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BSE vs AB

Computer Science is the only department at Princeton which offers both A.B. and B.S.E. degrees.  Here, we outline some of the key differences between these options, considering both University requirements and Computer Science requirements.   Most differences stem from the difference in the University requirements for the A.B. degree versus the B.S.E degree.  Details can be found on the requirements page.

General Differences

Students seeking an A.B. degree are not required to take the engineering prerequisite such as physics and chemistry, and also have to take one less math course.   However, they still need to take 2 semesters of some science.   A.B.'s only need to complete 31 courses rather than 36 over the four years.  However, A.B. majors are required to participate in four semesters of independent work (two junior year and a year-long senior thesis) and these do not count towards the 31 required courses.  B.S.E. majors are required to perform one semester of independent work, which does count as a course. Both A.B. and B.S.E students must complete 8 computer science departmentals.  Thus, the total course load is relatively similar between the two options.

Frequently Asked Questions: 

Should I choose one degree over the other depending on what I want to do after graduation?

Answer:

Our experience is that employers and graduate schools do not care whether you're an AB or a BSE (and most don't understand the distinction).

When do I have to make a final decision about whether to be AB or BSE?

Answer:Any time before graduation. As long as you have satisfied the requirements for either degree, you can switch (multiple times!) from one to the other just by filling out a form.
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