Technical and Non-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: 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.  An overall GPA at graduate of least 3.0 among the mathematics portion (32 credits) of the program is required to obtain a minor in mathematics.   Depending on your 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., you need 12 additional credits, only, for the minor).  The courses used for the math minor (except MA326 if it is required in your track) count as technical electives.
  • Technical electives and the Master of Engineering degree: You are eligible to take graduate level courses as an undergraduate as long as the prerequisite requirements are met. The concept of the “Integrated Master Program” is that these courses can be used to fulfill the requirement for the degree of Master of Engineering (thesis option). 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.
    • Otherwise, graduate level courses taken while you are an undergraduate can be used towards the Master of Engineering degree.
    • For the non-thesis option for the Master program, there is a cap of at most 6 graduate credits taken as an undergraduate that can be applied towards the Master’s degree.



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.

Hum/SS  electives:

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.

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

 Foreign Language electives:

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.

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
EID103** Principles of Design x
EID105 Drawing & Sketching for Engineers x
EID110 Engineering Design Graphics x
EID116/ME116 Musical Instrument Design x x
EID165/ME165 Sound & Space x
EID170 Engineering Economy x x
EID176 Legal & Ethical Aspects of Engineering x x
EID357 Sustainable Engineering & Development x x
EID365 Engineering & Entrepreneurship x x
EID370 Engineering Management x x
EID372 Global Perspectives in Technology Mgmt x x
EID373 Patent Law x x
EID374 Business Economics x x
EID376 Economics of Alternative Energy x x
MA151.1 Math in Art x
PH314 Scientific Photography x x

**Students who took EID103 prior to Spring 2016 may declare it either technical or non-technical.  Going forward, it counts only as a non-technical elective.

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

 Engineering courses that cannot be used for either technical or non-technical credits:

There are some courses offered in the school of engineering that cannot be used to fulfill any requirements for the Bachelor of Engineering degree in electrical engineering.  This is because these courses have significant overlap with other courses that are required in the EE program.

The list of such courses is as follows:

ESC120 Principles of Electrical Engineering

ESC121 Basic Principles of Electrical Engineering

ESC161 Systems Engineering

ME151  Feedback Control Systems

EID362/363 (Interdisciplinary Senior Projects) and Senior design projects in any major other than EE

For students entering the program Fall 2016 or later:

CS102 is no longer a required course for EEs.  Students who take CS102 (3 credits) may use 1 credit to fulfill the requirement for EID102 Engineering Graphics, but the other 2 credits do not count towards those needed for the Bachelor of Engineering degree in EE.

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.