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Program: B.S., Electrical Engineering

Program Description

“Nowadays the world is lit by lightning,” playwright Tennessee Williams wrote. But electrical and computer engineers prove him wrong every day.

From city lights to satellites, semiconductors, telephone switching systems and audio equipment, their work depends on electricity and the engineers who design and develop ways to harness its power.

Electrical Engineering majors at CSUN receive a solid, broad-based education. Among the many topic areas in the basic curriculum are mathematics, physics, chemistry, computer programming, engineering materials, electrical circuits, engineering mechanics, thermodynamics, engineering economy and numerical analysis. At the senior level, students are required to take an approved concentration in one of the Electrical and Computer Engineering options: Biomedical Engineering, Communications, Digital Systems Design, Control Systems, Electronics, Microwave and Antenna Engineering, or Power Systems.

The ECE department has 17 labs associated with its ECE classes. In the labs, students work alongside professors who may be designing medical instrumentation for healthcare, designing microcontroller-based applications, developing pager and satellite communications systems, or working on innovations in electrical power systems.

All students in the EE or CompE programs take part in the Department’s senior design program, modeled on industry work groups that students will encounter on the job. Like professional engineers, students design and develop a project from conception through manufacture. In the process, they gain valuable experience in working as a team and dealing with personalities, as well as technical areas.

Senior design projects have included national intercollegiate competitions. Students compete in designing a micromouse and training it to run through a 10-square-foot maze. Students also work on interdisciplinary teams to design, build, program and test an unmanned autonomous helicopter. Other projects include developing a sophisticated stereo system, a control system for a satellite tracking antenna, a television tuner, fabrication of a hybrid circuit, software-defined radio, etc.

Program Requirements

High School Preparation

It must be emphasized that this program is based on an expectation of adequate high school preparation in science, mathematics and English. High school courses should include algebra, plane geometry, trigonometry, chemistry or physics (all desirable), and four years of English. Students who have not had an adequate background of pre-engineering work in high school may be required to take some additional coursework in their first year and may not be able to complete an engineering program in 8 semesters. Entering beginning engineering students must take or be exempt from the Entry Level Mathematics Test and the Mathematics, Chemistry and English Placement Tests before registration in basic courses will be permitted.

Pre-registration Testing Requirements

CSUN requires most beginning students to take the Entry Level Mathematics Exam (ELM)* and the English Placement Test (EPT)* prior to enrolling in their courses. Refer to Test Requirements for further details on these exams.

*Effective Fall 2018, the ELM and EPT Exams have been replaced with Multiple Measures Assessment.

In addition to these general University requirements, students in any of the engineering programs may also need the following exams:

  1. The Mathematics Placements Test (MPT) is required prior to enrollment in MATH 150A. Students who have passed or are exempt from the ELM should take this exam prior to enrolling in their classes so they may be placed in the appropriate mathematics course. Students with scores of 3, 4 or 5 on the AP Calculus AB or BC tests are exempt from the MPT.
  2. The Chemistry Placement Test (CPT) is required with a score of 40 or higher prior to enrolling in CHEM 101. Students who do not receive this score must receive a grade of “C” or better in CHEM 100 before taking CHEM 101.

Transfer Requirements

All degree programs in engineering accommodate students beginning as freshmen or as transfer students. Transfer students should have completed lower division writing, mathematics, physics and chemistry courses. Courses that are transferred into the major are reviewed to ensure that they satisfy the same requirements as courses at CSUN. Courses transferred into the engineering major must have been completed with a grade of “C” or better.

Special Grade Requirements

No grade lower than a “C” will be accepted for transfer classes from another institution to the Electrical and Computer Engineering major requirements. No CSUN grade lower than a “C-” will be accepted as satisfactory for courses required for the major. More stringent prerequisite requirements may apply to some courses.

Course Requirements

The B.S. in Electrical Engineering program requires a minimum of 126 units total, including General Education and Title 5 requirements of 27 units, an Electrical Engineering core of 81 units and a minimum of 18 units of approved electives. Electrical Engineering majors must complete a minimum of 39 semester units of upper division engineering courses in residency, including Senior Design Project I and II.

Additional information about this program and its facilities, faculty and students can be found on the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering website.

1. Lower Division Required Courses (44 units)

Note: All students must pass the English Placement Test with a score of 151 or above before enrolling in any 200-level engineering courses.

Freshman Year

CHEM 101/L General Chemistry and Lab (4/1)
ECE 101/L Introduction to Electrical Engineering and Lab (1/1)
ECE 206/L Computing for Electrical Engineering and Lab (2/1)
MATH 150A Calculus I (5)
MATH 150B Calculus II (5)
PHYS 220A/AL Mechanics and Lab (3/1)

Sophomore Year

2. Upper Division Required Courses (37 units)

Note: All students must complete the lower division writing requirement before enrolling in any 300-level engineering courses, and they must attempt the Upper Division Writing Proficiency Exam before the completion of 75 units or enrolling in any 400-level engineering courses. If students fail to do so, a hold is placed on their subsequent class registration and this may delay their graduation.

Junior Year

ECE 309 Numerical Methods in Electrical Engineering (2)
ECE 320/L Theory of Digital Systems and Lab (3/1)
ECE 340/L Electronics I and Lab (3/1)
ECE 350 Linear Systems I (3)
ECE 351 Linear Systems II (3)
MSE 304 Engineering Economy (3)
ECE 455 Mathematical Models in Electrical Engineering (3)

Select one of the following 3 unit courses:

ME 370 Thermodynamics (3)
ME 376 Heat Transfer in Electrical and Electronic Systems (3)

Senior Year

The senior core consists of a set of courses considered essential for all students seeking a career in electrical engineering.

ECE 370 Electromagnetic Fields and Waves I (3)
ECE 450 Probabilistic Systems in Electrical Engineering (3)
ECE 480 Fundamentals of Control Systems (3)
ECE 492 Senior Design Project—Electrical I (2)
ECE 493 Senior Design Project—Electrical II (1)

3. Upper Division Electives (18 units)

The senior elective packages must contain at least 18 400-/500-level department courses and labs that are well balanced in both design and analysis. One of the electives must be either ECE 440/L (3/1) or ECE 442/L (3/1). Students will be required to take the corresponding labs for every elective chosen that offers a lab. For each lab taken, the corresponding lecture course is a corequisite. The student’s total engineering program should contain at least 18 units of engineering design.

Note: Students can take ECE 370L and/or ECE 480L as part of their senior electives.

All senior electives must be completed with a faculty advisor and approved by the department chair or designee. A number of examples of suggested senior elective packages in the Electrical Engineering degree are available in the department office. Other programs also are possible and may be developed with an advisor.

4. General Education (48 units)

Undergraduate students must complete 48 units of General Education as described in this Catalog.
Electrical Engineering majors follow a modified General Education program depending upon the year and enrollment status as a college student. Returning and transfer students should consult an advisor before planning their General Education programs.

Electrical Engineering students are required to take courses in the following GE sections: Analytical Reading and Expository Writing (3 units); Oral Communication (3 units); Social Sciences (3 units); Arts and Humanities (6 units); Comparative Cultural Studies (6 units); and U.S. History and Local Government (6 units). All other GE requirements are met through completion of courses in the major. Nine of the GE units must be at the upper division level and two courses must meet the Information Competency requirement.

Total Units in the Major: 99

General Education Units: 27

Total Units Required for the Degree: 126


Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Chair: Sembiam Rengarajan
Jacaranda Hall (JD) 4509
(818) 677-2190

Student Learning Outcomes

Educational Objective

The Electrical Engineering program at California State University, Northridge, prepares a diverse group of graduates for lifelong careers in a field that will allow them to make productive contributions to society and to find personal satisfaction in their work. To accomplish this, graduates of the electrical engineering programs will meet the following educational objectives:

The electrical engineering program strives to prepare graduates who will:

  1. Have professional careers in electrical engineering or related technical fields, or continue their studies at the graduate level.
  2. Continue their professional development throughout their careers.

Student Outcomes

Graduates of the Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering program at CSUN will have:

  1. An ability to apply knowledge of math, science, and engineering to the analysis of electrical engineering problems.
  2. An ability to design and conduct scientific and engineering experiments, as well as to analyze and interpret data.
  3. An ability to design systems which include hardware and/or software components within realistic constraints such as cost, manufacturability, safety and environmental concerns.
  4. An ability to function in multidisciplinary teams.
  5. An ability to identify, formulate, and solve electrical engineering problems.
  6. An understanding of ethical and professional responsibility.
  7. An ability to communicate effectively through written reports and oral presentations.
  8. An understanding of the impact of engineering in a social context.
  9. A recognition of the need for and an ability to engage in lifelong learning.
  10. A broad education and knowledge of contemporary issues.
  11. An ability to use modern engineering techniques for analysis and design.