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Assessment Of First Professional Degree Criteria

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2000 Annual Conference


St. Louis, Missouri

Publication Date

June 18, 2000

Start Date

June 18, 2000

End Date

June 21, 2000



Page Count


Page Numbers

5.116.1 - 5.116.6



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Enno Koehn

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 2793

Assessment of First Professional Degree Criteria

By Enno “Ed” Koehn Lamar University


Recently, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) approved the concept of the Master’s degree as the First Professional Degree for the practice of engineering. The American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) and the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE) are also discussing this idea.

The present investigation suggests that undergraduate and graduate students approve this concept. In fact, undergraduates during a six-month period have sharply increased their interest to the point that over 50% either agree or strongly agree that the Master’s degree should be the First Professional Degree. Sixty percent of the graduate students also support this concept. However, graduate student acceptance is lower than might be expected for individuals working towards an advanced degree.

In contrast, practitioners do not perceive that the Master’s degree should be required for professional practice. The findings indicate that over 90% of the practicing engineers are against the idea, including 51.7% who voted for the strongly disagree category. This suggests that ASCE should consider an educational and/or marketing campaign to explain the rationale behind the First Professional Degree concept.

I. Introduction

In October 1998, the Board of Direction of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) approved a policy statement “endorsing the master’s degree for the practice of engineering at the professional level.” The board also directed the Educational Activities Committee to develop a society policy for the first professional degree in civil engineering2. These actions may partially be in response to legislation in various states limiting the number of hours that a state university may require to obtain a bachelor’s degree. In addition, numerous practitioners and educators perceive that students need additional courses in the communications and financial areas in order to practice engineering at a professional level when they graduate.

The reaction of ASCE members to the policy statement has been unprecedented and has generated a great deal of negative comment, some of which has been published in ASCE magazines and newsletters. In response to these concerns, the Board at their April, 1999 meeting established a task committee to study and re-evaluate the policy statement and report back to the Board in April, 20008.

This paper presents the results of an investigation involving the perceptions of a group of undergraduate and graduate students as well as practicing engineers concerning the ASCE first

Koehn, E. (2000, June), Assessment Of First Professional Degree Criteria Paper presented at 2000 Annual Conference, St. Louis, Missouri. 10.18260/1-2--8173

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