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Liberal Arts and Engineering Studies Program

Freedom to Choose / Freedom to Create / Freedom to Travel

Major Courses

The LAES program is designed to be flexible and is centered around the slogans: "Freedom to Choose," "Freedom to Create," and "Freedom to Travel." Once the entrance criteria are met, students who transfer into the program work with the Program Directors to create a curriculum best suited to their goals and interests. Two unique aspects of the program are its project-based learning components and the incorporation of a global perspectives component met through study abroad.

Official Degree Requirements

Note: This page only gives summary information. For accurate, detailed degree requirements, curriculum sheets, degree flowcharts, and learning objectives, please consult the current catalog or a previous catalog.

LAES Coursework

The elements of coursework that make up the LAES major, include the major's core curriculum, concentrations, study abroad / global perspectives courses, free electives, and general education courses, for a total of 180 units.

LAES Degree Requirements (2020-2021 Catalog)
Major Courses
LAES Project-based Learning
Science & Mathematics
Engineering Concentration (minimum 12 units at 300-400 level)
Liberal Arts Concentration (minimum 12 units at 300-400 level)
Study Abroad or Global Perspectives Courses (required at the 300-400 level)
Total Major Units
Total General Education Units
Free Electives
Total BS Degree Units


A concentration is a group of courses designed to provide specialized knowledge within a degree program. The LAES Concentration and Study Abroad Declaration form is specific to each catalog year and must be submitted to the Registrar once a Change of Major (ICMA) contract has been successfully completed. Visit the Advising page for more details on declaring and revising your LAES concentration. 

2019-2020 LAES Concentration and Study Abroad Declaration form (SAMPLE only)

2017-2019 LAES Concentration and Study Abroad Declaration form (SAMPLE only)

2015-2017 LAES Concentration and Study Abroad Declaration form (SAMPLE only)

Individualized Course of Study

An Individualized course of study may be selected instead of a pre-defined Engineering or Liberal Arts concentration for certain catalog years. Sample course combinations for specific areas of focus are listed below.

Students should seek advising assistance as early as possible for help in selecting/developing a suitable concentration.

Individualized Course of Study Samples
Area of Focus
Sample Description and Courses
Sound Design
Music focus: Courses in Music Theory and Sound Design, such as MU 101/103/105/311/312/411/412. (The selection of courses must be made with LAES advisor approval and must complete the total units required for the Liberal Arts concentration.)
Industrial Design
Industrial Design focus: Courses covering both the aesthetic and technical aspects of Design, such as Art 102/103/104/182/384/484 with an optional focus in MATE 210/215. (The selection of courses must be made with LAES advisor approval and complete the total units required for the Liberal Arts concentration.)
Sustainability focus: Courses in Environmental study and application, such as general focus courses ENVE 324/331/450 and ME 321, coupled with courses of specific interest, including BRAE 348, EDES 406/408/410, EE 420/422/520, ENVE 455, MATE 210/222/435; ME 320/321, PHYS 310. (The selection of courses must be made with LAES advisor approval and must complete the total units required for the Engineering concentration; 2011-13 catalog only.)
Focused Study Pairings

Audio Engineering focus: Combine the Electrical Engineering (Power) concentration with the Liberal Arts individualized course of study in Sound Design.


Industrial Design Studies focus: Combine the System Design Engineering concentration with the Liberal Arts individualized course of study in Industrial Design.


Sustainability Studies focus: Combine the individualized course of study (2011-13 catalog only) in Sustainability Engineering  with the Liberal Arts concentration in Culture, Society & Technology.


Study Abroad / Global Perspectives

LAES strongly encourages students to spend three-to-six months studying and/or working abroad; however, the program does permit flexibility by allowing students to fulfill the 8 upper-division unit requirement by taking Cal Poly global perspectives courses in lieu of going abroad.  Students may select the following courses from the 2020-2021 catalog:

Upper Division Global Perspectives Courses (2020-2021 Catalog)
ANT 312 Intro to Cultural Resources Management GEOG 308 Global Geography (D5/UD-D)  
ANT 325 Pre-Columbian Mesoamerica (D5/UD-D) GEOG 370 Geography of Latin America (D5/UD-D) POLS 324 International Relations Theory
ANT 330 Indigenous South Americans (D5/UD-D) GEOG 380 Geography of the Caribbean (D5/UD-D) POLS 325 Global Political Issues (D5/UD-D)
ANT 360 Human Cultural Adaptations (D5/UD-D) GEOG 414 Global & Regional Climatology POLS 333 World Food Systems (B7/UD-B)
ANT 401 Culture & Health HIST 306 Witch-Hunt in Europe, 1400-1800 (D5/UD-D) POLS 380 Religion & Politics in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
ANT 402 Nutritional Anthropology HIST 308 Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade (D5/UD-D) POLS 426 International Organizations & Law
ANT 415 Native American Cultures (USCP) HIST 309 Cultures of West Africa & the African Diaspora (D5/UD-D) POLS 427 Politics of the Global Economy
ART 317 Asian Art Survey HIST 310 East Asian Culture & Civilization (D5/UD-D) POLS 429 Issues & Topics in International Relations
ART 318 Asian Art Topics: National, Religious, & Intellectual Movement HIST 314 Middle East PSY 465 Cross-Cultural International Psychology
COMS 316 Intercultural Communication (D5/UD-D,USCP) HIST 316 Modern East Asia (D5/UD-D) RELS 301 Religions of Asia (C4/UD-C)
COMS 319 Critical Cultural Studies & Communication HIST 319 Modern South & Southeast Asia (D5/UD-D) SOC 309 World System & Its Problems
ENGR 350 Global Environment (B7/UD-B) HIST 338 Modern Latin America (D5/UD-D) SOC 315 Global Race & Ethnic Relations (D5/UD-D)
ENGL 459 Significant World Writers HIST 416 Modern Japan SOC 350 Social Organization of Modern Japan
ES 300 Chicano/a Non-Fiction Literature (C4/UD-C,USCP) HIST 417 20th Century China TH 390 Global Theatre & Performance (C4/UD-C)
ES 320 African American Cultural Images (D5/UD-D,USCP) ISLA 310 Humanities in World Cultures UNIV 333 World Food Systems (B7/UD-B)
ES 321 Native American Cultural Images (D5/UD-D,USCP) ISLA 350 Global Environment (B7/UD-B) UNIV 350 Global Environment (B7/UD-B)
ES 322 Asian American Cultural Images (D5/UD-D,USCP) JOUR 401 Global Communication UNIV 391 Appropriate Technology for World's People: Development (D5/UD-D)
ES 323 Mexican American Cultural Images (D5/UD-D,USCP)


UNIV 392 Appropriate Technology for World's People: Design (B7/UD-B)
ES 325 Sex & Gender in African American Communities (USCP)


WGS 320 Women in Global Perspective (D5/UD-D)

ES 326 Native American

Architecture/Place (C4/UD-C,USCP)

ES 330 Chinese American Experience (D5/UD-D,USCP)

ES 335 Filipina/o American Experience (D5/UD-D,USCP)

ES 340 Cultural Prod/Ethnicity (C4/UD-C)

WGS 351 Gender, Race, Class, Nation in Global Engineering, Technology & Intl Development (D5/UD-D)



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