Students in the College of Engineering spend most of their first two years of undergraduate studies in the Common Curriculum, which is administered by the College Curriculum Governing Board (CCGB) through the associate dean for undergraduate programs and Engineering Advising. By the end of their third semester, they typically apply to affiliate with one of the following majors and must be affiliated by the start of their fifth semester.
Biological Engineering (BE)†
Biomedical Engineering (BME)
Chemical Engineering (ChemE)
Civil Engineering (CE)
Computer Science (CS)
Earth and Atmospheric Sciences (EAS)
Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE)
Engineering Physics (EP)
Environmental Engineering (EnvE)†
Independent Major (IM)
Information Science, Systems, and Technology (ISST)—with options in information science and management science
Most of the majors have a corresponding minor, in which the student can pursue a secondary interest if eligible. In addition, there are minors that cross majors including applied mathematics, civil infrastructure, engineering management, engineering statistics, game design, industrial systems and information technology, information science, and business. See the main section, “Engineering Minors .”
*The majors biological engineering(BE), chemical engineering(ChemE), civil engineering(CE), electrical and computer engineering(ECE), environmental engineering(ENVE), materials science and engineering(MSE), and mechanical engineering(ME) are accredited by ABET.
†Students may major in biological engineering and environmental engineering through the College of Engineering or the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS). Students who do so through the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences are jointly administered by the College of Engineering and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
While there is no undergraduate major in nuclear science and engineering, students who intend to enter graduate programs in this area are encouraged to begin specialization at the undergraduate level. This may be done by choice of electives within several related majors including engineering physics, materials science and engineering, civil engineering, chemical engineering, and the independent major. Faculty members in the graduate field of nuclear science and engineering including K. B. Cady, D. A. Hammer, R. W. Kay, and V. O. Kostroun can assist in planning appropriate programs.
Engineering Core Requirements - Engineering Major
To receive the bachelor of science degree, students must meet the requirements of the Common Curriculum (outlined below) as set forth by the College of Engineering, including the requirements of their chosen major, as established by the school or department that administers the major. (Further explanation of the revised Common Curriculum and major flow charts are provided in the Engineering Undergraduate Handbook.)
First-year writing seminars
a. One introduction to engineering (ENGRI)
b. Two engineering distributions (ENGRD)
Liberal studies distribution (6 courses min.)
Advisor Approved electives
a. Major-required courses
b. Major-approved electives
c. Courses outside the major
Two semesters of physical education and demonstration of proficiency in swimming (university requirement)
*Technical-communication courses may simultaneously fulfill another requirement.
The normal program in mathematics includes MATH 1910, MATH 1920, MATH 2930 or MATH 2940 (depending on the major), and a major-specific math course for some majors. At least C– must be attained in these courses; if not, the course must be repeated immediately before the next course in the sequence is taken. Failure to achieve at least C– the second time will result in withdrawal from the College of Engineering. Courses that are taken a second time do not yield additional credit toward a degree.
Students considering chemical engineering or a health-related career such as medicine must take CHEM 2090 in the fall of their first year and CHEM 2080 in the spring semester.
Introduction to Computing (CS 1110, CS 1112 ) should be taken in the first year.
First-Year Writing Seminars:
Each semester of their first year, students choose a first-year writing seminar from over 100 courses offered by over 30 different departments across the university. These courses offer the student practice in writing English prose and college level discourse within a small class(<20) setting.
Courses in this category, offered by the Engineering Communications Program (ECP), develop communication skills in a variety of genres, including writing, presenting, multimodal forms, graphics, charts, posters, and other. These courses fulfill the Engineering Communication Requirement for Cornell’s of College of Engineering.
The courses below, which are also ENGRC courses, are partner courses. Any student in these ENGRC courses must be concurrently enrolled in the department-specific partner course, without exception. These courses fulfill the Engineering Communication Requirement for Cornell’s of College of Engineering.
The Communication-Intensive Co-op (C-I), offered jointly by the Engineering Communications Program and the Co-operative Education Program, enables students to practice and analyze technical communications at their Co-op placement site. Approval for this option is required in advance of the co-op or internship experience.
Through the C-I option, students practice communications as an engineer in the workplace, get feedback on their communications from workplace mentors as well as from an Engineering Communications Program lecturer, and develop an awareness of how communications is integrated into engineering work. When carried out successfully, the C-I fulfills the Engineering Communication Requirement for the College of Engineering.
For more information about the C-I option, please see the Writing-Intensive Co-op option website. Students interested in undertaking a C-I should contact Dr. Rick Evans (rae27), the coordinator of the Writing-Intensive Co-op option, in advance of co-op or internship start dates.
3. An officially designated Writing-Intensive (W-I) engineering course:
This is not an all-inclusive list, as each College of Engineering department has authority to make a class Writing-Intensive. The availability of this option may change any semester and is not controlled by the Engineering Communications Program. Please check with the department offering the course to confirm W-I or C-I status.
ENGRC 3023, a 1-credit attachment to any engineering course that is not one of the officially designated C-I/W-I courses (see #3 above). An instructor may wish to extend the communication work in their course for a given semester so that it will fulfill the engineering communications requirement. With the approval of the CCGB’s Subcommittee on Engineering Communications, the instructor may have students co-register in ENGRC 3023, which may be taken more than once with different courses by permission of the engineering instructor.
5. Courses outside the College of Engineering
COMM 3030 or COMM 3020, taught by the Department of Communication (in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences).
Occasionally, a student will be doing a significant amount and variety of communications work elsewhere in the College of Engineering. It may be appropriate to petition the CCGB’s Subcommittee on Engineering Communications for permission to use their upcoming work (not past work) to meet the engineering communications requirement.
An introduction-to-engineering course (designated ENGRI) is expected to be completed by the end of a student’s first year. This course introduces students to the engineering process and provides a substantive experience in an open-ended problem-solving context. See the Introduction-to-Engineering course listing for current course offerings.
Two engineering distribution (ENGRD) courses (6–8 credits) must be selected from two different categories listed below. A student may use any one of the possible substitutions described.
Some majors may require completion of 9 specific engineering distribution courses for affiliation (acceptance into the major), or as a prerequisite for upper-class courses. For complete information, please see Affiliation with a Major and the flow charts for each major in the Engineering Undergraduate Handbook.
Note: Some majors require additional distribution courses after affiliation.
Liberal Studies Distribution:
Global and diverse societies require that engineers have an awareness of historical patterns, an appreciation for different cultures, professional ethics, the ability to work in multifaceted groups, and superior communication skills. Cornell has a rich curriculum in the humanities, arts, and social sciences, enabling every engineering student to obtain a truly liberal education. The rationale for these distribution courses is discussed further in the Understanding the Liberal Studies Distribution in Engineering section of this handbook, and these courses should be chosen with as much care and foresight as courses from technical areas.
At least six courses (totaling at least 18 credits)
The six courses must be chosen from the categories listed and come from at least three different groups outlined in the following section
No more than two courses may be chosen from Group 6 (CE)
At least two courses must be at the 2000 level or higher
The categories outlined in the previous section of this handbook have been organized into six Groups based on common themes in content. Those Groups are as follows:
Group 1. Cultural Analysis, Literature and the Arts, Social Differences
Cultural Analysis (CA)
Literature and the Arts (LA)
Literature, the Arts and Design (LAD)
Arts, Literature, and Culture (ALC)
Social Difference (SCD)
Group 2. Historical Analysis
Historical Analysis (HA/ HST)
Group 3. Ethics, Cognition, and Moral Reasoning
Knowledge, Cognition, and Moral Reasoning (KCM)
Ethics and the Mind (ETM)
Group 4. Social Science and Global Citizenship
Social and Behavioral Analysis (SBA)
Social Sciences (SSC)
Global Citizenship (GLC)
Group 5. Foreign Languages (not literature courses) (FL)
Courses teaching language skills, inclusive of reading, writing, listening, and spoken non-English languages, at beginning to advanced levels.
Group 6. Communications in Engineering (CE)
Engineering specific courses exploring communication as a way of acting in the world
Courses must be specifically designated by CCGB as satisfying the CE category (no petitions)
No more than two courses from this category may be used to satisfy the liberal studies requirement
Students should utilize the current Courses of Study as the master list of approved liberal studies courses. Refer to the web page of Cornell Engineering Advising (www.engineering.cornell.edu/students/undergraduate-students/curriculum/undergraduaterequirements/liberal-studies), for complete lists of additional approved courses and unacceptable courses. Please direct any questions to Engineering Advising, 180 Rhodes Hall.
Advisor-Approved electives: 6 credits required (approved by the faculty advisor*). Because these courses should help develop and broaden the skills of the engineer, faculty advisors generally accept the following as approved electives (as long as they are not being used elsewhere toward degree requirements):
One additional introduction-to-engineering course (ENGRI)
Engineering distribution courses
Courses stressing written or oral communication
Upper-level engineering courses
Advanced courses in mathematics
Rigorous courses in the biological and physical sciences
Courses in business, economics, or language (when they serve the student’s educational and academic objectives)
Courses that expand the major or another part of the curriculum, including liberal studies electives not already being used toward the Liberal Studies Distribution requirement.
Up to 6 credits of approved electives may come from ROTC courses at the 3000-level or higher.
* In the event a student and their faculty advisor disagree regarding the suitability of an approved elective, the student may appeal the decision to the Director of Undergraduate Studies (Associate Director) for their major department or to the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs.
Major-approved electives: 9 credits (approved by the major and faculty advisors in the major). Refer to the major curricula for descriptions of courses in this category.
Outside-the-major electives: 9 credits of courses outside the major to ensure breadth of engineering studies; these courses may be subject to major specific requirements for appropriateness.
Social Issues of Technology:
It is important for engineers to realize the social and ethical implications of their work. Consequently, in selecting their liberal studies distribution courses and approved electives, students are urged to consider courses listed in the “Science and Technology Studies” undergraduate area of concentration. These courses may provide students with important perspectives on their studies and their future careers.
During the first year, engineering students are expected to complete (or receive credit for) the following core requirements:
Two physical education courses and the university swim test
*Students interested in chemical engineering, pre-med, or other health-related careers should enroll in the CHEM 2080- CHEM 2090 sequence during their first year.
*Students interested in biomedical engineering should additionally complete BIOMG 1350 during the first year.
Affiliation with a Major
Students are encouraged to apply for affiliation with a major during the first semester of their sophomore year, although earlier affiliation may be granted at the discretion of the major. This is done by visiting the undergraduate major office and completing the application for major affiliation form. To affiliate, students must (1) make good progress toward completing required courses in the common curriculum, (2) have a GPA ≥ 2.0, and (3) have satisfied the major’s course and grade requirements as specified below:
Courses and Minimum Grade Requirements
Minimum GPA > 2.5 and at most one grade below C– in PHYS and CHEM, CS 1110 and CS 1112 plus ENGRI and ENGRD courses. Completion of BEE 2600/ENGRD 2600 (or ENGRD 2510) with a C– or better and one year of intro biology with a C– or better. No more than two credits of research/project team and two credits of arts performance courses will count toward the cumulative GPA.
Completion of BIOMG 1350 with a grade of at least C- or a score of 5 on the CEEB AP Exam (or equivalent). BIOG 1440 cannot be used to satisfy this requirement for students entering Fall 2017 and after.
Minimum GPA of 2.4 in math, science, and engineering courses completed with at most one grade below C-. Research/project team credit does not apply to this GPA. For any course that is repeated, the two grades will be averaged.
At most one grade below C– in chemistry, math, physics, and chemical engineering courses. GPA ≥ 2.2 in math, science, and engineering courses (except independent study, seminar, research, or project teams). Visit the CHEME undergraduate website for additional details.
GPA ≥ 2.0 in all engineering and science courses. At least C in ENGRD 2020.
At least C (not C-) in all completed CS and math courses. GPA ≥ 2.5 between CS 2110, (or CS 2112) and CS 2802. GPA ≥ 2.5 between MATH 1920 and CS 2800 or CS 2802. Visit the CS undergraduate web site for alternative affiliation criteria.
Earth and Atmospheric Sciences
At least C– in all completed major required courses. GPA ≥ 2.0 in all engineering, math, and science courses. Good academic standing in the College of Engineering.
GPA ≥ 2.0 in all math, science, and engineering courses. At least C– in BEE 2510/ENGRD 2510.
Must have satisfied the engineering unaffiliated good standing requirements. Good standing for at least 3 semesters with not more than one grade below C each semester in math, science and engineering courses. Students must submit, and receive approval for, a proposed program including endorsement from advisors for a primary and secondary area. See the IM program description for specific requirements and deadlines.
Information Science Systems, and Technology
At least C in two of MATH 2940, CS 2110, and ENGRD 2700. Courses must be taken at Cornell and for a letter grade. GPA ≥ 2.5 in completed engineering math, engineering distribution, and ISST major courses, which must be taken at Cornell. For a repeated course, the most recent grade will be used.
Materials Science and Engineering
A cumulative GPA ≥ 2.0 in the required Math, Physics, and Chemistry courses and at least C in ENGRD 2610 or ENGRD 2620. Alternatively, at least B– in MATH 2930, PHYS 2213, CHEM 2090, and ENGRD 2610 or ENGRD 2620. For any course that is repeated, if the affiliation requirement is for a minimum grade in a specific course, the most recent grade will be used. If the affiliation requirement involves averaging a certain course’s grade with others to obtain a minimum GPA, repeated grades will be included.
At least C in each of ENGRD 2700 and MATH 2940. GPA ≥ 2.2 in math, science, and engineering courses (both overall and in the term immediately before affiliation). At least C– in all ORIE courses completed thus far. Good academic standing in the College of Engineering.
Students must be affiliated or conditionally affiliated with a major by the beginning of their fifth semester or they will be withdrawn from the College of Engineering.
Honors Program within Majors
Many of the engineering majors supplement the major with an honors program.
The B.S. degree with honors is granted to engineering students who, in addition to having completed the requirements for a B.S. degree in a major, satisfactorily complete the honors program in the major and are recommended for the degree by the honors committee of that major. To enter an honors program, the student must be on track to graduate with distinction, and a student who does not stay on track to graduate with distinction is will be dropped from the honors program.
At least 9 extra credit hours are required for the honors degree, and a student must be in the program for at least two semesters before graduation. Courses taken to satisfy the honors requirement may not be used to satisfy any other B.S. degree requirements.
No research, independent study, or teaching for which the student is paid may be counted toward the honors program.
An applicant to the honors program in a major must have an honors advisor: a faculty member from that major who will supervise the honors program and direct any research or project. The honors advisor need not be the student’s advisor in the major.
The application for the honors program should be a letter from the student that describes the proposed honors program in detail and includes the explicit approval of the honors advisor.
Students must complete a written application no later than the beginning of the first semester of their senior year, but they are encouraged to make arrangements with the honors advisor during the second semester of their junior year. Each major may place further constraints on timing.
Each major defines the content of the honors program and may also place other requirements on the program, in terms of timing, content, and procedures. Information is given within the description of the individual majors.