Questions About Engineering at Wheaton
Wheaton offers two excellent engineering program options: a 4-year General Engineering Program and a 3-2 Dual Degree Engineering Program.
4-year General Engineering
The General 4-year General Engineering degree allows you to take full advantage of 4 full years in the incredible Wheaton College residential community while receiving an engineering education that features small class sizes, integration of Christian faith with engineering practice, and project-based learning - with lots of teamwork across all four years. This path will prepare you well for a wide range of engineering work after graduation and/or more specialized engineering education at the graduate level.
3-2 Dual Degree Engineering
“3-2" means students in this program will spend their first three years at Wheaton, then transfer to an ABET accredited school for the final two years of their undergraduate studies. “Dual Degree” means that, when they graduate, Wheaton engineering students will receive two degrees – a BS or BA Liberal Arts Engineering degree from Wheaton and a specialty BS engineering degree from their final ABET accredited college or university.
Both the 3-2 and the 4-year programs are excellent options for anyone interested in an engineering major. But how do you decide which program is best for you?
Choose the 3-2 Program if you:
- Wish to receive a degree in a specific engineering discipline which is not offered at Wheaton, such as a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Computer Engineering, Architectural Engineering, Materials Science, Aerospace Engineering, Industrial Engineering, etc.
- Would like to combine a Christian liberal arts education in a community-centered environment with a training at a larger engineering school.
Choose the 4-Year Program if you:
- Wish to receive a robust engineering education in just 4-years with a strong Christian liberal arts focus.
- Desire to combine your engineering degree with other programs offered on campus.
- Want to pursue a degree with strong project-based teaching and design focus across the entire curriculum.
3-2 Engineering Program
You can request either a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree or a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree when you graduate from Wheaton’s Liberal Arts Engineering program. The BS indicates a depth of study in your engineering field while the BA indicates a breadth of study beyond engineering. Both are valid for this degree, so Wheaton allows you to choose. Your final engineering school will award you with a BS in a specialty engineering field (e.g. Mechanical or Civil Engineering).
If you pursue the 4-year program, you will graduate with a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree.
A strong math and science background is always a plus for engineering students (pre-calculus, physics, chemistry, etc.). You should come prepared to take Calculus I and Physics I in your first semester at Wheaton. Students coming with AP math and science credit may be placed in higher-level courses.
Because of the requirements in the engineering program, this is very difficult to do without adding significant amounts of time. However, some students do pick up a minor (math is an especially popular minor for engineers) or take non-major courses in areas of interest.
ABET is the Accrediting Board of Engineering and Technology. It accredits engineering programs at colleges and universities and is a standard that employers look for when hiring engineers. With some exceptions, graduating from an ABET accredited program is the first step toward professional certification, including taking your Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam and becoming a Professional Engineer (PE). Wheaton requires that its 3-2 engineering students complete their degree in an ABET accredited program. Wheaton is seeking accreditation for its General Engineering program.
4-Year General Engineering FAQs
A General Engineering degree is a comprehensive, yet broad engineering program that prepares students for a variety of engineering careers or graduate programs. General engineers have the same math and science background and core engineering foundation as other engineers, but often have a greater focus on design, problem solving, and adaptability. Here at Wheaton, we emphasize teaching our students how to learn and how to effectively engage diverse projects. Coupled with the liberal arts focus at Wheaton College, students grow to become adept collaborators, excellent communicators, and high-level critical thinkers. Students can still choose to specialize by selecting upper level engineering coursework relevant to a concentration area.
We currently offer a mechanical engineering concentration, and other concentrations are currently in development.
Wheaton’s academic catalog is normally updated annually, but not in the middle of an academic year. Because the General Engineering program was approved in October, 2022, it will need to wait until the next academic year to be included in the catalog. This includes new course offerings for the major.
New courses include
- ENGR 302 Engineering Systems Analysis,
- ENGR 323 Machine Design Elements,
- ENGR 325 Mechanics of Solids,
- ENGR 333 Mechatronics,
- ENGR 346 Fluid Mechanics,
- ENGR 348 Thermodynamics and Heat Transfer,
- ENGR 451 Senior Design 1, and
- ENGR 452 Senior Design 2.
Other courses will be developed as concentrations are further refined.
Many engineering employers are highly interested in engineering graduates who can rapidly build specialized knowledge, and can adapt to a constantly changing technological landscape. Because of their broad engineering foundation and human-centered focus, General Engineering graduates work well with people, and are able to integrate multiple roles - something especially helpful for management positions or starting a company! General Engineering can also be considered a liberal art, preparing graduates to be effective contributors in both engineering and non-engineering careers such as medicine, law, management, and business.
Yes, there are more than 100 General Engineering programs throughout the country, housed in both large and small colleges and universities.
The General Engineering degree is an ABET (Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology) accreditation seeking program. ABET accreditation can be sought after the first graduating class and is applied to all current and recently graduated students.
Yes. Many students find a specific engineering passion and go on to get a Master’s degree in a specific area of engineering. Sometimes their employers even pay for that degree!
3-2 Dual Degree Program FAQs
Wheaton calls its engineering program both a “3-2 Program” and a “Dual Degree Program.” “3-2 Program” means that most students will spend their first three years at Wheaton, then transfer to an ABET accredited school for the final two years of their undergraduate studies. “Dual Degree Program” means that, when they graduate, Wheaton engineering students will receive two degrees – a BS or BA Liberal Arts Engineering degree from Wheaton and a specialty BS engineering degree from their final ABET accredited college or university.
There are more than 400 engineering colleges and universities in the U.S. with ABET accredited engineering programs. You can apply to transfer to any one of them! Of course your ultimate acceptance is decided by that school. Wheaton has special agreements with Illinois Tech (25 miles east of Wheaton, in downtown Chicago) and NIU (30 miles west of Wheaton in DeKalb, IL), that offer strong engineering programs and, because of Wheaton’s agreements, can be natural fits for Wheaton students. This also allows students to live on Wheaton’s campus and participate in sports, if they choose. However, where you study may depend on programs offered, geographic area, or other priorities of yours. Wheaton will work with you in the transfer process no matter where you choose to go.
Wheaton engineering students may apply to be a part of the Wheaton-Illinois Tech Joint Program any time after their first semester at Wheaton. If accepted, it means that students may take Illinois Tech courses to support or complete their engineering degree. Students may also participate in other Illinois Tech activities such as job and internship fairs.
Wheaton’s agreement with NIU allows students that meet GPA thresholds to easily transfer to NIU after their third year at Wheaton. Wheaton and NIU have agreed on a set of equivalent courses and requirements, which means that usually all of NIU’s general education requirements are met by Wheaton courses.
Yes to both! You just need to be diligent. Some students take a summer course to ease their course load in certain semesters. Because Illinois Tech and NIU are not far from Wheaton, some students have studied at those schools while competing in varsity sports at Wheaton in their fourth years.
Through Wheaton’s agreement with Illinois Tech, Wheaton will administer all finances, including financial aid, for Joint Program students over the entire five years that they are undergraduate engineering students. Exceptions to this include optional purchases at Illinois Tech such as Illinois Tech administered health insurance, meal plan or a parking pass, etc. and required graduation fees. Note that, for Joint Program students, the cost of tuition for taking courses at Wheaton or Illinois Tech is the same.
When attending an engineering school other than Illinois Tech, that school will take care of all finances related to the school. Students will pay tuition and fees and apply for financial aid at that school. This includes our partner school, NIU.
Yes, financial aid is available in a student’s fifth year. Need based aid often does not change greatly in the fifth year, but other scholarships, including Wheaton merit-based scholarships, should be read carefully since they are often limited to four years.
Students coming in with significant AP credit, a willingness to take very full Fall and Spring semester course loads and possibly some summer courses may be able to complete their degree in four years. More will be able to complete their degree in 4 ½ years. It is important to remember that national averages show that even at schools where undergraduate programs are designed to be completed in four years, less than half of all engineering students actually do complete their degree in four years.
If it is important to you to finish in four years, we recommend considering our 4-year program option instead.