I made excellent grades in almost every class, those two semesters almost did me in!

If you decide you want to be a structural engineer, transfer schools now. I can’t advise you as to what to do if you decide you want to be an architect.

If you do decide to go for architecture, the paths to a first professional NAAB-accredited degree are:

  • BArch (5 year) bachelor’s degree. You would have to see if any affordable colleges offering such a degree will accept transfers into that program.
  • BA/BS in anything, followed by an MArch (3 year) master’s degree (probably expensive).
  • BA/BS in architecture-related major, followed by an MArch master’s degree (probably expensive) which may take fewer than 3 years depending on the school and your previous architecture-related major.
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