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Program Requirements

in this section

Common Curriculum
Mathematics 16
Physics 12
Chemistry 4
Freshman Writing Seminar 6
Computer Programming (usually CS 1110 or 1112 and 1130 or 1134) 5
Engineering Distribution3 (including ECE/ENGRD 2300) 7
Introduction to Engineering (ENGRI course) 3
Liberal Studies Distribution4 (6 courses, 18 credit minimum) 18
Advisor Approved Electives 6
Total Minimum Common Curriculum Credits: 77

You must also:

Fulfill the Technical Writing Requirement by taking a technical course that has a substantial amount of writing. Courses that meet the technical writing requirement are listed in the Courses of Study publication.

Fulfill the requirement of at least three credits of computer programming at a level above that of CS 1110/1112/1114/1115 and CS 1130/1132/1133/1142 or an advanced computer-engineering course at a level above ECE 3140. (See: Advanced Programming/Computer Engineering Requirements)

Note: The courses taken for all three of these requirements may be used to fill credits in other areas, such as Liberal Studies, Engineering Distribution, Advisor Approved Electives, or Major Program requirements.


Core and Foundation Courses

The Electrical and Computer Engineering program, which is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET,, builds on the ECE Core Courses and ECE Foundation Courses listed in the tables below.

In addition to the Core and Foundation Course requirements described in what follows, every ECE major takes additional upper-level elective courses.

Advanced ECE Electives are ECE courses at the 3000-level or above, some of which must be at the 4000-level or above. The Outside-ECE Technical Electives include 9 credits of appropriate course work with a total of 3 credits at or above the 3000-level.

ECE Core Courses

ECE 2100 Introduction to Circuits for Electrical and Computer Engineers 4 Fall, Spring
ECE 2200 Signals and Systems 4 Fall, Spring
ECE 2300 Introduction to Digital Logic Design 4 Fall, Spring
ECE 3400 (formerly ECE 2400) Electrical and Computer Engineering Practice and Design 4 Fall

ECE Foundation Courses

ECE 3030 Electromagnetic Fields and Waves 4 Fall
ECE 3100 Introduction to Probability and Random Signals 4 Spring
ECE 3140 (also CS 3420) Embedded Systems 4 Spring
ECE 3150 Introduction to Microelectronics 4 Spring
ECE 3250 Mathematics of Signal and System Analysis 4 Fall

Core and Foundation Course requirements:

ECE majors who matriculated at Cornell before Fall 2009 (nominally Class of 2012 or earlier) must take the ECE Core Courses ECE 2100, ECE 2200, and ECE 2300 and the four ECE Foundation Courses ECE 3030, ECE 3100, ECE 3140, and ECE 3150.

ECE majors who matriculated at Cornell during Fall 2009 or after (nominally Class of 2013 or later) must take all four ECE Core Courses and at least three out of five ECE Foundation Courses. Students who take ECE 3250 as a Foundation Course must take it Fall 2011 or later and must complete at least one of ECE 3030 and ECE 3150.

ECE majors who matriculate at Cornell during Fall 2011 or after (nominally Class of 2015 or later) must take all four ECE Core Courses and at least three out of five ECE Foundation Courses, including at least one of ECE 3100 and ECE 3250 and at least one of ECE 3030 and ECE 3150.


Engineering Distribution Requirements

The engineering distribution requirement helps students achieve breadth in their programs. The requirement comprises three courses.

  • The first is a mandatory Introduction to Engineering course, generally taken during the first year.
  • The second is ECE/ENGRD 2300, required of all ECE majors.
  • The third course is any ENGRD course other than ECE/ENGRD 3100 that belongs to a different ENGRD category from ECE/ENGRD 2300. The Course of Study lists various ENGRD categories.
  • ECE majors may not use ECE/ENGRD 2100, ECE2200/ENGRD 2220, or ECE/ENGRD 3100 toward the engineering distribution requirement.

Liberal Studies Distribution Requirements

For more information on the Liberal Studies Distribution, please visit the Liberal Studies page maintained by the College of Engineering. You will need to scroll down the page in order to find the appropriate information.


Technical Writing

The ability to communicate is essential to successful professional practice. In addition to taking two first-year writing seminars, engineering students must have a significant amount of instruction and practice in technical or scientific writing. They can fulfill the college's technical-writing requirement by enrolling in an Engineering Communications course (e.g., ENGRC 3350 or ENGRC 3500), enrolling in selected courses in the Department of Communication (COMM 3030 (formerly 2630) or 3520), or in an approved writing-intensive engineering course. The third option includes the following writing intensive courses:

  • BEE 4890
  • BEE 4730 (with co-registration in BEE 4930)
  • ENGRD / AEP 2640
  • CHEME 4320
  • MAE 4272
  • MSE 4030-4040
  • MSE 4050-4060

For information on fulfilling the technical writing requirement by doing a writing-intensive Co-op, contact Engineering Professional Programs, 201 Carpenter Hall or the Engineering Communications Program in 465 Hollister Hall.


Other ECE Requirements

Advanced Programming/Computer Engineering Requirement

The courses that an ECE major takes to satisfy the ECE Major Requirements or the ENGRD requirement must include a least three credits of computer programming at a level above that of CS 1110/1112/1114/1115 and CS 1130/1132/1133/1142, or an advanced computer engineering course at a level above ECE 3140. Current courses that meet this requirement are:

CS 2110, ENGRD 3200, AEP 4380, ECE 2400, ECE 4740, ECE 4750, or ECE 4760. Other courses may be allowed by an ECE petition.

Probability and Statistics Requirement

The courses that an ECE major takes to satisfy the ECE Major Requirements or the ENGRD requirement must include at least one course with significant probability content. ECE/ENGRD 3100, ENGRD/ORIE 2700, CEE 3040, and MSE 5730  are appropriate such courses, but keep in mind that those courses are quite different and are by no means interchangeable. Other courses satisfying the probability and statistics requirement may be allowed by an ECE petition.


Advisor Approved Electives

Your 6 credits of Advisor Approved Electives must form a relevant and appropriate part of an overall educational plan or objective, as determined by your faculty advisor (subject to the restrictions on Excluded Courses) -- and no one else. The Advisor Approved Electives can be used to broaden your education as an engineer. A wide variety of courses are acceptable; the key is to discuss your interests and educational goals with your advisor and obtain his or her approval. No one else may sign indicating approval of your Advisor Approved Elective choices on behalf of your advisor.

Advisor Approved Electives that are generally accepted by advisors include: one extra introduction to engineering course, engineering distribution courses, courses stressing oral or written communication, upper-level engineering courses, advanced mathematics, biological, and physical science courses. Selected business, economics, humanities, social science, and language courses are often acceptable depending on your career goals. Again, the courses you present to your advisor for approval must be sound choices that address your overall career or educational objectives.

Examples of how some students have used Advisor Approved Electives:

  • Biology and chemistry course work as preparation for a career in medicine or biomedical engineering (e.g. BIOG 1105/1106, CHEM 3570/3580, BIONB 2220)
  • Management and industrial relations courses for a career in management (e.g. AEM 2210/2220)
  • Courses in communications; writing and public speaking from the Communication Department or the Engineering Communications Department
  • Extra ECE courses in either your specialization area or for added breadth
  • To acquire expertise in a career-related 'minor' or concentration, possibly computer science or ORE

Other Electives

The engineering curriculum permits you a great deal of elective flexibility. The only point that needs to be kept in mind is that we define the MINIMUM that you are absolutely REQUIRED to take. Following the minimal path gives a basic academic preparation with which to enter the profession. You are encouraged to take more than the minimum courses, as this will prepare you better to enter the job market or begin graduate studies.

Legitimate and beneficial opportunities can be engaged in that differ from traditional lecture courses. For example: independent design projects, Study Abroad, and an ECE Honors Program to name just a few. Such options can add a great deal of value to your engineering professional training, and enhance the value of your Cornell degree. The choice of whether to take extra courses, engage in meaningful extra-curricular activities, or avail yourself of other university programs is yours. It is important that you plan effectively to use the extra freedom within your engineering education.

The flexibility of the Major program courses --including those of an elective nature-- allows you to pursue diverse interests. You can use your course options to strengthen your electrical engineering program if your goal is to specialize or obtain depth within electrical engineering. Or, you can use Major Approved Electives to complement related interests in other majors of study.

Students interested in a career in medicine often select life science (such as BIOG 1105 / 1106), chemistry (CHEM 3570 and 3580), and bioengineering course work (in CHEME or EP) as their electives. Students who study energy systems can combine ECE course work with courses from the Nuclear Science or Mechanical Engineering departments. Students with an interest in computer engineering can focus on ECE course work in digital theory and microprocessor/microcontroller systems as well as selecting technical course work from the Computer Science department. The exciting area of MicroElectroMechanical Systems (MEMS) combines semiconductor fabrication with principles from courses like ENGRD 2020 & 2030.

You have greater flexibility in choosing and designing a particular program if you plan early and carefully, ask a lot of questions, and take the right combination of courses that suits your particular interests.


Upper-Level Electives

Every ECE major must take at least 5 Upper-level ECE Elective Courses. These courses must be at the 3000-level or above and are subject to some restrictions; see Upper-Level ECE Electives for important details.

Every ECE major must also take 9 credits of Outside-ECE Technical Electives, with a minimum of 3 credits of lecture course work at the 3000-level or above. See Outside-ECE Technical Electives for details.