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B.S. Engineering Physics


“Engineering” literally means “making things happen”. In a very basic sense, engineering is the practical application of science and mathematics to solve problems. Traditionally, engineering is about infrastructure. Engineers were known to create bridges and vehicles that got us from one location to another more efficiently.

In today’s world, engineering is acknowledged as a discipline that also creates technology and products that help make our lives easier. Almost every aspect in our lives has somehow been influenced by engineers – the products created in factories; the buildings we live in; the water we drink; the computers we surf the net on; medical services and technologies we rely on; the appliances and vehicles. There is no limit to what engineers can do.

According to the American Physical Society, 60% of physics majors graduate and go on to gain employment in some sort of engineering position. Physics students often make better engineers because they are more mathematically trained and have a broader critical thinking and problem solving skill set to meet the challenges of an ever changing technology landscape.

As far as having the ability to do engineering, I find that physics students have more rigor and do quite well in an engineering program.

Most students are under the WRONG impression that you can’t come to an institution like Ouachita, study traditional physics or engineering physics and still become a Professionally Licensed Engineer. Yet, according to Article 8 of the Arkansas State Requirements for Licensure as a Professional Engineer*:

To be eligible for licensure as a professional engineer, the applicant shall supply proof of graduation from an EAC of ABET approved, or equivalent†, engineering curriculum of four (4) years or more and with a specific record of an additional four (4) or more years of progressive engineering experience of a grade and character which indicates to the Board that the applicant may be competent to practice and has experienced increased engineering responsibilities.

†The phrase “or equivalent” will be defined by the Arkansas Board as:

a. those who have both a degree from a non EAC of ABET undergraduate engineering or engineering technology program AND a graduate engineering degree from an institution that offers an EAC of ABET accredited undergraduate degree in the same discipline as the graduate degree; or

b. those who have a degree or degrees from a non-accredited program(s) BUT have had their official transcripts evaluated and found acceptable by a Board-approved organization such as NCEES or have made up any deficiencies identified by the evaluation with courses offered by an EAC of ABET accredited degree program or equivalent.

Definition b indicates that a student can get an undergraduate degree in physics and then enter a graduate program in the area of interest at an accredited engineering school and still be on a pathway to becoming a Professionally Licensed Engineer. Other states have similar alternate pathways to becoming a Professionally Licensed Engineer. In many ways, this may be a preferred path to students as most employers will often pay to have employees take technical courses. Thus, there would be no additional expense to the student for getting a Master’s degree in engineering on the way to becoming a licensed engineer. In addition, a student could very well gain the needed experience for licensure through employment while attending classes. Current estimates indicate ~20% of all engineers go on to become a Professional Engineer**.

Our engineering physics degree is specifically designed to rigorously prepare students for a technical career in industry, perhaps as an engineer, analyst or consultant. We prepare students by developing their critical thinking and problem solving skills in the classroom and through on or off campus research opportunities. We strive for excellence in and out of the classroom so that our majors can achieve any of their long term career dreams.

If you would like more information about this exciting degree, please contact us at physics@obu.edu.

Degree Summary Sheet


Note I: Students accepted into graduate programs in engineering must complete the requirements of a specific program of choice at the engineering graduate school. A Master's degree in Engineering is awarded upon completion of the graduate course of study. Ouachita students have used this track to earn Master’s degrees from graduate programs at Texas A&M University, Southern Methodist University, the University of Texas and the University of Arkansas.

Note II: Some University of Arkansas graduate programs require an undergraduate engineering degree from an accredited engineering school for entry into its graduate program (such as Mechanical Engineering). If a student wishes to attend graduate school at the University of Arkansas and finds their desired Master’s program requires an undergraduate engineering degree, our dual degree option would be the preferred path a student should take.

Note III: Most engineering graduate schools have competitive programs with limited admissions and will require a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or better, with most admitted students being around 3.75 or better.

Note IV: This degree, along with most other undergraduate and graduate engineering degrees, WILL REQUIRE the regular study and use of upper level mathematics, such as Calculus or Differential Equations.


*http://www.pels.arkansas.gov/rulesRegsStandards/Documents/Electronic%20Rulebook%20(eff.%20October%202013).pdf, pgs. 34-35


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