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Asce Policy Statement On The First Professional Degree: Where Does It Stand?

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2002 Annual Conference


Montreal, Canada

Publication Date

June 16, 2002

Start Date

June 16, 2002

End Date

June 19, 2002



Conference Session

Academic Prerequisites for Licensure

Page Count


Page Numbers

7.227.1 - 7.227.11



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Paper Authors

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Howard Epstein

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Session 1315

ASCE Policy Statement on The First Professional Degree: Where Does it Stand?

Howard I. Epstein

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering University of Connecticut

Abstract The primary purpose of this paper is to present the chronology of events and the current status of the issue of the first professional degree in civil engineering. In 1991, the author published a paper “Why Four Years?” in an ASCE journal. In 1995, the author presented a position paper on this subject that was accepted for the 1995 ASCE education conference. This subject was widely discussed at that conference and responses were subsequently published in a special forum section of an ASCE journal. The topic was then debated in many ASCE circles, and in October 1998, the ASCE Board of Direction adopted Policy Statement 465. This statement begins: “The ASCE supports the concept of the master’s degree as the First Professional Degree (FPD) for the practice of civil engineering (CE) at the professional level.”

There was a special forum section on ASCE’s web site devoted to this topic. There were many, many responses. By and large, the academic community was in favor and the practicing community against. In October 1999, the ASCE Board formed the Task Committee (TC) for the FPD. This committee was charged with “developing a vision statement of full realization of ASCE Policy Statement 465 … and a strategy for achieving this vision.” In May 2001, the TC issued a 147-page (including over 60 pages of appendices) draft report.

The TC report states that the fundamental issue of Policy 465 is that “The current four-year bachelor’s degree is inadequate formal preparation for the practice of CE at the professional level in the 21st Century.” The report goes on to list strategies and an implementation plan. The report closes with the thought that although a “no action” option is possible, it is not prudent and that, “No action would lead to a diminished role for the civil engineering profession and its members.”

Shortly after release, the TC posted their report on the ASCE web site and gave a few months during which responses and comments could be received. Well over 100 responses were posted. One contained a lengthy discussion and a resolution from ASCE’s Seattle Section to “Rescind the Policy.” Most of the comments take issue with some or many of the arguments or conclusions made by the TC. The TC recently submitted its final report to the ASCE Board of Direction. There were only subtle, but telling, changes from the draft. The Board approved the revised policy statement and appointed a new task committee that was charged with

Proceedings of the 2002 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright  2002, American Society for Engineering Education

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Epstein, H. (2002, June), Asce Policy Statement On The First Professional Degree: Where Does It Stand? Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. 10.18260/1-2--11059

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