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Liberal Arts and Engineering Studies Program

Freedom to Choose / Freedom to Create / Freedom to Travel

Prospective Students

The Liberal Arts and Engineering Studies (LAES) degree is a hybrid B.S. program that combines the study of Engineering with the study of the Arts and Humanities.  Students in this program will be able to take courses in both the College of Engineering (CENG) and the College of Liberal Arts (CLA). The LAES program is designed to be flexible and is centered around the slogans: "Freedom to Choose," "Freedom to Create," and "Freedom to Travel." Students who transfer into the program work with the Program Directors to create a curriculum best suited to their goals and interests.

The curriculum allows Liberal Arts and Engineering Studies students, in collaboration with students from all other Cal Poly majors, to participate in development teams working on national and international technology and cultural projects. To further prepare students for work with diverse teams that include participants from across the globe, the program strongly encourages students to spend three to six months studying and/or working abroad. Graduates of the LAES Program receive a Bachelor of Science Degree.

For more detailed information, read about LAES in the Cal Poly Academic Catalog.

Note: If you are a high school student, parent, or counselor interested in learning more about LAES, please visit the High School Students page

Is LAES right for you?

Cal Poly has an amazing array of diverse and exciting majors for you to choose from with each providing a world-class education in well-known and established disciplines. However, sometimes students are passionate about areas of study that do not fit neatly into any one major.  One way to get an interdisciplinary education is to double major or complement a standard major with a minor.  This is effective but not always efficient.  It can lead to a delayed graduation and often involves studying extraneous topics that don't relate to your specific interests.  LAES is a more streamlined approach.

If you are passionate about studying interdisciplinary topics, exploring both your technical and artistic side, and building a custom curriculum exactly tailored to your interests, then LAES may be the place for you.

What does the LAES curriculum look like?

The elements of coursework that make up the LAES major include (180 total units):

  • Core curriculum
  • Concentrations (Engineering & Liberal Arts)
  • Study abroad / global perspectives courses
  • General education courses
  • Free electives





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


LAES concentrations are the heart of a LAES degree.  To learn more about them, click this link:  LAES Concentrations

What type of careers could LAES prepare me for?

LAES allows the flexibility to build a course of study where you can succeed in many diverse types of careers.  Here is a small sampling: animatronics, audio engineering, consulting, front-end web development, game design, support specialists, technical and professional communication, user Interface/user experience (UI/UX) design, interactive entertainment, support specialists, system administrators, sales, project management, professional event planning, quality assurance, sustainability, STEM education, film and television production, digital media production and management, and much, much more.

I'm interested, what should I do now?

Before making that big decision, you need to learn more about the program. How many classes will you need to take in both the colleges of engineering and liberal arts? How will your course choices be submitted and approved? Will most of the classes I have already taken count towards LAES? What are the entry requirements, and will this change affect my expected graduation date?  These steps will help guide you through the process of making your final decision:

  1. Choose your interests: Think about the set of courses you would like to take in the colleges of engineering and liberal arts.  What type of skill sets do you want to build?  What type of projects do you like working on?  What type of jobs would you be interested in getting after graduation?  Don't worry.  You'll get a chance to discuss your interests and get feedback later with an academic advisor and LAES director.
  2. Familiarize yourself with the CLA's change-of-major process: Be sure to review LAES's minimum entrance requirements (found in Step 2).
  3. Meet with an academic advisor: Develop an academic plan with one of the LAES-specific academic advisors in the CLA Advising Center:  
  4. Meet with one of the LAES directors: Discuss your academic goals with them and make sure they understand and approve of the set of courses you wish to take.  They have a lot of experience with the curriculum of both colleges and can help ensure you make informed choices when building your concentrations. Email to set up an appointment.
  5. Make the change: Now, it's up to you.  If LAES feels like the right academic home for you, email one of the directors and they can start the process for officially changing your major.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Can I apply to Cal Poly as a LAES major? What major should I apply to if I plan to change my major to LAES?

At this time, students cannot apply directly to LAES when they apply to Cal Poly. Students can only change into LAES after their first year. We recommend applying to another major that you would equally enjoy while at Cal Poly! New first-year students can work with an advisor in the Mustang Success Center to see how Calculus and Physics can fit into their block schedule. During your first quarter, you should plan to meet with a LAES Change of Major advisor. New transfers should reach out to a LAES Change of Major advisor after they have received an email that their transfer evaluation has been completed (usually mid-July to late Aug).

How do I change my major to LAES?

Check out the change of major resources!

Is LAES ABET accredited?

No. LAES is not specifically ABET accredited. However, this has not slowed our graduates from getting amazing jobs in exciting and creative areas that blend engineering and liberal arts.

I'm confused.  What should I do?

If any of the above is confusing or seems daunting, just remember that we are happy to meet with you and help you feel comfortable making this very important decision.

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