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A certificate candidate's courses and thesis must form a coherent plan of study that fulfills both the program requirements and the requirements of the candidate's department of major. This planning is done in consultation with the program adviser and the student's academic adviser in the department of major. The following are the requirements:

1. The prerequisite for admission is successful completion of COS 126 or ISC 231-234, or ECE 115 or COS placement officer permission to take COS 217 or 226. 

2. Two courses from among the following four: COS 217, COS 226, COS 323(ORF 363), COS 324. (If placement is granted beyond the 217/226 level, then additional COS departmental must be taken instead).

3. One COS departmental at the 300- or 400-level, Courses that cannot be used: COS 397, COS 398, COS 497, COS 498, COS 323 (ORF 363), or COS 324. 

4. One additional 300- or 400-level course with substantial computing content. This may be either a second COS departmental, or an outside course, see below.  Courses that cannot be used: COS 397, COS 398, COS 497, COS 498, COS 323(ORF 363), or COS 324.

Please Note: COS 340 has been renumbered to 240.  This course will continue to count as a 300 level and can be used in lieu of a thesis.


Please be mindful that you CANNOT use the courses below if they count as a core requirement for your major
* The only graduate course that is approved to satisfy the PAC requirements is APC 524.*  

Department Course Number
APC 441, 524
ARC 374
AST 303
CBE 422, 448
CEE 374
EGR 491
ECE 364, 368, 382, 435, 464, 472, 477, 481, 482
MAE 306, 412, 432, 433
MAT 305, 306, 377, 393, 477, 478
MUS 315
NEU 314, 330, 437
ORF 307, 309, 311, 350, 387, 401, 409, 417, 418, 467
PHI 312
POL 346
PSY 322, 480
QCB 408
SOC 306
SPI  357


5. A senior thesis on a topic that makes significant use of some aspect of computer science. The intent is that this thesis satisfy the requirements of both the program and the student's major department and is thus necessarily interdisciplinary. A wide range of thesis topics is possible. In the last few years of the program, students have earned certificates with a variety of majors, including anthropology, chemistry, classics, economics, electrical engineering, history, philosophy, and psychology. Aspects of computer science can be used in the following ways, for example: building an application to test some key element of the thesis; developing or coding significant algorithms to solve some problem in the area of the thesis, such as to simulate scenarios or analyze a set of data; using machine learning perform meaningful analysis or discover meaningful insights (beyond simply running an off-the-shelf piece of software and reporting results); or analyzing data in the context of policy development and analysis; among others. In general, simply using existing software to obtain some results, with no value-added computer science aspect from the student, will not qualify.

The thesis work is coordinated through the student's thesis adviser in the department of the major and an assigned program adviser (who may be, in routine cases, the program director).   The online worksheet requires seniors to fill out the "Sr. Thesis" information, which will be reviewed by the director of PAC for approval.  Seniors will answer the question, "How is this work related to Computer Science?".   The director will review the information provided by the student and will provide feedback or approval on the worksheet. 

6. When doing a thesis that includes a significant element of computer science is not possible, the student may instead complete one additional 300- or 400-level computer science departmental (not including COS 323 (ORF 363), COS 324, COS 397, COS 398, COS 497 or COS 498).  Please Contact Laura Cerrito at pac@lists.cs.princeton.edu; explain why your thesis does not meet the requirements outlined above and the course number that you will take in lieu of the thesis.  She will respond via email with the course approval notice. 



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