Student Advising FAQ
Below are answers to some common questions that we receive during
orientation or advising
What is AL/SS and does it apply to me?
The Arts & Letters and Social Science (AL/SS) requirement is only for transfer students with 30 or more transfer credits. Students with fewer than 30 transfer credits will complete the Freshman Inquiry (FRINQ), Sophomore Inquiry (SINQ), and Upper Division Cluster, also referred to as Junior Cluster (JC), at PSU and do NOT need to fulfill this requirement.
Prior to graduation from PSU, transfer students must have a minimum of 39 credits of University Studies courses and/or Arts and Letters/Social Science (AL/SS) courses at their previous college or at PSU. 12 of these credits are the Upper Division Cluster courses that must be taken at PSU. AL/SS credits should constitute a breadth of coursework. Detailed breakdown of the requirements is given in the table below.
|Credits Transferred||PSU University Studies Placement begin with:||ECE AL/SS Requirement|
|30-64 Credits||3 Sophomore Inquiry Courses, Upper Division Cluster AND||15 credits AL/SS including: WR 121 & COMM 220 or equivalent course|
|65-74 Credits||2 Sophomore Inquiry Courses, Upper Division Cluster AND||19 credits AL/SS including: WR 121 & COMM 220 or equivalent course|
|75-89 Credits||1 Sophomore Inquiry Course, Upper Division Cluster AND||23 credits AL/SS including: WR 121 & COMM 220 or equivalent course|
|90 or more Credits||Upper Division Cluster AND||27 credits AL/SS including: WR 121 & COMM 220 or equivalent course|
Students should consult with the MCECS Student Services undergraduate academic advisor or their department undergraduate academic advisor regarding these requirements.
How did you come up with 21 credits of AL/SS?
Regular (PSU only) student are required to take 39 credits of General Education: (FRINQ (15) + SINQ (12) + JC (12)= 39. If a student transfers with, e.g. 90 credits or more, they are forgiven FRINQ and SINQ but are still required to take the Junior Cluster. Since PSU does not check what these 90+ credits are (they could all be science courses), it is possible that student does not have enough general education for our programs' needs.
Given that we require that transfer students to take WR 121 and COMM 220, and PSU requires that JC be taken, we count all of these towards the 39 credits that regular students would take: 39 - 3 - 3 - 12 = 21 credits.
I am a post-baccalaureate student - does AL/SS requirement apply to me?
No. Post-baccalaureate students do not need to fulfill this requirement since general education requirements are waived for post-baccalaureates. Post-baccalaureate students will still need to complete major requirements for their degree.
Sample of disciplines or courses that qualify for the AL/SS requirements:
(If in doubt about a course, contact either MCECS or departmental level advisers)
- Applied Linguistics (maximum of 6 credits)
- Art (courses relating to the history and appreciation of art, but not simply painting or drawing)
- Black Studies
- Chicano/Latino Studies
- Child and Family Studies
- Communication Studies
- Criminal Justice (CCJ 220 and 330 only at PSU)
- Foreign Languages and Literature (native speakers should take advanced courses)
- International Studies
- Music (courses relating to the history and appreciation of music, but not performance)
- Native American Studies
- Political Science
- Social Science
- Theater Arts (not including performance)
- Urban Studies & Planning
- Women’s Studies
Courses that do NOT satisfy AL/SS:
- PE/PHE classes
- Business Administration
- Mathematics and Sciences
Completion of Upper Division Cluster is a university requirement. Clusters are made up of three courses that are listed under various cluster titles on the University Studies website. Many of the students' questions relate to this topic, so here are a few pointers:
- Each Sophomore Inquiry (SINQ) course leads to a Upper Division Cluster (UDC). Each UDC offers a number of courses from various disciplines. Students are required to choose three courses from the same cluster. Usually the name of a SINQ course becomes the heading for a UDC.
- Students who complete their SINQ at PSU have to choose their UDC from one of the SINQ courses they have completed. There are no exceptions to this rule and it is enforced by PSU. This rule also applies to transfer students who are transferring fewer than 90 credits. This is because such students must take at least one SINQ class, which then has to "link up" with JC.
- Transfer students with more than 90 transfer credits do not have to take any course from either FRINQ or SINQ. These students are free to choose any UDC they wish.
- It may be in the student's interest (independent of their transfer status) to choose one of these clusters:
- Community Studies Cluster
- Knowledge, Values, and Rationality Cluster.
- Design Thinking, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship Cluster
- EC 314U is a required course for ECE students i.e., it is a departmental requirement. This course is also a part of two UDC-s mentioned above. Using this fact, students can fulfill both the university requirement and the departmental requirement by choosing one of the above three clusters as their UDC. Whether they will be able to do so depends upon their choice of SINQ courses. In other words, if they have chosen a SINQ course that leads to one of the above-mentioned two clusters, they can avoid taking EC 314 separately from a UDC.
- Students who take FRINQ and SINQ at PSU, have to be careful about their choice of courses in their junior cluster - any engineering or science courses, e.g., CS 346U will not count towards the university AL/SS requirement (12 credits) and they may have to take some additional courses to satisfy it.
- UDC and AL/SS courses can be taken for P/NP. This does not apply to EC 314U Private and Public Investment Analysis because this is a specific departmental requirement. Please remember that 25 of the last 45 credits must be taken for a letter grade (A-F).
Can I use courses from different Upper Division Clusters to satisfy this requirement?
Absolutely, positively NO! University Studies will not grant any such requests. You MUST take three courses from the SAME junior cluster.
I want to take xyz junior cluster because I want to take EC 314U as part of it, but I do not have the required SINQ course. What can I do?
You have two options:
- Take the required SINQ course and then take the xyz junior cluster, or
- Take the UDC that you are eligible for (i.e. you have taken the SINQ class that is a "prerequisite" for that UDC) and take EC 314U outside of the cluster.
Note that in both cases you will need to take an additional course, simply because you did not plan your SINQ and UDC properly. Students who transfer more than 90 credits are not subject to this rule since all of their SINQ requirements are waived.
PSU Admissions has a very nice video introduction to DARS, how to generate it and how to read it here and we spend some time on it during advising and orientation. Note that the primary tool for graduation check is your DARS report. One item that DARS cannot check automatically is departmental AL/SS requirement and information on whether a student satisfies it must come from the department (UG Adviser). Remember that departmental AL/SS requirement applies only to transfer students.
Detailed explanation of DARS report, blue-sheet and unofficial transcript, is provided elsewhere. Here are some pointers on the DARS report itself.
- DARS Report:
- Every “+” on the DARS report means that the requirement for that section is complete.
- The sections with a “–“ sign have one or more course deficiencies.
- Two sections on DARS report will initially, always be "–" since they relate to departmental requirements. One of them is a check for Arts & Letters/Soc. Sciences requirement and the other one is a check for adviser approved courses. Both of these sections become "+" only when the department informs DR that these requirements have been completed.
- DR office will officially inform the student of his standing.
- Grades and GPA
- As of Fall 2010, we are following PSU policy of calculating major GPA. This means that ALL courses with "engineering" prefix (ECE, CS, ME, CE, EAS) will be included in the calculation. This policy may change in the future.
- Courses that are transferred as "generic" courses, e.g. ECE LD (for "lower division") cannot be "replaced" for the purpose of GPA calculation, so whatever the student transfers will be counted in their major GPA, as well as overall GPA.
- If a student is repeating the course because he/she received an F, D-, D or D+ and wants to "replace" the course for the purpose of calculating cumulative GPA, the original as well as the repeated course MUST be taken at PSU. However, for calculation of the MAJOR GPA, DARS will use substitute course from any institution.
- Grades of D+, D, D- and F can be replaced once for the purpose of GPA calculation, but they stay on the transcript
- As of Fall 2005, Schedule of Classes states that students MUST submit a form, "Notice of Repeated Course" to explicitly ask that the PSU policy on repeating courses be implemented and correct GPA shown on their transcript. According to DR office, DARS is implementing the university policy as stated (with the exception for the major GPA calculation), but the BANNER system does not do this unless explicitly told which courses do not count for GPA. That is why students need to fill in the "Notice of Repeated Course" form. Otherwise they can have two different GPA-s: one on DARS and another on their transcript.
What do I have to do in order to have my course "XYZ" replace "ECE xyz" course?
When a student requests a transfer, they must submit information from their former institution’s catalog (web page printout, catalog page copy) and, if at all possible, course syllabi, textbooks used and whatever else can be found that describes the content, grading etc. of the course, so that equivalency can be determined. Students also must provide a copy of that institution’s transcript showing the course in question. With many of the local community colleges, this process is automated so that many of the courses just show up on your PSU transcript with equivalent PSU course numbers. For other schools, we have to do the evaluation. If in doubt, ask.
A couple of pointers on this topic:
- Any Physics courses that you want to transfer have to be Calculus-based.
- Once a student is admitted to PSU he/she will not be able to count any courses taken elsewhere PSU as transfer courses. This does NOT apply to “co-enrolled” students.
- If you go to other departments (Math, Physics...) and they approve a certain course transfer, it does not automatically guarantee that we will accept that as a part of your graduation requirements. In other words, all course transfers are subject to approval by the ECE undergraduate adviser.
A system called Transferology provides information on course equivalencies between institutions. By using it, students may see how courses taken at other institutions will most likely transfer. Note, however, that it takes a while for the system to be updated with recent changes so it is possible to come across out-of-date information.
Course Equivalency tables are available to identify course transferability and equivalency. Local Community Colleges have similar transfer tables.
Why do I have to take WR 121 during my first term at PSU?
One of the PSU admission requirements is that transfer students should have taken WR 121 or equivalent prior to coming to PSU. Sometimes students cannot take this course before coming to PSU and in such cases they are "conditionally" admitted. All transfer students who have not yet taken it MUST TAKE WR 121 during their first term at PSU! If any problems arise with respect to this requirement students should discuss it with their academic advisor.
Do I really need to take ECE 101, Exploring Electrical Engineering?
Ordinarily, all Electrical Engineering students are required to take ECE101, Exploring Electrical Engineering. Under certain conditions, however, transfer students may be able to skip this course. In such a case, a suitable engineering elective course (selected in consultation with the ECE Undergraduate Advisor) would replace this requirement. A petition to request this option may be found here.
Can I "temporarily" withdraw from the program (e.g. to pursue another degree first)?
Here is our policy regarding requests for "temporary" withdrawal from the program:
- It will be done only ONCE for the students who are taking double degrees and want to finish up their other degree(s) first and come back to finish ECE degree later.
- They have to put their request in writing and state:
1. name and ID number
2. reasons for the request
3. starting quarter for the withdrawal
- Students have to be in "good standing" before they can be granted a temporary withdrawal
- It will be made clear that the return into the program is not automatic, so that if the requirements for re-admission change, they may have to satisfy the new set of conditions.
- If approved, their request will be forwarded to the Undergraduate Coordinator who will change the "code 24" (MCECS code).
- A copy of the student's request and action taken will be placed in his/her file.
I do not have all of the requirements satisfied for admission into the EE or CMPE program - can I still be admitted?
Students with one or two missing “core” class (sciences and ECE) can be conditionally admitted to program, if in the UG adviser’s judgment, they have made good enough progress in other areas. For example, if a student takes more Math classes than is required for admission but is missing some other course(s) that could be judged enough to get them admitted. You should contact the UG adviser for your specific situation. Do not wait until you have completed everything to get in touch the UG advisor and get some guidance.
Letter of admission will state any deficiencies and the deadline to clear them (typically, two quarters). You should take those conditions seriously since staying in the program depends on satisfying them in a timely fashion.
I have not yet taken a prerequisite for course xyz - can I still take xyz?
Definite maybe :-) . Firstly, you will need to obtain permission (an e-mail will suffice) from the course instructor to take the course. Secondly, you will need to stop by the department to verify that there are no other reasons that would prevent you from taking the class. If everything checks out, the UG adviser or UG coordinator will remove the hold so that you can register online. Note that any 300 or 400 level course can be taken only after you are admitted to program.
I have taken some of the Calculus-based Physics courses at PSU and want to finish the sequence at PCC (Portland Community College). How do I go about that?
In the Physics sequence at PCC, the second and third part are exchanged (i.e. waves, etc. are in the second part and electromagnetism is in the 3rd). Therefore the equivalencies are as follows:
PH 212/222 at PSU = PH 213/223 at PCC
PH 213/223 at PSU = PH 212/222 at PCC
PH 215 at PSU = PH 216 at PCC
PH 216 at PSU = PH 215 at PCC
I have taken a course without taking a prerequisite and now need to take the prerequisite - is that a problem?
According to the PSU policy, students should not be taking the prerequisite course after you take another course that requires it. For example, if you take ECE 271 (which should not be possible, but sometimes it happens) you still need to show that you took ECE 171. As a matter of principle, we will not let you do this and it is likely that you will be required to take another course (e.g. senior or junior elective) to “compensate” for that course. Other departments, especially Math and Physics, can also prevent you from doing this as well. If there are special circumstances explaining why and how this happened, you will need to discuss them with the undergraduate adviser.
Special case: Occasionally, the undergraduate adviser will make admitted students repeat a course in which they didn’t do well (say D-, D or even D+). Strictly speaking, it is a passing grade but out of concern for their GPA and also to improve their knowledge of that topic, the UG adviser may make them repeat such course. The question arises if that is OK with respect to university policy on taking courses that are prerequisites for another course that has been taken. This has been clarified with Degree Requirements and Registration & Records and it is acceptable to do this when circumstances warrant it.
Here are a few additional pointers:
- Currently, our CMPE students are required to take CS 333: Intro to Operating Systems which lists CS 201 and CS 202 as prerequisites. Our students typically don't take CS 202, so they need to be given a registration override by the CS department.
- EE students CANNOT use Physics courses to substitute them for senior electives.
Details on MECOP program are available here. Participation by eligible students is strongly encouraged. Further details can be obtained from ECE UG Adviser.
I am an international student - can I participate in MECOP?
This is possible subject to the requirement that the student maintain full time status, i.e. 12 credits. Please be aware, however, that some of the participating companies will not hire foreign nationals. This may limit your chances of being accepted into the program.
Do I have to take my math/science upper-division elective for a grade?
Yes. Required Math/Science upper-division electives for EE and CMPE students must be taken for a grade (i.e. NOT for P/NP), even though we don’t specify this by name and number.
I just need to have your signature on this petition - could you sign it now?
A short answer is NO, but we try to be reasonable and if circumstances warrant it we will expedite your request. Normal procedure, however, is to submit your petition request to the Undergraduate Coordinator at the front desk and/or set up an appointment with the Undergraduate Adviser to discuss it. After the Undergraduate Adviser checks out your petition, he will sign it and deliver it back to you or it will be delivered to an appropriate address by our office staff. All this will take at least one week from the day of submission.
Foreign language admission deficiency: I've just found out about this requirement - why do I have to satisfy it?
This deficiency shows up on student’s DARS report but students don’t pay attention to this requirement (maybe because it is on the first page) and may have to delay their graduation until it is removed. Here are some pointers:
- Even though this is not a graduation requirement (it is an admission requirement), students will not be able to graduate until this requirements turns to "+" instead of "-".
- The requirement is that they need to show two years of foreign language on their High School transcript.
- This requirement only applies to students who graduated from an Oregon High School in 1997 and after. It does not apply to anyone outside of Oregon.
- If they don't satisfy this, there are two ways out of it:
- Take two quarters of college level foreign language, or
- Take exam at Foreign Languages department
- For any further details students should contact the MCECS Academic Adviser or the Department of Foreign Languages.
I am a transfer student who was just admitted to PSU. How do I determine if I am ready for Calculus I?
If you have taken MTH 112 within the last year (with a C- or better grade) you will be able to register for MTH 251. Otherwise, you will need to take the Math Placement Exam, ALEKS. Full details are given here. Depending on the results of this exam you will be allowed to register for the appropriate mathematics course. Questions may be addressed to Professor Beatriz Lafferriere in the Fariborz Maseeh Department of Mathematics and Statistics.
Does this course satisfy Math/Science Upper-division elective requirement?
Below is a list of courses that are appropriate for EE and CMPE students as UD Math/science electives. Note that PH 319 Semiconductor Physics for Engineering Students is offered especially for our students and provides a much-needed in-depth examination of semiconductors. There are too many courses to list them all so this is a short list of courses that have been used recently by our students. If you select a course not on this list you must ask approval from the ECE Advisor.
MTH 311, 312, 313, 322, 324, 338, 343, 344, 345, 346, 356 (only for EE). If you would like to use some 4xx level Math/Stat course please contact ECE advisor.
PH 319, 322, 411, 424, 425, 426, 431 (only for CMPE), 432 (only for CMPE), 434, 451, 464.
CH 334+337, 335+338. For any 4xx CH courses contact ECE adviser.
I would like to take a graduate only level course (500/600) and use it as a senior elective - can I do this?
Students do this for two reasons:
- To get a head-start on their graduate studies
- To substitute this course for one of the ECE senior electives.
In either case you must get prior approval from the UG advisor. For use of the course as one of the ECE senior electives, you must additionally complete a “Request to use Graduate Courses for Undergraduate Degree” form and submit it to the UG Coordinator. If you take this course while an undergraduate and have not obtained a BS degree yet, you will pay undergraduate tuition.
I have done all the material that is covered in course xyz - can I take it by exam?
It is possible to do this and it has been done for a variety of ECE classes (171, 271, 371, 221, etc.). It is up to the instructor to determine if the student has some background that would indicate that they can successfully challenge the class. Other arrangements are also up to the instructor (e.g. grading policy and time of the exam). You do not have a “right” to demand this exam and this is entirely up to the instructor.
Here are some additional pointers:
- Western Undergraduate Exchange Scholarship program undergraduate education provides nonresident students with the opportunity to enroll in academic programs at Portland State that are not readily available from their home state institutions. When you’re admitted to Portland State as a WUE participant, you pay 150 percent of the university’s resident tuition plus any fees that all students are required to pay. Students are not required to demonstrate financial need to participate in the WUE program. Details and application forms can be found here.
- Students wishing to pursue multiple concurrent degrees (say BS in EE and BA in some other discipline, say in English) should consult Enrollment Management & Student Affairs.