American University Partners with Columbia University to Offer Dual-Degree Program in Engineering

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The joint degree program is underway.

"American University students want to acquire knowledge and skills to have an impact, and engineering offers the possibility of doing that in a rewarding career full of real world problem-solving,” said Nathan Harshman, chair of AU’s physics department.

Expanding its commitment to the sciences, American University has entered into a partnership with Columbia University that will enable undergraduates to also get an engineering degree from Columbia’s Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science. The joint degree program is underway.

Students will complete their AU degree, and then attend Columbia to complete a bachelor’s of science in a specific engineering major. AU’s requisite math and science courses are comparable with Columbia’s various engineering tracks. Students can complete both degrees in five or six years.

“We are delighted to partner with Columbia University on this project,” said Peter Starr, dean of AU’s College of Arts and Sciences. “The dual-degree program offers American University students a wonderful opportunity to combine a liberal arts education with professional training in the field of engineering.”

Teresa Larkin, a physics professor and director of the dual-degree program for AU, has begun advising students about the program. Students who meet Columbia’s criteria are guaranteed admission to Columbia and will be enrolled to complete an engineering degree, she said.

“The partnership is a fantastic recruiting tool for STEM programs at American University,” Larkin said. “But more than that, it gives our students an opportunity to receive two degrees to put on their resume, instead of one. It quadruples the number of opportunities for them in terms of graduate studies, internships, and jobs.”

Columbia’s Combined Plan program is the first dual-degree engineering program in the United States. AU joins more than 100 colleges and universities that are Columbia Combined Plan affiliates.

Engineering at the undergraduate level is a growing degree program in the U.S. The number of bachelor’s degrees in engineering awarded grew by 6 percent in 2013, according to the American Society for Engineering Education. The growth continues a decade-long increase in bachelor’s degrees, which have climbed 28 percent since 2004, according to ASEE.

“Engineering is a discipline that takes cutting edge ideas from science and turns them into action and service. American University students want to acquire knowledge and skills to have an impact, and engineering offers the possibility of doing that in a rewarding career full of real world problem-solving,” said Nathan Harshman, chair of AU’s physics department.

For more information, contact Teresa Larkin at tlarkin(at)american(dot)edu or visit the Columbia Combined Program website.

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Rebecca Basu
American University
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