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Career and Professional Development

in this section

In This Section:

From their first year of study, students need to plan for the next stage of life. Some will
obtain additional education or training, while others will seek employment immediately
after graduation. The College of Engineering and the university provide support for
choosing options.

In addition to career development, students should consider the many aspects of professional and personal development. During the undergraduate years, early participation in student technical societies, as well as professional networking web sites (such as LinkedIn), provide preparation for your next move. Obtaining legal recognition of commitment to the engineering profession may also be important. Students may consider first steps toward professional engineering licensure during the fourth year by taking the Fundamentals of Engineering exam. (Typically apply by April of the third year for the October exam in fourth year).

Career and professional development choices are among the most important of life’s decisions. Students are encouraged to seek advice early during their time at Cornell and to give careful thought and attention to the process.

The following information is designed to assist students in their career and professional

Deciding on a Career

Deciding on a career path and finding employment takes effort and commitment—especially in the fourth year. Since this process can take much time and effort, the following resources can help.

Career Services at Cornell

Engineering Cooperative Education and Career Services
201 Carpenter Hall, 255.5006

The Engineering Cooperative Education and Career Services office assists students who are contemplating their career development, whether through employment (full-time entry-level, co-op, or summer) or further graduate study.

The office coordinates an on-campus recruiting program that annually brings 150+ employers to campus to conduct more than 5,000 interviews with engineering students for full-time entry-level, co-op, and summer positions. Also, in conjunction with Cornell Career Services, an extensive list of electronic job postings is maintained on Cornell’s CCNet System. The office coordinates seminars on job search and résumé/interview preparation, and counselors are available to discuss career-related issues individually and in group settings.

Engineering Cooperative Education Program

The Engineering Cooperative Education Program (Co-op) provides an opportunity for juniors to gain 28 weeks of paid career-related work experience over a semester and a summer with employers nationwide and beyond. Co-op is an excellent way to explore career interests while acquiring an understanding of relevant career paths. Students must be enrolled in the College of Engineering (Computer Science and Biological Engineering Majors outside the college are also eligible). In most cases, a GPA >2.7 is required. For more information, please see the Special Programs section of this handbook (pages 113– 116) or visit

Cornell Career Services

103 and 203 Barnes Hall, 255.5221
Cornell Career Services (CCS) educates students about the career planning and job-search process and promotes linkages between students and employers or graduate and professional schools. CCS offers a broad range of programs and services that complement those provided in Engineering Cooperative Education and Career Services, focusing on five areas:

  • Career development—career interest inventories, advising on decisions concerning Majors and careers, and networking opportunities.
  • Career information—career library with an extensive collection of print, electronic, audio, and video reference materials on careers and career decision-making; employment; internships; graduate and professional schools; fellowships; and international opportunities to assist students with job searches or applying to graduate and professional schools abroad.
  • Job search strategies—job search seminars, career fairs, employer information sessions, mock interviews, and on-campus interviews. A Career Guide (in print and online) provides sample résumés, cover letters, and advice on the job-search process, while Cornell’s branded Optimal Resume and Optimal Interview services offer a tool for preparing resumes/cover letters and practicing interview questions. The on-campus recruiting program brings to campus more than 300 employers campuswide who conduct interviews for positions in the management consulting, financial services, retail, health care, insurance, and other industries.
  • Employment information via the CCNet electronic job posting service—on summer jobs, internships, and full-time jobs after Cornell.
  • Graduate and professional school, including health careers and fellowships—advising and seminars on the application process, information resources, and Graduate and Professional School Days.

The Cornell Career Services web site provides a calendar of events, extensive career resources, and links to Internet career sites.

Graduate Programs and Professional Study

Students who wish to continue with advanced study at Cornell or another institution should start planning early in the fourth year. They should identify the course of advanced study they wish to pursue and the schools, colleges, and universities they might attend. Peterson’s Graduate and Professional Programs is a useful tool for identifying potential institutions, with names and addresses of people to contact. Faculty members can often give advice about appropriate schools to consider. If possible, students should visit the graduate and professional schools they are considering.

Three graduate degrees are available in the College of Engineering: Master of Science
(M.S.), Master of Engineering (M.Eng.), and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.).
The graduate programs at Cornell are offered by “Fields of Graduate Study”, which are
associated with the Graduate School. Most engineering fields are directly connected to the
obvious department or school, but, because of the interdisciplinary nature of some subject
areas, a field may not be associated with a department or school. The field of Applied
Mathematics is an example of this.

The M.S. and Ph.D. Programs

The M.S. degree is a two-year program that combines academic rigor and has a strong research component.

The Ph.D. degree program is research-focused with an emphasis on flexibility and individually- tailored original research. Most students complete the degree in five years.

Students in good standing in the Ph.D. programs generally receive full support during their graduate studies, which covers tuition, health insurance, plus a stipend for both the academic year and the summer. Support may be in the form of fellowships, teaching  assistantships, or research assistantships.

To find out about an M.S. or Ph.D. program at Cornell, visit the appropriate department or school, or visit the College of Engineering Graduate Education web site,

The Master of Engineering Program

The Master of Engineering (M.Eng.) degree features intensive, one-year professional programs of study built around core courses, a flexible curriculum design, practical interdisciplinary study, and a project, which offer students advanced training in science, current technology, and engineering design. M.Eng. programs are offered in 15 graduate fields of study. You can find out about these M.Eng. programs by visiting the M.Eng. web site,, or the appropriate
engineering department or school.

At the beginning of their senior year, qualified engineering students may request an early
admission (by November of the senior year) to the M.Eng. program. The early admit option
allows students to get a headstart on their graduate work while still enrolled as undergraduates.

Information on early admit is available at

To qualify for early admit, students need at most 8 credits to complete their B.S. degree, have a cumulative GPA ≥ 2.7, and, in the last three semesters of their B.S. program, a GPA ≥ 2.5. The grades of M.Eng. courses taken during the early-admission semester will count toward a student’s undergraduate GPA. All requirements for the B.S. degree must be completed before enrolling as a graduate student in the M.Eng. program, and at least one semester as a full-time M.Eng. student is required.

Students interested in pursuing a graduate degree in the College of Engineering may also visit the Office of Research and Graduate Studies, 223 Carpenter Hall for more information.

Professional Engineer Licensing

Legal recognition of qualification to practice engineering is obtained through the licensing
process. All engineers who offer their services to the public are required to have a valid
license to practice. Licensing requirements vary from state to state for the Professional
Engineer (P.E.) license. However, obtaining the P.E. license is a multistep process that has
a common first step across the nation of passing the Fundamentals of Engineering exam.
Students are eligible for the first step as they near graduation from an accredited engineering degree program.

To obtain the Professional Engineer (P.E.) license, a candidate must pass an Intern Engineer
Examination, Fundamentals of Engineering, have a prescribed amount of experience
in engineering practice, and pass the Professional Engineer Examination. Licensing for the
P.E. is by individual state agency for the state in which the student wishes to practice. In
New York, it is the New York State Board for Engineering and Land Surveying. Applications
and other details are available at

Applications and informational brochures are available in 167 Olin Hall. Fourth-year students
graduating in May are eligible to take the Fundamentals of Engineering exam in April.