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Liberal Arts and Engineering Studies Program

Freedom to Choose / Freedom to Create / Freedom to Travel

Current Students


LAES students must select one Engineering concentration and one Liberal Arts concentration. However, how they choose those concentrations can vary:


Pre-defined Concentrations or Individualized Course of Study (ICS)

Students may choose from a list of pre-defined concentrations created to make it easier for students who want to follow a career path in those areas. 

Students also have the option to follow an ICS concentration in Engineering and/or Liberal Arts for specific catalog years. An ICS concentration allows students more freedom to hand-pick the classes and build the curriculum they want to take in each college to personalize a concentration that better fits their career goals outside the pre-defined ones. For clarity surrounding LAES Concentrations visit, LAES Concentrations.

Sample course combinations for specific focus areas are listed on the Prospective Students page.

  • Students following this path must consult further with LAES advisors (Michael Haungs/David Gilette) and complete the total units (and upper-level units) required for the Liberal Arts concentration.
  • Students should seek advising assistance as early as possible to help them select/develop a suitable concentration.
  • Enrollment in courses is not guaranteed.

The LAES Concentration and Study Abroad Declaration form is specific to each catalog year. It must be submitted to the Registrar once a Change of Major (ICMA) contract has been completed. Visit the Advising page for more details.


Declaring and Updating a Concentration

By requesting access to the ICMA or your DPR form. Please note and select the correct catalog:

2019-2021 Catalogs: PowerForm - LAES Concentration Declaration 19-21

2021-2026 Catalogs: PowerForm - LAES Concentration Declaration 21-26

NOTE: Once submitted, advisors will review the request to approve or require edits.


Additional Information

For any additional information on the topics below, visit the Prospective Students page (or contact advising):

  • LAES Coursework
  • Degree and Unit Requirements
  • Concentrations
  • Individualized Course of Study (ICS)
  • Example Careers of LAES Alumni


In addition to the concentrations, LAES students must take core-specific LAES courses leading to senior project classes (LAES 461 & 462).

Students are highly advised to plan this into their curriculum early on as each class is a prerequisite for the next. The following chart represents the class names, terms they are offered, and the prerequisites:

  • LAES 461 and 462 must be taken in sequential order. To learn more about the complete senior project guidelines, including the proposal, deliverables, and requirements.
  • Navigate to the Senior Project Guidelines page here or in the right menu bar to view information regarding important dates, proposals, and deliverables.
  • To view past examples of LAES senior projects, visit the complete Projects page or search the Robert E. Kennedy archives


LAES students graduate from both Cal Poly's College of Engineering & College of Liberal Arts and are invited to walk in either or both graduation ceremonies. These ceremonies are typically held on different days. 

Keep an eye on your student email for your graduation email!


LAES strongly encourages students to spend 3-to-6 months studying and/or working abroad. Only approved study abroad programs offered through the Cal Poly International Center qualify for LAES Study Abroad Credit. There are, however, many study programs and many countries available to you. To learn the latest information about the wide collection of travel and study options offered by Cal Poly, visit the Cal Poly International Center Page.

The program does permit flexibility if you are unable to travel abroad and offers a variety of classes that help satisfy the requirement. These LAES approved Global Perspective classes allow students to fulfill the 8 upper-division units required in lieu of studying abroad. Click on the selections below to learn more.

Study Abroad

By participating in study abroad, students can acquire the international experience they need to compete in the job market, while gaining valuable cross-cultural skills.

LAES Program offers $1,200 travel grants to students participating in Cal Poly-approved programs. (Students with financial needs can apply for up to $1,500.) All students must have a cumulative or term GPA of 3.0 prior to going abroad. You can apply through the Cal Poly Scholarships link in your Portal. For more information, visit the Cal Poly Financial Aid Page

Global Perspectives

Global perspectives is an alternative to study abroad for those unable to travel. LAES offers a variety of courses that focus on the international, cultural and global aspects of education. These courses fulfill the 8 unit upper-division requirement and help to broaden your perspective and how you view the world itself. A list of all the approved courses can be found in the Global Perspective catalog.


When do I need to declare my concentrations, and how do I do that?

New LAES majors should declare their concentration once they have started their Individualized Change of Major Agreement (IMCA). It will be processed once the change of major has been approved. It may still take a few weeks to process the concentration completely.

Current LAES majors may need to update their concentration to reflect any course substitutions or changes to their ICS. Advising guidance is available for all LAES students to view instructions and forms for declaring and updating their concentration.

How do I register for the core-specific LAES courses?

The LAES 301-302-461-462 series is registered by permission number. Please note the prerequisites, email, and cc the Co-Directors (Michael Haungs and David Gillette) when you are ready to take each class. A permission number will be provided only to students in the major. 

NOTE: LAES 301 and 302 are not offered in winter quarters. You must plan accordingly.

Can I take a different class than the one that is listed in my concentration?

Most likely! Course substitutions in the concentrations are common. The goal is to keep your concentration theme and overall objective in mind when choosing alternative courses. Also, upper-division (300-400 level) courses should be substituted with other upper-division courses.

NOTE: If you substitute a course, you need to update your concentration form.

How do I update my concentrations?

You can declare or update your concentrations here: 

2019-2021 Catalogs: PowerForm - LAES Concentration Declaration 19-21

2021-2026 Catalogs: PowerForm - LAES Concentration Declaration 21-26

NOTE: Once submitted, advisors will look over the request to either approve or require edits

Find instructions and forms for updating your concentration on the advising page.

Is it possible to pursue a minor as an LAES major?

Yes! Those who wish to complete a minor should contact the department providing the minor as early as possible to receive approval. All academic requirements are detailed in the Cal Poly Catalog. Make sure to reference previous catalogs if necessary. 

What are the main LAES courses?

In addition to the concentrations, LAES students must take core-specific LAES courses (LAES 301, 302, 461, and 462). To learn more about the four-course series, please navigate here.

What are the requirements for the senior project?

LAES students must be at senior status in order to enroll in senior project courses. LAES 461 and 462 are a two-course sequence, meaning that the 462 capstone course builds upon work done in 461, finishing with a professional review presentation. A Senior Project proposal is due 2 weeks BEFORE registration begins for LAES 461.

For more information on senior projects, please visit the Senior Project Guidelines Page.

Where can I find examples of previous senior projects?

The LAES curriculum allows students to mix computer technology and media, providing them with the opportunity to work on a wide variety of interdisciplinary projects.

To view past examples of LAES senior projects, visit the Projects page or search the Robert E. Kennedy archives

Is it possible to enroll in a course for global perspectives outside the current list?

Yes! You are not limited to the courses listed on the current list. Reach out to an advisor to verify that the course you would like to take can be counted towards the global perspectives requirement.

What career paths do LAES graduates typically pursue?

A BS in Liberal Arts and Engineering Studies can lead to careers in:

  • Audio Technology / Audio Engineering
  • Production Engineering 
  • Sales Engineering 
  • Process Engineering 
  • Project Management 
  • Security Engineering 
  • Technical Writing 
  • Game Design
  • Government Policy Making / Analysis 
  • Web Design 
  • Digital Media Production and Management
  • Digital Publishing
  • Environmental Technology Education
  • Film and Television Production
  • International Technology Management
  • Sustainable Community Development
  • Technical Communications
  • Technology Services and Management

You can learn about LAES alumni experiences here

Where can I find information about the LAES Club?

The LAES Club exists to bring together students interested in creative technologies, to collaborate on interdisciplinary projects and learn about and network with members of the industry. Additionally, joining the club is a great way to meet more LAES students! 

Visit the LAES Club page to learn more.

Where is the LAES department located on campus?

The LAES department is housed in the William and Linda Frost Center for Research and Innovation. Additionally, our faculty offices are located on the second floor. View their office and contact information here.

What are the Expressive Technology Studios?

The Expressive Technology Studios is an interdisciplinary space where LAES students can explore the intersections between art and technology. It is located on the first floor of the Frost Center.

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