Staff advising

All CEAE students have an academic advisor, assigned based on your last name. CEAE advisors are professional staff members. They are available throughout your education to help with topics such as:

  • Curriculum requirements and degree audits
  • Graduation planning
  • Registration questions and problems
  • Information about minors/certificates, student organizations, undergraduate research programs, study abroad, etc.
  • Referrals to campus resources such as academic support, student services, career and professional development, etc.
  • Petitions (for any waivers to degree requirements or college/department rules)

At a minimum, you’re required to meet with your advisor at least once every semester, before you register for the next semester’s classes (don’t worry, we’ll let you know when it’s time to schedule your next meeting).  However, we’re also happy to talk to you more often!  You can reach out to your advisor by email, schedule an appointment, or come to our drop-in hours.

Faculty mentoring

You will select a faculty mentor in your junior year. Faculty mentors can provide more tailored advice relating to their area of specialization, such as:

  • Course selection/technical electives
  • Professional development, career, and internship advice
  • Planning for graduate school
  • Research opportunities

In addition to meeting with their assigned academic advisor, junior and senior students must meet with their faculty mentor each semester before they can register for next semester's courses. 

Academic Requirements

  1. Fulfill Minimum Academic Preparation Standards (MAPS)
    These are courses which students are expected to have completed in high school. Some students enter our program with a MAPS deficiency, meaning they didn’t complete this coursework in high school. In that case, you need to fulfill this deficiency prior to graduation with college-level coursework.
    You can see if you have a MAPS deficiency by looking at your degree audit. If this is the case, talk to your advisor ASAP to determine your options for fulfilling this requirement. You may be able to double count MAPS courses towards your major’s degree requirements.

  2. Complete curriculum requirements for your major.
    AREN and CVEN degrees consist of 128 non-duplicative credit hours. The last 45 must be CU Boulder coursework only. The specific courses you’ll need to take for your major are shown on the block diagram (see next section). For each course, you need to meet the minimum satisfactory grade. For our department, this is a C- for courses which are pre- and/or co-requisites for other classes that you’ll take. For all other courses, a D- is required.

  3. Meet cumulative and major GPA requirements. 
    Your cumulative GPA needs to be at least a 2.0 for you to graduate. Additionally, you need at least a 2.0 cumulative GPA at all times to remain in good academic standing. Your cumulative GPA includes all University of Colorado courses. This also includes all repeated attempts at a University of Colorado class, with the only exception being through grade replacement.
    Your major GPA needs to be at least a 2.0 for you to graduate. This is only calculated with AREN and CVEN courses. It also only includes the most recent grade that you received for a course. 

  4. Take the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) Exam. 
    This is administered through the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES). Taking the FE exam is your first step towards pursuing professional licensure as an engineer. You are required to take this exam in your senior year, but you are not required to pass it.

  5. Complete the Senior Survey in your final semester. This, along with the FE exam, are used to assess if we are teaching you what you need to know to be a successful engineer. 
    You are responsible to know, track, and complete all graduation requirements. Please see the “Tracking Your Degree Progress” section for resources. Your academic advisor is here to help you throughout this process! 

Block Diagrams

A block diagram is a 4-year graduation plan for your degree. It shows what courses are required for your degree and which courses you should take in each semester. You will always follow the version of the block diagram that was in effect at the time you joined our department.

To understand how to read a block diagram, please watch the following video: Block Diagram Overview

Find your block diagram here

A defining feature of architectural engineers is knowledge of all the building systems and how they work together.  The AREN curriculum is intentionally broad as a result and covers the following subdisciplines/focus areas (also discussed here): 

  • Construction Engineering & Management
  • Lighting & Electrical Systems
  • Mechanical Systems
  • Structural Systems

Students take multiple classes within each subdiscipline. Beyond these required courses, juniors and seniors take technical electives which will give you the flexibility to personalize your degree and tailor it to your own academic and career interests. For students that joined the AREN major in Fall 2018 or later, the information below discusses technical electives and focus area considerations. 

Technical Electives (12 credits total, usually 4 courses)

You are required to take at least two technical electives from the “AREN Electives and Opportunities for Specialization” list on page 2 of the AREN block diagram.  These are not required to be in the same area (you can take one class in lighting and one in structures, etc.).

 For your remaining technical electives, you can choose:

You can take AREN/CVEN classes for all of your technical electives if you want, but you also have the option to take up to 6 credits outside of AREN/CVEN.  This may also be an opportunity to double-count courses that you need to take for a certificate, minor, or double major.

Optional focus areas

You are not required to officially declare or follow an area of focus.  However, many students are naturally drawn to one or more subdisciplines within architectural engineering and want to tailor their studies accordingly.  Many employers expect some level of depth/expertise beyond just the required courses.  Consider how you will set yourself apart from other applicants.

You may also want to consider your plans for graduate school.  If you plan to get a master’s degree, you will have the opportunity to specialize in greater depth later on.  If you plan to go directly into the workforce with your bachelor’s degree, however, your technical electives will have a greater impact on your job opportunities after graduation.

Your faculty mentor (assigned to students around the start of their junior year) is an excellent resource to talk about your interests and possible career paths.  They can help you identify the best elective options based on what employers in the field are likely to be looking for.  They can also help you sort through your options and prioritize courses if you’re interested in multiple subdisciplines.

Block Diagrams

A block diagram is a 4-year graduation plan for your degree. It shows what courses are required for your degree and which courses you should take in each semester. You will always follow the version of the block diagram that was in effect at the time you joined our department.

To understand how to read a block diagram, please watch the following video: Block Diagram Overview

Find your block diagram here.

Civil engineering is a broad field, and the CVEN curriculum is intentionally broad as a result, giving you fundamental knowledge in 5 subdisciplines/focus areas. These are listed below and discussed here:

  • Construction Engineering & Management
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Geotechnical Engineering
  • Structural Engineering & Structural Mechanics
  • Water Resources Engineering

Beyond the fundamental courses (normally taken in Semester 5), juniors and seniors take Proficiency and Technical Elective requirements which will give you the flexibility to personalize your degree and tailor it to your own academic and career interests. The information below discusses these opportunities as well as how your course selections will influence your senior design class. 

Proficiencies (9 credits total, 3 courses)

Students take a proficiency course in 3 of the 5 subdisciplines listed above.  Proficiency courses are listed on page 2 of the CVEN block diagram.

Technical Electives (12 credits total, usually 4 courses)

What counts as a technical elective:

  • Any upper-division (3000+) AREN or CVEN course that is not already counting toward your degree
  • Courses specifically listed on the CEAE approved tech elective list

You can take AREN/CVEN courses for all of your tech electives if you want.  But at least 6 credits of technical electives must be AREN or CVEN courses (these are often referred to as “CEAE tech electives” to remind you of this requirement).

Recommended technical electives offered within each subdiscipline are listed on page 2 of the CVEN block diagram.  Again, these are recommended, not required.

Optional focus areas

For students wanting to focus in a particular area, the faculty have prepared lists of recommended proficiency and elective courses for each subdiscipline.

You are not required to officially declare or follow an area of focus.  However, many students are naturally drawn to one or more subdisciplines within civil engineering and want to tailor their studies accordingly.  Many employers expect some level of depth/expertise beyond just the fundamental and proficiency courses.  Even if you’re not fully committed to a single focus area, you may be able to narrow down your interests to two areas.

You may also want to consider your plans for graduate school.  If you plan to get a master’s degree, you will have the opportunity to specialize in greater depth later on.  If you plan to go directly into the workforce with your bachelor’s degree, however, your proficiencies and technical electives will have a greater impact on your job opportunities after graduation.  Consider how you will set yourself apart from other applicants.

Your faculty mentor (assigned to students around the start of their junior year) is an excellent resource to talk about your interests and possible career paths.  They can help you identify the best proficiency and elective courses based on what employers in the field are likely to be looking for.  They can also help you sort through your options and prioritize courses if you’re interested in multiple subdisciplines.

Senior Design Requirements

CVEN 4899 is the culminating experience of the civil engineering curriculum, where you will complete a design project with a team of other CVEN students.  Each student on the team will be assigned primary responsibility for one part of the project.  So, for example, a student focusing in Structures would normally be responsible for the structural design of the project, although sometimes students will be required to take on a role outside their specialty (e.g., if there are unequal numbers of students in each area).

In order to be able to “pull your weight” on your team, you will need to have taken certain courses related to your part of the project.  The pre/co-requisites listed on the CVEN block diagram are designed to ensure that every student meets these minimum requirements before taking CVEN 4899.  Students who do not meet the pre/co-reqs in at least one area will need to meet with the CVEN 4899 instructor to discuss their preparation and ability to participate fully in this course. 

For most subdisciplines, the senior design pre/co-reqs consist of one proficiency and one tech elective.  Make sure you plan accordingly when choosing your tech electives – your advisor can help you with this.

  • Degree Planner 

    • Every student in CEAE has an online degree planner, maintained by their advisor, to track their degree progress semester by semester. This is essentially an editable block diagram, individualized to each student, in the form of a google spreadsheet. Your advisor will make adjustments to your degree planner each semester during your advising appointment. 
      Advisors will color-code GRAY the requirements you’ve completed so far, BLUE the courses you’re currently enrolled in, and YELLOW the courses planned for the following semester. Please also note the second tab at the bottom of the spreadsheet – the “color-coded version for student planning”  shows which classes can easily be moved around and which may cause issues if not taken on schedule. 
      It is saved in your Google Drive under the “shared with me” section, so you don’t need the direct link to access it.  Just remember that you need to be signed in with your CU account (abcd1234@colorado.edu). You can view this planner, but not edit it, since we will use this as part of your student file.If you would like an editable copy of this planner to move courses around to different semesters on your own, go to File -> Make a copy.  

  • Degree Audit

    • Your degree audit shows all of the requirements for your major (required courses, MAPS, minimum GPAs, the FE exam, etc) in a list format. It also shows all of the credit you've earned and how each class is applying to your degree. Note that your degree audit may not be 100% accurate until your advisor has had a chance to review it and make any adjustments that are needed. If you have any questions about how to interpret your degree audit, please contact your advisor.

Additional Information

First, it’s important to understand that we have different levels of policies: 

  • Campus-level (for all CU Boulder students)
  • College-level (for all College of Engineering & Applied Science students)
  • Department-level (for Civil and Architectural Engineering students, covered in this advising guide!)

Policies and graduation requirements may vary among colleges, departments, and majors. Additionally, they may change from year to year. You are responsible for following all policies that apply to you. Academic advisors are here to help you throughout this process! 

Please read below for particularly important policies for CEAE students. 

  • Pass/Fail - Pass/fail courses do not count toward graduation/degree requirements. The only exception was in Spring 2020, at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. If students want to take a course pass/fail or for no credit, knowing that it won’t count towards their degree, they must petition. 
  • Residency Requirement (or “the 45 hour rule”) - The last 45 credits of your engineering degree must be completed with CU Boulder coursework only. If you want to take transfer coursework in the last 45 hours towards your degree, you need to petition. Note that CU-approved study abroad is counted as CU Boulder coursework and is exempt from this requirement. 
  • Coursework substitutions - If you want to take a different course than what’s listed on the block diagram for your major, talk to your academic advisor about substitutions. Sometimes there are automatically approved course substitutions. You may also be able to take an alternative class if approved by petition, although this is more rare. 
  • Repeated Courses
    • Per our College’s policy: A student may not enroll more than three times in a course that applies towards degree requirements; furthermore, after the third attempt, a student may not substitute an equivalent course. This means that a student has a maximum of three opportunities to show sufficient mastery of a particular subject area, whether the course is from CU-Boulder or through another collegiate institution. For students that entered our program in Fall 2018 or later, W grades are counted toward the college’s repeat course rule for CEAE students. 
    • The most recent instance of a course determines successful completion. For example, if you have AP credit for Calculus 1 but still choose to take Calculus 1 at CU Boulder, your grade in the CU Boulder course determines whether you passed it or not. If you don’t pass, you can’t decide to “fall back” on your previous AP credit - you would have to retake Calculus 1 again. 
    • Unless you used the grade replacement policy, repeated courses count towards your cumulative GPA. 
  • Minimum Grade Requirements for CEAE 
    • C- for any course that is a pre-requisite and/or co-requisite for another course that you need to take 
    • D- for all other courses
  • Minimum GPA Requirements
    • Your cumulative GPA needs to be at least a 2.0 for you to graduate. Additionally, you need at least a 2.0 cumulative GPA at all times to remain in good academic standing. Your cumulative GPA includes all University of Colorado courses. This also includes all repeated attempts at a University of Colorado class, with the only exception being through grade replacement.
    • Your major GPA needs to be at least a 2.0 for you to graduate. This is only calculated with AREN and CVEN courses. It also only includes the most recent grade that you received for a course. 
  • Petitions
    • Anytime you want to request an exception to a department or college policy, you need to make sure you get permission in writing.  In most cases, this involves an official college petition which is an online form found here. Before submitting a petition, you should talk to your academic advisor. Your advisor can tell you if a petition is required, whether an exception will even be considered, and what information and/or documentation needs to be included in your petition. 
    • Note about pre/co-req waivers: Students should follow all pre/co-requisites as specified on the block diagram. However, in challenging circumstances, students may seek a pre/co-requisite waiver for a course. This must be approved by the course instructor which is never guaranteed. If given approval, the student should send written permission from the instructor to their advisor before they'll be allowed to enroll. This process doesn’t require a formal petition. 

If you are a current CEAE student planning to transfer credit to CU Boulder, please refer to our Transfer Credit page.

Please read below for suggestions on how to make your voice heard. 

  • You may reach out to your academic advisor and/or faculty mentor. 

  • You may contact the Department Chair to provide feedback about CEAE classroom experiences, culture and policies. If you want to know what action was taken, please discuss a plan for follow-up so you can be aware of how your concerns have been addressed. 

  • If you have concerns or suggestions related to the overall undergraduate curriculum, you may contact the Associate Chair for Undergraduate Education. If you want to know what action was taken, please discuss a plan for follow-up so you can be aware of how your concerns have been addressed. 

  • If you wish to share feedback anonymously, we have an anonymous department feedback form. Submit a Question or Concern.

  • All CEAE undergraduate students are also invited to participate in Faculty Course Questionnaires (FCQs) administered in each course every semester, and provide their perspectives through the Senior Survey in the final semester before graduation.

  • For additional information, please refer to A Brief Guide on Student Appeals, Complaints & Grievances.

  • If you think your grade was incorrectly assigned in an engineering course, please refer to the CEAS Grade Appeal Policy.  Note that this policy is for engineering courses only - if the course in question is outside of the College of Engineering & Applied Science, you will need to follow the grade appeal policy for that college, school, or program.  Contact your academic advisor if you need help locating the appropriate policy.