Undergraduate Program in Engineering Sciences

Pursue work on a variety of topics, with tracks in five distinct areas

ENGINEERING IS ABOUT BUILDING BRIDGES...

but in ways you may not expect.

Here’s a quick look at some of the connections engineers are constructing at Harvard alone …

  • moving atoms across a surface with such high precision and control that it is possible to detect and analyze particles as small as a single molecule of DNA
  • using microbes to clean out the gunk that forms inside water pipes that conduct heat and, in the process, dramatically increasing energy efficiency
  • building living machines by “programming” cells to count, code signals, or do other tasks
  • understanding the motor control process of the human nervous system, in order to develop engineering-based therapies for neuromuscular diseases such as Parkinson’s

In fact, the well-being of our society and entire planet increasingly will rely upon future technological breakthroughs: “Innovation is at the core of creating a sustainable human society,” according to the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.

Many of those innovations will come directly from engineering.

Getting Started

This section covers common questions students have about the field of Engineering Sciences.

Two different Engineering Sciences degrees are offered at Harvard, the bachelor of arts (A.B.) and the bachelor of science (S.B.).

The Engineering Sciences A.B. degree offers five tracks: 

  • Biomedical Sciences and Engineering
  • Electrical and Computer Engineering
  • Engineering Physics
  • Environmental Science and Engineering
  • Mechanical and Materials Sciences and Engineering

The Engineering Sciences S.B. degree offers three tracks: 

  • Bioengineering
  • Environmental Science and Engineering
  • Cross-disciplinary

Harvard also offers S.B. degrees in Mechanical Engineering and Electrical Engineering through separate concentrations.

Answers to common questions asked by current students

Why study Engineering Sciences at Harvard?

  • The concentration is flexibly structured and suitable for students planning to work as practicing engineers or researchers and for those preparing for careers in business, education, government, law, or medicine, and for those whose career objectives may be less specific.
  • Being at Harvard provides unmatched opportunities to use the latest tools and technologies — from analyzing soil samples in the Harvard Forest to building your own scanning tunneling microscope.
  • Undergraduate research opportunities abound — during the regular term and over the summer and through the Program for Research in Science and Engineering (PRISE), an opportunity for Harvard undergraduates to join a 10-week residential research community here on campus.
  • Learning happens beyond the classroom — members of the Harvard College Engineering Society joined up with students at MIT to build a fleet of robotic football players to compete in RoboCup. Engineers Without Borders is working on a variety of projects in the developing world.
  • Engineering sciences is part of a dynamic hub that links to fields such as computer science, mathematics, physics, chemistry, and biology, and to professions such as medicine and business.

The American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) offers excellent general information on all aspects of engineering.

What will my degree "read"?

Your degree will officially be in Engineering Sciences (an A.B., S.B., or A.B./S.M.).

What’s different about pursuing engineering in a liberal arts setting?

Harvard is designed to create 21st century engineers, or students who excel in applied science and also have a broad knowledge of other disciplines.

Students who pursue engineering and applied sciences at Harvard typically say they enjoy being part of a larger academic community, living alongside students with different backgrounds and who are pursuing all different fields, taking courses outside of science and engineering in areas ranging from Folklore and Mythology to Politics, and having the time to be a part of everything from theater to football

How demanding is the workload for a typical course?

Concentrators can expect to invest the same amount of time in their courses as students pursuing the natural sciences (e.g., biology) or the physical sciences (e.g., physics and chemistry).

Students — even in the S.B. program (see facing page) — are able to balance their academics with outside interests. Many concentrators student pursue JV- or varsity-level sports and/or take advantage of the various study abroad opportunities during the regular term or summer months.

What is the difference between the A.B. and S.B. degrees?

The A.B. degree is based on the minimum of 14 to 16 half-courses required for its completion. This degree can provide adequate preparation for the practice of engineering and for graduate study in engineering, and it is an excellent preparation for careers in other professions (business, law, medicine, etc.). Students who have pursued the A.B. degree have gone on to top programs in engineering, computer science, medicine, and related fields.

The S.B. degree program requires a minimum of 20 half-courses, and the level of technical concentration is comparable to engineering programs at other major universities and technical institutions. The S.B. program is recognized by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, Inc. (ABET), the national accreditation agency for engineering programs in the United States.

Why should I study a particular area of engineering?

Each area within Engineering Sciences offers both common and distinct opportunities for learning and exploration. A given specialty also provides an opportunity to "dig deeper" into a given research topic.

For example, many students interested in biology or medicine study biomedical sciences and engineering (and so forth). Whatever area you choose, all are suitable preparation for graduate school and careers in industry.

Does Harvard offer a degree in chemical engineering?

No. Students interested in chemical engineering may wish to consider the track in Biomedical Sciences and Engineering. In addition, students can explore the topic through coursework, term- and summer lab experiences, and the thesis.

What are the requirements for Engineering Sciences?

Requirements for AB and SB Degrees. A link to the guidelines for the concentration as published in the Harvard College Handbook for Students.

What are some career options for concentrators in Engineering Sciences?

Because Harvard students in engineering and applied sciences are part of a liberal arts environment, they are able to combine their strong technical skills with broader-based knowledge in areas ranging from art to zoology.

As a result, they have a variety of career possibilities from which to choose and may specialize in research, investment banking, consulting, computer design or programming, entrepreneurship, planning, design, manufacturing, construction, management, teaching, writing, or sales.

Engineering graduates have excellent prospects for finding employment in private industry, government, military service, or academia.

Planning & Advising 

This section covers information about the degree and secondary field programs and provides a guide to planning for the freshman and sophomore years.

SB Declaration and Revision
How to enter the Engineering Sciences concentration.

AB Declaration and Revision
How to enter the Engineering Sciences concentration.

Careers & Alumni
This section covers potential career paths for those with degrees in Engineering Sciences and profiles SEAS alumni.

Additional Information & Forms
This section provides important information and downloadable forms of the most common forms and specifics about academic advising.

Outside the Classroom

Undergraduate Research Opportunities

Research may be part of your coursework or as as part of individual research opportunities working with professors.

Our dedicated undergraduate research facilities and Teaching Labs also provide opportunities for students to engage in hands-on learning.

Sophomore Forum

A weekly spring term forum for Engineering Sciences concentrators (required for A.B. and S.B. degree concentrators).

Clubs & Activities

Clubs and activities provide students from all concentrations an opportunity to do everything from build robotic soccer bots to imagine and launch start-ups.

ABET Accreditation

The School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, a school with the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University, has adopted the following ABET Program Educational Objectives for the training of our undergraduates pursuing Engineering Sciences: