Class of 2025 & 2026 - Departmental Requirements
Class of 2025 & 2026 - Departmental Requirements
With computation and computer science now permeating all corners of society and the economy, a computer science education has become a good launching pad for almost any career. Core concepts and skills emphasized in the computer science curriculum include theoretical and quantitative analysis of computation; design/engineering principles of advanced computer systems; and foundations and methods of AI and Machine Learning. The curriculum provides additional flexibility to explore sub-disciplines of computer science (Programming Languages, Formal Methods, Software Engineering, Human-Computer Interaction, Computer Graphics, Information Security), or to branch out into exciting cross-disciplinary investigations (Neuroscience and Cognitive Science, Computational Biology, Information Policy, Robotics, Data Science, etc.). Most computer science majors enjoy programming. Quite a few start with zero or minimal background and are able to enhance their skills while progressing through the curriculum.
The plan below applies to the Class of 2025 and beyond; the requirements for the Class of 2024 and earlier are available from the Computer Science Department website and archived version of the Undergraduate Announcement.
Information for First-Year Students. Students with a general interest in the sciences or engineering are encouraged to take COS 126 in the first year or in the first semester of the second year. This provides useful background for applications work in any science or engineering major and preserves the option of later electing a computer science major.
The prerequisites are MAT 103, 104, any one of MAT 202/204/217 or EGR 154; COS 126; COS 217 and 226. Students should plan to take both COS 217 and COS 226 before their junior year since at least one of them is a required prerequisite for all computer science departmentals.
Majors must take at least 8 departmental courses on a graded basis. These fall into three categories: foundation, core courses, and electives.
Students must take COS 240 (Reasoning about Computation), to be finished before the end of junior year.
Students must take a total of four courses, one from each of the four categories listed below
1) Computer Systems:
COS 316 (Principles of Computer System Design) or COS 375 (Computer Architecture and Organization)
- COS 318 (Operating Systems)
- COS 418 (Distributed Systems)
- COS 461 (Computer Networks)
2) Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning:
COS 324 (Introduction to Machine Learning)
- COS 424 (Fundamentals of Machine Learning)
- COS 429 (Computer Vision)
- COS 484 (Natural Language Processing)
3) Theoretical Computer Science:
- COS 423 (Theory of Algorithms)
- COS 433 (Cryptography)
- COS 445 (Networks, Economics, and Computing)
- COS 487 (Theory of Computation)
4) Breadth: This category contains courses that either explore another sub-discipline beyond Systems/Theory/AIML, or provide experience with real-world applications. At least one must be taken.
- COS 326 (Functional Programming)
- COS 333 (Advanced Programming Techniques)
- COS 343 (Algorithms for Computational Biology)
- COS 426 (Computer Graphics)
- COS 432 (Information Security)
- COS 436 (Human-Computer Interface Technology)
- COS 448 (Innovating across Technology, Business, and Markets)
Students must take three COS courses numbered 300 or higher (including approved COS graduate courses numbered 500 or higher). Alternatively, up to two of the electives may be chosen from a list of approved courses from other departments; see the department website for an up-to-date list.
Any 300- or 400- level Math or ECE or ORF course that does not duplicate COS content, MAE 345, ECO 312*, MOL 437/NEU 437, NEU 330, MUS 315, ECO 326, ECE 206/COS 306, and SOC 414 count as electives.
Students should consult with a computer science academic adviser on their course selections after they decide to become computer science concentrators. Academic advisers are listed on the Department of Computer Science webpage.
Independent Work - AB
All A.B. concentrators will engage in independent work supervised by a member of the department. A junior project normally involves the study and solution of specific problems in Computer Science. IW projects involve the study and solution of specific problems in or related to computer science. These may arise from varied motivations, such as research questions intrinsic to the field; entrepreneurial activities; software design; policy or ethical issues in the tech world; applications of computer science to other disciplines, or to societal problems. Many students come up with their own IW topics; others may formulate them with help from faculty advisors.
In the fall term of junior year, majors must enroll in a Junior Research Workshop (JRW), while simultaneously enrolling in a “Methods” 3xx course being offered that term. The Methods course and the JRW complement each other and enable students to write a comprehensive proposal for a spring IW project by the end of the fall term. See the department website for details. AB junior concentrators have two options to complete their IW projects in the spring term:
1. One-on-One Advising. Students complete a project of their choosing while working one-on-one with a faculty adviser. Students may work within the context of a faculty research project. Students can explore the Undergraduate Research Topics (link is external) for faculty research interests and advisers.
2. Independent Work Seminars (link is external) Students with shared interests around a common theme meet weekly as a group with a faculty adviser. Seminar instructors and themes vary term-to-term
AB senior concentrators must complete a full-year senior thesis. The senior thesis may be a study in greater depth of one of the subjects considered in junior independent work, or it may deal with another aspect of computer science and its application.
Independent Work - BSE
All B.S.E. concentrators engage in independent work supervised by a member of the department. Independent Work projects involve the study and solution of specific problems in or related to computer science. These may arise from varied motivations, such as research questions intrinsic to the field; entrepreneurial activities; software design; policy or ethical issues in the tech world; applications of computer science to other disciplines, or to societal problems. Many students come up with their own IW topics; others may formulate them with help from faculty advisors.
B.S.E. students must elect one semester of independent work by enrolling in 397 (junior fall), 398 (junior spring), 497 (senior fall), or 498 (senior spring). One additional semester of independent work may be counted as one of the departmental courses. B.S.E. students are also welcome, but not required, to complete a senior thesis.