2023-2024 Catalog

3-2 Combined Plan in Engineering

Occidental College cooperates with the California Institute of Technology and the School of Engineering of Columbia University in several programs based on a broad foundation in the liberal arts.

These combined plans provide qualified students with an excellent liberal arts background and advanced-level entrance into either of two outstanding engineering schools. The programs are designed specifically for superior students who have strong preparation in English writing skills, mathematics, and science.

The curriculum offers considerable freedom of choice of an eventual major. Students who, by the end of the first two years, find their interests developing in fields outside of science or technology, may still choose most non-science majors in the College and graduate after the usual additional two years of course work. Similar options also exist through the junior year for choosing majors in mathematics or most other sciences without loss of time. Thus, in contrast to many engineering programs, students choosing the combined plans do not commit themselves in the first year exclusively to an engineering major. This flexibility is particularly advantageous to capable students whose abilities and interests span many fields.

The 3/2 Combined Plan Program requires completion of three years of work in the liberal arts at Occidental followed by two years of regular session work at Caltech or the School of Engineering of Columbia University. This leads to the degree of Bachelor of Arts in the Combined Plan from Occidental and the degree of Bachelor of Science in the selected field of engineering from either Caltech or Columbia.

Students interested in the 3/2 program gain entrance into the engineering school through a strong academic record at Occidental and a recommendation by the Occidental liaison officer on behalf of the faculty. At least a 3.5 grade point average, both in science/mathematics and overall, is required. Those seeking entrance to Caltech must also receive approval from the Caltech Office of Admission.

Students entering the programs at Occidental should have received excellent grades in high school English (including writing experience), mathematics, physics, and chemistry. Four years of high school mathematics are required, including trigonometry and a course often called Introductory Analysis (or Pre-Calculus).

Students wishing to enter these programs should apply directly to Occidental. For more advice, please contact:

Alec Schramm

Program Liaison & Adviser for Physical Sequence


(323) 259-2809

Chris Craney

Adviser for Chemistry Sequence


(323) 259-2767

Jeff Miller

Adviser for Computer Science Sequence


(323) 259-1303

Course Requirements

The program of studies for the first three years consists of all of the required courses leading to the degree of Bachelor of Arts as outlined. Unless otherwise exempted, students must begin Mathematics 110 or 114 and either Physics 110, Chemistry 120, or Chemistry 130 (depending on the sequence chosen) in the first year. The Occidental comprehensive examination is waived for 3/2 Combined Plan students. All other Occidental requirements must be met by spring semester of the junior year.

For more information, including course requirements, see here.

Majors in the Combined Plans

The following is a partial list of the fields offered at one or both of the engineering institutions (consult with the program Liaison for more details):

Physical Sequence


Applied Geophysics

Applied Mathematics

Applied Physics


Civil, Electrical, or Mechanical Engineering

Communications and Control

Computer Engineering

Design Engineering

Electrical Engineering

Electronic Circuits

Engineering Mechanics

Fluids Engineering and Jet Propulsion

Industrial Engineering

Nuclear Engineering

Operations Research

Quantum Electronics

Solid State Electronics

Chemical Sequence

Applied Chemistry


Chemical Engineering

Mineral Engineering

Physical or Chemical Sequence

Environmental Engineering

Materials Science

Metallurgical Engineering

Mining Engineering

Solid State Science

Computer Science Sequence

Computer Science

Operations Research

Industrial Engineering