Advice About Computer Science Major

Importance of advising: The computer science program has considerable flexibility; at the same time many courses have prerequisites. Your exact schedule will be determined only after consultation with your an advisor in the department. Seeking advice on your major plan in your first year is strongly recommended.

The first two years: A typical computer science major would complete the introductory courses (Comp 120, Comp 121, or Comp 123; and Comp 124) during the first year, along with Math 136, Discrete Math. During the second year, most of the 200-level core courses would be completed. That said, a late start on the major is possible, given close consultation with computer science faculty. Some students arrive with sufficient experience to skip one or more introductory courses; consult a computer science faculty member to determine proper placement. Students can begin taking advanced electives whenever they have completed the prerequisites.

Required mathematics courses: Discrete Math contains many ideas that are important throughout computer science; therefore it is specifically required of computer science majors. Other math courses that list Discrete Math as a prerequisite may not cover the topics we particularly want computer science majors to learn. We have left the remaining math courses as flexible as possible to allow for student interests (any other Math courses offered by Macalester). Statistics, linear algebra, and calculus are all excellent choices.

Interested in graduate school? Students who are thinking of graduate school in computer science should consider taking more than the minimum number of computer science electives, and finding a summer research experience. Plan on taking the general GRE during fall of senior year. Some computer science graduate programs require the Computer Science subject GRE; having all your core coursework and some electives completed before taking the subject GRE is recommended.

Plan ahead for advanced courses: 300 and 400-level courses are offered on a rotating schedule. Many are offered every other year. Please read the catalog carefully and ask your advisor about courses of particular interest to you.

Carefully read the requirements for the Computer Science major as listed in the college catalog. Computer Science Major