The dual-degree engineering program at Eckerd College

The Dual-Degree program is designed to permit a student to earn two college degrees in five years: one a liberal-arts degree from Eckerd College, the other an engineering degree from a cooperating university. The program can usually be completed in five years if the student is well-qualified upon entering Eckerd College as a freshman, and is willing and able to take five courses during one or more of his/her semesters at Eckerd College.

Program Benefits

Class size

Most engineering schools are large, and ALL engineering students (electrical, mechanical, aeronautical, civil, etc.) take the pre-engineering core of math, physics, and chemistry in the first two years, before dividing into the smaller individual classes for their particular branch of engineering. The result is that the pre-engineering core courses tend to be offered in large sections, often with hundreds of students in each class. In the Dual-Degree option, these core courses are taken at a smaller school, in smaller classes. Since the more advanced and specialized engineering courses taken in the final two years at the engineering school will also likely be smaller, the Dual Degree student avoids the very large classes which may be an especially difficult experience in the first year of college.

Long-term career success

The second (non-engineering) major for the Eckerd degree can greatly enhance the career potential of a young engineer. According to one survey, the average beginning engineer spends an average of only about five years in doing actual hands-on engineering before being promoted into a part-managerial or even fully managerial position. While the basic engineering skills are absolutely essential to success in the professional field, it is often leadership, communication, and management skills that determine how far one ultimately progresses in one’s career. Many corporate CEOs, presidents, and other top executives possess engineering backgrounds, but these are the ones who also have strong leadership and communication skills to accompany their engineering expertise. The liberal arts curriculum is generally recognized as being the ideal background for acquiring these skills.


The engineering curriculum at most large universities plunges the student immediately into one specialized branch of engineering. By pursuing the Dual-Degree program, a student can keep open a great many options. The first two years of “pre-engineering core” courses plus the required liberal arts courses taken at Eckerd permit the student to choose, as late as the beginning of the third college year, from among many career paths: from among many branches of engineering, physics, chemistry, marine science, pre-medical or pre-veterinary studies, mathematics, computer science, and more. Previous EC dual-degree students are now aerospace engineers, electrical engineers, computer scientists, physicists, physicians, economists, business owners and CEOs, and more.

The courses taken at Eckerd College during the first three years are typically:

Pre-engineering core:
Math: Calculus I, II, and III, Differential Equations
Physics: Fundamental Physics I and II and Modern Physics
Chemistry: General Chemistry I and II
Computing: Introduction to Computer Science

Eckerd All-College Requirements:
Human Experience in Global Context I and II
Foreign Language (two semesters)
Academic Core Area (1 course from the arts, the humanities, and the behavioral sciences respectively)
Perspectives: (2 courses; Global and Environmental)
A Writing Portfolio

Here is a possible schedule:

Fall Semester

  • Calculus I
  • Physics I
  • Human Experience I
  • Foreign Language I

Spring Semester

  • Calculus II
  • Physics II
  • Human Experience II
  • Foreign Language II

Fall Semester

  • Calculus III
  • Modern Physics
  • Global Perspective
  • Humanities Core Course

Spring Semester

  • Differential Equations
  • Introduction to Computer Science
  • Environmental Perspective
  • Major Course Requirement

Fall Semester

  • Chemistry I
  • Arts Core Course
  • Major Course Requirement
  • Major Course Requirement

Spring Semester

  • Chemistry II
  • Behavior Science Core Course
  • Major Course Requirement
  • Major Course Requirement

It is important that the student be qualified to begin his/her freshman year with Calculus I and either Chemistry I or Physics I if he/she expects to complete the EC portion of the program in three years.

For students interested in Columbia University, the specific course equivalents required for various engineering and applied science majors may be found on the Columbia University Combined Plan Curriculum Guide.

The program is designed for an academically qualified student who is willing to work hard. While difficult, completing the program in 5 years is by no means impossible – many students have done so and are practicing engineers today. The keys to success are being well-qualified on entering, making timely decisions on EC major and cooperating university, and obtaining early advice from the Program Coordinator.

For more information contact Professor Anne Cox, Program Coordinator.