Structural Engineering

Aerospace Biological Civil Geotechnical Mechanical


Undergraduate FAQs

Incoming 1st-Year Students (Freshmen):

I’m starting with Math 3C or Math 4C, how does that impact my SE academic plan?

Students starting with Math 3C or Math 4C should follow the revised plans for their first year and ideally plan to complete summer session classes in order to be on track to have Math 20C and Phys 2A completed before the fall of their second year.  These are the prerequisites for SE 101A.

Summer classes can be taken at UCSD or at a community college.

Math 3C:

Fall Winter Spring Summer Session 1 Summer Session 2
Math 3C Math 4C Math 20A Math 20B Math 20C
SE 1   Chem 6A Phys 2A Phys 2B
    Se 3    

Math 4C:

Fall Winter Spring Summer
Math 4C Math 20A Math 20B Math 20C
SE 1 Chem 6A SE 3 Phys 2B
    Phys 2A Phys 2BL


I’m starting with a math class higher than Math 20A, what should I do?

We recommend you stay ahead on your math classes until you have completed the entire series (Math 20A, B, C, D, Math 18, Math 20E).

How do my Math, Physics, or Chemistry AP credits count?

Please review the AP credit chart in the UCSD catalog to see how various scores on AP tests count toward math, physics, and chemistry credit. 

How will I register for my classes as a new student? 

New students register for all of their fall classes at once.  Holds can limit when you can register so it’s important to check your email and clear up any issues asap.  

After your first fall quarter, you will then register for classes using the first pass/second pass system.  Learn more about that here: 

Incoming Transfer Students:

I took a class that I think is similar to a UCSD SE major requirement, what should I do?

As soon as you have accepted your UCSD offer of admission we recommend that you make an appointment to discuss your course history with SE Advising.  While it can take until the middle of summer for your credits to be transferred in, you can create a revised academic plan based on your anticipated credits.  

To officially petition community college classes to count toward SE major requirements you will need to submit the syllabi for the community college course and will need to have earned a C- or higher in the class.  The Undergraduate Chair will review the syllabi to see if it can count towards the class you think is similar at UCSD.  

The most frequently petitioned classes are MatLab, AutoCAD/SolidWorks, Statics, Dynamics, Solid Mechanics, and Materials (must include lab components).

I want to graduate in two years, is that possible?

Depending on the classes you have completed at your community college, as well as if you are willing to take summer classes and which focus sequence you want to complete, this may be doable.  Transfer students wanting to graduate in two years should contact SE Advising asap to create a revised academic schedule, which may include taking classes the summer prior to your official Fall quarter admit term.

I already took Vector Calculus (Math 20E equivalent) at my community college but it is not transferring in, what should I do?

Effective Winter 2022, students who have taken a multivariable calculus course that covers Vector Calculus material (either one already articulated for Math 20C or one not yet reviewed by faculty) will follow the same faculty review process as other transfer equivalency requests. Students will complete and submit a petition for departmental exception, including a course syllabus, course calendar, and textbook information and - specifically required for Math 20E review - the final exam from the course. Students may submit a petition at any time. Petitions take approximately two weeks to review. More information can be found at the following site:

How will I register for my classes as a new student? 

New students register for all of their fall classes at once.  Holds can limit when you can register so it’s important to check your email and clear up any issues asap.  If you think you may have transfer credit for any major requirements such as AutoCAD, MatLab, statics, dynamics, or solid mechanics you will need to file those petitions asap because it could impact the classes you should take in the fall.  Additionally, if you are wanting to graduate in two years you should meet with SE advising to create a revised academic plan before you register for fall classes, and as early as possible.  Some students start taking classes the summer before in order to graduate in two years.

After your first fall quarter, you will then register for classes using the first pass/second pass system.  Learn more about that here:

General Information:

When should I contact SE advising?

Here are a few reasons to see an advisor:

  • To create a revised academic plan
  • Discuss any problems which affect academic progress
  • Learn about academic support and campus resources 
  • To file a department or University petition
  • Learn about co-curricular opportunities
  • To check in on your academic progress
How can I reach a SE Advisor for advising?

You should send all questions to the Department of Structural Engineering via the Virtual Advising Center with the exception of messages related to OSD accommodations, to send an attachment, or to contact the department on behalf of a student organization.  Those messages can be sent via email to

Academic advising appointments can be made directly here

Potential students, such as those in high school or in community colleges, can reach out here

What classes should I be taking for SE?

The academic plans on these pages are created to ensure students meet prerequisites and can take classes when they are offered.  If possible do not veer from these.  If you need to alter your plan be sure to discuss this with SE Advising as some changes could delay your graduation.

Four-year academic plans:

Three-year transfer student plans:

*Transfers who want to try to graduate sooner than 3 years need to make a plan asap with SE advising.

Who is my faculty advisor?

Each undergraduate student is assigned a faculty advisor.  The full list is at the bottom of this page:

Faculty advisors can help answer questions about the focus sequences, curriculum, and career planning.  Students can also reach out to other SE faculty; the assigned advisor is a starting point for students.

Can I complete my lower-division math, physics, and chemistry courses at a community college?

Yes. Be sure to use to determine which classes count for your UCSD requirements. If you think a class is equivalent and it is not listed in you’ll need to petition the department ahead of time. Math class petitions should go to the Department of Mathematics and Physics class petitions should be submitted to the Department of Physics.

Important things to consider:

  • Classes completed at a community college do not count towards your UC GPA and do not count for grade replacement.  For example, if a student took Math 20C at UCSD and received an F grade it may be better for them to repeat it at UCSD so that the new grade replaces the F in their GPA calculations.  If they complete it at a community college the transferred course can fulfill the major requirement for graduation but will not replace the previous F.  (Students have 16 units of grade replacement.)
  • Community colleges usually are on semester systems and may start their summer classes while UCSD is still finishing up Spring quarter classes and finals.  Check the start and end dates.
I need help in one of my classes, where should I go?

There are a variety of resources available on campus.  Please review the list on this page:

We also recommend reaching out to your TAs/Professors and attending office hours.

Can I substitute one of my major requirements?

Variations from, or exceptions to, any program or course requirements are possible only if a petition is approved by the Chair of the Structural Engineering Undergraduate Affairs Committee before the courses in question are taken.

For department exceptions current students should submit the following via the VAC for review: 1) specific petition request, 2) reason for the request. In cases where a student needs to take a course outside UCSD, prior departmental approval is essential.  Requests to take non-UCSD classes to fulfill major requirements also require the course syllabus which should be emailed to the SE Undergraduate advisor after a student submits their petition via the VAC.

Petitions can take 1-3 weeks for processing.  

I heard that X class can be taken instead of a SE class, is this true?

Variations from, or exceptions to, any program or course requirements are possible only if a petition is approved by the Chair of the Structural Engineering Undergraduate Affairs Committee before the courses in question are taken.  

You should ALWAYS petition before deviating from the SE academic plan because allowances made in the past may change.  For example, MAE 130A/B/C used to be cross-listed with SE 101A/B/C but then the MAE department changed its curriculum, therefore, MAE 30A/B is not the same as SE 101A/B anymore.  

For department exceptions current students should submit the following via the VAC for review: 1) specific petition request, 2) reason for the request. 

How do I file a petition with Structural Engineering?


To submit a petition, please follow these steps:

  • Send an email to "". 
  • Please include your name, PID, request, and reason.
    • For course petitions, please include the syllabus from each course that you wish to have counted for SE courses
  • Wait 2-3 weeks for a response. You will be notified through the VAC if your petition is approved or denied.
Where can I learn more about the focus sequences?

You can learn more about the focus sequences in SE 1.  Additional information is available on our website under Undergraduate Admissions: Click through to watch videos on each focus sequence.

In Fall of 2020, SE hosted a Focus Sequence Information Session with faculty panelists from each focus sequence.  You can watch the recording here:

It can also be useful to speak with SE faculty to learn more about career opportunities and the focus sequences.  You can learn more about each faculty on this page: Click through to faculty profiles.

When do I start taking my focus sequence courses?

Students typically start taking their focus sequence classes in their junior year.  Transfer students may start taking them their first year or second year at UCSD depending on their transfer credits and planned graduation date.

Can I change my focus sequence? What if I’m not sure?

If you have already completed your entire junior year it could be very difficult to change your focus sequence and still graduate on time.  It’s easier to switch to SHM in this case; it may be doable to switch to civil if you are willing to take summer classes.

If you are unsure of which focus sequence and are torn between civil/geo and aero you can take both SE 160A and SE 103 winter junior year and SE 160B and SE 150A spring junior year.  This will keep you on track to complete either focus sequence but you’d need to decide soon after that.  If you decide to complete civil then SE 160A and SE 160B will still count as TEs; if you decide to complete aero then SE 103 and SE 150A will still count as TEs.

What are technical electives (TEs)?

Technical electives are upper-division engineering courses outside of your focus sequence requirements.  Most students will need to complete 3 TEs. (SHM/NDE students will need to complete 4 TEs.)  Technical electives are usually completed senior year, though some may be completed earlier if the prerequisites have been met.

For TEs we recommend the following steps:

  1. Review the list of preapproved TEs and narrow it down to your top 5-6 (these cannot be the same as your focus sequence courses).
  2. Review the prereqs in the UCSD catalog.
  3. Review the planned course offerings on these pages: SE and MAE.  

You can complete the Global Ties program (must complete ENG 100D 4 units and ENG 100L 2 units): If you complete the Global Ties program please send us a VAC message so we can update your degree audit to pull these classes to the TE section.

The last option is to petition a class not on the pre-approved list.  Be sure to petition it BEFORE completing the class to confirm it will count as a TE.  This mainly applies to upper-division engineering courses. You can also petition to have ONE upper div Urban Studies and Planning (USP) class to count as a TE (must be upper division).

WebReg is saying I cannot enroll in a class because I’m missing the prereqs, what should I do?
  1. Make sure you have the prereqs for the classes you plan to take BEFORE your registration times.  If you don't have the exact prereqs as listed in the UCSD catalog you'll be blocked from registering.  You can use EASY to get cleared to enroll.
  2. EASY system: If you are missing a prereq for a class and want to request permission to enroll in the class, you can submit an Easy request:  Select pre-authorization as the request type.
    1. SE Student Affairs can approve EASY requests where the student DOES have the prereq but the system is not recognizing it.  Usually, this happens if you have transfer credit or a course substitution that was approved via petition (ie transferred in SE 101A from a community college or completed an MAE class in place of a SE course).
    2. If you are completely missing the prerequisites the request will be reviewed and decided upon by the instructor teaching the class.  
  3. Please include notes in your request and give ample time for them to be reviewed.  The ones SE Advising can approve are usually approved within 2-3 business days.  Ones that require instructor review can take up to two weeks to be reviewed.  Keep that in mind for your registration times. 
What is EASY and how do I use it?

EASY is UCSD’s enrollment authorization system and is accessible via  Undergraduates will use it for the following:

  • Requesting pre-authorization to enroll in a class due to the system not recognizing the student has the prereqs or the student is requesting permission to take a class without the prereqs.
  • Requesting to enroll in graduate-level courses (usually for BS/MS students or seniors who want to take a grad class as a technical elective).
  • Requesting to enroll in more than 22 units at the start of week 2.
  • Requesting to enroll in SE 199.
  • Requesting to enroll in a class that is major-restricted (such as SE 1 for non-SE majors).

EASY requests for preauthorization can be submitted as soon as the quarterly schedule is posted online.

Can I get academic credit for completing an independent study with a SE professor?

If you want to complete independent study (SE 199) you would need to submit an EASY request ( (EASY is an electronic process for getting approval to enroll in classes in special circumstances).  You would need to follow the standard of campus hourly expectation of 3 hours per week per unit (ie 12 hours per week for a 4-unit class). This gets routed to the instructor that you will be working with, then to SE Student Affairs for the department review and once approved then to the Registrar's for processing the enrollment.

If you also want to then request that the SE 199 count as one of your technical electives then it needs to count for 4 credits (or add up to 4 if spread out over two quarters) and the instructor also needs to let SE Student Affairs know the following info: 

  1. As this student’s advisor, please let us know if this activity has equivalence to an upper division elective course from the perspective of learning new theoretical/technical knowledge (yes or no).
  2. The estimated amount of hours per week the student will work on the 199 projects.
  3. Any additional comments about this student's SE 199 being equivalent to a TE (optional).

You would then submit a department petition for review by the Undergraduate Chair.

Can I get TE credit for an internship?

No, at this time Structural Engineering does not allow TE credit for internships.  Students can get academic credit via the Academic Internship Program (AIP 197) but the credits do not count toward major requirements. 

What is the difference between SE’s Aerospace Structures Focus Sequence and MAE’s Aerospace Engineering major?

Aerospace Structures Focus Sequence within the Structural Engineering (SE) major differs from the UCSD Aerospace Engineering (AE) program in that SE focuses on structures, structural analysis, and materials related to aerospace structures, with 6 courses focused on this topic. In comparison, the AE program covers all aspects of aerospace engineering which also includes propulsion, dynamics and control, aerodynamics, as well as structures for which two courses are taken (from SE) to satisfy this AE program requirement.

Tips for finding an internship or job:

See this page for resources:

Attend career fairs: SCSE hosts SE day every year in the winter quarter, TESC hosts Decaf, and the career center hosts a variety of events and career fairs.

If you are looking for a job in a specific area such as civil or aero or geo, etc SE faculty have leads.  You can email the ones you had for your focus sequence classes and include your resume and if there are any certain parameters you have ie anywhere in California, only in SoCal, etc; or looking for a specific type of company - basically make it as easy as possible for them to help you.

Have the career center review your resume and cover letter.  Cover letters can be as important as your resume since that is where you connect what's in your resume with what they are looking for and tell the story behind it. For each resume be sure to tailor it to that job application and utilize the keywords they put in their job listing.

What classes should I first pass?

In general, it can be best to first pass the following classes:

  • Math classes (except 20E)
  • Lab classes if only one lab section fits with your schedule
  • College writing requirements if those writing classes must be completed within a certain time frame or only in specific quarters
  • If you have a strong preference for a certain instructor (usually pertains to math, chem, phys classes)

You can look at the schedule of classes for the previous year and see how many seats were open at the end of the quarter to determine how impacted that class is.

Does SE have any social media accounts?

Yes, you can connect with us on InstagramLinkedIn, and YouTube.

Is there a way to get ahead on SE classes?

Students may be able to get ahead on their SE curriculum by taking classes in summer, whether at UCSD, community colleges, or other universities.  Students wanting to try to graduate sooner than 4 years for freshmen and 3 years for transfers should meet with SE Advising asap to create a revised academic plan.  Since some classes are only offered once a year and may be difficult to find elsewhere it’s critical to have a plan early on.

What should I do if I’m behind on my SE classes?

You should make an appointment to speak with SE Advising asap to create a revised academic plan.  Since a detailed response to this will depend on which class(es) you are behind on there is no one specific answer.

Students who started at UCSD as freshmen should aim to have at least Math 20A, 20B, 20C, and Phys 2A completed by the end of the summer before their second year so that they can enroll in SE 101A that fall. 

Revised academic plans may include summer classes at UCSD, at community colleges, SDSU or other universities as well as petitioning classes from other departments to fulfill major requirements. 

How can I get involved with undergraduate research?

A comprehensive database of SE research opportunities is unfortunately not available. Most opportunities are word-of-mouth.  You might also find paid opportunities on Handshake.

A good place to start is by checking out the SE Faculty profiles. Click on either their name or linked lab page to explore more information about the research that they and their students are doing. If someone's research sounds particularly interesting to you, then read more about what they do and send them an email asking if they have any space for an undergraduate researcher in their lab.  Be specific in your email ie “Hi Prof. XX, I saw your lab is doing research on XYZ.  My focus sequence is XYZ and I am very interested in doing research in this area because..., etc”. Some faculty are not accepting students for one reason or another, and some may take a while to respond, so you might need to send out many emails before you get a response. Alternatively, you can find out when their office hours are and show up to talk to them in person.  

Lastly, each student is assigned a faculty mentor.  You can find yours listed on this page (listed by student last name).  They would also be a good source to brainstorm finding additional opportunities and how to approach faculty about available opportunities.

What extracurriculars are offered for SE majors?

Students typically get involved with engineering related student organizations.  You can learn more about SE & general engineering organizations here:

Additional opportunities include research with faculty and internships.

What can I do with a Bachelor's in structural engineering?

Professor Krysl explains that in this YouTube video:

You can also see sample titles and employers listed out here:

How can I switch my major to Structural Engineering?

Please review this page which explains the process, screening courses, and GPA requirements:

Click on Continuing Student Admission (Change of Major).

Do you have any tips regarding industry exams?

Here is some advice from an alumna and former SE Lab Manager:

The second half of the exam asks you to pick a focus subject. I suggest that as a Structural Engineering student, you choose the General Exam.  The Civil Exam will cover topics you do not learn, such as surveying, hydraulics, transportation, etc. The FE is the same certification for everyone, so it does not matter which exam subject you choose to take for the second half.

My best advice would be to purchase the handbook that you get to use during the exam and study that.  Most of the questions come right out of that booklet and/or use the equations in there, so you should become familiar with how to use it and where everything is located.  This will help you tremendously.  Also, it is helpful to take the exam in the Spring, because you will be doing engineering for your classes up to that point, so all the material is fresh.  If you are taking the exam in Fall, it is best to study all your basic engineering and get out of that summer slump.  Basic engineering would be the things you learn in Statics, Dynamics, Solid Mechanics, and Structural Analysis.  

On the FE Exam website they list the topics covered by the exam on there so you can focus your study. It is very helpful.   

Other than studying the reference manual, I recommend just reviewing your basic engineering curriculum. I am not sure how much has changed since I took it (years ago!) but the engineering questions were the most difficult for me because it was new material that I was learning in college (statics, solid mechanics, etc) as oppose to the basic material that you typically learn in high school (biology, physics, etc.). Those science topics are covered in the reference manual and usually serves as a good place to start if you feel fuzzy for those topics too.   

How much to study is really based on your confidence with the problems.  If you can look at a statics or structural analysis beam and have a good idea of how to approach it, but need to look up some equations, you will do good.  It's timed but it's not incredibly fast-paced.  As long as you feel that you are able to work through a problem, you will do well.  If you look at problems often and just feel stumped or you don't know what to even do, then it is best to do some practice/studying to get some confidence on problem-solving.  

Remember this tip - not every problem needs to be calculated and worked out!  Many of the questions are based on using your engineering intuition, where you should be able to just look at what it is asking and already rule out some of the provided answers without even needing to lift your pencil.  If you want to get good at recognizing that kind of thing, purchasing a cheap study book that is based on the test is helpful.  The test doesn't try to trick you with questions - they just try to get you to use your judgment instead of wasting so much time calculating.  Sometimes you can't even calculate the problem and you'll never get the matching answer, which means the answer can usually be chosen just by looking at it

Grades and GPA requirements:

Can I take my SE requirements Pass/No Pass?

SE requires all classes to be taken for a letter grade however some exceptions have been made in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic and remote learning. 

  • Spring 2020: all major requirements can be taken P/NP 
  • Summer 2020: all major requirements can be taken P/NP
  • Fall 2020: all major requirements can be taken P/NP
  • Winter 2021: all lower division major requirements (ie SE 1, SE 3, SE 9, and math, chem, and physics requirements as well as ONE upper division SE requirement (core, focus sequence, or TE) can be taken P/NP
  • Spring 2021: all lower division major requirements (ie SE 1, SE 3, SE 9, and math, chem, and physics requirements as well as ONE upper division SE requirement (core, focus sequence, or TE) can be taken P/NP

Additional notes: 

  • Employment recruiters may prefer to know what grade you earned in important classes.  Being assigned a P grade, which only indicates a C- or higher, may not fully highlight your skills compared to a letter grade.
  • Graduate schools often look at GPA and we don’t know how they would view or factor in Pass/No Pass grades.
If I get a D in a class can I move on to the next course? Do Ds count towards my graduation requirements for SE?

There are a few classes that require a C- or higher in prerequisites: SE 110B, SE 130A, SE 130B, SE 180, SE 181, and some math courses.  

For graduation all grades must be a C- or higher, so even if you are able to move on to the next class you will need to retake any classes where a D grade was earned to graduate.  Your final SE upper div GPA and UC GPA both must be 2.0 or higher to graduate.

How do classes at community colleges, SDSU and UCSD Extension impact my UCSD GPA? Do they count for grade replacement?

Courses from community colleges, and non-UC universities such as SDSU, and UCSD Extension do not factor into your UC GPA.  They also do not count toward grade replacement.  Given this, if a student gets a D or F in a class at UCSD it may be better to repeat it at UCSD for GPA purposes.

I received a P grade in a class but WebReg says I do not have the prerequisite. What should I do?

There are a few classes that require a C- or higher in prerequisites.  When you take a class P/NP and earn a P WebReg does not recognize this as being equivalent to C- and therefore doesn't register that you have met the prereq.  You would need to file an EASY request for preauthorization and mention you completed the prereq with a P grade to get cleared to enroll in the course.

Courses this could impact:

SE 110B if completed SE 110A with a P grade

SE 130A if completed SE 110A with a P grade 

SE 130B if completed SE 130A with a P grade

SE 180 if completed SE 110A or SE 130A with a P grade

SE 181 if completed SE 110A with a P grade

Various Math courses (check the UCSD catalog

Can you tell me where I rank in my class?

SE does not have cohort rankings. 


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