The Columbia Combined Plan and Elite Liberal Arts Colleges

There are high school students who aspire to attend a top-tier institution but have difficulty in choosing between a small liberal arts college that doesn’t offer a major in engineering and a research university with a sound reputation in engineering. Either alternative will provide a route to a Bachelor’s degree, but they represent much different educational experiences. 

Fortunately, there are ways for a student to obtain the best of both worlds. One such way is the Columbia University Combined Plan. This program enables students to experience a small liberal arts college campus and still earn a degree in engineering from an Ivy League university, thereby experiencing the best of what each educational alternative has to offer. Students receive a B.A. degree in a liberal arts field as well as a B.S. in an engineering discipline from Columbia. The program is usually completed as a 3-2 sequence: three years in a liberal arts curriculum and two years in engineering at Columbia. The program may also be completed as a 4-2 sequence: four years in a liberal arts curriculum and two years in engineering at Columbia.

Columbia offers programs in biomedical engineering, chemical engineering, civil engineering, earth and environmental engineering, electrical engineering, and mechanical engineering, all of which are accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).  An ABET-accredited B.S. degree is the first step on the path toward state licensing as a Professional Engineer (PE).  A PE license is especially useful for practicing engineers who wish to perform contractual work for governments, such as work on public utilities, buildings, bridges, and roads.  Civil engineers are most likely to need a PE license, but it is also advantageous to become a PE in other engineering disciplines.

The small liberal arts colleges listed in Table A, below, participate in the Columbia Combined Plan. The list includes a number of the best colleges in the country. Students at these colleges who fulfill certain requirements are guaranteed admission to the program when they apply in junior or senior year. Those interested in the Combined Plan should discuss the program with their faculty advisor during freshman year so that their curriculum will include all courses required for the program. Students must also fulfill all of the requirements for a degree at their home institution before transferring to Columbia, including general requirements and the requirements for their major.

Table A: Columbia University Combined Plan

Affiliated Liberal Arts Colleges


Institution Location
Albion College Albion, MI
Augustana College Rock Island, IL
Austin College Sherman, TX
Bard College Annandale-on-Hudson, NY
Barnard College New York, NY
Bates College Lewiston, ME
Beloit College Beloit, WI
Bowdoin College Brunswick, ME
Brandeis College Waltham, ME
Bryn Mawr College Bryn Mawr, PA
Carroll College Helena, MT
Centenary College Shreveport, LA
Claremont McKenna College Claremont, CA
Colby College Waterville, ME
College of Idaho Caldwell, ID
College of the Holy Cross Worcester, MA
College of William & Mary Williamsburg, VA
Colorado College Colorado Springs, CO
Davidson College Davidson, NC
Dickinson College Carlisle, PA
Franklin & Marshall College Lancaster, PA
Gettysburg College Gettysburg, PA
Goucher College Baltimore, MD
Grinnell College Grinnell, IA
Hamilton College Clinton, NY
Hartwick College Oneonta, NY
Hobart & William Smith Colleges Geneva, NY
Lewis & Clark College Portland, OR
Middlebury College Middlebury, VT
Milsaps College Jackson, MS
Morehouse College Atlanta, GA
Muhlenberg College Allentown, PA
Oberlin College Oberlin, OH
Occidental College Los Angeles, CA
Pitzer College Claremont, CA
Providence College Providence, RI
Queens College Flushing, NY
Reed College Portland, OR
Sarah Lawrence College Bronxville, NY
Scripps College Claremont, CA
Spelman College Atlanta, GA
Sweet Briar College Sweet Briar, VA
Ursinus College Collegeville, PA
Wabash College Crawfordsville, PA
Washington College Chestertown, PA
Washington & Jefferson College Washington, PA
Wells College Aurora, NY
Whitman College Walla Walla, WA
Williams College Williamstown, MA
Wofford College Spartanburg, NC


In addition to the colleges listed above, there are a number of popular and prestigious colleges and universities that also participate in the Columbia Combined Plan, including Colgate, American, Fordham, Georgetown, Loyola (MD), Richmond, Geneseo, Sewanee, Wesleyan (CT), Wittenberg, Binghamton, and Yeshiva.

IvySelect is a college admissions consulting firm specializing in admission to Ivy League and other top-tier institutions. If you are an aspiring engineering student, IvySelect will work with you to build your target list of engineering universities and programs. We’ll help you to evaluate a range of engineering schools as well as unique programs integrated with the liberal arts such as the Columbia Combined Plan. Together, we’ll identify the schools and programs that are best matches for you based on your personal profile and characteristics of the schools such as the types of engineering degrees offered, curriculum requirements, the nature of the student body and campus, faculty accessibility, research and internship opportunities, and jobs obtained by graduates.


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