Who Is It For?

The Bachelor of Arts in General Engineering is a true liberal arts degree, but with a focus on engineering, and is intended for students who:

  • Seek a background in engineering and technology, but are not planning a careers as a professional engineers;
  • Plan to pursue further studies in architecture, business, law (e.g. intellectual property, patent law), or medicine; or
  • Want to work in an area related to engineering and technology—such as public policy—and thrive in the global industrial economy.

This is not an engineering degree and is not suitable for employment as a professional engineer and the program is not accredited by ABET. Students interested in a career as a professional engineer should pursue a BS degree in any of our engineering majors.

Program Features


Your course requirements for the Bachelor of Arts in General Engineering encourage breadth and diversity. Approximately 17 percent of required credits are in mathematics or statistics, 12 percent in the natural sciences, 20 percent in the humanities and/or social sciences, 8 percent in international studies (language or other area), and 30 percent in engineering. The remaining requirements are in free electives.


This major gives you the flexibility to define a program of study, in consultation with your advisor, in which you can deepen and pursue your interests. Your engineering concentration and your humanities and social science requirements may be departmentally-based, or they may be designed around a theme that is defined by you and your advisor. Students in this program may minor in any area of their choosing.

Interdisciplinary Study

The distribution requirements make the program ideal for students who seek to explore areas at the interface of a variety of technical fields (such as robotics, nanotechnology, and biomaterials) and/or the connections between a technical area and a discipline in the humanities or social sciences.

International Dimensions of Engineering

As a General Engineering major, you are required to develop a knowledge of the international dimensions of engineering. You can accomplish this by studying abroad or by taking a combination of language and other classes that help deepen your understanding of the culture and technologies of a foreign country.

General Engineering Requirements

Mathematics and statistics are at the very core of modern science and technology and a solid foundation is required to understand how contemporary engineering problems are solved.  Students are required to take five courses (a minimum of 20 credits) including:

– 110.108 Calculus I

– 110.109 Calculus II

– One course in statistics

– One course at the 200-level or above in either mathematics or statistics

– One mathematics or statistics elective

– Students are strongly advised to take a calculus-based statistics course

The natural sciences, particularly physics and chemistry, form the foundation for most engineering disciplines.  In more recent times, biology has become an increasingly important component of modern technology. Students must therefore be familiar with these areas and be trained in fundamental laboratory techniques. Students are required to take four courses and two laboratory courses (a minimum of 15 credits) including:

– 171.101 General Physics I and at least one course chosen from 030.101 Introductory Chemistry, 510.101 Introduction to Materials Chemistry, or 020.151 General Biology

– Two terms of laboratory course; and

– Two elective courses (area code N)

The Humanities and Social Sciences play a particularly important role in the education of an individual in the BA in General Engineering.  Students are strongly encouraged to include at least one course in economics and one in the history of science and technology.


Students must complete at least four (minimum of 12 credits) writing intensive courses (catalog code W).  Since competence in written communication is essential for the BA in General Engineering graduate, at least one of these courses must specifically develop writing skills. Although this course must be designated as a writing intensive course, this designation is not sufficient to guarantee the desirable level of intensity in writing instruction. Three courses that do satisfy this requirement are:

– 661.110 Technical Communication

– 060.113-114 Expository Writing and

– 220.105 Introduction to Fiction and Poetry: Telling it Straight.

(The writing course for non-native writers, 060.100 Basic Expository Writing, may be used by non-native English speakers to fulfill elective requirements, but cannot be used to fulfill the designated writing intensive course requirement.) A student wishing to use any other course to satisfy this writing requirement must have written permission from his/her advisor.


The Humanities and Social Science portion of the program is of great importance in broadening the student’s education and in stimulating the development of a critical and inquisitive mind as well as incisive analytical skills. In order to best attain these objectives, humanities and social science courses must be chosen as a coherent group in one area of concentration. A minimum of four courses (12 credits) must be taken, of which two are at the advanced (300+) level.  

Example areas:

– Africana Studies

– Anthropology

– Asian Studies

– Economics

– Geography

– History and Philosophy of Science

– Ancient, Classical, Medieval and Renaissance studies

– International Relations

– Latin American Studies

– Moral and Political Philosophy

– Political Institutions

– Psychology

– Sociology

– Eighteenth, Nineteenth, and Twentieth Century studies


Students must add three additional full courses (minimum 9 credits) in either the humanities or social sciences.  These electives are typically used to take courses in economics and the history of science and technology, depending on the courses chosen to fulfill the concentration requirements detailed above.

Because of the importance of the globalization of technology, all students completing the BA in General Engineering are required to demonstrate competence in being able to address technical issues within the context of another society. This can be done in three different ways.

1. Students are encouraged to study abroad for a minimum of one fall or one spring semester in any foreign country (other than Canada). In that country, they must take the equivalent of a minimum of 12 credits which are transferred to their Johns Hopkins transcript. In this case, these credits can satisfy any degree requirements (humanities or social sciences, engineering concentration, mathematics, free electives, etc.). Additional free electives must be taken to ensure that the student graduates with a minimum of 120 credits.

2. Students can complete the equivalent of two semesters of the same foreign language (students may not use language courses in their native language to satisfy this requirement) and one additional course which relates to the culture, economy, social structure or politics of a country which uses this foreign language (minimum of nine credits).

3. Students can demonstrate proficiency in a foreign language by taking an intermediate course in a foreign language (this can include their native tongue) and two additional courses which relate to the culture, economy, social structure or politics of a country which uses this foreign language (see the list below for examples;  minimum of nine credits).

Africa and the Middle East 070.301 Envisioning African Diaspora 070.334 Urban Africa 100.121 History of Africa 190.311 Middle East Politics 360.375 Parks, Products and People: Debating Environmental Change in Africa

Asia 070.339 Introduction to Indian History and Civilization 070.341 The Other Japan 100.131 History of East Asia 100.219 The Chinese Cultural revolution 140.324 Electronic Identities in Japan: Consumer Culture and Business 190.336 Chinese Foreign Policy

Europe 070.308 Recasting Europe 100.104 History of Occidental Civilization: Modern Europe

Latin and South America 070.313 Community and Governance in Latin America 100.115 History of Latin America 100.243 Brazil for Beginners

All Regions (no more than one can count toward International Dimensions) 190.209 Contemporary International Politics 190.316 An Introduction to Globalization 190.323 Introduction to International Law

The program requires a core of fundamental courses in the engineering sciences as well as a coherent group of related courses planned in consultation with the student’s faculty advisor.


Introduction to Engineering (one course) 500.101 What is Engineering? 500.111 Energy and the Environment 500.141 Perspectives on the Evolution of Structures 510.102 From the Stone Age to the Age of Silicon: Materials and Their Influence on Technology 520.137 Introduction to Electrical and Computer Engineering 570.108 Introduction to Environmental Engineering 530.101 Freshman Experiences in Mechanical Engineering

Computer Language (one course) 600.107 Introduction to Programming in Java 500.200 Computing for Engineers and Scientists (Note that 600.101 Computer Fluency does not meet this requirement.)

Fundamentals of Engineering Science (three courses) (Student must choose no more than one course from the following four groups.)

520.213 Circuits,

530.201 Statics and Mechanics of Materials,

either 510.301 Introduction to Engineering Materials or 510.311 Structure of Materials, or

either 530.231 Mechanical Engineering Thermodynamics or 540.203 Engineering Thermodynamics


The concentration in engineering must consist of at least six courses (minimum of 20 credits) which are related thematically or departmentally to an engineering discipline; at least three of which must be at the advanced level (300 or above). While the selection of courses must be approved by the faculty advisor, students can be guided by the “E” area designator on courses in their selection of appropriate courses.

While examples of concentrations are provided below, students are encouraged to develop their own concentrations in consultation with their faculty advisor.


Biotechnology 510.104 Introductory lectures in biomaterials 520.214 Signals and Systems 540.431 Biochemical Eng/Biotechnology 510.431 Biocompatibility 510.316 Biomaterials I 510.407 Biomaterials II 580.441 Cell Engineering 580.442 Tissue Engineering

Imaging 520.214 Signals and Systems 520.432 Medical Imaging Systems 600.226 Data Structures 600.410 Sensory Engineering 600.357 Computer Graphics 600.461 Computer Vision

Computer Technology 520.142 Digital System Fundamentals 520.214 Signals and Systems 520.349 Microprocessor Lab. 520.372 Programmable Device Lab. 600.333 Computer System Fundamentals 600.344 Computer Networks

Nanotechnology 510.201 Introduction to Engineering Materials 510.311 Structure of Materials 540.440 Chem. Eng. for Micro and Nanotech. 540.438 Interfacial Phenomena in Nanotech. 530.487 Introduction to MEMS 510.404 Micro and Nanostructured Materials

Electro-Mechanical Devices 520.142 Digital System Fundamentals 520.214 Signals and Systems 520.345 ECE Lab. 520.372 Programmable Device Lab. 530.420 Robot Actuators and Sensors 530.421 Mechatronics Robotics 520.142 Digital System Fundamentals 520.214 Signals and Systems 600.226 Data Structures 520.372 Programmable Device Lab. 530.420 Robot Actuators and Sensors 530.421 Mechatronics

Engineering Science 520.214 Signals and Systems 560.202 Dynamics 530.327 Intro. to Fluid Mechanics 510.301 Intro. to Engineering Materials 530.405 Mechanics of Solids and Structures 520.219 Fields, Matter and Waves

Structural Mechanics 560.202 Dynamics 560.206 Solid Mech. and Theory of Structures 510.301 Intro. to Eng. Materials 560.320 Steel Structures 560.435 Probability and Statistics in CE 560.445 Advanced Structural Analysis

Environmental Engineering 570.239 Current and Emerging Env. Issues 570.301 Env. Engineering I: Fundamentals 570.353 Hydrology 530.328 Fluid Mechanics II 570.432 Sediment Transport and River Mech.

The BA with a major in engineering requires students to take between five and nine courses in any area such that the total number of credits earned is at least 120. Typically, students who have studied abroad will have more free electives than those who have met the International Dimensions requirement through coursework.

Students must select these courses in consultation with their advisor. These free electives are designed to allow students to develop a curriculum of study uniquely suited to their interests.

Get More Information About General Engineering Program

All undergraduate students majoring in the Bachelor of Arts in General Engineering must follow a program approved by their advisor. Your advisor can be any member of the faculty committee overseeing the BA in General Engineering, or any faculty member approved by them.