students with a professor

Curriculum and Educational Goals

Cornell Engineering offers 14 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.


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.”

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.

Educational Objectives

College of Engineering graduates will demonstrate early in their careers an ability to:

  • apply their general educational experience and specific knowledge of mathematics, science, and engineering to a wide variety of careers including industry, government, non-traditional engineering and non-engineering career paths, and graduate study in engineering and other disciplines.
  • succeed in and support the development of diverse, equitable and inclusive working environments.
  • work in multidisciplinary teams and communicate effectively with both professional colleagues and the public.
  • design engineering solutions that include consideration of the impact designs have on people, societies, and the environment.
  • approach, solve and evaluate complex problems considering a variety of technical, sustainability and societal goals. Identify contemporary global issues and recognize their professional and ethical responsibility to contribute to solutions for the social, economic, and environmental challenges faced by humanity.
  • engage in continuing education, including self-directed learning, the pursuit of graduate study or other professional development activities.

Student Learning Outcomes

In terms of their general abilities, our graduates will have a broad education, including liberal studies. In terms of their discipline, students will be well grounded in the mathematical, scientific, and engineering skills that are the basis of their discipline. More specifically, our graduates will have an ability to

  1. identify, formulate, and solve complex engineering problems by applying principles of engineering, science, and mathematics
  2. apply engineering design to produce solutions that meet specified needs with consideration of public health, safety, and welfare, as well as global, cultural, social, environmental, and economic factors
  3. communicate effectively with a range of audiences
  4. recognize ethical and professional responsibilities in engineering situations and make informed judgments, which must consider the impact of engineering solutions in global, economic, environmental, and societal contexts
  5. function effectively on a team whose members together provide leadership, create a collaborative and inclusive environment, establish goals, plan tasks, and meet objectives
  6. develop and conduct appropriate experimentation, analyze and interpret data, and use engineering judgment to draw conclusions
  7. acquire and apply new knowledge as needed, using appropriate learning strategies.