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Electrical Engineering -- Technical and Non-Technical Electives

Technical Electives

The term “Technical Elective” is synonymous with “Eng/Sci” or “Eng/Sci/Math”elective.

The general rule is that a course offered for credit by the school of engineering, that is not a required course (within your track) counts as a “technical elective”. That includes engineering, math and science courses, with any of the following designations:

ChE, CE, ECE, ME, EID, ESC, Bio, Ch, CS, Ma, Ph.

EE courses that are required in a track OTHER than the one you are taking count as technical electives.

Note there are some exceptions to this rule, that are specified in the following section on non-technical electives. Specifically, some courses offered in the school of engineering do NOT count as technical electives.

There are some other rules you need to be aware of:

Math minor: Students should consult with the math department chair for specific information regarding the requirements for the math minor. The discussion here is limited to the relation to technical electives. There are 17 credits of 100 and 200 level math courses required in the EE curriculum. The math minor requires an additional 15 math credits, distributed as follows: MA350 and MA351 (Advanced Calculus I & II), MA326 Linear Algebra, MA347 Abstract Algebra, and a 3 credit math elective course at or above the 300 level. Depending on the chosen track, MA326 may be required for the EE degree; in this case, MA326 still counts towards the 15 credits required for the math minor (i.e., an additional 12 credits, only, are needed for the minor). The courses used for the math minor (except MA326 if it is required in the track) count as technical electives.

Technical electives and the Master of Engineering degree: Students are eligible to take electives at the graduate level as long as the prerequisite requirements are met. These courses can be used to fulfill the requirements of the Bachelor of Engineering degree. In addition, the concept of the “Integrated Master Program” is that credits taken in excess of the requirements for the Bachelor of Engineering degree can be used to fulfill the requirements for the degree of Master of Engineering. Some caution must be taken because of specific rules:

  • A graduate level (4xx numbered) course used to substitute for a required course (according to the “12 credit rule”), or used to fulfill the requirements of the math minor, cannot be used to satisfy the requirements of the Master of Engineering degree. Such courses are “locked in” with the Bachelor of Engineering degree.
  • Credits used to satisfy “technical electives” requirements for the Bachelor of Engineering degree cannot be used for the Master of Engineering degree. However, credits for graduate level courses taken while you are an undergraduate that are in excess of the Bachelor of Engineering degree requirements may be used towards the Master of Engineering degree.
  • The set of courses used to fulfill the requirements for the Master of Engineering degree must be approved by your eventual graduate advisor. For example, the number of credits for courses that do not have an “ECE” designation that can be used may be limited. Undergraduate students should consult with their current faculty advisor if they have concerns in this regard.
  • On occasion, exceptional students may be admitted into the Master program while still undergraduates, and complete the requirements for the Bachelor and Master of Engineering degrees simultaneously. Students considering this must contact the electrical engineering department chair no later than the spring of their junior year.

EE students cannot register for independent study courses offered through the engineering school with an instructor that is not a full-time electrical engineering faculty member without the approval of the EE department chair.

Non-technical Electives

All EE students must take a total of 12 “non-technical elective” credits. A minimum of 6 of these credits must be “Hum/SS”. Classification of courses as “non-technical” is at the sole discretion of the EE department. If you believe a course not identified here should be classified as such, please contact the EE Dept. Chair.


Only courses offered for credit by the Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences with H, SS or HTA designations, beyond the core courses HSS1,HSS2,HSS3,HSS4, count as Hum/SS electives. Restrictions or limitations to this rule, if any, are determined by the Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences.

Transfer credit for any such courses from another academic institution must be approved by the Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences

Foreign Language

Foreign language courses at the intermediate level or above count as non-technical (but not Hum/SS) electives.

Transfer credits for such courses must be approved by the Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences (although, repeated here for emphasis, they do not count as Hum/SS electives). Sometimes, advanced foreign language courses that have, for example, a significant component of literary analysis, may count as Hum/SS, but that is at the discretion of the Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences.

Generally speaking, “intermediate level” courses assume prior studies roughly equivalent to a full year (6 credits). If there is uncertainty, the Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences defines the “level” of any foreign language courses you take.

Courses Offered by the Cooper Union Schools of Art and Architecture

All courses offered for credit by the schools of art and architecture count as non-technical electives, except:

Courses in math, science, engineering or related fields, intended primarily for art or architecture students, including courses with RS designation, cannot be used to fulfill the non-technical elective requirement. However, certain courses related to computer technology, if they contain a significant artistic or aesthetic component (e.g., TE305 Techniques in HTML and Programming) can count as non-technical electives. Students should contact the EE department chair to confirm if such a course is acceptable.

Students must contact the respective schools to determine which courses are open to engineering students, to determine prerequisites and other course information.

Courses Offered by the Cooper Union School of Engineering

Some courses offered in the school of engineering count as non-technical electives; some may be counted as either technical or non-technical electives. There are a select few courses that may not be used to fulfill engineering degree requirements, at all, and are so noted in the catalog.
If a course is identified as qualifying for either technical or non-technical, its credits may be “split”. For example, if it is a 3 credit course, you can “declare” 1 credit as technical, 2 credits as non-technical. You would indicate this on the curriculum checklist you submit annually to the EE department chair.

By default, only the courses offered by the School of Engineering that are listed below satisfy the non-technical elective requirement.

Course Number Course Name Non-Technical Technical
CS278 Ethics for Computer Science x  
CS371 Data Visualization x x
EID103 Principles of Design x  
EID/ME105 Drawing & Sketching for Engineers x  
EID116 Musical Instrument Design x  
EID210 Engineering Design Graphics x  
EID270 Engineering Economy x x
EID276 Legal & Ethical Aspects of Engineering x x
EID/ME314 Cloud Based Design & Manufacture x  
EID357 Sustainable Engineering & Development x x
EID365 Engineering & Entrepreneurship x x
EID366 Lean Launchpad x  
EID367 Macro- and Micro-Innovations x x
EID370 Engineering Management x x
EID371 Operations Management x x
EID372 Global Perspectives in Tech Mgmt x x
EID373 Patent Law x x
EID374 Business Economics x x
EID376 Economics of Alternative Energy x x
EID/CE390 Introduction to Sustainable Design x x
EID424 Sports Medicine x x
MA151.1 Math in Art x  
ME/EID313 Industrial Design x  
ME/EID413 Advanced Product Design x  
ME/EID416 Materials in a Circular Economy x  
PH314 Scientific Photography x x


EID300 (summer study abroad) requires the approval of the EE Department Chair IN ADVANCE if any credits are to be used to fulfill the non-technical elective requirement.

Several courses offered in the school of engineering cover substantially similar material to courses required in the electrical engineering program and, as such, cannot be used to fulfill the requirements for the degree of Bachelor of Engineering in Electrical Engineering:

CS102             Introduction to Computer Science
PH165/166    Concepts of Physics
ESC220          Principles of Electrical Engineering
ESC221          Basic Principles of Electrical Engineering
ESC/ME251  Systems Engineering

The Department is open to suggestions from students to accept other courses for non-technical electives. This list is reviewed and updated on a regular basis.

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.