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Frequently Asked Questions

What can you do with an IBE degree?

It has long been true that a background in both engineering and business has been a powerful combination for a successful career. Technology is clearly crucial in the development of products and in designing the processes by with they are produced. A much more recent phenomenon is the tremendous impact technology is having on the way business is conducted. The Internet and e-commerce, industrial information systems, and enterprise resource planning systems (ERP) are examples of technology changing the very essence of commerce. The impact of these and other recent advances is clear, and we have only seen the tip of the iceberg. IBE graduates will be ideally positioned for this future environment.

One aspect of the IBE program that is easily overlooked, and that gives a clue as to what sort of careers one might anticipate, is the focus on the technology of business. Can you imagine someone being successful in today's business climate without being technically competent? Yet traditional business curriculums often fall short in this respect.

The future for engineering graduates is also undoubtedly bright. If your goal is to become a practicing engineer, then you should get an engineering degree (either through the dual degree IBE program or conventional engineering programs). If you goal is to work in the technical side of business, or on the interfaces between business and engineering, you should strongly consider the IBE program.

As IBE is a brand new program, we have no historical employment data to point to. However, we can report that several firms have already expressed great interest, and indeed are offering financial support to the program. The type of companies that have already expressed interest include Management Consulting firms (such as Andersen Consulting, and Price-Waterhouse-Coopers), Investment and Financial firms (such as Goldman-Sachs), and Information Companies (such as Unisys). Keep in mind that these firms are supporting the program before we have even accepted our first freshman class! 

If I don't get into the IBE Honors Program, can I still be accepted to Lehigh?

The answer is absolutely yes!  Applying to the IBE Honors Program in no way affects the ordinary admissions process to Lehigh. Students will be accepted into Lehigh, and into their College of choice independent of the IBE program. Further, application to the IBE program will not affect any financial aid decisions. From the point of view of admissions and financial aid, interest in the IBE program has no effect, positive or negative.

If you are accepted into the IBE Honors Program, you will also be accepted into either the P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science or the College of Business and Economics, depending on which you applied for.

The IBE program is quite rigorous, and the admission standards are high. Many highly qualified students will not get in, and many of these students will undoubtedly go on to distinguish themselves in Lehigh's Engineering and Business Colleges. 

Is an IBE degree a "real" engineering degree?

The 4 year IBE degree is not an engineering degree, but rather is an accredited business degree. Assuming an IBE student majors in an engineering discipline, he or she is roughly 15 to 20 credits short (depending on major) of satisfying the requirements for an engineering degree. Thus a 4 year IBE student will finish a complete business degree and most of an engineering degree.

The 5 year dual degree program is designed for students seeking both an IBE degree and an Engineering degree. By a Lehigh University rule, one must earn an additional 30 credits beyond the first bachelor's degree to obtain a second bachelors degree. The typical engineering major requires about 134 credits for graduation, while the IBE program requires 137. Thus to get two degrees, one would typically need about 164 credits, or about 27 additional credits past the IBE degree (30 credits past the engineering degree). One additional year, or one semester plus one summer would typically be required to complete the second degree. This calculation assumes that the student's IBE major is in the same engineering field as the second engineering degree. The exact number of additional credits required will vary a bit depending on major. To learn more about major specific curriculum requirements, click here.

To become a registered (i.e. licensed) Professional Engineer (PE), one must have an accredited engineering degree. If this is your goal, but you are still interested in IBE, you should consider the dual degree program. In the business world the term "engineer" is often used loosely, and being a licensed professional engineer (PE) is not always crucial. If you plan to work in Civil or Mechanical engineering for example, then being a PE is a necessity. On the contrary, few Industrial Engineering or Computer Science majors take the exam required to become a PE. Further, if you wanted to go to graduate school in an engineering field, we are confident that an IBE degree with a major in an engineering field would be sufficient. In many cases, students are able to fulfill the requirement for the dual degree program by either entering with several AP credits or by taking classes in the summer or winter. To learn more about Lehigh's credit policy, click here

If your goal is to become a practicing engineer, then you should get an engineering degree (either through the dual degree program or the conventional engineering programs). If you goal is to work in the technical side of business, or on the interfaces between business and engineering, you should consider the IBE program. Also see "What does an IBE degree qualify one to do upon graduation?" above. 

Can I transfer out of the IBE Honors Program?

One can always decide to change majors at any time. Of course the key question is, will I still be able to graduate in 4 years, and if not, how much additional course work will be required?

The freshman year curriculum for IBE students is the same as that taken by freshman engineering majors (except IBE students take an additional IBE class). Thus, if during the freshman year, one decides to transfer to a "regular" engineering major, it is easy to do so without penalty. In subsequent years it should also be fairly easy to transfer with little penalty from IBE into the engineering field you were majoring in as an IBE student. For example, an IBE student majoring in Industrial Engineering could transfer quite easily to the regular Industrial Engineering program. As is always the case when a student changes majors, the number of extra credit hours required depends on how early the student transfers and how similar the new major is to the old. Every degree program has a prescribed set of graduation criteria. The bottom line is that these criteria must be met in order to receive the degree.

Most courses in the freshman year IBE curriculum are similar to the business freshman curriculum (e.g. both take English, computing, and math, although IBE/engineering math is at a higher level). IBE students also take physics and chemistry. These courses are not required in business, but certainly fulfil various elective requirements with in the business curriculum. Thus, one could transfer to a business degree program during the freshman year without penalty in terms of graduating on time. 

How does one satisfy the language requirement?

The IBE language requirement may be satisfied in one of the following ways:

  • Students who have successfully taken language through the intermediate level at Lehigh (e.g. Spanish 12 or its equivalent) will satisfy the language requirement.
  • Students who have AP scores of 5 will satisfy the language requirement.
  • Students who have taken four years of high school language classes and received at least a B+ average will satisfy the lanuage requirement.
  • International students with both English proficiency and fluency in any second language other than English or English dialects will satisfy the language requirement.

Students with some language background in high school will be assigned to the appropriate starting course at Lehigh following the standard mechanisms and criteria applied by the Department of Modern Languages and Literature to all Lehigh students.

The IBE curriculum contains 6 credits of Humanities and Social Science electives and 6 credits of free electives. These 12 credits may be used to take language courses. Students with no language background will need to take four (4-credit) language courses to fulfill the language requirement. Since only 12 elective credits are built into the IBE program, students unable to place out of at least the first language course would require four additional credits to graduate.

Which courses will I take during my freshman year?

The freshman year curriculum for IBE students is the same as that taken by freshman engineering majors (except IBE students take an additional IBE class). The standard freshman curriculum for IBE students is:

Freshman year, Fall Semester Credits
English 1 (Composition and Literature I) 3
Math 21 (Calculus I) 4
Chemistry 30 (Introductory to Chemical Principles) 4
Eco I (Principle of Economics) 4
IBE 10 (Freshman Seminar) 1
Total 16
Freshman year, Spring Semester Credits
English 2 (Composition and Literature II) 3
Math 22 (Calculus II) 4
Physics 11 (Intro. Physics) 4
Physics 12 (Intro. Physics Lab) 1
Engineering 10 (Engineering Computations) 2
IBE 050 (Freshman Workshop) 3
Total 17


What's up with this international experience?

The world is "getting smaller" every day, thus we believe strongly in preparing students for the future global economy. The language requirement is one step in this direction. Travel abroad is another important experience that we strongly encourage. Please note that while this international experience is encouraged, it is not required. We encourage students to take advantage of the various study abroad opportunities available at Lehigh. We will also seek out and encourage international internship opportunities for IBE students. 

What prerequisites are necessary to be considered for the IBE Honors Program?

The prerequisites in terms of high school course work are the same as for applying to the P.C. Rossin College of Engineering or the College of Business and Economics. The standards for admission will, however, be higher due to the rigorous nature of the program, and its honors status. 

Does the co-op program take the place of the requirement for summer internships?

Yes. The primary purpose for requiring a summer internship is to ensure that all IBE students will have industrial experience as well as the opportunity to apply their integrated business and engineering coursework to real world problems. Clearly, the co-op programs provide students with that same experience and opportunity.

How many students are enrolled in the IBE Honors Program?

We expect to enroll approximately 50 students each year. Our steady-state goal is a total enrollment of 200 IBE scholars, 50 in each class.

What is the advising system like for this program?

The two Co-Directors of the IBE Honors Program (Prof. Buell and Prof. Storer) will serve as advisors for the program. Prof. Storer comes from the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering and Prof. Buell from the Department of Finance and Law. Each has experience in both business and engineering. Additionally, once you declare a major in an engineering or business area, you will receive a new advisor in that concentration. Each IBE student would work closely with his or her advisor to plan their course schedules and the careers after graduation.

Does the technology that is added to the business program consist of just computing?

No. "Technology" is a very broad term. The IBE program requires as part of its core courses that all students take at least one course in computer programming. This requirement can be satisfied with Engr 10, Engineering Computations, or Comp. Sci. 11, Introduction to Computing. Depending upon the major selected, a student can take several more courses in computing if he or she desires. A major in computer science or computer engineering or in business information systems would afford the most opportunity.

All IBE students will be required to complete a core of 20 credit hours of engineering courses. Each major in engineering has an engineering core designed specifically for that particular major. All business majors have an engineering core designed specifically for business majors, but they will be able to individually modify it to better suit their needs and interests. Some additional computer languages can certainly be part of their core.

Do you suggest a summer course of calculus?

Assuming that you have taken and done well in a high school pre-calculus course, you should be in good shape to begin calculus at Lehigh. We would recommend that you take technical courses at Lehigh rather than in high school, or through summer programs. Technical courses like math or physics can be taught at many levels of difficulty. If you take "Calculus I" elsewhere, and then enroll in "Calculus II" at Lehigh, you may find that you are not as well prepared as you thought. If you want to get a head start on course work, we would recommend that you take humanities or social science courses in general, and language in particular (if you haven't yet fulfilled the language requirement). One last point, there is a lot to be said for enjoying your last summer before beginning college!