Pre-Engineering program

Interested in earning a degree in engineering?

UW-La Crosse offers a dual-degree program in physics and engineering that typically takes five years to complete. You spend the first three years at UWL and the final two years at one of six possible engineering programs: UW-Madison, UW-Milwaukee, UW-Platteville, UW-Stout, the University of Minnesota Duluth, and Winona State.

This program allows you to take advantage of the small class sizes, individualized attention, and personal guidance available at UWL, while also having access to all the resources and technical expertise provided by your engineering program. In addition, you don’t have to decide on your field of engineering until you transfer. At the end of the program, you will earn two bachelor of science degrees, one in Physics from UWL and one in Engineering from your chosen school.


Why study physics and engineering?

Our dual-degree program in physics and engineering produces engineers that have a strong foundation in math and physics, which allows them to push the boundaries of their engineering discipline and adapt to the ever-changing landscape of modern technology. UWL's Physics program has been in existence for over 25 years and has a national reputation for awarding physics degrees. Over that time, UWL has acquired a strong track record for preparing students to succeed in engineering. For example, over the past 10 years, dual-degree students have on average achieved a 3.34 GPA in their engineering coursework. This number is to be compared to the 3.23 GPA that the same students achieved in their coursework at UWL. Graduates of our dual-degree program compete successfully in the job market upon graduation as well as in pursuing graduate degrees.



Students must complete a minimum of 85 credits at UWL. Dual degree students also must complete the remaining 35 credits (to total a minimum of 120 credits) in engineering at the partner institution and transfer these credits to UWL. For the typical student, the remaining 35 credits must include at least 15 credits at the 300 level or above and at least 13 credits from the engineering college or institute. This transfer of credits and awarding of the B.S. degree by UWL can take place as soon as the student earns the necessary credits.

See an example course schedule.

Acceptance into partnering institutions

Students who express interest in the dual degree program will be selected for entrance into a partnering institution's portion of the program based on: 

  • GPA in all course work
  • GPA in the chemistry, computer science, mathematics, and physics course work required by the program
  • Positive recommendation from the UWL Physics Department chair (or designee).
  • UW-Madison specific requirement: the student must have Wisconsin resident status and must have enrolled in UWL from high school (rather than transferring to UWL).

Embark on your path

Pursue research with faculty

The Physics Department stands out in its emphasis on undergraduate research. Students typically work with a faculty member on a research project in their specialty area. This mode of instruction gives students hands-on learning opportunities. 

Join a club

Students have many options to get involved in physics groups including Physics Club, Women in Physics Club, a chapter of the Society of Physics Students, a chapter of Sigma Pi Sigma (the national physics honor society), and the multidisciplinary group DiSTEM (Diversity in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). 

Get individualized attention

Class sizes are kept small to allow individualized attention, and physics lectures and laboratories are taught by experienced faculty, all of whom hold doctoral degrees in physics or engineering. Physics majors are each assigned an advisor within the department who advises them on course work, research projects, graduate school selection, and careers. 

Nationally-recognized leader in physics education

UWL's Physics Department is a nationally-recognized leader in physics education. For over 20 years, The American Institute of Physics (AIP) has consistently ranked the UWL physics department as one of the top physics departments in the nation for producing the most physics majors among BS degree-only institutions.

Award-winning department for undergraduate education

The physics department at UWL has won multiple awards for undergraduate education, including the American Physical Society (APS) Award for Improving Undergraduate Physics Education. The American Institute of Physics selected UWL physics as a model department for providing graduates with career and educational advancement opportunities.This award recognizes physics programs that support best practices in education at the undergraduate level. UWL Physics was also awarded the UW System Regents Teaching Excellence Award. 

Well-equipped laboratories

Departmental facilities span two buildings, the Prairie Springs Science Center (PSSC) and Cowley Hall, which include classrooms, laboratories, computer labs, and a student resource room. Well-equipped laboratories include separate rooms for advanced optics, electronics, astrophysics, and experimental physics. The university, college, and department have made large investments in faculty research laboratories, a multidisciplinary radiation center, and an instrumentation laboratory, which are all housed in PSSC.

College of Engineering admission is not guaranteed.

Admission requirements

Students must meet certain academic and other requirements, as determined by each participating College of Engineering, in order to be selected for entrance into the engineering portion of this program. Please note that UW-Madison requires that applicants must have Wisconsin residency status and must have enrolled in UWL directly from high school (i.e. not as a transfer student). The Colleges of Engineering may change their specific dual degree admission requirements at any time.