Whither Engineering

What Engineering possibilities exist at Ave Maria?

At this time, Ave Maria University does not offer programs of study in engineering or computer science. Students interested in engineering or computer science are well-served by studying Physics or Mathematics.

The primary reason for this is that, while specific engineering methods and technologies may become obsolete, the basic sciences never go out of style. Training in physics and mathematics, especially in a strong liberal arts context, provides a solid foundation upon which a variety of careers may be built.


It stands to reason that a physics degree affords flexibility because physics is the fundamental science. This is borne out by student's experiences, both nationwide and here at Ave Maria.


According to the American Institute of Physics (AIP) and the American Physical Society (APS), roughly half of those who earn a physics bachelor degree immediately pursue graduate studies, while the other half find employment in a wide variety of fields. For the latest data and other related information, visit APS and AIP.

    These initial choices do not convey the whole story. Some graduates plan to work for a few years and then resume studies, while others obtain a Master's degree in aid of their career aspirations.

Those who enter the workforce are hired by a diverse array of employers. Unsurprisingly, most (roughly 70%) work in STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) fields, where their training is more directly relevant. Engineering, Computer Science, and Information Technology account for roughly two-thirds of all of the STEM hires. Other career paths include high-school teaching and military service. Many work in positions where their finely-honed analytical and well-exercised problem-solving skills are put to good use.

Physics bachelor degree holders are equipped to enter into graduate and professional programs in STEM and other disciplines. Physics students, in aggregate, perennially score top-one, two, or three in the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) and the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT).

    Sitting the Graduate Records Examination (GRE) is required for admission to most graduate school programs. In the publicly available GRE meta-data physics students are included in the general category of Mathematics, Physical Sciences, and Computer Science (MPSCS). The GRE data shows that this group is, as a whole, very strong in the quantitative aspects of the test. Contrary to stereotype, the verbal scores of students in this group were second only to those planning graduate work in the Arts and Humanities category. This corroborates the under-appreciated fact that students with liberal arts undergraduate preparation are over-represented in graduate school programs, as is discussed in an article by Thomas Cech, the co-winner of the 1989 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

Typically, in each year, over 40% of the MPSCS students taking the GRE intend to switch to a general area different from that which they studied as undergraduates. The chief beneficiaries of this "flow of talent" (the expression used by those who collect and analyse the GRE data) are engineering disciplines. The path from an undergraduate major in the physical sciences or mathematics to graduate work in engineering is well-trod.


Until this year, Ave Maria University has had only a minor program in Physics. The career paths of students who completed the minor program illustrate, in microcosm, the national trends observed for physics majors. We are proud of their early achievements.

  • One graduate has taught secondary-school science, and is now enrolled in a Master's Degree program studying statistics.
  • Another alumnus was accepted into the Physics Ph.D. program at The Catholic University of America. He is thriving there and we look forward to reading his scientific papers and thesis.
  • One graduate parlayed a summer internship at a high-tech manufacturing firm into a succession of positions at different companies as he moved about while settling down into family life. He is now writing acturial exams in his spare time, and comments that, "I'd have never guessed that the concepts to which I was introduced in Statistical Mechanics would steer me into such an interesting field! I can't get enough of this stuff."
  • Yet another alumnus strategically took a couple of computer science classes at another school, aced them, and was able to gain admittance into his first-choice graduate program in Software Engineering. He was also awarded a full fellowship.
  • Our other graduates are similarly engaged in a variety of pursuits. Among our current students, at least one is considering a career in the military.

Note that each of these students has been entreprenurial as they drew upon the rich liberal arts education provided at Ave Maria to find their way in the broader world.

WHY Ave Maria?

A liberal arts education provides the best context for students to discern their life's ambition and multi-faceted preparation necessary for achieving their goals.

At Ave Maria, we are committed to:

  • Offering a rigorous education to our students,

    Our commitment extends beyond the presentation of material in the classroom to include fostering a deep appreciation for the subjects and developing univeralisable critical-thinking and problem-solving skills.

  • Offering opportunities to participate in faculty-guided research,

    Growth and maturation as a scientist is best accomplished by doing scientific work. Along with summer and semester projects, we will encourage and assist students in applying for external summer undergraduate research programs.

  • Maintaining an authentic Catholic and liberal-learning environment in which the dignity of the human person is respected and the pursuit of truth is undertaken without reservation or bias.

To go to the Physics Home Page, click here.