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Advising FAQ

The information provided below is not a substitute for personal advisement, but is a first step for those students who cannot attend an advising session right away. Students with questions after reading the material on this page are encouraged to email ECE staff advisors at or call 208-426-5788 for a personal appointment.

Why do I need advising?

In engineering, academic and career advising are integrated because there is a strong relationship between the student’s educational and career goals. Advisors provide recommendations tailored to each student’s individual circumstances, tackling topics such as:

  • Degree planning, academic requirements, policies and procedures
  • Career exploration, information and preparation
  • Exploration of necessary skills, and
  • Referral to campus resources

Students in the EE program are required to meet with a staff advisor from the COEN Advising office prior to enrolling in freshmen courses.  Upon completion of ECE 210, students are assigned an EE program advisor who provides advising through graduation.

How do I find my advisor?

You can discover who has been assigned as your advisor, and find his or her contact information using My.BoiseState.

  1. Log in to
  2. Go to the student center and click on the student center link (left hand side of the page)
  3. On the right hand side under the Advisor Tab click on details. Email and/or phone will be displayed.

You can also reach out to the Department’s staff advisor by email at  Please include your name, student ID number, catalog year, telephone number and email address when submitting questions.

Is this program accredited?

The Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).

What math courses do I need to take?

The bachelor of science in electrical engineering (BSEE) degree requires four mathematics courses:

  • MATH 175 Calculus II
  • MATH 275 Multivariable and Vector Calculus
  • MATH 333 Differential Equations with Matrix Theory
  • MATH 360 Engineering Statistics or  MATH 361 Probability and Statistics I

Placement into this mathematics series depends on your ACT or SAT scores, as shown in table 10.3 of the undergraduate catalog.   If you do not have an ACT or SAT score, the COMPASS exam is available to make the placement decision.

  • Start with MATH 108 Intermediate Algebra if you earned a score of 18 or higher on the mathematics portion of the ACT, a score of 430 or higher on the SAT, or a COMPASS (ALGP) score of 40.
  • Start with MATH 147 Precalculus if you earned a score of 23 or higher on the mathematics portion of the ACT, a score of 540 or higher on the SAT, or a COMPASS (ALGP) score of 61.
  • Start with MATH 170 Calculus I if you earned a score of 27 or higher on the mathematics portion of the ACT, a score of 620 or higher on the SAT, or a COMPASS (TRIG) score of 51.
  • Students who earn a score of 3 or better on the advanced placement Calculus AB exam, qualify to take MATH 175 Calculus II.
    • Students who score a 3 on the AP exam may wish to take MATH 170 as a refresher, but are not required to do so.
    • We strongly recommend that students with the score of 4 or 5 on the AP exam start with Math 175 Calculus II.
  • Students who earn an score of 3 or higher on the advanced placement Calculus BC exam qualify to take Math 275 Multivariable Calculus.  There is little benefit for these students to repeat MATH 170 Calculus I or MATH 175 Calculus II.

Do I need to take the COMPASS exam?

If you feel that the ACT or SAT exam score does not accurately reflect your ability in Math, or did not take recently take the ACT or SAT, then we recommend you take the COMPASS placement examination to determine the appropriate mathematics course. Your highest placement score is used (whether SAT, ACT or COMPASS). Boise State University has a testing center where the Math COMPASS exam can be taken for $10.00. To take the COMPASS placement exam, bring photo ID and cash to cover the testing fee. Call 208 426 2762 to obtain information about when the testing center is open.

You are allowed to take the exam twice each semester or during the summer, if you desire. It is worthwhile reviewing some math before taking the exam! The preparatory mathematics course sequence in engineering, beginning from the lowest, and moving up to the highest, is as follows: Math 15, Math 25, Math 108, Math 147, Math 170. The COMPASS Exam results may suggest other math courses you are qualified to take, but you should restrict yourself to the ones on the list, taking the one that you qualify to take as a result of the COMPASS exam.

  • A score lower than a 40 on the Algebra portion of the Math COMPASS exam indicates that a student should take MATH 025
  • A score of 40 or higher on the Algebra portion of the Math COMPASS exam is needed to enter MATH 108
  • A 61 or higher on the Algebra portion of the Math COMPASS exam is needed to enter MATH 147, MATH 143 or COMPSCI 120
  • A 51 or higher on the College Algebra portion of the Math COMPASS exam is needed to enter MATH 144
  • A 51 or higher on the Trigonometry portion of the Math COMPASS exam is needed to enter MATH 170

An excellent online mathematics program to learn math on your own, or to just review math during the summer, can be found on the ALEKS Math Placement webpage. If you work this online tutorial for an hour a day during the summer, you may find that you learn enough algebra to move your COMPASS scores up to the next level math course.

What English courses do I need to take?

The bachelor of science in electrical engineering (BSEE) degree requires three English courses:

  • ENGL 101  Introduction to College Writing
  • ENGL 102 Introduction to College Writing and Research
  • ENGL 202 Technical Communication

First-year college writing courses play a vital role in enhancing the transition into the university by providing an introduction to the critical reading, writing, and inquiry practices of the university. Because these are foundational courses that connect directly to the University Learning Outcomes, all students seeking a baccalaureate degree complete at least six credits in first-year writing. In order to successfully complete the First-Year Writing Requirement, students must complete ENGL 101 and 102 (or their equivalents) with a grade of C- or higher, or demonstrate writing proficiency as outlined below:

Multinational Students:  If English is not your native language and you are here as an international student, you must complete the ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) placement test. To take the ESOL test, contact University Testing, (208) 426-2762, located at 1464 University Drive (next to the Student Union Building) or see the University Testing website. The ESOL placement will place you into English 121, 122, 123, or 101.

What computer science courses should I take?

The bachelor of science in electrical engineering (BSEE) degree requires two Computer Science courses:

  • CS 121 and CS 121L Computer Science I with lab
  • CS 221 Computer Science II

There is not a Computer Science placement test so where you begin depends on your own evaluation of your computer skills.

  • If your experience using a computer consists of using MS Office and browsing email/web, you may wish to begin with CS 120 Introduction to Programming Concepts which will introduce computer science concepts and constructs and prepare you to be successful in CS 121/L.  This course has a pre-requisite of MATH 108, or a satisfactory math placement score (18 or higher on the mathematics portion of the ACT, 430 or higher on the SAT, or a COMPASS (ALGP) score of 40).
  • If you have already completed MATH 170 and have some exposure to programming concepts, take CS 121 and its lab.  These are the first general computer science courses required for Electrical Engineering students.
  • If you have already completed MATH 170 but don’t have any exposure to programming, you may consider starting with CS 117 C++ for Engineers, an introductory course in computer programming using C++.

How many credits should I take each semester?

Student success depends on many factors.  One of the most important of these is time.  How many credits you take depends on how much time you have to read, study, and appropriately prepare for class.

  • Students who do not have to work and are following the Finish-in-Four plan may take as many as 16 or 17 credits in a term.
    • This may be too much for some students, so if you sign up for a large course load, keep in mind that you can drop classes without any penalties in the first week of classes.  Keep an eye on the academic calendar to know when drop fees begin, and when the last day is to drop without a “W.”
  • If you are planning to work 10 to 20 hours/week, you may not wish to take more than 12 credits.
  • Those working more than 20 hours per week should consider a much lighter load, such as 6 to 9 credits each term.
  • Progress is important, but it is better to take fewer credits and do well in all your courses, than to overload yourself and have to repeat classes.
  • Boise State doesn’t allow students to repeat more than 6 courses in their academic career. So keep your enrollment at a manageable level, make good use of your study time, and try to schedule in some fun too!

What is the most important thing I can do to be a successful engineering student?

There are a lot of ways you can increase your chances of success as a student.  Our alumni say:

  • Do your math homework every night! Do not save it up for the weekend.
  • Spend as much time as you need on your homework.  You need to learn what you’re doing because you’ll see it again in later classes.
  • Start your academic career off right – do the orientation, go to advising, and get to know your classmates.  The more people you have to lean on when times get tough (and they will!) the better off you’ll be!
  • Find a small group of people with whom you are comfortable with and make them your partners.  Study together.  Hang out together.  It will pay off eventually.
  • Don’t get behind on your homework.  If you do get behind, it can be difficult to catch up.  Talk to your professors if you need help!
  • Commit to spending 2 hours on homework each night.
  • Do your homework as soon as possible after the class.
  • Do all the homework assigned — including practice problems.  The more you practice, the better you’ll be!  This means you may do WAY more math than you’d like, but it also means you’ll do well in school.
  • All I can say is, you need to understand it, whether it takes tutoring or whatever, you need to understand.
  • Understand the syllabus…and keep track of your assignment due dates.
  • Go to class!  You can’t learn if you’re not there.