Skip to main content
Loading
Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

You've got questions, and we've got answers! Below is a list of our most frequently-asked questions related to Purdue Engineering. If you still have questions, feel free to contact us for help!

Admissions and Applying

 

How do I apply to Purdue Engineering?

We're so exited that you want to apply! We've put together a page dedicated to this very topic. Check out our Applying to Purdue Engineering page for all the details.

What does it take to have a competitive application for Purdue Engineering?

This is obviously our most frequently-asked question, and it's a good one! The challenge is that there is no one, perfect answer to this question, as there are a variety of factors at play in the admission process that are both inside and outside your control.

Here is what we recommend for putting your best foot forward when applying to Purdue Engineering:

Apply Early Action

When you apply is an extremely important part of the application process. To maximize consideration of your application, you will need to make sure you apply by Purdue's Early Action Deadline of November 1. November 1 is also the priority deadline for First-Year Engineering (listed as "Engineering (First-Year)" on the Common App), meaning that the highest likelihood for admission is for those who apply by the priority deadline.

Prepare Yourself for College

Get good grades and challenge yourself in your coursework! Make sure you are on track to meet or exceed Purdue's Freshman Admission Criteria.

Follow Your Passions In and Out of Class

Get involved in clubs, organizations, and activities you are passionate about! It helps build time management skills, provides you with great opportunities and experiences, and allows you to blow off steam and get away from academics every now and then.

Bottom Line: Apply!

If you want to be a Purdue Engineer, don't be afraid to apply! And when you do, be sure to tell us everything about why you want to be here and what makes you a great candidate for our programs. Your college application is one of the few times in your life that it is perfectly acceptable to brag about yourself and your accomplishments!

Have more questions about applying?

Reach out to the Office of Admissions for any specific questions you have about the application and admission process, including any special circumstances. They are the ones that review all applications to Purdue's undergraduate programs and make admission decisions. Visit their Admissions website, call them at (765) 494-1776, or email them at admissions@purdue.edu.

What is the acceptance rate for Purdue Engineering?

The acceptance rate for new-beginner First-Year Engineering students for Fall 2022 was approximately 37%. The average acceptance rate over the last 5 years was approximately 47%.

What are average grades and test scores of students admitted to Purdue Engineering?

Here is the academic profile for students admitted to our First-Year Engineering program in Fall 2022: 

Fall 2022 Admitted Student Academic Profile
Average Middle 50% Range
GPA (unweighted) 3.80 3.60 - 4.00
ACT Composite 32 31 - 35
SAT Composite 1444 1380 - 1520

Grades and test scores are only a part of the equation when the Office of Admissions is reviewing applications. Other admissions considerations include academic trends and achievements, extracurricular involvement, and personal essays, among other factors.

Absolutely not! In fact, all beginning Purdue undergraduate students complete a general first-year curriculum through the First-Year Engineering Program before moving forward to their engineering specialty in their sophomore year. This allows students time to explore engineering careers, start to learn engineering design, and get strong foundations in math, science, English, and computer skills. Students who are confident in their career choice are more likely to succeed in the engineering major they choose.

For more details about First-Year Engineering, check out the "What is First-Year Engineering" topic further down, as well as our Applying to Purdue Engineering page.

Academics

 

Are there any engineering programs or summer camps I can attend?

There are several camps and programs offered across Purdue's campus. Our Women in Engineering Program and Minority Engineering Program both offer a variety of camps and experiential programs for all age groups that are open to all students of all backgrounds. There are also several engineering courses available through Purdue's Summer College for High School Students program. For other campus-wide outreach programs and campus, visit Purdue's Summer Camps page.

What's the difference between an engineering degree and an engineering technology degree?

Engineering and engineering technology represent different depths and scopes within the overall field of engineering.

The short version: Engineering degrees provide students with all of the math, science, and theory behind the concepts and principles they are learning about in order to be able to create new things and solve complex challenges, whereas engineering technology degrees focus less on the math and science and more on existing products and technologies to prepare students to innovate within existing systems.

At Purdue, all engineering degrees are housed in the College of Engineering, and all engineering technology degrees are housed in the Polytechnic Institute (formerly called the College of Technology). All of our engineering and engineering technology degrees are accredited by the same organization, ABET, but to differing sets of guidelines. Both the College of Engineering and the Polytechnic Institute offer excellent degrees, strong job placement, and high starting salaries, which can make the decision of which one to apply to a difficult one.

Curriculum in the College of Engineering focuses on the conceptual stages of solving societal challenges and early stages of creating products that do not exist and therefore requires more in-depth study in math and science. Engineering students participate in hands-on labs and many experiential opportunities to design products and process. Engineering graduates (called engineers) are capable of doing computer modeling to predict performance prior to the build stage as well as working through all phases of the production process. Essentially, engineering degrees provide students with all of the math, science, and theory behind the concepts and principles they are learning about in order to be able to create new things and solve complex challenges.

Engineering technology degrees through Purdue Polytechnic Institute (which is an academic unit here at the West Lafayette campus, not a separate institution) specialize in bringing products to life and to the consumer. Engineering technology students have fewer theoretical classes, such as math and science, and focus more on the hands-on lab components with each class. Engineering technology graduates (called technologists) are involved in product design later in the production process and help to determine the best way to manufacture products.

Both the College of Engineering and the Purdue Polytechnic Institute emphasize teamwork, problem solving, and communication. These skills can lead to similar job functions across areas of design, manufacturing, and management depending on students' interest and experience.

It is important to note that some professions, like Civil Engineering, require a Professional Engineering (PE) license. The College of Engineering provides students in all majors (with the exception of Interdisciplinary Engineering Studies) the opportunity to work towards their PE as part of their plan of study, while engineering technology students will have to take additional coursework before or after they graduate to qualify to take the PE exam.

Which AP classes do you recognize for college credit?

Generally speaking, 4s and 5s on the AP tests will earn you credit here at Purdue. For more specific details, check out the Purdue credit for AP Tests page on the Office of Admissions' website for the ultimate guide to earning AP credit.

To see how that credit would apply to a Purdue Engineering degree, check out the First-Year Engineering plan of study for freshman year courses and the plan of study for your desired engineering major for classes sophomore year and beyond.

What is First-Year Engineering?

First-Year Engineering (FYE) is the launchpad for all undergraduate students at Purdue. It's what all students are applying to when applying to Purdue Engineering and where all incoming engineering students start for their freshman year.

The primary goals of our First-Year Engineering program are to provide a solid foundation for our students and to provide them with numerous opportunities to explore all 17 engineering majors at Purdue to determine which one is truly the best fit for them.

In addition to coursework in math, science, and communications, FYE students also take specialized engineering courses that provide them with team-working, problem solving, critical analysis, and programming skills. FYE students are also provided with numerous opportunities for major and career exploration, both inside and outside of their FYE courses, where they can learn about coursework, research, internship, and post-graduate opportunities for the various majors.

We find that many students applying to Purdue Engineering are undecided about which specific engineering major they want to pursue. Of those FYE students that came to Purdue with a specific engineering major in mind, roughly half of them will end up changing their mind every year based on what they've learned over the course of their freshman year. Having opportunities to meet with upperclassmen and professors and attend seminars hosted by the majors allow our students to make a much more informed decision about their desired major.

Click here to learn more about the First-Year Engineering program at Purdue

What are the requirements to transition to my major of choice after First-Year Engineering?

The process for students to select their major is simple and straightforward: Beginning in their second semester on campus, students will fill out on an online form to select their first and second choice engineering majors. That's it! No tests or extra application steps needed.

As long as a student completes all of the First-Year Engineering requirements, they are guaranteed to be placed into their major of choice as long as space is available. For a few of our engineering majors that are at or above enrollment capacity*, admission may be competitive and will be evaluated based on GPA, Engineering Admissions Index (EAI), and other factors.

Complete details about the process can be found on First-Year Engineering's Transition to Major page. There is also a way for students to be guaranteed their first choice major regardless of the major's capacity, as outlined in the Enrollment Management Policy for First-Year Engineering Students.

For students transitioning to their major in Fall 2022, 96.7% of FYE students received their first choice major. Over 90% of FYE students have received their first choice major in each of the last five years.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding the Transition to Major process, don't hesitate to contact us!

*Currently, majors that are near or above capacity limitations are Aeronautical & Astronautical Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Multidisciplinary Engineering. Even still, these majors were still able to accept 85-100% of students who requested them as their first choice in the Spring 2022 Transition to Major cycle.

What are the class sizes like in engineering?

The College of Engineering has a student-to-faculty ratio of 22.8:1 and an average class size of around 45 students.

As a large university, your class sizes will vary from 10 students to 400 students. Generally, class sizes will get smaller as you progress deeper into your major over the years.

Faculty-led lectures in science and math range in size from approximately 150-350 students but are complemented by mandatory recitation sessions that meet once or twice a week. These small-group recitation sessions divide students into classes of 20-30 and are led by teaching assistants to go back over the class material from the week, do group practice problems, and allow a smaller environment for students to ask questions.

Engineering-specific courses will typically be much smaller than the general math and science courses, and exact sizes will also be determined by the overall size of your engineering major.

It's important to note that, while we can't avoid some of the larger class sizes due to the size of our university, we do provide a variety of free resources for our students to get one-on-one support regardless of the class. Those mandatory recitation sections for the large-lecture courses are just one of the ways we try to provide a small-school setting for our students.

Supplemental Instruction (SI) sessions are optional sessions in the evenings that cover many of the more challenging freshman and sophomore level courses and are led by undergraduate students that performed well in the courses.

There are also help rooms for many of the courses and subjects taught on campus (math, physics, thermodynamics, etc.) that are open on weekdays for students to get one-on-one support for homework problems, exam prep, and lecture-related questions. These help rooms are staffed by undergraduate and graduate teaching assistants (TAs).

Faculty and teaching assistants are also easily accessible through regular office hours, e-mail, and phone to answer any questions you may have, too!

There are also plenty of paid tutors available, though it's typically a last resort after trying all of the above options.

Can I double major as an engineering student?

A student who is doing well academically can typically double major in engineering; however, we see it done infrequently due to the extra time to degree. We do have many engineering students that do a variety of value-added minors.

Adding a second degree in physics, math, or liberal arts is typically more efficient. The Degree+ program through the College of Liberal Arts allows engineering students to pick up an additional liberal arts major in a more streamlined fashion, waiving the College of Liberal Arts core requirements and instead only requiring the major-required courses.

We may also encourage students to consider a master's degree rather than two bachelor's depending on their goals. Purdue's College of Engineering does have some 5-year combined BS+MS degree programs.

Pursuing a double-major or a dual-degree program almost always extends graduation times to 4.5 to 5 years, whereas adding on a minor usually does not extend time to degree.

Can I get an engineering degree in four years?

Yes! All undergraduate engineering degrees are designed as four-year programs, including First-Year Engineering. Each major requires 124-132 credit hours, which is a full course load (at least 15 hours per semester) for each of the eight semesters. Many students, for a variety of reasons, elect to take a lighter load and graduate in 4 1/2 - 5 years. The average time to degree is 4.2 years. Being successful and taking advantage of all of the opportunities afforded to you at the University is an important part of your college experience. Keep this in mind as you determine the time it will take you to complete your education. 

What is the honors program for engineering students?

The Goss Scholars Program is the honors version of our First-Year Engineering (FYE) program. Similar in format to our standard FYE plan of study, the Goss Scholars program adds extra depth and rigor to the first-year curriculum. Team projects will be more challenging and incorporate more programming and robotics experiences than the standard FYE curriculum. It's also not just about the classes! Goss Scholars also participate in fun extra-curricular programs and activities and have peer mentors to help them navigate their first year on campus.

Head over to the Goss Scholars Program website for more information about the program.

Students join the Goss Scholars Program in one of two ways: 1) By applying and being admitted to the John Martinson Honors College, or 2) by applying directly to the Goss Scholars Learning Community as an admitted, incoming freshman. If you applied to are an admitted to the Honors College, you will automatically be placed into the Goss Scholars Learning Community.

It's important to note that the Goss Scholars program is only for your freshman year. After that, aside from the opportunity to be a Goss Scholars Mentor, the remainder of your engineering plan of study will be the same as everyone else. If you are in the Purdue Honors College and wish to graduate with honors, you will also pursue the Honors College requirements. The only way to graduate with an honors diploma from Purdue is through the Honors College.

Finances and Outcomes

 

How do I pay for an engineering degree?

Great question! There are a lot of facts to consider, so we've created an entire page dedicated to this topic: Check out our How Do I Pay for a Purdue Engineering Degree page.

How do I apply for scholarships?

All students who submit their application to Purdue by the November 1 Early Application deadline will automatically for University-wide merit scholarships, no separate application required! Those who wish to also be considered for need-based scholarships should fill out the FAFSA by December 15.

There are also many more scholarship opportunities that open up beginning sophomore year when students transition to their engineering major. More information on departmental scholarships and overall college affordability resources can be found on the Engineering Scholarships for Current Students page.

What are the placement rates and starting salaries for Purdue Engineers?

The average starting salary across engineering disciplines for Purdue Engineering graduates for 2021 was approximately $72,000. 97% of engineering students were successfully placed into a job in their field or another chosen plan (graduate school, Peace Corps, military, etc.) within 6 months of graduation. Visit Purdue's Center for Career Opportunities Data Dashboard for more detailed starting salary information.

An engineering degree provides an excellent return on investment (ROI) for its graduates due to reliably strong placement rates and starting salaries. It's a large reason behind why Purdue Engineering attracts students from across the country and around the world - they know that the experiences and opportunities that they will have as students, combined with the high placement rates and starting salaries make it worth the investment for them!

Student Life

 

Do engineering students have free time?

YES! Purdue Engineers are some of the most involved on campus. Our students find themselves involved with professional organizations, community service, bands and orchestras, Greek Life, club and even varsity sports. There is always something going on at Purdue: concerts, sporting events, festivals, speakers, movies, gaming, and fundraisers (i.e. Dance Marathon, Relay for Life). There are cool places to eat right near campus or just a walk down the hill to Historic Downtown Lafayette.

There is so much to do in the surrounding area. Hike along the Wabash Heritage Trail or even howl with the wolves (Really!) at Wolf Park. We even have the largest corn maze in Northwest Indiana (can you believe we pay to get lost in cornfields?). The entire Lafayette community has Boilermaker spirit and enjoys having students here.

What kinds of engineering clubs and organizations are there at Purdue?

Content needed!

Do I need my own computer at Purdue? What kind should I get?

It's not necessary for you to bring your own computer, but it certainly helps. Purdue maintains 20 open computer labs that are available to students at various times. This does not include the open labs that are available in each residence hall for residents. However, most students like to have their own computer for organization and convenience. Either laptop or desktop computers will work depending on a student's preference.

The next big question is Mac or PC. If you’re deeply embedded in the Apple ecosystem and already have a Mac laptop, it will probably be fine but there will likely be some specialized software that’s not compatible. Computer labs with Windows machines are available, and some software is able to be streamed via Software Remote. If you’re looking to buy a new laptop, we’d highly recommend buying a Windows machine.

For more information on hardware and software guidelines, check out the Student PC minimum requirements article from the Engineering IT department. The majority of Purdue's campus has Wi-Fi coverage available for students to use.

Discounts on hardware and software are available for students through Information Technology at Purdue (ITaP), Purdue's IT department. Current and incoming students should hold off on major hardware and software purchases until they have activated their Purdue student account to gain access to a variety of free and heavily-reduced software and hardware discounts.

Do engineering students live in the same residence halls?

There are no engineering-specific residence halls on campus. However, because the College of Engineering is the largest academic college on campus, you will find fellow engineering students on your floor regardless of which residence hall you live in. And since the majority of students on campus take our English, communications, chemistry, and math classes, it won't be hard to find help with homework and exams from your floormates!

There are also several Learning Communities that have live-in components, meaning all students in the same Learning Community will live in the same floor(s) of a residence hall. For more information, visit Engineering Learning Communities. Learning Communities are optional but highly recommended for incoming freshman if any of them sound of interest!