Engineering Degree Requirements

There are more than 40 specializations in engineering offered by over 350 Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, Inc. (ABET) accredited colleges of engineering in the country.

All engineering programs have core requirements that must be met by every student in the college or university. These generally consist of English composition, and courses in mathematics, the sciences, social sciences, and humanities. Foreign languages can be a humanities elective, but some colleges have a requirement of a foreign language for all undergraduate studies. In addition, there is a basic set of courses required across all engineering programs. This set will include advanced mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, writing, and one or more diversity electives.

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Qualifications Needed to Enter an Engineering Program

The typical high school requirements for engineering colleges include four years of English; four years of mathematics– algebra, geometry, trigonometry and calculus; three years of science, biology, chemistry, physics and two years of social sciences. Please note however this is mainly dependent on the requirements of the college you plan on attending and requirements can vary considerably.

ACT and SAT Scores and Requirements for Engineering Students

Comparison charts of ACT and SAT scores show where the middle 50 percent of admitted applicants or enrolled students fall. Taking, for example, the SAT and ACT, middle scores for the top engineering colleges fall in the ranges of 630 to 800 and 29 to 35, respectively. The middle 50 percent for a sample of engineering programs around the country fall at about 500 to 700 for the SAT and between 20 and 35 for the ACT.

Minimum GPA for Prospective Engineering Students

Most engineering programs look for a minimum high school GPA of 3.0. If you are applying for a top engineering school, you’ll be competing with applicants presenting GPAs close to or at 4.0. However, some colleges are beginning to place less emphasis on the high school GPA, recognizing that grading standards in high schools vary.

The best engineering colleges look for more than an academically oriented high school record with excellent grades and high test scores. They examine the application submissions for students possessing a zest for learning and creative potential. The extracurricular activities you have engaged in, the letters of recommendations from teachers and mentors who know you then become important parts of your application package.

You will find most engineering schools focused not only in providing cutting edge knowledge to future engineers, but also a heavy involvement in research and innovation to seek solutions for real world problems.

Most Common Engineering Programs

Most engineering schools, particularly the top twelve engineering colleges as rated by U.S. News, offer some or all of the following programs:

>Some other related, but specific sub categories are:

A full list with descriptions can be seen here. Read on for more information on what skills and desires makes for a successful engineer and a bit about the future of engineering.

Who Should Consider a Career in Engineering?

If you have strong abilities in mathematics and science, consider yourself a problem solver and have a creative side, studying engineering will open up multiple opportunities for you. Successful engineers typically have inquiring minds, and possess an ability to see the big picture, including potential problems and real world solutions.  This means that they must be well organized, creative, thorough, work well with others and have strong communication skills.

During junior and senior years, the student will take the courses required in the chosen concentration and will have the option of taking elective courses in a minor either from another engineering field or from outside of engineering such as management, international studies or economics. The senior year of many engineering programs features a design project and thesis for the student to demonstrate the knowledge and design skills acquired through the program.

Colleges will usually permit the student to complete the freshman year without declaring a major. An introductory course on engineering could be taken which would help the student to choose among the engineering specialties. Engineering departments generally want the student to declare a major at the beginning or during the second year and work with an advisor to plan out the program for their junior and senior years. A common requirement of engineering programs is a 2.0 GPA in engineering courses, and a 2.0 cumulative GPA in order to attain the degree.

The Engineering Technology Program

For the student who is more oriented toward the practical and hands-on rather than theoretical and design aspects of engineering, about 230 colleges also offer an ABET accredited engineering technology option. Whereas the engineering program will consist of higher levels of mathematics and theoretical sciences, the technology program emphasizes the more basic and applied levels and will provide laboratory courses where students can learn the application of engineering principles while engaged in actual implementation of different designs under the guidance of experienced technological faculty. Graduates of these programs are called technologists. Two-year engineering technology programs in community colleges would produce technicians.

Engineering for the Future

Engineers will play a huge role in working toward a sustainable future for our world. Colleges are adjusting their sights to meet this challenge and making changes in their engineering programs. They foresee that graduate education will be required to produce the engineers who can define and solve the problems we face. Flexibility in programs that encourage interdisciplinary study is also seen as necessary.

The National Academy of Engineering did a visioning project and received input from 40 countries on what was needed to improve mankind’s quality of life. Some of the 14 challenges identified were:

  • Make solar energy economical
  • Provide energy from fusion
  • Manage the nitrogen cycle
  • Engineer better medicines
  • Reverse-engineer the brain
  • Engineer the tools of scientific discovery

The engineering student of the future will face these and other challenges as he/she enters the world of discovery and design.