What Are the Different Types of Engineering Prerequisites?

Maggie Worth
Maggie Worth
Almost all types of engineering careers rely heavily on math skills.
Almost all types of engineering careers rely heavily on math skills.

Engineering prerequisites are conditions that must be met in order for a student to begin his or her engineering studies. In many universities, these must be met before the student is admitted into the engineering school or program. The majority of these prerequisites fall into two categories: course work completion and grades. The course work category includes both general education requirements and engineering track requirements. The grades category includes both class grades and scores on required entrance exams.

Students pursuing an engineering degree are usually required to take a number of courses before formally entering the engineering program. Many of these are general education courses, which must be taken by anyone seeking a degree regardless of major field of study. While these courses can vary by university, they almost always include courses in mathematics and in the country's primary language. In the U.S., this would be English.

General education engineering prerequisites might also include foreign language courses, science courses with laboratory components, and social science classes such as psychology or sociology. Public speaking and fine arts classes are often included in the general curriculum, and many schools require health and physical education courses as well. Often, pre-engineering students must take specific classes within these categories, while students pursuing other majors have broader choices. This is particularly true of math and science classes.

Certain lower-level engineering classes are generally considered engineering prerequisites as well. This often includes a general introductory class and might include introductory courses in subdisciplines such as chemical, civil, or environmental engineering. Other common courses might include drafting and advanced physics classes, which are used by most engineers regardless of specialty.

While the term engineering prerequisites is most commonly associated with the course work requirements, grade requirements are also important. Most schools of engineering require students to earn minimum grades in each class in order to gain admittance to the program. In some cases, this minimum grade requirement may only apply to classes within the major field of study. This means that a low grade in, say, physical education, would not affect a student with high grades in pre-engineering course work.

Many schools administer entrance exams for professional schools such as engineering, law, or medicine. Admission to the program requires a certain minimum score on this test. In some cases, students who do not meet this score on the first try are permitted to retest, though a waiting period often applies. Certain schools may have other engineering prerequisites, including letters of reference or presentation of a portfolio. Students interested in pursuing engineering degrees should carefully research the requirements of the colleges or universities they are pursuing.

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    • Almost all types of engineering careers rely heavily on math skills.
      By: Damian Gretka
      Almost all types of engineering careers rely heavily on math skills.