The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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MIE Undergraduate FAQ

Gen Ed Requirements

Q: What is the significance of the AL, HS, SB, AT, G and U designations?
AL, HS, SB, AT, G and U are designations for the social world and diversity general education courses. All students must complete 6 social world courses, one of which must have the G, or global, diversity designation. Another must have the U, or United States, diversity designation. The ME and IE flowchart notes detail the university social world requirements. More information can also be found in the Guide to Undergraduate Programs in the section on University Graduation Requirements or on the Registrar’s Website under General Education Requirements.

Q: How can I find courses which have a specific Gen Ed designation?
The online course catalog (accessible from the Spire front page) shows the Gen Ed designation for all courses that have Gen Ed designations. To find all courses with a specific Gen Ed designation, e.g. AL, select the Gen Ed designation using the Advanced Search option under "Search Schedule of Classes" in Spire.

Q: Are the BS and SB designations the same?
No. SB is Social and Behavior Science. BS is Biological Science.

Q: What are the I and SI designations?
I and SI are the designations for interdisciplinary and science interdisciplinary general education courses. None are required of all students but as many as 3 I or SI courses can be used in place of other social world courses (see the Registrar’s Website under General Education Requirements). Interdisciplinary courses are required of Commonwealth College students. See the Commonwealth College website for details.

Course Prerequisites

Q : Can I take a course if I haven’t taken one of the prerequisite courses?
In general, you may not take a course unless you have passed all prerequisite courses. In exceptional cases, the instructor may choose to waive the prerequisite.

Q: Spire lets me register for a course. Does this mean I’ve satisfied the prerequisites and can enroll?
No it does not. Spire does not enforce all prerequisites. It is the student’s responsibility to insure that all prerequisites are satisfied. A student who has not satisfied prerequisites can be dropped from the course by the instructor.

Q: What is the difference between a prerequisite and a corequisite?
A prerequisite for course must be completed successfully before the course begins. A corequisite can be taken concurrently. Prerequisites are shown with solid lines on the flowchart. Corequisites are shown with dashed lines.

Q: I failed a course last semester. Do I need to change the courses which I registered for during the preregistration period?
If you have failed a course or need to repeat a course, you should see your advisor to discuss your program. If the course you failed is a prerequisite for one of more of the courses you had planned to take, you must either drop those courses or obtain permission from the instructor to remain enrolled. A student who has not satisfied prerequisites can be dropped from the course by the instructor.

Scheduled Course Offerings

Q: The flow chart indicates that I need to take a specific MIE course this semester and it is not available. What do I do?
The flow charts do not indicate when a course must be taken but the arrows on the flowcharts do indicate course sequences. Many required courses are offered both semesters. By choosing in which semester to take a course, students may better balance their course loads or benefit from being in a class with a lighter enrollment.
If a course is full or not offered, students can generally simply take the course during a subsequent semester without any effect on graduation date. Students can select any other course for which they have satisfied the prerequisites. To facilitate planning, the lists of required courses which will be offered each semester are included in the department registration notes which are published just prior to the registration period and which are available on the department web site.

Q: A course which I need this semester is full. What do I do?
Please see Kevin Romani (ELab 208F) immediately to explain why no alternative scheduling is viable and to have your name placed on a waiting list.

Q: What should I do if scheduling issues make it impossible for me to enroll for a full slate of courses?
The department will help students resolve any problems of this kind, most especially any problems that could not have been avoided. Please see Kevin Romani (ELab 208F) or Dr. Schliemann (Gunness Lab 7) as soon as any problems arise. We cannot fix problems we are unaware of or which were not brought to our attention in a timely manner.

Alternatives to Previously Approved Electives

Q: What courses can be used to satisfy the ME Technical Elective requirement?
Courses which satisfy the ME Technical Elective requirement are listed in the ME flowchart notes. Special topic courses which satisfy the ME Technical Elective requirement are generally listed on the registration notes. Honors thesis research and some other independent study work can be accepted for ME Technical Elective credit. See Professor Schliemann for approval.

Q: What courses can be used to satisfy the MIE Elective requirement in the ME degree program?
Any 3 credit MIE course satisfies the MIE Elective requirement in the ME degree program. Linear Algebra (Math 235) and the Engineering minor capstone course are also acceptable. Other courses may be acceptable. See Dr. Schliemann for approval.

Q: Which courses satisfy the Tech Elective requirements in IE?
Upper level technical courses in MIE, other engineering departments, Computer Science, Exercise Science, Math and the natural sciences are generally acceptable. The IE flowchart lists acceptable IE Technical Electives.  See Dr. Schliemann for approval of courses not listed on the flow chart.

Q: I’d like to take a course from another department in place of one of the pre-approved electives. How do I obtain permission?
See Dr. Schliemann in Gunness Lab 7 with a copy of your degree progress report.


Q: How can I find out who my advisor is?
Your faculty advisor can be found on Spire under "Academics." During the registration period, students will be assigned to a graduate student academic advisor to meet with for course selection.

Q: I can’t meet my advisor during the preregistration period. What should I do?
If for some reason you cannot meet your advisor at any of the times he or she has made available during the registration period you should contact your advisor via phone or email prior to the registration period to set up an alternative time to meet. The likely consequence of failing to meet with your advisor during the registration period is that you will be unable to register until you have met with your advisor and the add/drop period has begun.

Commonwealth Honors College, Department Honors

Q: What is Commonwealth Honors College of Engineering?
Commonwealth Honors College is the Honors College of the University. Engineering students can also be Commonwealth College Students.

Q: How can I find out about Commonwealth College admission and requirements?
Details about Commonwealth College can be found at their web site,

Q: What is the departmental honors track?
The departmental honors tracks allow students to focus their scholarly commonwealth college work in a department and to have that recognized on their diplomas. The departmental honors track requirements can be found at the Commonwealth Honors College website, In brief, ME and IE departmental honors students satisfy two honors course requirements by enrolling in two 1 credit colloquia associated with regular ME or IE courses. Departmental honors students also complete a 6 credit thesis in place of two 3 credit Tech Elective courses. Dr. Schliemann is the MIE department honors coordinator. See him to discuss any aspect of the honors programs.

Independent Study, Theses, Projects

Q: What is an independent study?
An independent study is a course of study, a research project, a design project or some other independent activity executed for credit that is arranged with and supervised by a faculty member. If the scope and topic is suitable, independent studies can satisfy degree requirements, for example a technical elective in the ME or IE program .

Q: How do I arrange an independent study?
Any student wishing to do an independent study should speak with a faculty member or faculty members in the study area. After the student and faculty member agree on the scope and deliverables of the project or study, the student should write a brief description of the project and deliverables. The student should then register by completing the appropriate form which can be obtained from Kevin Romani in ELab 208F.

Q: Must I be a member of Commonwealth Honors College to undertake an honors thesis?
All students are eligible to undertake a thesis. A thesis is arranged with an individual faculty member in the same manner that independent study projects are arranged. Thesis document preparation guidelines can be obtained from Commonwealth College.

Engineering Management Minor

Q: How can I find out more about the Engineering Management minor?
The MIE contact for the Engineering Management minor is Professor Ana Muriel. Information is also available on the College of Engineering website.


Q: I’m going on co-op. Do I need to tell someone?
Contact Ms. Beach in Marston 126 to have your status changed so that you can re-enter the university without reapplying.

Q: How do I arrange for a co-op?
A College of Engineering staff member helps to arrange co-ops. Please make an appointment by visiting Marston 126. Career services also helps to coordinate co-op positions.

Q: Can I earn academic credit by going on co-op?
Students employed in paid co-op positions cannot also earn academic credit for their co-op. Students in community service or unpaid intern positions may be eligible for academic credit if their work is supervised by an engineering professional. See Dr. Schliemann for approval before the work begins.