Factors Influencing Undergraduates' Selection of an Engineering Discipline: A Case Study

Mohammad Alsager Alzayed, Scarlett R. Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The objective of this study was to investigate the factors that predict a pre-engineering student's first choice of engineering major during their application in an entrance-to-major (ETM) process, admittance into their first choice of engineering major during ETM, and enrollment in the admitted engineering major the semester following the ETM process. The influence of the following factors was explored: Gender, age, ethnicity, state residency, year of application, transfer credits, GPA, first semester credits, and cumulative credits. Admissions and enrollment data were collected from three preengineering student cohorts from a large public northeastern university in the United States; the sample population of the study included 4,664 students. Astin's input-environment-output (IEO) model was used as a theoretical framework to model the findings. The results highlighted the impact of gender and ethnic differences on the selection of an engineering discipline in the ETM process. Our model also highlighted the role of the number of credits attained and year of application on students' selection and commitment to an engineering discipline. The results presented in this case study call for the importance of understanding the heterogeneity amongst engineering disciplines and urges for institutional action through high school counseling and college academic advising that could increase the alignment of student profiles with their career aspirations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)482-496
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Engineering Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Engineering(all)


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