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University of the Cumbertlands engineering student working on a project.


Interested in changing the world as an engineer? Consider starting with a pre-engineering major. In a pre-engineering program, you’ll build the foundation you need to succeed in engineering school and prepare for a career at the forefront of innovation. Through the study of applied physics, mathematics, and other relevant disciplines, you’ll build the skills you need to succeed—whether you want to design essential infrastructure, develop renewable energy solutions, or engineer technology that improves lives.


What is Pre-Engineering?

Pre-engineering is the core coursework you need to master before learning a specific engineering field. By taking a variety of courses in math, physics, programming, and other subjects, you’ll lay the groundwork for future study in engineering. After completing pre-engineering coursework, students may enter an engineering program at their current university or transfer to another engineering school. 

Some students wonder whether pre-engineering is a major or simply a curricular emphasis. That depends on the college, and you’ll find some schools that offer a pre-engineering major. At University of the Cumberlands, our pre-engineering curriculum is part of our Applied Physics major. Because physics is the foremost science in most fields of engineering, pre-engineering students can expect to take several introductory and intermediate courses in this subject, along with other coursework that serves as a useful preliminary to the study of engineering.  

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What Can I Do with Pre-Engineering?

With a solid background in pre-engineering, you can pursue a bachelor’s degree in your choice of engineering discipline. A bachelor’s degree is the minimum requirement for fast-growing engineering jobs such as an industrial engineer. Industrial engineers design ways to make processes such as manufacturing more efficient. This occupation is projected to grow 14 percent over the next decade, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Other engineering roles you could prepare for include: 

  • Civil engineers. These professionals are employed by industry and the government to build structures for society’s use, including everything from skyscrapers and aerospace transportation to pipelines and sanitation systems.
  • Electrical engineers. Interested in designing, building, and operating electronic devices, computers, communication systems, and electric power systems? This career could be for you.
  • Materials engineers. These experts explore ways to extract, process, refine, combine, manufacture, or use metals, ceramics, and polymers.
  • Mechanical engineers. These engineers build devices that convert energy to work or work to energy. They specialize in dozens of areas, from air pollution control to underwater technology.
  • Mining engineers. The mining process calls for planning and installing not only the mine itself, but roads, drainage, ventilation, pollution controls, safety systems, and land restoration. Mining engineers handle these duties and more. 

In addition, pre-engineering coursework could serve as the first step to careers in math and physics. For instance, with additional preparation you could become a mathematician or statistician. These professionals apply mathematical concepts to solve problems in fields such as engineering, business, or healthcare. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that these jobs will increase by 33 percent over the next decade—much faster than average. 

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Is Pre-Engineering Worth It?

For many students, pursuing a pre-engineer program is a worthwhile investment and could lead to advantages such as:

  • Engineering school readiness. In a pre-engineering program, you’ll learn the skills you need to embark on the study of engineering. So, it’s great preparation for ultimately completing your engineering degree. And if you don’t yet meet the requirements for entering an engineering major, taking pre-engineering courses can help you qualify for engineering school. 
  • Job opportunities. The field of engineering is growing. In a pre-engineering program, you’ll take the first step to this rewarding career path and start building the skills employers look for.
  • A higher salary. Careers in engineering and related fields tend to command higher pay. Petroleum engineers earned the highest salary in this occupational group, with median annual earnings of $130,850 in 2021.  
  • Flexible options. Engineering school is just one of many possibilities after you complete pre-engineering coursework. You could finish earning your bachelor’s degree in a number of majors with a focus on math and applied science. From there, many students go on to graduate school or careers in diverse industries.

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Curriculum and Degree Requirements

Offered through our Physics Department, the pre-engineering major at University of the Cumberlands teaches the skills and expertise you need to ultimately pursue your engineering degree. This pre-professional program allows you to potentially earn an applied physical science degree from University of the Cumberlands and an engineering degree from an engineering school at the same time. Typically, a dual degree can be completed in five years of study. 

Taken alone, the 38-credit pre-engineering curriculum can generally be completed in two to three years. Along with general education and world language coursework, you’ll take courses in four critical disciplines intended to lay the groundwork for the study of engineering:

  • Physics
  • Chemistry
  • Mathematics
  • Programming

These pre-engineering courses provide the strong background you need to transfer to an engineering school and achieve success in your future studies and career. As requirements vary among schools, University of the Cumberlands can work with you to design and plan your course of study and achieve your career goals. Students who have successfully completed our pre-engineering program and then transferred to other engineering schools consistently report that they are better prepared for the challenges of engineering than many of their peers.

Recommended Curriculum

The pre-engineering curriculum is for students completing the core requirements before transferring to an engineering school. Since these requirements will vary between different engineering schools and different branches of engineering, the recommended curriculum may need adjusting. Pre-engineering students are responsible for being familiar with specific requirements. Students can complete the recommended pre-engineering curriculum in two to three years depending on their pre-college preparation. Well-prepared pre-engineering students should consider the dual-degree program listed as the Applied Physics Major.

For students transferring to University of Kentucky, the entire UC general education curriculum should be completed in order to become UK Gen Ed Certified. For students who intend to transfer without completing all of UC’s general education, recommended general education courses are listed below.

38 semester hours as follows:

Physics (12 hours)

Chemistry (8 hours)

Mathematics (15 hours)

Programming (3 hours)

Additional requirements as follows:

General Education

World Languages

  • 2 high school credits in a single language or
  • 2-semester sequence at UC or UK (required for UK)

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Costs for programs of study at University of the Cumberlands are competitive and affordable. Click here to view tuition rates and fees.

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Admission Requirements

In order to be considered for admission to this program, click here to view the undergraduate, on-campus admissions information. 

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Click here to view University of the Cumberlands' accreditation information. 

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Admissions Office

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Fax:  606.539.4303

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Williamsburg, KY 40769