Pathways to Engineering

Pathways to Engineering

What Appalachian Offers You:

Students interested in a career in engineering have multiple pathways to pursue. Any of these options prepare students for future study in engineering at either an undergraduate or graduate level. Ultimately the best path is dependent on the individual student and their interests and goals. At Appalachian, the smaller class sizes and more personal attention faculty can provide our students is often the starting path to engineering that is attractive to students. Here are four possible options to help students navigate these choices:

  1. Master's Degree in Engineering Physics and the Accelerated Master’s Program at Appalachian: The Physics and Astronomy Department at Appalachian offers a master’s degree (MS) in Engineering Physics.  This program combines automation, robotics, software engineering, electronics, electrical engineering, and instrumentation along with optics & microscopy into a degree where graduates have a 96.0% employment rate within 2 months of graduation, with an average starting salary of approximately $75,000/yr. Many of our undergraduates choose to enroll in this two-year program. High achieving undergraduates can finish this MS degree in one year after graduating with their undergraduate degree by enrolling in the Accelerated Master’s program their Junior year. The AA allows undergraduates to begin taking graduate level courses during their senior year which double count towards both a BS and MS degree. A GPA of 3.4 or above is required for admission into that program.   For more information on these programs, please contact the graduate program director advisor, Dr. Michael Briley (  
  2. Pre-Engineering then Transfer: Students may spend their first year (recommended) or two years at Appalachian in the physics and astronomy department, gathering the necessary general education and base science and math requirements, and then transfer to an ABET accredited engineering school to finish their undergraduate education.  Students should follow the same list of courses as if they were pursuing an undergraduate degree in physics in the first year(s). Students are encouraged to research the university and program to which they want to transfer to be sure that the course work in these first years aligns best with their intended engineering program. For more information about this option, please contact the engineering school you wish to pursue and Carla Ramsdell, pre-engineering physics advisor at Appalachian (
  3. BS in Physics / Engineering Grad School: Students who graduate with a bachelor’s degree in physics at Appalachian can apply for admission to an engineering graduate program (MS or PhD).  This option has the advantage of allowing students to obtain their undergraduate degree at Appalachian where class sizes are often smaller and faculty can provide more personalized attention than most engineering programs. This often leads to undergraduate research opportunities as well as close relationships with their undergraduate faculty. Also, these students tend to have a firm understanding of the fundamental science that is the basis of all engineering which can benefit them for their careers.  Once accepted to an engineering graduate program, students might be required to take a few undergraduate engineering prerequisite courses. Students are encouraged to meet with the directors of these programs that are of interest to them to better understand these requirements. Our alumni have been accepted to engineering programs around the country, including programs at NC State, UNC – Charlotte, Stanford, Georgia Tech, and Duke. For more information about this option, please contact the engineering school you wish to pursue and/or your physics advisor.

Suggested Course Notes:

Physics Courses

Important Beginning Courses

  • It is crucial that all intended majors be enrolled in a physics class their first semester to stay on track. Appalachian physics majors can take either the PHY 1170/1180 or PHY 1123/1124 sequence to graduate.

  • If students are calculus ready, they should enroll in MAT 1110 (calculus I) and PHY 1170. Students should enroll in the honors/majors sections of PHY 1170/1180 if available.

  • If students are not calculus ready, they should enroll in MAT 1025 (pre-calculus) and PHY 1123.

  • If students are ahead in calculus, they should enroll in the next calculus class and PHY 1170.

  • Pre-engineering students need the PHY 1170/1180 sequence so should not enroll in PHY 1123/1124.

The department encourages students who are new to Appalachian or new to university coursework to take less than 15 hours their first two semesters. Physics majors who take 15+ hours of coursework that includes Physics I and a math course are often not as successful as students who take 12-13 hours.

All engineering programs have different course and GPA requirements to transfer.

General Education Courses

Suggested General Education for pre-engineering students who are staying at Appalachian a 2nd year:

  • Note that for several engineering programs, RC 2001 is required to transfer. It is therefore very important that RC 1000 be taken first semester at Appalachian. However, Appalachian does not typically let students take RC 2001 until they have 30 hours, but the English department has agreed to make exceptions for pre-engineers who may take it in their second semester, as it is required to transfer.

  • CS 1440 and ECO 2030 are also good courses to take to transfer into an engineering program.

After year 1, you can apply for transfer to the target institution. Courses for year 2 should be determined by you and your pre-engineering advisor in Physics & Astronomy based on the above recommendations.

Useful links for formulating your pre-engineering curriculum include:

For more information on pre-engineering at Appalachian, do not hesitate to contact Dr. Brooke Hester at or Ms. Carla Ramsdell at

Other Programs of Interest:

For information on various engineering schools to which students have transferred in the past, click on the name of the school.