Dual Degree FAQ

The Dual Degree Program in Engineering

  • B.A. or B.S. degree with a major at Saint Mary's College
  • B.S. degree with an engineering major at the University of Notre Dame

Frequently Asked Questions

What is engineering?

Engineering is the art or science of applying scientific knowledge to practical problems, according to one definition. Simply put, engineering is the application of science to the needs of humanity. Engineers are problem solvers who search for quicker, better, and less expensive ways to use the forces and materials of nature to meet today's challenges.

What is the dual degree program in engineering?

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 B.A. or B.S.) from Saint Mary's in four years, and a second bachelor's degree (B.S.) from Notre Dame in one of the fields of engineering following a fifth year of study. The dual degree program began in 1977 and was formalized and expanded in 2006 to better serve students.

How does it work?

Students in the dual degree program take all their pre-engineering courses (like chemistry, mathematics, and physics), as well as other liberal arts courses required to satisfy the four-year degree requirements, at Saint Mary's College. They take all engineering courses at the University of Notre Dame. As they work toward their two degrees, they take an increasing number of classes at Notre Dame. After the fourth year, they transfer to Notre Dame and take all classes there.

Who is eligible? Do I have to be a chemistry major to apply?

Saint Mary's students majoring in the sciences and mathematics are especially encouraged to apply to the program. But the program is open to students in any major who have fulfilled the necessary prerequisite coursework, and it is flexible enough to allow for many different combinations (chemistry and chemical engineering; mathematics and electrical engineering; economics and computer science, etc.).

When would I start taking classes at Notre Dame?

During their second year, students go across the street for an Introduction to Engineering class at Notre Dame in the fall and spring semester (EG 10111/2). In the third and fourth years, they gradually take more engineering classes at Notre Dame until they transfer for their fifth year.

Is commuting between the two campuses difficult?

Not really. Students can either walk or drive between Saint Mary's and Notre Dame, and parking is available on both campuses. Advisors also work with students to make sure they have enough travel time between classes.

Are the courses and the degree requirements too hard? Would I have time to do anything but study?

It's true that classes become more and more challenging as students move through the program, but they are motivated by their strong interest in the subject matter and their desire to be engineers. Program participants say that with good time management skills, they can balance coursework and a social life.

What are the benefits of the program?

The program offers the best of both worlds since students enjoy small classes, personal attention from faculty, the supportive environment of a women's college, and a strong liberal arts education at Saint Mary's. At Notre Dame, they get excellent technical training and access to cutting-edge facilities. The program is also flexible, allowing students to choose majors and degrees that best suit their interests. It is also unique among engineering programs that target women in the United States.

When is the best time to start thinking about applying?

Students who want to pursue the dual degree program should make the decision, ideally, by the end of their first year.

How do I know Notre Dame will accept me?

There are no guarantees of admission, but the dual degree program is structured to support your application. The University of Notre Dame has agreed to grant admission to the Saint Mary's College students who, after three and a half years of study, have earned at least a 2.5 GPA (on a 4-point scale) in their technical courses and who have been recommended by Saint Mary's. And Notre Dame has made the application process easier by streamlining and simplifying requirements for Saint Mary's students.

When do I find out if I've been accepted?

Applicants are notified by March 1 of their senior year, which allows them time to apply for financial aid (at Notre Dame) and on-campus housing (at Saint Mary's).

How much does it cost to do a five-year program? Is financial aid available?

The cost of the program is equal to four years at Saint Mary's College plus an additional year at the University of Notre Dame.

For the first four years of the program, students are eligible for financial aid from Saint Mary's College. When they transfer to Notre Dame for the fifth year, students 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, however.

Why would anyone want two degrees?

There are many reasons. First, as a professional degree, a B.S. in engineering enables a graduate to enter the workforce at a level that those with a B.S. or B.A. cannot. With a B.S. in engineering, graduates can begin making a contribution in the workforce immediately and do not need additional study to secure meaningful employment.

Second, graduates of the dual degree program have a unique combination of technical, problem-solving, and people skills that employers value in today's complex global economy. Their B.S. degree in science or mathematics broadens the traditional skill set of a typical engineer, usually by providing more time in a laboratory discovering how nature works. Similarly, the coursework required for a B.A. degree broadens graduates' critical-thinking, oral, and written communication skills.

Third, engineering graduates are in high demand nationwide as the population of students in engineering has been declining for more than 20 years. As one program participant said: "The opportunities are endless."

Will I earn more with an engineering degree?

Graduates of the dual degree engineering program generally earn higher salaries than graduates with a B.A. or B.S. in other fields. Entry-level jobs at major employers offer average starting salaries of over $50,000 per year. Summer internship opportunities with engineering employers pay comparable salaries as well.

What kinds of jobs do graduates get?

Engineers can choose from a wide range of job opportunities, from work in the public sector, to private companies in technical industries, to consulting firms that help others decide how to run successful businesses. Notre Dame engineering graduates work for some of the country's largest, most prestigious technical employers including General Electric, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, and others. They work for consulting firms like Deloitte and Accenture, and serve in the federal government. If they choose further education, they have access to top-tier engineering graduate programs and outstanding medical, business, and law schools.