Open Option

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New first-year freshmen may enter the college as Open Option if they are not yet sure what they'd like to major in. Students should select a specific engineering degree program by the eighth week of their second semester (see Confirming Your Major).

During the first year, Open Option students are given various opportunities to explore which engineering discipline is right for them:

  • In COEN 1500: Introduction to Engineering, students learn about the different engineering and applied science disciplines.
  • GEEN 1400: Engineering Projects, or any of the other first-year projects courses in the college, offers an excellent way to explore the application of different engineering disciplines as you work in teams to design, plan, and create real-world projects.
  • Students are encouraged to meet with an Engineering Career Services counselor to learn about their interests and strengths, and to discover the connections between majors and careers.

Flexible First-Year Curriculum

Many Open Option students follow the Flexible First Year Curriculum during their first two semesters of enrollment:

Fall Semester: 13-16 Credits Spring Semester: 14-15 Credits
Calculus 1 (4 credits) Calculus 2  (4 credits)
Chemistry for Engineers with lab  (5 credits) Calculus-based Physics (4 credits)

Engineering Projects (3 credits)
Intro to Engineering (1 credit)

Computing course (3-4 credits)
Humanities or Social Science course (3 credits) Humanities or Social Science course (3 credits)

The actual course schedule may vary depending upon the student having Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, or prior college credit. The Flexible First-Year Curriculum provides assurance that all credits can be used to meet the requirements of all College of Engineering and Applied Science undergraduate degree programs. However, because this curriculum only specifies 27-31 credit hours, students desiring to graduate in four years may need to take additional credits to satisfactorily complete 32 credit hours in their first two semesters (or complete these additional credit hours in future spring/summer/fall terms). All baccalaureate programs in the college require 128 applicable credit hours for graduation. See the Four-Year Graduation Guarantee and Flexible First Year.

The Open Option student may not have the same level of access to engineering department courses as is available to students already rostered in that major department/program. The Open Option Advisor assists students in developing full-time semester course schedules; some substitution or rotation of courses may be necessary to provide the student with a complete schedule. For example, the engineering projects courses may be taken either in the fall or spring semester.

If the student has other courses required for a special program, such as the Engineering Honors Program, Presidents Leadership Class, or Reserve Officers Training Program, these courses may be inserted in the curriculum in place of the humanities/social science courses. The substitution of these courses does not assure the student that these courses will meet degree requirements; this will be determined by the student’s major department/program once a specific engineering degree program has been selected.

Open Option students are subject to all academic rules and policies of the College of Engineering and Applied Science. Students also are required to satisfy any remaining Minimum Academic Preparation Standards (MAPS) that are required for graduation.


Allie McRitchie, First-Year Experience Coordinator

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CUEngineering:  A publication for alumni and friends. Read the 2016 edition of CUEngineering magazine here.

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