Perhaps the most important decision that a first-year engineering student will make during those first few months is what field of engineering study to pursue. Although some students enter the Swanson School of Engineering with a departmental major already in mind, all students are admitted to the First-Year Engineering Program as undecided engineering majors. As long as students complete the first-year engineering program and have achieved a cumulative GPA of at least 2.0 at the end of their first year, they may select the major of their choice. There are no limits or restrictions on how many students can enter a major. As long as first-year engineering students finish the first-year requirements and achieve a 2.0 or higher, they may enter the department of their choice.
There are three very significant advantages to having all engineering students enter Pitt as undecided engineering majors:
A Common First Year
Most engineering students in the first year take approximately the same core classes, which are requirements for all of the engineering disciplines. This means that students easily form study groups and learn to work together in teams—an important skill that they will need as they move into a departmental major in the sophomore year.
A Solid Foundation in the Math and Science Fields
Before our students encounter upper-level math, science, and engineering courses, we ensure that they have a very solid foundation in calculus, physics, chemistry, and computing. We know that students come to college with varying degrees of understanding in the fields of math and sciences. By requiring introductory classes in these areas at the college level, we ensure a solid foundation for future success.
Time to Learn More about the Engineering Disciplines
We know that a lot of students come to Pitt with knowledge of the better known engineering fields, but many students have never even heard of some of our available engineering majors prior to coming to Pitt. Before we ask students how they want to spend the next forty years of their lives in the world of work, we want to make sure that we give them a good introduction to what all of the fields of engineering have to offer in terms of coursework, careers in industry, or options for post-graduate study.
Before selecting a major, students will hear from each engineering department in the fall Freshman Engineering Seminar. In the spring semester of Freshman Engineering Seminar, they will actually have the opportunity to visit their top two or three choices of departments. Students make their major selections in late February of their first year and register for their sophomore classes in March with their chosen department. Major selections become official at the end of the first year, after spring grades have been checked and each student’s department-readiness has been reviewed.
To learn more about each of our engineering disciplines, please visit their websites: