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Other Academic Programs and Opportunities

 For Olin Students

Independent Study and Research

All Olin students are eligible to register for Research or Independent Study courses after completion of their first semester. These activities are graded on a pass/no credit basis.

Research opportunities are available for credit. If interested in doing research in a particular area, students should approach a faculty member in that area about possible openings. In addition to research projects that are regularly offered by faculty, students have the opportunity to design their own research projects under the guidance of a faculty member. Students who have their own ideas for research projects should contact a faculty member with appropriate expertise to discuss their ideas. 

Olin offers opportunities for undergraduate research experiences both during the academic year and during the summer. Students may receive academic credit or pay for a research activity, but not both. Summer research may not be taken for credit. 

In Independent Study activities, students work with faculty members to design and implement a learning and assessment plan for the study of topics not covered by listed Olin courses. Evaluation is normally on a Pass/No Credit basis. Independent study activities can only be taken with Olin faculty members.  Students are strongly recommended to plan Independent study activities in the semester prior to the start of the activity, and contact a qualified faculty mentor at the earliest possible time in order to receive input on the plan of study and ensure their availability.  

For either research or independent study, a paper form (Independent Study/Research Cover Sheet) must be filled out by the student and signed by the faculty Project Adviser in the appropriate academic area. If the project is being advised by someone who is not part of the program group in which the credits are being awarded, then the signature of a Disciplinary Adviser is also required. 

A Plan of Study and an Assessment plan must accompany the form. All materials are due in the Registrar’s Office by the end of the Add period.

Using Independent study and Research credit courses in a degree program IS and RS credit may be applied toward credit requirements in particular areas (Math / Science / AHS / Entrepreneurship / Engineering) and toward the overall 120 credit requirement. In order to use independent study to satisfy a major, AHS, or E! course requirement, prior approval must be obtained from the CSTB and the activity must be taken for a grade. Only in exceptional cases will research activities be approved to satisfy a course requirement. If the project fulfills a major, AHS or E! course requirement, then a disciplinary signature from that area is required. A letter grade will be given.  

Curricular Experiments

The process of curriculum innovation at Olin College means that curricular experiments are going on during most academic years. Typically, these experiments are courses that students opt-in to and serve as designated alternatives for requirements in the curriculum.

Beginning in the 2015 – 16 academic year, a new sequence of courses will be offered to create a coherent approach to developing engineering analysis skills. This is a three year experiment and will allow students in the classes of 2019, 2020 and 2021 to opt in to this sequence of courses which will serve as designated alternatives to Linearity 1, Linearity 2, Mechanics, Signals and Systems, and Dynamics.

Passionate Pursuits

Success occurs most often in those who have a passion for their work. Olin believes that learning to be passionate about one’s work, to persevere through difficult times, and to enjoy play freely, are all tremendously important life lessons. We actively and explicitly promote this integrated approach to learning, work and life. Our support of passionate pursuits promotes the idea that hobbies can be more than pastimes — they can become gateways to life-long learning and passionate endeavors. This is one of many ways in which Olin College gives acknowledgement to well roundedness and personal initiative.

A Passionate Pursuit is an intellectual or scholarly activity in which students propose a semester-long project, solicit faculty participation and establish objectives (i.e., learning goals, a deliverable and/or a presentation or performance) that constitute satisfactory completion of the pursuit.  These activities are taken for non-degree credit, may receive funding, and are included on a student’s transcript.


Co-curricular offerings are (1) non-credit activities combining fun and intellectual awareness, (2) scheduled for a limited time (e.g., one semester), (3) led by a staff or faculty member or by a student working in concert with a faculty/staff member, and (4) funded by the Student Affairs and Resources office. They differ from curricular offerings in that they are not graded and attendance is not strictly enforced. They differ from extra-curricular activities in that they have an intellectual component, faculty/staff leadership, and limited lifespan.  

Babson/Olin/Wellesley Sustainability Certificate Program

The Babson/Olin/Wellesley Sustainability Certificate Program is joint program designed to address the challenges of using earth’s resources sustainably through a collaborative and disciplinary approach. In this program, students from Babson College, Olin College and Wellesley College perform basic research about the causes and consequences of environmental problems, develop an understanding of the incentives and processes for a large­scale reworking of economic activity and explore and create the technology with which to

reconfigure the human effect on the natural world. By truly integrating business, engineering, and the liberal arts in the service of environmental sustainability, this program will provide students with the cross­-disciplinary academic preparation and the cross­-campus cultural collaboration experiences needed to approach environmental issues holistically. 

This program is administered through the Babson/Olin/Wellesley Three College Collaboration and program requirements can be found on the Three College Collaboration website. The Sustainability Certificate is awarded to Olin students upon completion of their Olin degree.

For Babson, Brandeis and Wellesley Students

Engineering Certificate Program

Olin College offers a Certificate in Engineering Studies for students at Wellesley College, Babson College, and Brandeis University who wish to gain exposure, education and experience in the art and science of engineering. Students completing the Certificate Program have the opportunity to expand their post-­graduate options for careers or advanced study in technological fields. Because the student has flexibility to create a course plan that meets their needs, the Certificate Program can provide a broad and general introduction to engineering, or can provide (in conjunction with coursework at the home institution) added engineering depth and rigor to an existing math, science or technical degree.

The Certificate consists of five Olin courses that range from introductory to upper­-level. These courses must be taken for a letter grade (with the exception of courses that have a unique grading structure). The focus of the Engineering Certificate can be of a student’s choosing, provided that the set of five courses selected satisfy the requirements below.


Babson College, Brandeis College and Wellesley College may have prerequisite courses that students need to complete before beginning the Certificate in Engineering Studies at Olin College. Students should check with their home institutions prior to beginning the Certificate program.

Most Olin College engineering courses have general math and science prerequisites that are typically taken at the student’s home institution, and students should check with instructors prior to registration to verify their readiness for the course. Olin courses have significant project components and require considerable team­ based work. Non­-Olin students should be prepared to work closely with their Olin counterparts, both inside and outside class.


Description or Course Number and Title

Foundational Engineering

1 course / 4 credits

ENGR1125 Introduction to Sensors, Instrumentation and Measurement (fall)


ENGR1200 Design Nature (fall)

Intermediate Engineering

 1 course / 4 credits

ENGR 2250 User-Oriented Collaborative Design (spring)


ENGR 2210 Principles of Engineering (fall)

Coherence and Depth

3 courses / 12 credits

The three remaining courses that make up the Engineering Certificate are related under a common theme (e.g. design, mechanical engineering, human computer interaction). Two of these remaining three courses must receive engineering (ENGR) credit AND be intermediate level or higher (i.e. have course designations of 2000 and above)

Wellesley students in the Certificate Program intending to apply for the 4+1 Program should review the requirements and suggested course plans for both programs carefully to ensure they have completed all the necessary requirements for the year in residence at Olin.

Credit for Courses Taken at Home Institution

A maximum of one course from a student’s home institution may substitute for an Olin course, provided it covers equivalent material. This substitution has no bearing on whether or not it is used to satisfy other requirements at the home institution. A student should petition for this course substitution early in their program by contacting the Olin College Registrar. ENGR160 Fundamentals of Engineering at Wellesley College may not be substituted for a required certificate course.

Enrollment and Completion of the Certificate Program

Students who wish to enroll in the Engineering Certificate Program should submit a Certificate Program Enrollment Form to the Olin College Registrar’s Office once they have completed their first course at Olin. The form must be signed by the student’s advisor at their home institution, as well as the Olin College certificate advisor, and should include a course plan for completing the certificate. Students should notify the Olin College certificate advisor of any changes to the course plan as certificates will only be awarded to students with an up­-to­-date course plan on file with the Olin Registrar’s Office.


4+1 Bachelor of Science Degree with Wellesley College

The Olin College 4+1 Program offers Wellesley College students an opportunity to obtain a second bachelor’s degree in engineering through a fifth year of study. Students enrolled in the 4+1 program begin their engineering study while they are enrolled at Wellesley; by the time they complete their Wellesley degrees, 4+1 students have typically completed all of the math and science prerequisites as well as at least five engineering courses towards their Olin degree. In their fifth year, 4+1 students enroll at Olin College and spend both semesters in residence there, completing major requirements as well as the engineering capstone project.

The Engineering Certificate is not intended to serve as a pathway to the 4+1 Program. While there are some overlapping requirements between these two programs, the 4+1 Program requires an extensive set of course and credit requirements not only in engineering, but also in math and science. Students intending to apply for admission to the 4+1 Program will need to plan their schedules carefully and will end up taking courses at different times compared to Engineering Certificate students to ensure that they are prepared for the upper-level engineering courses they will take at Olin in the 5th year. 

Admission to the 4+1 program takes place in the student's junior year at Wellesley, and is contingent on the student having already made progress towards the engineering degree (typically this means that students needs to complete no more than 32 credits during the year in residence at Olin). Students admitted to the 4+1 program receive Olin's tuition scholarship, and may apply for additional financial aid.

4+1 Degree Requirements

All students wishing to complete the 4+1 program must fully satisfy Wellesley’s degree requirements prior to matriculating at Olin, as well as satisfying specific science, math, and engineering requirements (including distribution requirements and course requirements) for the engineering degree at Olin College. Units counted toward the Wellesley degree may be counted towards the Olin distribution requirements. The distribution requirements for the 4+1 Degree are shown in the table below.


Minimum Credits Required



 Math and Science


The math and science coursework must meet the requirements listed in the table below. Suggested Wellesley College courses that satisfy these requirements are also provided.


Wellesley Course that Satisfies Requirement

Mathematics courses must include coverage of integral and differential calculus, multivariable calculus, linear algebra, and differential equations, and probability and statistics.

MTH115 Calculus I

MTH116 Calculus II

Choose one of the two sequences:

  1. MTH205 Multivariate Calculus, MTH206 Linear Algebra, MTH210 Differential Equations
  2. MTH215 Mathematics for the Sciences I AND PHYS216 Mathematics for the Sciences II

Choose one of the two courses: 

MTH220 Probability and Elementary Statistics 


PHYS305 Statistical Mechanics and Thermodynamics

Science courses must include at least one foundational, major­-specific course from each of the physical sciences (physics, chemistry and biology)

PHYS107 Principles and Applications of Mechanics with Laboratory

BISC111 Introductory Organismal Biology with Laboratory

Choose one of the two courses:

CHEM105 Fundamentals of Chemistry with Laboratory


CHEM120 Intensive Introductory Chemistry with Laboratory

 The engineering coursework must meet the requirements listed in the table below. Students normally take ENGR 160 Fundamentals of Engineering at Wellesley College prior to taking engineering classes at Olin.

 Requirement Wellesley Course that Satisfies Requirement
Wellesley Pre-requisite ENGR 160 Fundamentals of Engineering



Olin Courses that Satisfies Requirement

Foundational engineering requirements

2 courses/8 credits

ENGR 1125 Introduction to Sensors, Instrumentation and Measurement (fall)


ENGR 1200 Design Nature (fall)

Design Stream requirements

5 courses/20 credits

ENGR 2210 Principles of Engineering (fall)

ENGR 2250 User-Oriented Collaborative Design (spring)

A course that satisfies the Olin College Design Depth requirement

Engineering Capstone* (Two-course sequence), choose one:

ENGR 4190 Senior Capstone Project in Engineering (SCOPE)


ENGR 4290 Affordable Design and Entrepreneurships (ADE)

Chosen engineering major requirements

Normally 6 courses/24 credits

Major requirements for the 4+1 Program are the same as those described in the Academic Programs section of the Olin College Catalog.

* Students in the 4+1 Program are normally expected ot complete the engineering capstone requirement during (and no earlier than) their year in residence at Olin.

Wellesley students must take a course that develops basic computing skills using Matlab, Python or another appropriate tool:


Olin or Wellesley Course that Satisfies Requirement

A course that develops basic scientific computing skills

1 course/4 credits

 MTH 1111/SCI 1111 Modeling and Simulation of the Physical World (fall)


CS112 Computation for the Sciences (at Wellesley College)

(Students may propose another appropriate Wellesley College course for this requirement)

 Wellesley students must also complete the entrepreneurship foundation course: 


Course that Satisfies Requirement

 Entrepreneurship foundation course

1 course/4 credits

 AHSE 1515 Products and Markets (spring)

Wellesley students who are accepted into the 4+1 Program must spend two semesters in residence at Olin College (living on campus) and must complete a minimum of 28 credits at Olin during that time. Wellesley students must complete a minimum of 44 credits at Olin College during the period they are enrolled at Wellesley and completing the fifth year at Olin. 

For more information on the admission process for the 4+1 Program, see the Olin College Admission page.

A Note Regarding the Revised Engineering Certificate and 4+1 Policies (for Wellesley Students Only)

 The requirements for the Engineering Certificate Program and the 4+1 Program were substantially revised in November 2014. Wellesley students working on the Engineering Certificate or who intend to apply for the 4+1 Program may substitute ENGR 160 Fundamentals of Engineering for ENGR 1200 Design Nature as long as they took ENGR 160 at Wellesley during or prior to Fall 2014. Wellesley students who completed ENGR 160 by Fall 2014 and who are admitted to the 4+1 Program will not be required to complete the new foundational requirement (ENGR 1125 Introduction to Sensors, Instrumentation and Measurements), but will be expected to develop a plan of study (in conjunction with their Olin faculty advisor) for their final year at Olin with appropriate depth in advanced engineering study.