A new University of Minnesota Duluth undergraduate program will offer a bachelor of science degree in Engineering Physics, UMD said in a Friday announcement.

The program was approved in June by the UM Board of Regents. Marc Seigar is the new associate dean for UMD’s Swenson College of Science and Engineering (SCSE) and the former head of the Physics Department.

“This is going to be a unique program for Minnesota. It isn’t offered anywhere else in the state,” Seigar said in a news release.

The nearest university offering the degree is at the University of Wisconsin - Platteville. Seigar said UMD will seek ABET accreditation for the program, which would make it the 22nd ABET accredited Engineering Physics program in the country. 

Professor Jay Austin, department head for physics and astronomy, said UMD aims to meet an industry need.

“Engineering Physics programs produce graduates with a broader perspective on engineering,” Austin said. “They also develop a deep scientific understanding which means they are often capable of managing projects early on in their careers.”

Representatives from companies including Cirrus Aircraft, Minnesota Power, Seagate and Beton Engineering Consultants serve on a new Engineering Physics Industrial Advisory Board. 

UMD can transfer current students into the new program starting this fall. Incoming freshman will need to wait until the fall semester of 2018 to declare engineering physics as their major.

“We expect our first graduating class in this new major to finish in May of 2020,” Seigar said. “It’s exciting to be able to offer this and give our students another opportunity to gain an edge in the workforce.”

Swenson College typically has nearly 3,300 undergraduates and more than 200 graduate students and is home to 10 academic departments, as well as the Large Lakes Observatory, the UMD Air Force ROTC program, and the Iron Range Engineering program.