How to apply

Computer Engineering is a joint program administered by the Computer Science and Electrical Engineering departments in the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS). Thus, to gain admisson to Computer Engineering, apply to SEAS.

Information about applying to the Computer Engineering program through SEAS can be found on the SEAS Admissions page.
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Frequently-asked questions about the Computer Engineering Program

Why should I attend Columbia for this subject? What distinguishes Columbia's program from other institutions?

Columbia has always had a strong connection to the history of computing, driven in large measure by a close relation with IBM, which persists to this day. IBM's T. J. Watson Research Lab was founded at Columbia University in 1945 and briefly occupied space in Pupin Hall before moving to 612 W. 116th Street and subsequently to 612 W. 115th Street. Watson Labs moved up to its current facilities in Yorktown Heights, NY in the early 1960's. From the early days, Watson researchers taught at Columbia and Columbia faculty interacted and worked with IBM researchers, interactions that continue.

Columbia computer engineering faculty continue to have broad interactions with industry, providing many opportunities for our students.

What are the requirements for a major?

Please see the Undergraduate Studies and Graduate Studies sections of this website.

In what semester/year should I begin taking courses towards the major? What is the first course I should take?

We strongly encourage students to begin taking core required courses for the computer engineering program as sophomores. The bulletin shows some sample programs for "early-starting" students. Starting early can lead to more flexibility in the choice of technical electives. This also maximizes the opportunity for undergraduate students to participate in research as juniors and seniors.

What is the structure of the major?

Please see the program bulletin pages for detailed discussions of the program structures. Elective courses should be chosen in consultation with the student's major advisor.

How do I declare a major in this program?

All first-year students who are considering computer engineering should consider taking Introduction to Electrical Engineering (ELEN E1201) in addition to an Introduction to Computer Science course (COMS W1004 or W1007). This provides a good way to test one's interest level in the discipline. The Student Coordinator for the Computer Engineering Program, Elsa Sanchez (, can answer administrative questions related to the program or arrange a meeting with a faculty advisor. Major program selection for all students in SEAS is done in the first semester of the Sophomore year, following a series of "open house" information sessions.

How does the department allocate advisors?

Every incoming sophomore in the Computer Engineering program is assigned a major advisor from among the Computer Engineering faculty by the Student Coordinator, Elsa Sanchez ( Major faculty advisors are available for advising appointments at the appropriate times for course selection. Students are encouraged to consult their major faculty advisors at any time with questions regarding their program.  Informal advising lunches for everyone in the program are also held each semester before early registration.

Will studying abroad enhance this major?

It is possible, but it is often essential that any program abroad provide some of the necessary technical courses to satisfy the core program requirements. Any student considering studying abroad should consult their major advisor well in advance of any plans to study abroad.

What research opportunities exist in or through the department during the academic year?

Many undergraduate students participate in the active research program of Computer Engineering faculty. These opportunities are arranged directly through the individual faculty members and are often triggered by outstanding performance in a particular course. Faculty members who actively welcoming undergraduate participation in their programs often publicize this in the Student Research Involvement Program web site.

What research, internship, and fellowships opportunities exist during the summer months and how do I participate?

Many Columbia faculty hire undergraduate assistants during the summer months to participate in their research programs. Summer internships at companies are often arranged through individual faculty members contacts or by contacting Columbia's Center for Career Education.

What kinds of career opportunities would this major prepare me for?

Computer engineering students are in strong demand by companies because of their broad background in both hardware and software. The Center for Career Education hosts an engineering career fair each fall and associated career advising events are often organized around that time.

What is the best way to prepare for graduate school?

Computer engineering undergraduates are in a position to pursue graduate programs in computer science, electrical engineering, or computer engineering.  Those potentially interested in PhD programs should try to participate in research groups early on.

What student clubs, committees, and/or activities are offered within or through the program?

Computer engineering majors often participate in Columbia student branch of the IEEE (see  ).

How does one receive departmental honors in this program?

Awards and honors are decided by a vote of the Computer Engineering faculty.

What awards and prizes are sponsored for this program?

The top graduating senior in the Computer Engineering program by determination of the faculty is awarded the Computer Engineering Award of Excellence at graduation. Computer Engineering students are also eligible for a number of EE & CS Dept., as well as SEAS-wide, awards.

How might a sample track or course of study be arranged?

The bulletin shows example schedules. These should serve as a guideline. Detailed course schedules should be designed in consultation with your academic advisors.

What are the demographics of the program?

Computer engineering students, like the rest of SEAS, represent a very diverse student population.

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