CS Major FAQ
- When should I see an advisor?
- Where do I find an advisor?
- What does it take to major in CS?
- What should I do first?
- How do I declare a CS major?
- When should I declare my major?
- Can I take any courses Pass/Fail?
- Which courses determine my GPA?
- When am I officially a CS major?
- What do I need to do to graduate?
- What about Honors?
- What about second majors?
- Can I get a second degree?
- What about transfer credit?
- What about non-CS requirements?
- What about graduate school?
- How do I find on-campus jobs related to CS?
- Where do I get more information?
When should I see an advisor?
You must see an advisor to declare a major, but you don't have to wait until then. You are urged to see an advisor (or to contact her/him by email) any time you have questions. If you send email, please just send to one advisor (or to the two co-chairs of the Undergraduate Advising Committee).
Where do I find an advisor?
Check the CS Advisor List for current office hours, or see Angela Thorp in room 5355 of the Computer Sciences Bldg, 1210 W. Dayton St., for a list.
What does it take to major in Computer Science?
If you are a student in the college of Letters and Sciences (L&S), you can graduate with a major in CS by taking 11 Computer Sciences courses and 5 Mathematics courses. Students in other colleges, particularly Engineering and Business, can get a second major in CS. See FAQ "What about second majors"
What should I do first?
Before you can officially declare CS as your major, you must complete three CS courses: CS 302, 240, and 367. You must have a 2.6 average in those course (plus optionally one more, see below). CS 302, 240, and 367 should give you a good taste of what Computer Sciences is like. Even if you decide not to major in CS, these courses will be valuable to you in other technical fields, and will give you a good start toward getting a CS Certificate.
It is strongly recommended that you be comfortable programming in Java before taking 367. Links to C++ and Java tutorials can be found in the menu above right (warning: they are rather old).
What courses are used to calculate my GPA for determining acceptance to the CS major?
At least two and at most the first four CS courses taken at UW--Madison. This must include the three courses for the Acceptance requirement if taken here and may otherwise include any CS courses (including any course cross-listed with CS) taken at UW-Madison except for CS 110, 132, 310, 312, 368, 371, and 550. Effective Fall 2009, if you take the same course twice, both grades are used in the GPA calculation.
How do I declare a major in CS?
You should see a member of the CS Undergraduate Advising Committee (UGAC) to fill out a Course Plan and a Major Declaration Form. The Course Plan indicates which courses you intend to take to satisfy the requirements for the major and when. Also bring a current DARS report.
Can I take any courses in my major Pass/Fail?
No. If you are a CS major, you cannot take any CS courses Pass/Fail.
When should I declare my major?
You should declare the major as soon as you have completed CS 302, CS 240, and CS 367. Being a declared major means that you will receive invitations to departmental events and you will be eligible for departmental scholarships and awards.
When am I officially admitted to the CS Major?
Approximately two weeks after an Undergraduate Advising Committee member has approved and signed your Major Declaration Form, you will be a CS Major. To verify this, check your DARS report.
What do I need to do before I graduate?
There are no official forms to fill out in order to graduate, but there are several things that you are advised to do:
1. During Preregistration for your last semester (or what you think will likely be your last semester), answer "YES" to the question "Do you expect to graduate at the end of next semester?" If you do this, you will receive a letter from the Registrar's Office with a list of deficiencies you must satisfy (or fix) before you graduate.
2. Look at your DARS Report via MY UW. Read it over carefully to find deficiencies. Be aware that a DARS report obtained this way by a student not from L&S might not contain explicit mention of the second major in CS; such a student needs to get the DARS report via machines in 123 Peterson Building.
3. Check to make sure your major(s) is (are) declared correctly. That is, make sure you have officially added and/or dropped majors so that the list of majors on record is exactly what you want for graduation. If not, go to the individual departments to add or drop a major.
4. Talk to a CS advisor about questions you have on CS major requirements, and talk to an L&S advisor about questions on L&S requirements. This link takes you to the "Advising in Letters and Science" page in the UW Undergraduate Catalog.
What about honors?
A student is usually admitted to the Honors program as a freshman and any such student may take any CS course numbered 300--699 for Honors credit, with the permission of the course instructor and the Departmental Honors Advisor. In addition, any CS course numbered 700 or above carries honors credit for undergraduates.
However, a student can graduate with ``honors in the major'' without being in the honors program. For such an ``honors in computer science'', see the Departmental Honors Advisor and check out the specific requirements listed in the undergraduate guidebook.
What about other (non-CS) degree requirements?
Advisors in CS can only advise you about specific requirements for the CS major. For information about other degree requirements, see the L&S Advising Services in 70 Bascom Hall.
How do I get transfer credit for courses taken elsewhere?
- For courses taken before admission or before re-entry to the University: Submit all transcripts along with your admission application to the Office of Admissions and Recruitment, 702 West Johnson Street, Suite 101, Madison WI 53715-1007. They will attempt to determine all transfer credits and equivalent courses at UW-Madison. Have a look at the relevant web site.
- For courses to be taken during the summer at another university:
Go to the Undergraduate Admissions Office in 716 Langdon Street and fill out a "Summer Request Form" for the course(s) you intend to take. They will then determine BEFORE you go, how these courses will be transferred here.
- For courses to be taken during Study Abroad:
Go to the Undergraduate Admissions Office in 716 Langdon Street and fill out a "Study Abroad Request Form" for the course(s) you intend to take. They will then determine BEFORE you go, how these courses will be transferred here.
- For courses taken after you have been admitted and AFTER you have completed them: Submit a copy of your transcript to the Office of Admissions and Recruitment (address above). They will attempt to determine the credits and the equivalent courses here, if any.
- In the event that the above offices cannot determine transfer credits for CS-type courses, they will ask the student to see an advisor in CS and to get a letter indicating how the course(s) you took should be transferred. In this event, take your transcript, and any materials you have describing the course(s) you took (especially a catalog description and a syllabus) to a CS Undergraduate Advisor. If the advisor can determine equivalency in CS, the advisor will write a memo stating "The course ________ taken by _______ at ________ is equivalent to CS _____ at the University of Wisconsin-Madison." This memo should be sent by campus mail to Office of Admissions and Recruitment, 702 West Johnson Street, Suite 101, except if the student is in the College of Engineering, in which case it should be sent to: College of Engineering Transfer Admissions, Attn: Ann Morris, 2640 Engineering Hall.
- If the CS Advisor cannot determine the equivalency of your course, you should see an instructor in CS who has recently taught a similar course here. That person should then write the above memo and send it to the appropriate office.
- Transfer credits for Math courses are handled similarly, but through a Math Department Undergraduate Advisor.
- Courses from MATC can transfer only if the student was in the College Transfer Program.
What about second majors for students in other colleges?
Acceptance of the major may be contingent on approval of a dean of your home college (Dean Pat Farrell, 2630 Eng., in the case of Engineering; for CALS, the process is more complicated). When you declare the CS major, make sure the advisor knows you are in another college.
Can I get a second degree?
Students should consult with a dean in the College of Letters and Science Student Academic Affairs Office (608-262-5858; Suite 155, Middleton Building, 1305 Linden Dr.) if they wish to earn a second undergraduate degree. Students admitted as candidates for a second undergraduate degree are subject to the L&S Academic Probation and Drop system. A second undergraduate degree must be substantially different from the first degree. Students are not permitted to earn two undergraduate liberal arts degrees.
Requirements for admission to candidacy for a second degree are:
1) An undergraduate degree earned at UW-Madison or elsewhere.
2) Satisfaction of all basic admissions requirements to UW-Madison.
3) Submission of transcripts from all schools attended.
4) Minimum of 3.0 GPA on first undergraduate degree program.
5) Admission to the proposed major (completed major/certificate declaration form or departmental letter).
6) Written permission from an L&S academic dean.
To earn a second undergraduate degree from UW-Madison, students must:
1) Satisfy all Letters and Science degree requirements.
2) Satisfy all quality of work requirements.
3) Complete at least 30 credits in Letters and Science at UW-Madison after the first degree has been awarded, regardless of whether or not the first degree was an L&S degree. Note that the second degree's major must be significantly different from the first degree.
4) Complete a minimum of 108 credits in L&S courses, which may include courses completed during the student's first degree program.
See an L&S advisor in 155 Middleton Building for more information.
How do I find on-campus jobs related to computer science?
There are lots of places on campus where computer science related jobs are announced. Research-related jobs are generally announced by the faculty member whose grant is going to support the position, so these are found only by searching for announcements in each department. For information on on-campus and near-campus jobs, check out the UW Student Job Center listing of computer-related jobs, and the Career Advising and Planning Services (CAPS) office. There are also jobs posted outside the Computer Science Department main office (Room 5355), both on the bulletin board and in a notebook. Click Job and Internship opportunities for more.
What about graduate school?
The UW--CS Graduate Program pages are here.
Where can I get more information?
Peruse the CS Undergraduate Program web pages and the CS Undergraduate Guidebook. The CS Guidebook has the most complete and up-to-date information on rules and requirements, as well as recently revised course descriptions.