Making a Formal Application

Students are encouraged to apply as soon as they have identified their technical sequences and faculty advisor, and have completed the courses identified in the proposal form. Applications must be submitted prior to the semester the student intends to complete the requirements for the major. Students intending to graduate at the end of the spring semester need to submit their application by November 1 of the previous fall semester. Students intending to graduate at the end of the fall semester need to submit their application by April 1 of the previous spring semester.

Creating your Proposal

Complete the proposal form

The proposal form must show that you have (or will have at the current semester's end) completed at least the primary writing requirement, three math courses (including one in differential equations), four courses in physics or chemistry (with at least one in each), and two core courses by the time the proposal is submitted. These courses are indicated by an asterisk on the application.

A GPA of at least 2.7 in the above listed courses and an overall GPA of 2.0 are required for admission. If you are unsure, apply anyway and let the Interdepartmental Engineering (IDE) Committee review your plan and offer its advice.

Write your statement of focus

The statement of focus should respond to the following:

  • Briefly discuss your long term educational and career goals. (Although the committee will judge your program based on its academic merit, the committee also serves in an advisory role.)
  • Explain why these goals cannot be achieved within an existing departmental major, or within a combination of a departmental major and a minor and/or certificate.
  • Discuss how you propose to integrate the courses you have listed into a unified course of study. Explain how you propose to make your major more than just a series of courses in different departments. You should give details about the courses you have taken, as well as those you have not taken. Explain how the courses will form a major, by relating each course to the larger picture. You may compile information on courses you haven’t already taken from past and current course descriptions, and most important, from your faculty advisers. Your notes and course syllabi from courses already taken are all valuable resources.

Expressing your program clearly and concisely is an important factor in the approval process. You are strongly recommended to consult with your faculty advisers, as well as with advisers in the Hajim School Dean’s Office in writing this essay. Proposals with poorly written essays will not be approved.

Write a description of your senior thesis/design project

This part of the application is a written summary of an independent study or an individual or group design project under the supervision of an appropriate faculty member during your senior year.

Secure a letter of support from a faculty member

Your letter of support should preferably be from the faculty member overseeing your senior thesis or design project.

Submit your proposal

Merge the above documents into a single pdf file with the filename “IDE Proposal – Your Name.pdf". Attach that file to an email and send to In the subject line, write “IDE Proposal: Your Name.”

Proposal Review and Approval

When reviewing proposals, the committee takes all the elements into account the:

  • Title of proposed major
  • Proposed courses
  • Senior project proposal description
  • Faculty letter of support
  • Statement of focus

While IDE proposals are occasionally turned down, it is more likely that the committee may ask you to revise your course list before granting approval. If the IDE Committee has questions or concerns about your proposed program, the chair of the committee will contact you.

All students admitted to the IDE program must earn a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.0 for all courses in the sequences, the eight required core courses, the upper level writing courses, the computational analysis course, and the senior thesis/design project.

Once an IDE program is approved, you will need to transfer the courses from your IDE Proposal form to the online major declaration form. Please list the courses in the order they appear on the form, and do not include any that are not listed (i.e.: cluster courses, free electives, primary writing, etc.). Additional information about filling out this form can be found in the Major/Minor Declaration Student Instructions (PDF).

If you find that you need to petition for a course substitution after your major is declared, please write a short letter to the Interdepartmental Engineering Committee with the rationale for your request, and email it to While a note of endorsement from your faculty advisor is not required, it is recommended.