Skip to main content

Mechanical Engineering Major

in this section

Bachelor of Science, Mechanical Engineering Degree Requirements

To earn a Bachelor of Science degree at Cornell University in the Major of Mechanical Engineering, a student must complete the Common Curriculum of the College of Engineering together with the Mechanical Engineering Major Program. The requirements for under- and upper class years are given below. More information on electives, major approved electives, and courses can be found in alternate formats in the Engineering Handbook, in the Course Catalogue and on the Flowchart.

Four Years Total: 126 credits, 39 Classes
First Three Semesters (Typical)
Common Curriculum
  Credits:   Courses:
  16 Mathematics 4
  12 Physics 3
  4 Chemistry 1
  4/5 Computing: CS1110 (or 1112, or 1114, or 1115) Matlab is recommended (1) 1/2
  3 Introduction to Engineering (ENGRI 1xxx) 1
  6 Engineering distribution (ENGRD 2020 (2)); ENGRD 2210 (3) 2
  6 First-Year Writing Seminars 2
  3 Liberal Studies(4) 1
Total 55 Underclass semesters 16
Upperclass Five Semesters (Typical)
Common Curriculum
  15 Liberal Studies (4) 5
  6 Advisor Approved Electives(5) 2
Mechanical Engineering Major Program
  35 Required Mechanical Engineering Courses(3): MAE 2030, (Electrical Circuits (6): MAE 3780 - recommended/ ENGRD 2100/ Physics 3360) MAE 2120 (or 3270), 2250, 3230, 3240, 3250 (or 3270), 3260, 3272 (or 3280), 4272(7), 4300  
    Mechanical Engineering Major Program Electives (8):  
  6 Major Approved Electives(13) 2
  3 Senior Design Elective(12) 1
  3 Math Elective (9) 1
    Probability and Statistics Requirement(10)  
  3 Technical Elective(11) 1
Total 71 Upperclass semesters 23

(1) Computing: A CS programming course is required prior to taking MAE 2120. Students may take either CS 1112 or CS 1110; CS 1112 is recommended.

(2,3) Satisfactory completion (C- or better) of ENGRD 2020 -Statics and Mechanics of Solids, and ENGRD 2210 -Thermodynamics, fulfills the distribution and Major Program requirements. Students who earned below a C- in Engrd 2020 will be unable to progress to MAE 3270 (first offered Su 17 and Fa17) - Mechanical Properties and Selection of Engineering Materials unless a C-or better is earned.

(4) Liberal Studies Distribution: Students should use the current Courses of Study as the master list of approved liberal studies courses. Lists of additional approved courses and unacceptable courses are also available in Engineering Advising, 167 Olin Hall. College of Engineering Liberal Studies Policy.

(5) Advisor Approved Electives: These courses must be an appropriate part of an overall educational plan or objective and approved by the faculty advisor. To maximize flexibility (i.e. the option for study abroad, COOP, Internships, pre-med, and flexibility during the upper class years), the Sibley School Faculty recommends that students delay use of Advisor Approved Electives until after Term 3. Students should seek the consent of their advisor prior to taking a course for an Advisor Approved Elective. Students should consult with the Engineering Advising Office, 167 Olin, if approved electives are approved before M.E. affiliation. Up to six credits of Advisor Approved Electives are allowed for ROTC courses at the level of 3000 or above, or if they are co-listed in an academic department.

The M.E. Advisor Approved Electives Form is due by April 15 or November 15--depending on graduating term. Because these courses should help develop and broaden the skills of the engineer, advisors will generally accept the following as approved electives: one introduction to engineering course, engineering distribution courses, courses stressing oral or written communication, upper-level engineering courses, advanced courses in mathematics, and rigorous courses in the biological and physical sciences.

Advisors are likely to approve courses in business, economics, and language that serve the student's educational and academic objectives. In other cases, a student's interests might be better served by approved electives that expand the Major or other parts of the curriculum, including the liberal studies requirement.  Students may concurrently fulfill their advisor approved electives with courses they are using to satisfy a Minor, with their advisor's approval.

Advisors may approve non-technical Engineering elective-eligible courses as Advisor Approved Electives, e.g.,  CEE 3230, various ORIE courses, and other Engineering management courses. MAE 4980, Teaching Experience in Mechanical Engineering, and BSOC courses may satisfy Advisor Approved Electives.

(6) Program Requirement for Electrical Circuits may be satisfied by MAE 3780/3783 - Mechatronics (recommended), ENGRD 2100 - Introduction to Circuits for Electrical and Computer Engineers, or PHYS 3360 - Electronic Circuits.

 (7) MAE 4272 satisfies the Common Curriculum Technical Writing Requirement

 (8) The Major Program Electives requirement consists of the following five courses:

  • one designated 4000+ MAE senior design elective (12) (minimum of three credits)
  • one designated math elective (9) (minimum of three credits)
  • two MAE 3000+ courses (13) (minimum of six credits as Major Approved Elective l and ll)
  • one appropriate technical elective (11)
  • one course containing significant probability and statistics coursework (10)

The total number of credits in the Major Program electives must be at least 15. The total number of credits of 3000+ level MAE classes must be at least 9.  Major Approved Electives may offer a senior design version.  Students may not use one course to fulfill both the Major Approved Elective and Senior Design requirement. 

(9) Math Elective: One major course must be an approved, engineering-relevant mathematics course that is taken after Math 2940. Currently, the approved courses are:

  • *MAE 3100 - Introduction to Applied Mathematics,
  • *ENGRD/ORIE 2700 - Basic Engineering Probability and Statistics,
  • *CEE 3040 - Uncertainty Analysis in Engineering,
  • ENGRD/CEE 3200 - Engineering Computation, 
  • *ENGRD/ECE 3100 - Introduction to Probability and Inference for Random Signals and Systems, or
  • *BTRY 3010 Biological Statistics I, or
  • CS 2800 - Discrete Structures.

Note that the starred (*) courses also satisfy the probability and statistics requirement.

(10) Probability and Statistics Requirement (effective for May 2019 graduates and beyond; not required for May 2018 graduates):
Significant probability and statistics coursework is required for graduation from the Mechanical Engineering Program.
Students must take 1 course that fulfills the probability and statistics requirement. That course can also be used as a math elective (MathE), OR a technical elective (TechE), OR an advisor approved elective (AAE), as indicated below.

Courses currently approved to satisfy the probability and statistics requirement:

  • MAE 3100 - Introduction to Applied Mathematics (MathE  OR TechE OR AAE)
  • ENGRD/ORIE 2700 - Basic Engineering Probability and Statistics (MathE  OR TechE OR AAE)
  • CEE 3040 - Uncertainty Analysis in Engineering (MathE  OR TechE OR AAE)
  • CS 4750 – Foundations of Robotics (TechE  OR AAE)
  • ENGRD/ECE 3100 – Introduction to Probability and Inference for Random Signals (MathE OR TechE  OR AAE)
  • BTRY 3010 - Biological Statistics I
  • The combination of CS 2800-Discrete Structures (MathE OR TechE OR AAE) with CS 4850-Mathematical Foundations for the Information Age (TechE  OR AAE).  You must take both of these classes to satisfy the probability and stats requirement.
Probability & Stats Requirement Class Title Math Elec.   Tech. Elec.   Adv. Appr. Elec.
Yes MAE 3100 Intro. to Applied Math * OR * OR *
Yes ENGRD/ORIE 2700 Basic Engrg. Prob. & Stats * OR * OR *
Yes CEE 3040 Uncertainty Analysis in Engrg. * OR * OR *
Yes CS 4750 Foundations of Robotics NO   * OR *
Yes ENGRD/ECE 3100 Intro. to Prob. & Inference for Random Signals * OR * OR *
Yes BTRY 3010 Biological Statistics I * OR * OR *
If taken with CS 4750 CS 2800 Discrete Structures NO   * OR *
If taken with CS 2800 CS 4850 Math. Foundations for the Info. Age * OR * OR *

11) Technical Elective: A Technical Elective may include many courses at an appropriate level, chosen from Engineering (2000+), Mathematics (2940+), or Science [Physics (2214+), Chemistry (2090+), or Biological Sciences.  Most 2000+ technical-level courses in Engineering will be accepted (note: Engineering economic, business, management, financial or organization courses, e.g., CEE 3230, will NOT be accepted, with the exception of MAE 4610).  The following 1000-level courses in biology are accepted: BIOG 1440; BIOG 1445; BIOMG 1350; BIO EE 1610, and BIOSM 1610.  In addition, credit for advanced placement biology, and technical courses at the 2000+ level in biological sciences are accepted. Please contact the M.E. undergraduate program office to verify eligibility of specific courses. No form is required for the technical elective.

(12) Senior Design Elective: MAE 4XX1 must be chosen from a group designated as "Design Courses", approved by the Sibley School. The senior design requirement must be taken during your senior year in M.E., concurrently with or after taking MAE 4300. The courses in the designated group of design courses each requires a design-oriented final project.

Approved Senior Design Electives:
Senior Design credit for project teams or projects with individual faculty members requires registration for a minimum of 3 credits in MAE 4291. Students may also opt to take a 4-credit Senior Design course (listed below) to fulfill the Senior Design requirement. Students should consult the Courses of Study to determine when these courses will next be offered.

  • MAE 4021: Wind Power
  • MAE 4121: Community Wind Energy Research
  • MAE 4131: Mechanics of Composite Structures
  • MAE 4161: Spacecraft Technology and Systems Architecture
  • MAE 4231: Intermediate Fluid Dynamics
  • MAE 4291: Supervised Senior Design Experience (for at least 3 credits)
  • MAE 4341 Innovative Product Design via Digital Manufacturing
  • MAE 4351 Interdisciplinary Design Concepts (if MAE 4351 is taken, you may not use MAE 4340 or 4341 to fulfill other B.S. M.E. requirements)
  • MAE 4641: Orthopaedic Tissue Mechanics
  • MAE 4651: Biofluid Mechanics
  • MAE 4701: Finite Element Analysis for Mechanical and Aerospace Design
  • MAE 4861: Automotive Engineering Design

When fulfilling the senior design requirement with an independent research project or project team endeavor, students must enroll in MAE 4291 for a minimum of 3 credits. All senior design courses require the completion of a culminating design report and submission of the Senior Design Report Content Summary Form (along with answers to the questions on the form). The signed Senior Design Report Content Summary Form, along with your answers to the questions on the form, must be submitted to the M.E. undergraduate office upon completion of the report (the report itself, will stay in the possession of your instructor).

(13) Major Approved Electives l and ll: Students must complete any two upper-level Mechanical Engineering electives from the approved list here. Typically, these courses will require one or more of the junior courses as pre-requisites.

Other Requirements:

Each student must also satisfactorily complete two terms of physical education and pass the University swim test. If this requirement is not satisfied previously, it must be taken during the first term of registration in the Sibley School. External transfer students are typically exempt from the physical education and swim test requirements.

Transfer Credit from Other Colleges:

If a student seeks credit for courses taken at another institution, prior approval must be obtained from the Sibley School and the College of Engineering. The College of Engineering does not recognize all higher-education institutions, therefore, pre-approval of courses to be transferred is recommended. A grade of C or better is required for transferring of credit.  Only courses taken at Cornell are included in Cornell's term or or cumulative grade point averages.