The Computer Engineering Major 2013-14

Associate professor Jacob Rosen's Bionics Lab. Photo by Elena Zhukova.

The computer engineering curriculum's focus is making digital systems that work. The program's emphasis on interdisciplinary system design provides both excellent training for future engineers and strong background for graduate study. The computer engineering program is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET.)

Study and Research Opportunities

  • B.S., M.S., Ph.D.
  • An accelerated combined B.S./M.S. degree in computer engineering is available that enables eligible undergraduates to move without interruption to the graduate program.
  • Five concentrations: robotics and control, systems programming, computer systems, networks, digital hardware
  • Minor in computer engineering

Admission to the Jack Baskin School of Engineering (BSOE)

Please see the current UC Santa Cruz General Catalog for a full description of the BSOE admissions policy.

Freshman Applicants: Once at UCSC, students will be accepted into the major based on grade-point average in selected lower-division mathematics, physics, and programming courses required for the major.

Transfer Applicants: Admission into the major will be based on the student’s academic college record. Applicants are encouraged to take and excel in as many courses that are equivalent to the department’s lower-division courses (see Transfer Preparation section) as possible. Only students who have completed a minimum of four courses required for the major will be considered for admission to the major.

High School Preparation

It is recommended that high school students intending to apply to the BSOE have completed four years of mathematics (through advanced algebra and trigonometry) and three years of science in high school, if possible one year each of chemistry, physics, and biology. Comparable college mathematics and science courses completed at other institutions may be accepted in place of high school preparation. Students without this preparation may be required to take additional courses to prepare themselves for the program. Students who would otherwise not be able to enroll in Mathematics 19A, Calculus for Scientists and Engineers, should consider taking precalculus during the summer before coming to UCSC.

Transfer Preparation

The BSOE strongly encourages applications from transfer students. Due to the prerequisite structure for upper-division courses, it is necessary for prospective transfer students to have completed as many of the lower-division requirements for the computer engineering major as possible in order to complete the degree within a reasonable time. Students must plan carefully because many courses must be taken sequentially. Applicants must take and excel in as many courses for the major as possible. Completion of mathematics courses through differential equations and linear algebra as well as physics is particularly important.

Transfer students seeking to major in computer engineering should plan to complete the following foundation courses prior to transfer:

  • Mathematics 19A-B, Calculus for Science, Engineering, and Mathematics (two quarters)
  • Applied Mathematics and Statistics 10, Mathematical Methods for Engineers I
  • Applied Mathematics and Statistics 20, Mathematical Methods for Engineers II
  • Physics 5A/L, Introduction to Physics, and Physics 5C/M

Transfer students should not follow the Intersegmental General Education Transfer Curriculum (IGETC) because it will not provide transfer students with enough mathematics and engineering courses to allow them to complete these programs at UC Santa Cruz in two years.

Transfer students should focus on articulated lower-division courses for the major listed on the web site For a complete list of lower-division courses for the major, visit

Mission and Program Objectives

Computer engineering focuses on the design, analysis, and application of computers and on their applications as components of systems. The UC Santa Cruz Department of Computer Engineering sustains and strengthens its teaching and research program to provide students with inspiration and quality education in the theory and practice of computer engineering.

The program objectives of the UCSC B.S. in computer engineering are:

  1. Graduates who choose to pursue a career in industry, government, or academia will become successful engineers, scientists, or educators who demonstrate strong leadership, technical, and team skills, and a commitment to continuing professional development.
  2. Graduates who choose to pursue advanced degrees will gain admission to graduate programs and will be successful graduate students.


  • Assistive technologies
  • Communications design
  • Computer hardware and software
  • Computer system design
  • Control system design
  • Digital electronics
  • Embedded system design
  • Environmental monitoring
  • FPGA design
  • Multimedia
  • Nanotechnology
  • Network administration and security
  • Remote sensing
  • Robotics and autonomous systems
  • Signal/image/video processing
  • Wireless communications

These are only samples of the field’s many possibilities.

Internships, Fieldwork, and Education Abroad Opportunities

Many students find internships and fieldwork to be a valuable part of their academic experience. They work closely with faculty and career advisers in the UC Santa Cruz Career Center to identify existing opportunities and often to create their own internships with local companies or in nearby Silicon Valley. For more information about internships, visit

BSOE students may wish to develop their cross-cultural competency, typically via the Education Abroad Program (EAP). Interested students must work very closely with the faculty and academic advisers in their major very early during the freshman or sophomore year to create a plan for transferability of course work towards graduation. For more EAP information, visit

Undergraduate Research

Departmental faculty are focused on multidisciplinary hardware and software research including computer system design, design technologies, computer networks, embedded and autonomous systems, digital media and sensor technology, assistive technologies, and robotics. Many undergraduates contribute to Computer Engineering Department research activities as independent study students or paid employees, for example as part of the National Science Foundation-funded Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship in Information Technology,

Student Organizations

Many undergraduates work with engineering and science faculty on their research projects, analyzing ideas, developing technologies, and discovering new approaches. Undergraduates from UCSC and other schools may take part in SURF-IT (see Undergraduate Research above), or in the UC LEADS program, while others are recruited by faculty directly out of classes.

Computer Engineering students and faculty are particularly active in UCSC chapters of the Institute for Electrical and Electronic Engineers, National Society of Black Engineers, Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, Society of Women Engineers, and Tau Beta Pi Honor Society, as well as the many mentoring and support programs in the Baskin School of Engineering and at UCSC.

Alum Focus

Dr. Aman Shaikh (M.S., computer engineering, ’00; Ph.D., computer science, ’03), is a member of Network Measurement and Engineering at AT&T Labs–Research.

More Information

Undergraduate Advising Office
Jack Baskin School of Engineering
1156 High Street
Santa Cruz, California 95064
(831) 459-5840

See Also