For undergraduates in the College of Engineering, the first three semesters typically consist of what’s known as the Common Curriculum, which includes foundational courses in math, science, and engineering concepts. Students are ready to begin specializing by the beginning of the second semester of the sophomore year, applying to their major of choice in a process called “affiliation.” See Applying for Major Affiliation in the Engineering Undergraduate Handbook for more detailed information.
Cornell Engineering offers 13 majors, which naturally overlap and share many of the same labs, cleanrooms, and other facilities in the college. Given the interdisciplinary structure of the college, the possibilities for specialization are practically endless.
Collaboration is intrinsic to Cornell, enriched by the diverse personal, academic and professional backgrounds that make up our community.
Some majors begin with courses that cannot be taken without prior completion of certain prerequisites. Students planning to affiliate with such a major must decide to do so early enough to take the prerequisite courses, even though they will not formally affiliate until after the prerequisites have been completed. Information on prerequisites of each major is available in the Engineering Undergraduate Handbook and in Courses of Study.
Deciding on a major is really an individual decision; there’s no standard technique for choosing between nanofabrication and toy design, for example, or space exploration and tsunami research. But whichever major or specialty students select, the College of Engineering seeks to nurture innovative spirits in their pursuit of careers that benefit human health and quality of life, increasing our knowledge of ways to apply physical laws to solve human problems.