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KNOXVILLE — Students could earn two degrees in five years in physics and engineering through a program being planned by Austin Peay State University and the University of Tennessee.

Dr. Barbara Tarter of APSU and Dr. Fred Gilliam of UT said students in the new 3+2 program would study three years of physics at Austin Peay and two years in any of UT’s 10 accredited engineering programs.

Graduates would earn degrees in physics from APSU and engineering from UT, participate in graduation ceremonies at both schools and receive two diplomas, said Tarter, APSU assistant vice president for enrollment management.

The program, targeted for next fall, would be the first to offer dual bachelor’s degrees from a Tennessee Board of Regents school and UT, she said.

“This program addresses some of the issues raised by state legislators concerning programs that do not effectively transfer between university systems,” Tarter, APSU assistant vice president for enrollment management, said. “It provides a model for the state of Tennessee.”

Gilliam, UT associate dean of engineering, said graduates of the dual-degree program will possess deeper theoretical understanding, more applications skills and increased job placement opportunities.

“Certainly, it will give students a lot more flexibility to pursue a job in engineering or in physics,” Gilliam said. “The students that come to us from Austin Peay with a strong physics background will possess a deeper appreciation for the theoretical principles that underlie engineering.

“The physics degree gives them a sound theoretical base and the engineering degree allows them to take that and apply it. It is a pretty powerful combination.”

Dr. Jaime Taylor, APSU associate professor who chairs the physics department, said the 3+2 program is expected to attract at least 60 new students over the next four years, most of them high academic achievers.

“It is a great opportunity for people who want to start at a small school with smaller class sizes,” Taylor said. “Then, they can transfer to take advantage of UT’s engineering department, which has more than 120 faculty members.”

Contact APSU physics department at 931-221-6116 or UT’s engineering college, 865-974-2454, for more information about this program.