Changing Majors

Thank you for your interest in the College of Engineering! Whether you are already an engineering student and looking to switch or any student surveying your options, we find the more exploration a student does, the better their change of major outcome.

Explore Your Options

As a first step in the change of major process, please review this website and its links thoroughly, and feel free to sign-up for an Engineering Change of Major Workshop on the next page if you want to explore your options further.

What do engineers do?

  • Engineers apply the principles of science and mathematics to develop economical solutions to technical problems. Their work is the link between scientific discovery and the commercial applications that meet societal and consumer needs.
  • Engineers must enjoy solving problems.
  • Engineers are creative.
  • Engineers do many different things for careers, which are not limited to traditional engineering roles.

College of Engineering Majors: 

Please note that Computer Science is currently only open to SE majors and students originally admitted to CPE and GENE; it is closed to changes from all other majors. Software Engineering will not be accepting any change of majors for the foreseeable future.

If you are interested in these majors, we recommend meeting with a Career Counselor to discuss other majors that can meet your career goals.  

Aerospace Engineering

Aerospace Engineering
  • Aerospace engineers research, plan, develop, test, and produce manned and unmanned flight systems for use in commercial aviation, national defense, and travel in outer space
  • Some specialty areas: Aerodynamics, Stress Analysis and Structural Engineering, Propulsions, Stability and Control, Simulation, Flight Tests, Materials
  • There are two concentrations:
    • Aeronautics focuses on systems that operate in the Earth's atmosphere.
    • Astronautics focuses on those operating in space.
  • This type of engineering might be for you if you:
    • are fascinated by aircraft or spacecraft; most of your coursework will relate directly to these specifically, rather than to wider applications as in other majors
  • Related majors: Mechanical Engineering
  • Explore more on the Aerospace Engineering website

Biomedical Engineering

Biomedical Engineering
  • Biomedical Engineering is an interdisciplinary field in which engineering principles and tools are applied to solve biomedical problems. By its very nature, it is broad and requires a depth of understanding in engineering as well as in physiology and other biological sciences.
  • Biomedical engineers conduct research, design and develop instruments, devices, materials, and procedures to diagnose, monitor, and treat physical or cognitive illnesses or ailments
  • Some specialty areas: biomechanical (ME) bioinstrumentation (EE), biomaterials, orthopedic, cellular/tissue/genetic engineers, etc.
  • Concentrations: Mechanical Design (ME) and Bioinstrumentation (EE) or follow general track (choose from list of approved technical electives)
  • This type of engineering might be for you if you:
    • have a keen interest in the human body
    • want to learn about many different types of engineering (electrical, mechanical, biology, materials) and want to have projects and labs specific to biomedical engineering
  • Related majors: Mechanical Engineering
  • Explore more on the Biomedical Engineering website

Civil Engineering

Civil Engineering
  • Civil engineers design, build, and oversee the construction and maintenance of highways, bridges, airports, dams, buildings, transportation systems, water supply and sewage systems, and other structures.
  • This broad, centuries-old profession provides services to the public and private sectors through safe and efficient solutions.
  • Some specialty Areas (no official concentration):
    • Water Resources – Design drainage systems and structures that store and distribute water
    • Transportation – Plan, design, and supervise the construction and upkeep of roads, airports, highways, railways, pipelines, and water transportation.
    • Structures – Plan, design, and construct large structures like bridges, large buildings, and industrial structures.
    • Geotechnical – Examine and analyze soils and underlying rock strata that affect roadways, water reservoirs, bridges, tunnels, buildings, and other structures. Design foundations, underground structures, and large earthworks such as dams.
    • Construction – Plan and schedule all parts of a construction project (Project Managers) – Construction Management is a separate major, but many CEs work in this field
  • This type of engineering might be for you if you:
    • are interested in designing and building things
    • are interested in mechanics, hydraulics, geotechnics (using knowledge of the Earth’s crust to solve construction problems), materials science, and statistical analysis.
  • Related majors: Environmental Engineering, Architectural Engineering
  • Explore more on the Civil Engineering website

Computer Engineering

Computer Engineering
  • Computer Engineering combines the software related development of Computer Science and the hardware related development of Electrical Engineering into a comprehensive course of study.
  • As a Computer Engineer, you work with others to integrate computer software and hardware.
  • Some specialty areas: Cyber security; Communications and Wireless Networks; Compilers and Operating Systems; Computer Vision and Robotics; Embedded Systems; Integrated Circuits, VLSI Design, Testing and Computer Aided Design, etc.
  • This type of engineering might be for you if you:
    • like working with both software and hardware
    • are creative, a problem solver and innovative
  • Related majors: Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, Software Engineering
  • Explore more on the Computer Engineering website

Computer Science

Computer Science

Currently open to SE majors and students originally admitted to CPE and GENE; closed all other majors.


  • Computer Science covers topics from theory through programming to cutting-edge development of computing solutions.
  • Computer scientists design and develop all types of software from systems infrastructure (operating systems, communications programs, etc.) to application technologies (interactive entertainment, games, web and mobile apps, artificial intelligence suites, software for robotics, databases, search engines, etc.). Computer scientists create these capabilities, but typically they do not manage the deployment of them.
  • Optional Interactive Entertainment concentration or choose from a variety of technical elective options
  • Some specialty areas: Cyber Security, Big Data, Computational Art (Game Design), Artificial Intelligence/Robotics; Bioinformatics; Database and Information Systems; Graphics, Visualization and the Human Computer Interface; Systems and Networking
  • This type of engineering might be for you if you:
    • are analytical
    • like to fix things
    • are detail oriented
    • enjoy employing logic in your work
  • Related majors: Computer Engineering, Software Engineering
  • Explore more on on the Computer Science website

Electrical Engineering

Electrical Engineering
  • Electrical engineers study and apply the physics and mathematics of electricity, electronics, and electromagnetism to both large and small scale systems to process information and transmit energy. To do this, electrical engineers design computers, electronic devices, communication systems, test equipment, electric power networks, and improve systems through problem solving techniques.
  • Some specialty areas include: Power, Integrated Circuit Design, Communications, Systems Design, Signal Processing, RF Microwaves
  • This type of engineering might be for you if you:
    • enjoy the theory in physics, but also designing, problem-solving, and learning tangible skills that can be applied to hands-on projects.
    • are okay not being able to see some of the things you learn.
    • enjoy doing some coding.
  • Related majors: Computer Engineering
  • Explore more on the Electrical Engineering website

Environmental Engineering

Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental engineers use the principles of engineering, soil science, biology, and chemistry to develop solutions to environmental problems. They are involved in efforts to improve recycling, waste disposal, public health, and water and air pollution control. They also address global issues, such as unsafe drinking water, climate change, and environmental sustainability.
  • ENVE is not energy.
  • Some specialty areas: Air, water, soil quality; noise control; pollution control/prevention; solid and hazardous waste disposal; wastewater treatment/design; environmental remediation; environmental health and safety
  • This type of engineering might be for you if you:
    • like chemistry and biology
    • want to improve public health using science and engineering
  • Related majors: Civil Engineering, Mechanical Engineering
  • Explore more on the Environmental Engineering website

General Engineering

General Engineering
  • The General Engineering program is designed for students who are interested in pursuing a course of study whose scope reaches beyond the established curriculum of any single major. The flexibility of the General Engineering curriculum allows you the latitude in course selection needed to educate themselves either in the classical study of engineering or in a self-selected interdisciplinary emphasis area that requires a strong engineering foundation.
  • Examples of some of the emphasis areas pursued by General Engineering majors include: Chemical engineering, sustainable energy, entrepreneurship, product design, and audio engineering.
  • This type of engineering might be for you if you:
    • want to study engineering and no other engineering major quite fits
    • are independent, self-motivated and have a clearly-defined career vision 
  • Related majors: Mechanical Engineering
  • Explore more on the General Engineering website

Industrial Engineering

Industrial Engineering
  • Industrial Engineers are concerned with designing and improving business operations. They apply math, science, and technology to improve the efficiency, quality and productivity of creating and delivering goods and services and to act as the interface between technology and humans. Engineering methods and practical knowledge are used in formulating decision models for the optimum application of engineering and management principles.
  • Some specialty areas: Ergonomics, logistics, operations research, plant layout and design, production planning, supply chain management, work methods analysis and improvement.
  • This type of engineering might be for you if you:
    • love working with people, understand business and want to be flexible in your job
  • Related majors: Manufacturing Engineering
  • Explore more on the Industrial Engineering website

Manufacturing Engineering

Manufacturing Engineering
  • Manufacturing Engineering is the profession that applies engineering analysis and methods to the production of all manufactured goods and services. Manufacturing engineers plan, develop, and optimize the processes of production including methods of manufacture, and designs of tools and equipment for manufacturing. They examine flow and the process of manufacturing, looking for ways to streamline production, improve turnaround, and reduce costs.
  • This type of engineering might be for you if you:
    • like to make things and be very hands on
  • Related majors: Industrial Engineering, Mechanical Engineering
  • Explore more on the Manufacturing Engineering website

Materials Engineering

Materials Engineering
  • Materials engineers develop, process, and test materials used to create a range of products, from computer chips and aircraft wings to golf clubs and snow skis. They work with metals, ceramics, plastics, composites, and other substances to create new materials that meet certain mechanical, electrical, and chemical requirements. They also help select materials for specific products, develop new ways to use materials, and develop new materials.
  • Materials engineers are heavily involved in the advances being made with high-temperature, superconducting ceramics, and with biomedical device applications.
  • This type of engineering might be for you if you:
    • like to connect things across the length scales, atoms to the micro scale to the bulk scale.
    • like understanding the science to create or engineer new things
  • Related majors: General Engineering (Chemical Engineering Emphasis)
  • Explore more on the Materials Engineering website

Mechanical Engineering

Mechanical Engineering
  • Mechanical engineers research, design, develop, manufacture, and test tools, engines, machines, and other mechanical devices. Mechanical engineering is a versatile and interdisciplinary field that includes everything from design at the molecular level to system integration of large-scale manufacturing machinery.
  • There are 4 Concentrations to choose from:
    • General (broad and allows you to specialize in things like sustainability, bike design, auto design, etc.)
    • Mechatronics (robotics, automation)
    • Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning, and Refrigerating (HVAC&R)
    • Manufacturing
    • Energy
  • This type of engineering might be for you if you:
    • love knowing how things work and never are satisfies with a solution because you are always looking for a better way
    • want a broad engineering degree, with a background in design.
  • Related majors: Aerospace Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, Civil Engineering, Environmental Engineering, Manufacturing Engineering, Materials Engineering
  • Explore more on the Mechanical Engineering website

Software Engineering

Software Engineering

Currently closed to students wishing to change their major. 


  • Software engineering covers the development, deployment and maintenance of software systems. Software engineers understand the challenges of large-scale systems development and are equipped with the necessary technical, process and people skills to be productive in a team environment. Both technical and team management skills are needed.
  • Some specialty areas: Applications software developers (design computer applications); Systems software developers create the systems that keep computers functioning properly (operating systems, user interface), Cyber security, Big data, Computational art (game design)
  • This type of engineering might be for you if you:
    • like to work in a group
    • want to be involved in the deployment of software
  • Related majors: Computer Engineering, Computer Science
  • Explore more on the Software Engineering website

Engineering Majors Outside of the College of Engineering:

These engineering disciplines are housed in other colleges at Cal Poly. Please refer to their department or college websites for further details about changing your major to one of these disciplines.

Architectural Engineering

Architectural Engineering
  • The architectural engineering (ARCE) curriculum prepares you for professional careers in the structural design of buildings. This program goes beyond sound fundamentals of science and mathematics to stress the practical application of interdisciplinary design principles.
  • Explore more on the Architectural Engineering website

BioResource and Agricultural Engineering

BioResource and Agricultural Engineering
  • The BioResource and Agricultural Engineering major at Cal Poly offers hands-on experience in a wide range of engineering skill areas including irrigation, mechanical design, structures, agricultural safety, renewable energy and waste treatment, electronics and control systems, and resource information systems.
  • Explore more on the BioResource and Agricultural Engineering website

Liberal Arts Engineering Studies

Liberal Arts and Engineering Studies
  • The LAES program is a hybrid study of engineering and technology components enriched with the appropriate features of culture, arts and the humanities that includes specializations in the study of sound and music, theater, public policy, interactive design, intercultural communication, and a wide range of other innovative technical careers.
  • Explore more on on the Liberal Arts Engineering Studies website

Review Your Next Steps

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