The First Year

Pratt students having lunch with CEE professor Zbigniew Kabala.The first year of study in the Pratt School of Engineering is largely common to all engineers, with seven of the eight first-year courses being completely transferable between the five engineering majors. The first-year curriculum offers:

  • A general education in the fundamentals of mathematics, physics and chemistry, on which the science and practice of engineering are based
  • Instruction in modern engineering problem solving skills, including the use of digital technology for both computational and laboratory applications
  • The opportunity to explore intellectual opportunities in Trinity College, through satisfaction of the university writing requirement and selection of a humanities and social sciences elective

Students predisposed toward a particular Pratt major use the eighth course to begin fulfilling degree requirements for that major as indicated below, while undecided students are encouraged to use this eighth course to aid in their subsequent selection of a major.

First-YEar Curriculum General Layout

First Semester

  • Mathematics 111L
  • Chemistry 101DL
  • Writing 101 or Humanities/Soc. Sci. Elective
  • Engineering 103L [See 'Notes' below]

Second Semester

  • Mathematics 112L
  • Physics 151L
  • Writing 101 or Humanities/Soc. Sci. Elective
  • Technical Course [See 'Technical Course 'below]


  1. All engineering students must take EGR 103L - Computational Methods in Engineering, preferably in the fall semester. Only under special circumstances should students plan to take this course in the spring semester.
  2. The above assumes no Advanced Placement (AP) credit. In the event that such credit is granted for one or more of the above courses, substitutions of upper-level technical requirements can be made or other curricular interests may be pursued. First-year students may email for assistance interpreting AP credit as it pertains to course selection.

Technical Course

The first-year technical course should be selected according to a student's intended major, if known:

  • Undecided: Biology 201L or one of the classes listed below
  • Biomedical Engineering: Biology 201L
  • Civil Engineering: EGR 190
  • Electrical and Computer Engineering: ECE 110L
  • Environmental Engineering: EGR 190
  • Mechanical Engineering: EGR 121L

Duke FOCUS program

Our engineering students do participate in the Duke FOCUS Program, and find it is an incredible enhancement to their engineering studies.

Duke FOCUS ProgramThe program is an exciting opportunity for first-semester Duke students to be exposed to ideas from across the humanities, natural sciences and social sciences. FOCUS offers interdisciplinary clusters that nurture intellectual curiosity and a sense of academic adventure. Each cluster provides a range of interrelated seminars and features a community element while fulfilling curriculum requirements.

Engineering students may apply to participate in any of the FOCUS clusters, but students with fewer than two (2) AP credits should discuss with an academic dean how FOCUS courses will impact their engineering degree requirements. Contact a Pratt academic dean.

At Pratt, FOCUS courses can be used to satisfy social science/humanities electives, or free electives, depending on the course or courses.  In addition, if a student chooses the engineering-themed FOCUS cluster, it could count toward the BME departmental elective requirement.

Learn more about the Duke FOCUS Program at its website.