Undergraduate FAQs

  • When should I see an advisor?

    We encourage you to meet with an advisor anytime you have questions. For information on meeting with an advisor in the Department of Computer Sciences, see the Undergraduate Advising page. For information about general advising across campus, see Undergraduate Advising: Resources for Students.

  • Where do I find an advisor?
    • After you have declared the computer sciences major or certificate, you will be assigned to the team of computer sciences advisors. For information on meeting with a Computer Sciences advisor, see the Undergraduate Advising page.
    • Non-declared students who would like to know more about the major should attend a Major Information Session before coming to walk-in advising hours. We are unable to accommodate scheduled appointments with non-declared students.
  • What does it take to major in computer sciences?

    The Computer Sciences major is comprised of 11 computer sciences courses and 4 mathematics courses. For information about the specific major requirements, see the major’s Guide page.

  • What is required to declare a major in computer sciences?

    Before you can officially declare CS as your major, you must complete at least one CS course at UW–Madison (of at least two credits) and earn a grade of C or better in that course. If more than one CS course has been taken, any one may be used to fulfill this requirement.

  • How do I declare a major in computer sciences?

    Once you are eligible to declare the major, you can declare by completing the online major declaration form. To access this form, you must be logged in to Google with your wisc.edu account. Please make sure you are not logged in with a personal Gmail account. Please allow 7–10 business days for processing. Students in schools/colleges outside of L&S will also need a secondary approval from their home school/college.

  • Can I attend a presentation to learn more about the major?

    Current UW-Madison students can attend an optional presentation and Q&A about declaring the Computer Sciences major. These Major Information Sessions are most useful for freshmen and sophomores exploring the major. This event is a small-group setting and will cover the information found on the online declaration form. Check back for Spring 2019 dates.

    If you are a prospective student (e.g. high school student) and not yet enrolled at UW-Madison, please go to Visit Bucky to learn more about prospective student events.

  • I’m an incoming student. Which classes should I take?

    Most first-semester students who intend to major in computer sciences will take one programming course and one mathematics course. Because all students enter UW-Madison with different academic backgrounds, your advisor at SOAR (Student Orientation, Advising, and Registration) will help you determine the best courses for your first semester here.

  • When should I declare my major?

    You should declare the major once you have completed at least one CS course at UW–Madison with a grade of C or better. Being a declared major has many benefits. You will be eligible to schedule appointments with the computer sciences advisors, you will be given priority to enroll in upper-level CS courses, you will receive important emails and invitations to departmental events, and you will be eligible for departmental scholarships and awards.

  • What about the Honors Program?

    If you are in the College of Letters & Science, you have the option to apply to complete Honors in the Liberal Arts (HLA). HLA students complete honors-level coursework in the social sciences, humanities and natural sciences. Students typically apply for HLA once they are admitted to UW–Madison, or early on during their academic careers. Students interested in HLA should contact the L&S Honors Program.

    Students in the computer sciences major have the option to apply for Honors in the Major. To earn Honors in the Major, students must meet GPA requirements, write a year-long honors senior thesis, and complete at least one advanced, honors-level computer sciences course. For more information about the Honors in the Major requirements, please see the Guide.

  • What about second majors for students in other colleges?

    Students in schools/colleges outside of the College of Letters and Science are eligible to declare a second major in computer sciences upon approval from an academic dean in their home school/college. When you declare the computer sciences major, you will receive an email with instructions about obtaining this approval.

  • How do I change my degree program from BA to BS or vice versa?

    To make a change in your degree program (switching from BA to BS or vice versa), you must fill out an online form from the College of Letters & Science.

  • What do I need to do before I graduate?

    Students must apply for graduation via their Student Center to indicate that they are nearing completion of their degree. See the Office of the Registrar’s website for information and instructions about this process. In addition, we advise students to do the following:

    1. Look at your DARS report via MyUW. Read it over carefully to find deficiencies. Be aware that each major (if you have more than one) will have its own DARS report.
    2. 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. This also applies if you have declared Honors in the Liberal Arts (L&S students) or Honors in the Major.
    3. Talk to an advisor about questions you have about meeting requirements.
  • Can I take any courses for the Computer Sciences major Pass/Fail?

    You cannot take a course that counts for the Computer Sciences major pass/fail. For more information about the pass/fail policy, please see the L&S policies page.

  • What do I need to do in addition to the required CS courses to complete my degree?

    Students in the College of Letters and Science are required to complete all L&S requirements in addition to their major requirements. Current students can also find these requirements by running a DARS report. Students in schools/colleges outside of L&S will have different degree requirements from L&S students. These students should work with their school or college advisor(s) to discuss their degree requirements.

  • How will I receive credit for AP or IB tests I took?

    Please consult this chart from the Office of Admissions and Recruitment.

  • What if I have substantial programming experience but no college credit?

    Substantial means:

    • You have written programs that have dozens to hundreds of lines over multiple files
    • You have defined your own object types (classes)
    • You have experience reading data from a file or writing data to a file
    • You have experience handling exceptions
    • You are confident in your development skills: testing, code tracing and debugging

    If you can say yes to all of these, you should enroll in CS 200 and contact Computer Sciences advising at advising@cs.wisc.edu for details about enrolling in CS 300.

  • What about transfer credit?
    • Students enrolled in a UW System or Wisconsin Technical College System can look up equivalencies in the Transfer Information System using the credit transfer wizard. Some two-year schools in Minnesota, Illinois and Wisconsin are in the Transfer Equivalency Database.
    • If you are a student at Madison College (MATC), ask an undergraduate advisor about transfer tips.
    • 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 W. Johnson St., Suite 1101, Madison, WI 53715-1007. They will attempt to determine all transfer credits and equivalent courses at UW–Madison.
    • For courses to be taken during the summer at another university: Use the Summer Course Equivalency Service offered by the Office of Admission and Recruitment. They will then determine, before you go, how these courses will be transferred here.
    • For courses to be taken during study abroad: Contact the UW Study Abroad Office you are participating with. For non-UW programs, or if you will be taking courses abroad that are not affiliated with study abroad programs, see information on the International Academic Programs website. 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. 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 computer sciences courses, credit can be evaluated by the Department of Computer Sciences’ Undergraduate Advising Committee. Students should email full syllabi (that include a list of weekly topics) for the CS courses they have taken to advising@cs.wisc.edu. Be sure to also tell us which course(s) at UW–Madison you believe you should earn transfer credit for.
    • Transfer credits for math courses are handled similarly, but through a Department of Mathematics undergraduate advisor. Please contact placement@math.wisc.edu for more details.
  • Can I earn a second degree?

    Students interested in earning a second undergraduate degree must consult an academic dean in the College of Letters & Science Undergraduate Academic Deans’ Services. An academic dean will be looking to see if a student’s second degree is substantially different from the first degree. For more information about second undergraduate degree requirements and the application process, see the L&S policies page.

  • How do I find on-campus jobs related to computer science?

    You can start by browsing this website’s listings of computer science-related jobs (which includes both on- and off-campus positions). You may also want to search other departments’ listings for research-related jobs, which are often announced by the faculty member whose grant is going to support the position. Other resources include the UW Student Job Center listing of computer-related jobs. There are also jobs posted outside the Department of Computer Sciences main offices (5th floor, Computer Sciences Building), both on the bulletin board and in a notebook.