Engineering Dual Degree

The Dual Degree Program in Engineering at Saint Mary's College

  • BA or BS degree with a major at Saint Mary's College
  • BS degree with an engineering major at the University of Notre Dame

Overview of the Program

Saint Mary's College and the University of Notre Dame jointly offer a five-year, dual degree program through which students earn a bachelor's degree (either a BA or BS) from Saint Mary's in four years, and a second bachelor of science (BS) in engineering degree from Notre Dame following a fifth year of study. The dual degree program began in 1977 and was formalized and expanded in 2006 to better serve students.

“Saint Mary's provided me with a strong education and an amazing experience. Saint Mary's chemistry department was outstanding. The entire faculty provided invaluable knowledge and support. The science foundation from Saint Mary's is a wonderful tool and a unique advantage that helps graduates stand out from other engineers entering the work force. The excellence of the programs at both institutions and the complimentary knowledge and skills obtained in both degree curricula make graduates of this program very well prepared and employable.”

The Curriculum

Under the co-exchange agreement that allows Saint Mary's and Notre Dame students to take courses on either campus, students in the dual degree program take all pre-engineering courses (e.g., chemistry, mathematics, and physics), as well as other courses required to satisfy the degree requirements, at Saint Mary's College. They take all engineering courses at the University of Notre Dame.

The curriculum is strenuous and demands the best efforts and careful planning of well-prepared, highly motivated students.

During the first year at Saint Mary's College, students enroll in chemistry and calculus for majors (CHEM 121/2 and MATH 131/2 or 133), modern language, and general education courses, including one that satisfies the College writing requirement.

During the second year at Saint Mary's College, students enroll in physics for chemistry and engineering majors (PHYS 221/2), calculus for majors (MATH 231), other required mathematics courses for the engineering major (e.g., linear algebra - MATH 326), other major courses and general education courses. Students also enroll in the Introduction to Engineering courses (EG 10111/2) at the University of Notre Dame.

During the second semester of their second year, students also declare a Saint Mary's major and decide on an engineering major at Notre Dame.

During the third and fourth years at Saint Mary's College, students enroll in engineering major courses at Notre Dame as they continue to pursue their Saint Mary's major. As students progress through the program, they take more and more courses at Notre Dame and fewer at Saint Mary's until they transfer to Notre Dame at the end of their fourth year. Students remain at Saint Mary's College for four years, ordinarily completing their major and earning a bachelor's (BS or BA) degree in that time.

For their fifth and final year, students in the program transfer to the University of Notre Dame. They complete their engineering major in chemical, aerospace, mechanical, electrical, civil, or computer engineering, computer science, or environmental geosciences, and earn a second bachelor of science (BS) degree in one of those fields.

“Saint Mary's has benefited me greatly in almost all aspects of my life. I have found I am more independent but at the same time drawn to my group of friends. I have an education that gave me not only facts but the ability to apply them. I am equipped with knowledge that enables me to attain more information than what I've been taught, if needed. And the small class size was crucial to my educational development, because I could ask questions freely and have them answered with a broad explanation.”

Who Can Apply

Saint Mary's students majoring in the sciences and mathematics are especially encouraged to apply to the dual degree engineering program. However, the program is open to students in any major who have fulfilled the necessary prerequisite coursework.

Successful students in the program have pursued a chemistry major at Saint Mary's (in four years) and a chemical engineering major (in five) at Notre Dame. The program's flexibility allows for other possibilities, however, such as combining a mathematics major with electrical engineering, political science with civil engineering, or biology with environmental geoscience.

Because the program is rigorous and demanding, the decision to apply and a preliminary plan for completing coursework should be made by second semester sophomore year.

Advising, Support, and Cooperation

To best serve students in the program, academic advisors from Saint Mary's and Notre Dame work together to advise them as they progress through their five years of study. The pre-engineering advisor and departmental chairs for respective majors at Saint Mary's work closely with the Director of Academic Affairs in the Engineering Dean's Office and departmental chairs of respective engineering fields at Notre Dame to create integrated academic schedules that best serve the students. The usual semester limits on the number of co-exchange credits allowed does not apply to students pursuing the dual degree program.

Students transfer across the street for their fifth year of study in a streamlined application process. Along the way, they receive support and encouragement from faculty and advisors on both campuses.

Admission to the Program

The University of Notre Dame guarantees admission to the Saint Mary's College students who, after three and a half years of study, have earned at least a 2.8 grade point average (on a 4-point scale) in their technical courses and who have been recommended by Saint Mary's College.

In addition, Notre Dame expedites the formal transfer process by requiring only the official college transcripts and the transfer application form and by waiving the high school transcripts, standard examination scores (e.g., ACT/SAT), and personal statements required of other transfer students.

Early notification of acceptance is made by March 1, giving students time to apply for financial aid and make housing plans for the fifth year.

Financial Aid and Housing

Upon transfer to Notre Dame for the fifth year, students in the program receive the same consideration for scholarships and other types of financial aid as other transfer applicants to the University. They are no longer eligible for financial aid from Saint Mary's College. Students adhering to the financial aid application procedures will be considered for assistance within the policies consistently applied to all other Notre Dame students except as may be restricted by appropriate government regulations.

Saint Mary's offers on-campus housing to program participants for all five years, allowing the strong friendships and networks they develop to support them throughout.

Benefits of the program

The dual degree engineering program's greatest benefit is that it offers students the best of both worlds:

  • At Saint Mary's, students enjoy small classes and personal attention from faculty, helping them to thrive in demanding science, mathematics, and general education courses. Saint Mary's students also benefit from the uniquely challenging and supportive environment of a women's college. Their liberal arts foundation gives them strong critical thinking, problem-solving, writing, and communications skills.
  • At Notre Dame, students gain an excellent technical education in engineering. They have access to cutting-edge laboratories, equipment, and research facilities right across the street. Along with their Saint Mary's and Notre Dame alumni networks, students in the program can tap into an expanded network for internship and job opportunities.

The program is flexible, allowing students to explore a variety of disciplines through coursework and to choose majors-both at Saint Mary's and Notre Dame-that reflect their interests.

The program is unique. Only one other women's college in the United States offers an engineering program, and it is designed to prepare students for graduate school. In contrast, the distinctive "4 + 1" format of the Saint Mary's-Notre Dame program allows students to obtain a terminal degree in engineering at a nearby, existing program in just five years. Graduates of the program usually secure jobs by the end of their studies, if not sooner, with the expectation of higher-than-average earnings given the value of their two degrees.

The dual degree program benefits Saint Mary's College, which does not offer an engineering major, and the University of Notre Dame's engineering programs, which like others around the nation are seeking to attract more women. Nationwide, about 17 percent of engineering students are women. At Notre Dame, about 23 percent of engineering students are women.

For more information, contact:

Professor Toni L. O. Barstis
Director, Engineering Dual Degree Program
Saint Mary's College
168 Science Hall
(574) 284-4661