Student Resources


The Harvard Undergraduate Guide to Engineering 

Dear Harvard engineering student:

Whether you’re a freshman (or pre-frosh!) still considering whether engineering is right for you, or a seasoned senior about to begin your last semester, this guide is for you. As a Harvard student, you have access to plenty of advising resources, but we felt the need to create a special resource just for engineers. Why all this extra effort? Because engineering is a unique concentration. If you are on the S.B. track, you are expected to take 21 half-courses and complete a senior design project (the equivalent of a thesis) before you graduate. (Even if you opted with the A.B. track, you still have to finish 16 half-courses more than most other concentrators have to take to earn a degree with honors.) And a good number of those courses will be, unavoidably, very difficult. You might, at times, question why you decided to study engineering at all. There are a multitude of different answers, some of which you may have heard when considering what to study in college: Engineers make good money. Engineers have an easier time finding jobs. Engineering is a respected profession (and heaven have mercy if you aren’t otherwise a doctor or lawyer). But while the above may be true, the real reason boils down to this: engineering is worth it. By the time you graduate, you will have gained fresh insights into how the world around you functions. You will never be able to look at commonplace things a bicycle, an electrical outlet, an internal combustion engine, a countertop stove, a swivel chair the same way again. You will have developed a quantitative understanding of the physical universe, which will allow you to tackle and solve problems effectively and efficiently. And you will know how to do things, setting the stage for you to make a difference in whatever field you are inspired to contribute to: solving the energy crisis, taking the medical field to the next level, improving living conditions for the less fortunate, or powering the next era of human flight and exploration. As lofty as all of this sounds, it doesn’t change the fact that getting a degree in engineering involves doing a lot of hard work and making a lot of difficult decisions. That’s why we’ve created this guide: to make sure you are well-informed and well-prepared to meet the rigors of your engineering education. It represents the combined knowledge of actual engineering students who have completed the program at SEAS picked the classes, finished the psets, passed the exams, fulfilled the requirements and have survived it all to tell the tale. We hope you will find it useful, whether you are puzzling over which classes to take this semester, or whether you want to know where to find free pizza. (Hint: see p. ###).

Here’s a brief list of things you’ll find in this guide:

• Information on which classes to take (and when)

• Sample class schedules from past students, to help you pick out your own classes

• A list of faculty that you should get to know during your time here

• A list of buildings, places, and rooms that you’ll probably be spending a lot of time in

• Information on extra-curricular engineering-related clubs, projects, activities, and research opportunities We hope you’ll find this helpful!

Sincerely, The Harvard College Engineering Society

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