Architectural engineering is the application of engineering principles and technology to building design and construction. Architectural engineering combines aspects of electrical, mechanical, and civil engineering to design integrated systems for buildings. Building systems include heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) systems; illumination and electrical systems; materials and structural systems; and construction methods applied to buildings.

The Bachelor of Science degree program is administered by the Department of Civil, Environmental and Architectural Engineering. Students also take a course in architectural history and theory from the Environmental Design (ENVD) Program.


Program Requirements

To earn a bachelor's degree in architectural engineering, students must complete the curriculum in the undergraduate major program as outlined below. For up-to-date program requirements, visit the Bachelor of Science in Architectural Engineering webpage. Note: Some variations may be possible; see an architectural engineering academic advisor.

In addition, students must meet the general undergraduate degree requirements of the College of Engineering and Applied Science and all graduation requirements specified on the CEAE Department website.

Students may earn a Bachelor of Science in Architectural Engineering and a Bachelor of Science in Integrated Design Engineering with an architectural engineering emphasis.

Prerequisites and Passing Grades

The minimum passing grade for a course that is a prerequisite or corequisite for another required course is C-. The minimum passing grade for a course that is not specifically a prerequisite or corequisite for another required course is D-.

It is the student's responsibility to communicate with the department if summer coursework and/or transfer credit will be used to meet a prerequisite requirement.

Required Courses and Credits

Required Courses
AREN 1027Engineering Drawing3
AREN 1316Introduction to Architectural Engineering1
or ASEN 1000 Introduction to Aerospace Engineering Sciences
or BMEN 1000 Exploring Biomedical Engineering
or CHEN 1300 Introduction to Chemical and Biological Engineering
or CSCI 1000 Computer Science as a Field of Work and Study
or CVEN 1317 Introduction to Civil and Environmental Engineering
or ECEN 1100 Exploring ECE
or EVEN 1000 Introduction to Environmental Engineering
AREN 2050Building Materials and Systems3
AREN 2110Thermodynamics3
or ASEN 2702 Introduction to Thermodynamics and Aerodynamics
or EVEN 3012 Thermodynamics for Environmental Science and Engineering
or GEEN 3852 Thermodynamics for Engineers
or MCEN 3012 Thermodynamics
AREN 2120Fluid Mechanics and Heat Transfer3
or CVEN 3313
AREN 2121
Theoretical Fluid Mechanics
and Heat Transfer
AREN 3010Energy Efficient Buildings3
AREN 3040Circuits for Architectural Engineers3
AREN 3080Architectural Design Studio 13
AREN 3540Illumination I3
AREN 4110Building Energy Systems Engineering3
AREN 4318Architectural Engineering Design 15
AREN 4319Architectural Engineering Design 22
AREN 4506Pre-construction Estimating and Scheduling3
AREN 4550Illumination 23
AREN 4570Building Electrical Systems Design 13
CSCI 1200Introduction to Computational Thinking3
or ASEN 1320 Aerospace Computing and Engineering Applications
or CHEN 1310 Introduction to Engineering Computing
or CSCI 1300 Computer Science 1: Starting Computing
or ECEN 1310 C Programming for ECE
or MCEN 1030 Introduction to Engineering Computing
CVEN 2017Excel Matlab R Primer1
CVEN 2121Analytical Mechanics 13
or ASEN 2401 Statics
or ASEN 2701 Introduction to Statics, Structures, and Materials
or GEEN 2851 Statics for Engineers
or MCEN 2023 Statics and Structures
CVEN 3161Mechanics of Materials 13
or MCEN 2063 Mechanics of Solids
CVEN 3246Introduction to Construction3
CVEN 3525Structural Analysis3
CVEN 4545Steel Design3
or CVEN 4555 Reinforced Concrete Design
GEEN 1400Engineering Projects 13
or ASEN 1400 Gateway to Space
or ASEN 1403 Introduction to Rocket Engineering
or CHEN 1400 Drugs, Driving and Dynamic Processes
or ECEN 1400 Introduction to Digital and Analog Electronics
Technical Electives12
At least two technical electives must be selected from the specialization lists below. The remaining technical electives may be any upper-division AREN or CVEN course or any course on the approved Technical Elective List. 2
Construction Engineering & Management
Design of Masonry Structures
Construction Project Execution and Control (strongly recommended)
Construction Equipment and Methods (strongly recommended)
Geotechnical Engineering 1
Geotechnical Engineering 2
Design of Wood Structures
Lighting & Electrical Systems
Optical Design for Illumination and Solid State Lighting
Advanced Lighting Design
Luminous Radiative Transfer
Adaptive Lighting Systems
Mechanical Systems
Energy System Modeling and Control
Building Energy Audits
Sustainable Building Design
Compu Fluid Dynamics (CFD) Analysis for Built/Natural Envmnts
Computer Simulation of Building Energy Systems
Structural Systems
Design of Masonry Structures
Embodied Carbon in Buildings
Mechanics of Materials 2
Steel Design 3
Reinforced Concrete Design
Design of Wood Structures
Foundation Engineering
Required Mathematics Courses
APPM 1350Calculus 1 for Engineers4
or MATH 1300 Calculus 1
or APPM 1345 Calculus 1 with Algebra, Part B
APPM 1360Calculus 2 for Engineers4
or MATH 2300 Calculus 2
APPM 2350Calculus 3 for Engineers4
or MATH 2400 Calculus 3
APPM 2360Introduction to Differential Equations with Linear Algebra4
or MATH 2130
MATH 3430
Introduction to Linear Algebra for Non-Mathematics Majors
and Ordinary Differential Equations
or MATH 2135
MATH 3430
Introduction to Linear Algebra for Mathematics Majors
and Ordinary Differential Equations
Required Science Courses
CHEM 1114Laboratory in General Chemistry 11
or CHEM 1221 Engineering General Chemistry Lab
or PHYS 1140 Experimental Physics 1
CHEN 1201General Chemistry for Engineers 14
or ASEN 1022 Materials Science for Aerospace Engineers
or CHEN 1211 Accelerated Chemistry for Engineers
or CHEM 1113 General Chemistry 1
or MCEN 1024 Chemistry for Energy and Materials Science
PHYS 1110General Physics 14
or PHYS 1115 General Physics 1 for Majors
PHYS 1120General Physics 24
or PHYS 1125 General Physics 2 for Majors
Humanities, Social Sciences and Writing
College-approved writing course. 4
Humanities & Social Sciences15
History and Theory of Architecture 2
Other approved Humanities & Social Sciences Electives. At least 6 credits (including ARCH 3214) must be at the upper-division level (3000 level or higher). 4
Free Electives3
Total Credit Hours128

Sample Four-Year Plan of Study

Plan of Study Grid
Year One
Fall SemesterCredit Hours
APPM 1350 Calculus 1 for Engineers 4
AREN 1316 Introduction to Architectural Engineering 1
CHEM 1114
Laboratory in General Chemistry 1 3
or Experimental Physics 1
CHEN 1201 General Chemistry for Engineers 1 4
CSCI 1200 Introduction to Computational Thinking 3
COEN 1830 Special Topics (First-Year Seminar) 1
Humanities & Social Sciences elective 1 2
 Credit Hours16
Spring Semester
APPM 1360 Calculus 2 for Engineers 4
AREN 1027 Engineering Drawing 3
PHYS 1110 General Physics 1 4
First-Year Projects course or Basic Engineering Elective 3
Humanities & Social Sciences elective 1 3
 Credit Hours17
Year Two
Fall Semester
APPM 2350 Calculus 3 for Engineers 4
AREN 2050 Building Materials and Systems 3
AREN 2110 Thermodynamics 3
CVEN 2121 Analytical Mechanics 1 3
PHYS 1120 General Physics 2 4
 Credit Hours17
Spring Semester
APPM 2360 Introduction to Differential Equations with Linear Algebra 4
AREN 2120 Fluid Mechanics and Heat Transfer 3
AREN 3080 Architectural Design Studio 1 3
AREN 3540 Illumination I 3
CVEN 2017 Excel Matlab R Primer 1
CVEN 3161 Mechanics of Materials 1 3
 Credit Hours17
Year Three
Fall Semester
AREN 3010 Energy Efficient Buildings 3
AREN 4550 Illumination 2 3
CVEN 3246 Introduction to Construction 3
CVEN 3525 Structural Analysis 3
College-approved writing course 2 3
 Credit Hours15
Spring Semester
ARCH 3214 History and Theory of Architecture 2 3
AREN 3040 Circuits for Architectural Engineers 3
AREN 4110 Building Energy Systems Engineering 3
AREN 4506 Pre-construction Estimating and Scheduling 3
CVEN 4545
Steel Design
or Reinforced Concrete Design
 Credit Hours15
Year Four
Fall Semester
AREN 4318 Architectural Engineering Design 1 5
AREN 4570 Building Electrical Systems Design 1 3
Humanities & Social Sciences elective 1 3
Technical elective 3
Technical elective 3
 Credit Hours17
Spring Semester
AREN 4319 Architectural Engineering Design 2 2
Free elective 3
Humanities & Social Sciences elective 1 3
Technical elective 3
Technical elective 3
 Credit Hours14
 Total Credit Hours128

AREN Electives and Opportunities for Specialization

Upon consultation with their advisors, students select technical elective courses applicable to their areas of interest and specialization. The areas of specialization are construction engineering and management, mechanical systems, structural systems, and lighting and electrical systems.

Courses may be chosen from any emphasis area. At least two technical electives must be selected from this list. Some technical electives are offered intermittently and are not guaranteed to be offered every year.

Construction Engineering & Management
AREN 4315Design of Masonry Structures3
AREN 4606Construction Project Execution and Control3
CVEN 3256Construction Equipment and Methods3
CVEN 3708Geotechnical Engineering 13
CVEN 3718Geotechnical Engineering 23
CVEN 4565Design of Wood Structures3
Students with an interest in construction are also encouraged to take CVEN 2012 as a Basic Engineering Elective or Free Elective
Mechanical Systems
AREN 4010Energy System Modeling and Control3
AREN 4040Building Energy Audits3
AREN 4890Sustainable Building Design3
AREN 4990Compu Fluid Dynamics (CFD) Analysis for Built/Natural Envmnts3
AREN 5080Computer Simulation of Building Energy Systems3
Structural Systems
AREN 4315Design of Masonry Structures3
AREN 5660Embodied Carbon in Buildings3
CVEN 4161Mechanics of Materials 23
CVEN 4545Steel Design 13
or CVEN 4555 Reinforced Concrete Design
CVEN 4565Design of Wood Structures3
CVEN 4728Foundation Engineering3
Lighting & Electrical Systems
AREN 4130Optical Design for Illumination and Solid State Lighting3
AREN 4530Advanced Lighting Design3
AREN 4560Luminous Radiative Transfer3
AREN 4580Daylighting3
AREN 4620Adaptive Lighting Systems3

Learning Outcomes

Program Educational Objectives

The educational objectives of the architectural engineering bachelor of science degree program are to produce graduates capable of reaching the following career goals within five years:

  • Our alumni will build on the educational foundation gained through our program by establishing themselves in engineering, science or other professional careers.
  • Our alumni will begin advancing the state-of-the-art of their profession including one of five core disciplines of the building industry: electrical systems, lighting systems, heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, materials and structural systems, construction engineering and management.
  • Our alumni will exercise leadership in their field.
  • Our alumni will enhance the sustainability of the built environment.

Student Outcomes

The outcomes that students are expected to have attained upon graduation with the bachelor of science degree in Architectural Engineering are:

  1. An ability to identify, formulate and solve complex engineering problems by applying principles of engineering, science and mathematics.
  2. An ability to apply engineering design to produce solutions that meet specified needs with consideration of public health, safety and welfare, as well as global, cultural, social, environmental and economic factors.
  3. An ability to communicate effectively with a range of audiences.
  4. An ability to recognize ethical and professional responsibilities in engineering situations and make informed judgments, which must consider the impact of engineering solutions in global, economic, environmental and societal contexts.
  5. An ability to function effectively on a team whose members together provide leadership, create a collaborative and inclusive environment, establish goals, plan tasks and meet objectives.
  6. An ability to develop and conduct appropriate experimentation, analyze and interpret data and use engineering judgment to draw conclusions.
  7. An ability to acquire and apply new knowledge as needed, using appropriate learning strategies.

Areas of Knowledge

The areas of knowledge that define these objectives include both technical and non-technical areas.

Technical areas are:

  • Elementary: The fundamentals for architectural engineering, including basic science and mathematics, building design and construction processes, overview of building systems, elementary principles and processes of architecture, and laboratory measurement and data analysis.
  • Intermediate: Introduction to building systems and their components, with corresponding analysis of electrical, HVAC and lighting systems, as well as structural elements and components.
  • Proficiency: Design, integration and advanced analysis of electrical, HVAC, lighting and structural systems, as well as the standards, codes and recommended practices that govern these building systems.
  • Specialization: Advanced design, coupled with industry experience via internships, for building lighting and electrical system design, building HVAC systems design, building structural system design, and construction engineering and management.

Non-technical areas include:

  • Professional life, including methods of time and resource management and professional ethics.
  • Processes and requirements of written and oral communication.
  • Broad areas in the humanities and social sciences, including architectural history and language.

Bachelor's–Accelerated Master's Degree Program(s)

The bachelor's–accelerated master's (BAM) degree program options offer currently enrolled CU Boulder undergraduate students the opportunity to receive a bachelor's and master's degree in a shorter period of time. Students receive the bachelor's degree first but begin taking graduate coursework as undergraduates (typically in their senior year).

Because some courses are allowed to double count for both the bachelor's and the master's degrees, students receive a master's degree in less time and at a lower cost than if they were to enroll in a stand-alone master's degree program after completion of their baccalaureate degree. In addition, staying at CU Boulder to pursue a bachelor's–accelerated master's program enables students to continue working with their established faculty mentors.

BS in Architectural Engineering, MS in Architectural Engineering or Civil Engineering

Admissions Requirements

In order to gain admission to the BAM programs named above, a student must meet the following criteria:

  • Have a cumulative GPA of 3.000 or higher.
  • Completion of all MAPS requirements and no deficiencies remaining (students admitted to CU Boulder prior to Summer 2023 only).
  • Have at least junior status within the bachelor’s degree program.

Program Requirements

Students may take up to and including 12 hours while in the undergraduate program which can later be used toward the master's degree. However, only 6 credits may be double counted toward the bachelor's degree and the master's degree. Students must apply to graduate with the bachelor's degree, and apply to continue with the master's degree, early in the semester in which the undergraduate requirements will be completed.

Please see the BAM degree program webpage for more information.