computer-sciences

Our graduates discover that computer science (CS) opens up a world of possibilities. 

Computer scientists enjoy exceptional career opportunities, in settings ranging from large, established companies to adventurous new start-ups. They are also well qualified to pursue graduate study in a number of fields.

Our students are creative, analytical problem-solvers. This is a rich, collaborative and varied field that you will find challenging, no matter where your individual interests lie.

And there is more to CS than programming. While software engineering is an important skill, computer scientists also work with robots and other physical devices, design hardware that runs faster and more efficiently, and apply machine learning techniques to gain insight from large data sets—to name just a few examples.

Because CS has become highly interconnected with medicine, business and many other fields, it is a great fit with other interests you may have. You will enjoy a strong career outlook while having an impact on society.

DECLARATION REQUIREMENTS

To declare the computer sciences major, students must meet the following requirements:

1

 For purposes of computer sciences major declaration requirements, GPA is calculated with UW-Madison courses only, and does not include repeated coursework. 


If a student needs additional coursework to meet the 2.250 GPA requirement, COMP SCI/​MATH  240, COMP SCI/​E C E  354, and/or COMP SCI 400 Programming III may also be used. 


Students having difficulties meeting the above requirements should schedule a meeting with a computer sciences advisor to discuss alternatives.


For instructions on declaring the major, see the Department of Computer Sciences website.

University General Education Requirements

All undergraduate students at the University of Wisconsin–Madison are required to fulfill a minimum set of common university general education requirements to ensure that every graduate acquires the essential core of an undergraduate education. This core establishes a foundation for living a productive life, being a citizen of the world, appreciating aesthetic values, and engaging in lifelong learning in a continually changing world. Various schools and colleges will have requirements in addition to the requirements listed below. Consult your advisor for assistance, as needed. For additional information, see the university Undergraduate General Education Requirements section of the Guide.

General Education
  • Breadth—Humanities/Literature/Arts: 6 credits
  • Breadth—Natural Science: 4 to 6 credits, consisting of one 4- or 5-credit course with a laboratory component; or two courses providing a total of 6 credits
  • Breadth—Social Studies: 3 credits
  • Communication Part A & Part B *
  • Ethnic Studies *
  • Quantitative Reasoning Part A & Part B *

* The mortarboard symbol appears before the title of any course that fulfills one of the Communication Part A or Part B, Ethnic Studies, or Quantitative Reasoning Part A or Part B requirements.

College of Letters & Science Degree Requirements: Bachelor of Science (B.S.)

Students pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in the College of Letters & Science must complete all of the requirements below. The College of Letters & Science allows this major to be paired with either the Bachelor of Arts or the Bachelor of Science degree requirements.

Bachelor of Science DEGREE REQUIREMENTS

Mathematics Complete two courses of 3+ credits at the Intermediate or Advanced level in MATH, COMP SCI, or STAT subjects. A maximum of one course in each of COMP SCI and STAT subjects counts toward this requirement.
Foreign Language Complete the third unit of a foreign language.
L&S Breadth Complete:
• 12 credits of Humanities, which must include at least 6 credits of Literature; and
• 12 credits of Social Science; and
• 12 credits of Natural Science, which must include 6 credits of Biological Science and 6 credits of Physical Science.
Liberal Arts and Science Coursework Complete at least 108 credits.
Depth of Intermediate/Advanced Coursework Complete at least 60 credits at the Intermediate or Advanced level.
Major Declare and complete at least one major.
Total Credits Complete at least 120 credits.
UW-Madison Experience Complete both:
• 30 credits in residence, overall, and
• 30 credits in residence after the 86th credit.
Quality of Work • 2.000 in all coursework at UW–Madison
• 2.000 in Intermediate/Advanced level coursework at UW–Madison

Non–L&S Students PURSUING AN L&S MAJOR

Non–L&S students who have permission from their school/college to pursue an additional major within L&S only need to fulfill the major requirements. They do not need to complete the L&S Degree Requirements above.

Requirements for the Major

 BASIC COMPUTER SCIENCES

COMP SCI/​MATH  240 Introduction to Discrete Mathematics3
COMP SCI/​E C E  252 Introduction to Computer Engineering3
COMP SCI 300 Programming II3
COMP SCI/​E C E  354 Machine Organization and Programming3
COMP SCI 400 Programming III3
Total Credits15

 BASIC CALCULUS

Complete one of these sequences:9-14
Calculus and Analytic Geometry 1
and Calculus and Analytic Geometry 2
Calculus with Algebra and Trigonometry I
and Calculus with Algebra and Trigonometry II
and Calculus and Analytic Geometry 2
Topics in Calculus I
and Topics in Calculus II
Total Credits9-14

ADDITIONAL MATHEMATICS (beyond calculus)

Complete two courses for at least 6 credits:6-10
Elementary Matrix and Linear Algebra 1
Topics in Multi-Variable Calculus and Linear Algebra
Introductory Applied Statistics for Engineers
Introduction to Numerical Methods 2
Introduction to Cryptography
Numerical Linear Algebra
Numerical Analysis
Linear Optimization
Advanced Linear Programming
Introduction to Random Signal Analysis and Statistics
Calculus--Functions of Several Variables 1
Topics in Multi-Variable Calculus and Linear Algebra
Techniques in Ordinary Differential Equations
Linear Algebra and Differential Equations 1
Topics in Multi-Variable Calculus and Linear Algebra
Applied Mathematical Analysis
Applied Mathematical Analysis
An Introduction to Probability and Markov Chain Models
Linear Algebra
Topics in Multi-Variable Calculus and Differential Equations
Introduction to the Theory of Probability
Applied Linear Algebra
College Geometry I
Introduction to Combinatorics
Analysis I
Modern Algebra
Modern Algebra
Modern Number Theory
Mathematical Logic
Introduction to Probability and Mathematical Statistics I
Introduction to Probability and Mathematical Statistics II
Introduction to Theory and Methods of Mathematical Statistics I
Introduction to Theory and Methods of Mathematical Statistics II
1

MATH 375 Topics in Multi-Variable Calculus and Linear Algebra will not meet the requirement if a student already has credit for MATH 234 Calculus--Functions of Several Variables, MATH 320 Linear Algebra and Differential Equations or MATH 340 Elementary Matrix and Linear Algebra.  

Advanced Computer Science Courses

 THEORY OF COMPUTER SCIENCE

Complete one:3
Introduction to Algorithms
Introduction to Theory of Computing

 SOFTWARE & HARDWARE

Complete two:6-8
Foundations of Mobile Systems and Applications
Software Engineering
Introduction to Programming Languages and Compilers
Introduction to the Theory and Design of Programming Languages
Introduction to Operating Systems
Introduction to Software Security
Introduction to Computer Architecture
Database Management Systems: Design and Implementation
Introduction to Computer Networks
Introduction to Information Security

 APPLICATIONS

Complete one:3
Introduction to Numerical Methods 1
Introduction to Combinatorial Optimization
Numerical Linear Algebra
Numerical Analysis
Introduction to Optimization
Linear Optimization
Computational Photography
Introduction to Artificial Intelligence
Natural Language and Computing
Computer Graphics
Introduction to Human-Computer Interaction
Building User Interfaces
2

In every case, a course used toward one requirement may not be used again toward another requirement.  For example, if COMP SCI 412 is applied to the ADDITIONAL MATH (BEYOND CALCULUS) requirement, it cannot also apply to the APPLICATIONS requirement.  

ELECTIVES

Complete two:6-8
Foundations of Mobile Systems and Applications
Introduction to Numerical Methods
Introduction to Combinatorial Optimization
Introduction to Cryptography
Introduction to Computational Statistics
Introduction to Combinatorics
Software Engineering
Numerical Linear Algebra
Numerical Analysis
Wearable Technology
Introduction to Theory of Computing
Introduction to Optimization
Linear Optimization
Advanced Linear Programming
Matrix Methods in Machine Learning
Image Processing
Computational Photography
Introduction to Programming Languages and Compilers
Introduction to Operating Systems
Introduction to the Theory and Design of Programming Languages
Introduction to Artificial Neural Networks
Introduction to Artificial Intelligence
Introduction to Software Security
Natural Language and Computing
Introduction to Computer Architecture
Introduction to Computational Geometry
Computer Graphics
Probability and Information Theory in Machine Learning
Database Management Systems: Design and Implementation
Medical Image Analysis
Introduction to Human-Computer Interaction
Building User Interfaces
Introduction to Bioinformatics
Introduction to Algorithms
Virtual Reality
Tools and Environments for Optimization
Introduction to Computer Networks
Introduction to Information Security
Undergraduate Elective Topics in Computing

Residence and Quality of Work

  • 2.000 GPA in all COMP SCI courses and courses counting toward the major
  • 2.000 GPA on 15 upper-level credits, taken in residence 3
  • 15 credits in COMP SCI, taken on campus
3

 COMP SCI courses numbered 400 through 699 count as Upper Level.


Honors in the Major

Students may declare Honors in the Computer Sciences Major in consultation with the Computer Sciences undergraduate coordinator(s).  To earn Honors in the Major in Computer Sciences, students must satisfy both the requirements for the major (above) and the following additional requirements:

  • Earn a minimum 3.300 University GPA
  • Earn a minimum 3.500 GPA for all COMP SCI and major courses
  • Complete one COMP SCI course numbered 500 through 699, taken for Honors with a grade of B or higher
  • Complete COMP SCI 681 and COMP SCI 682 for a total of 6 credits. 4
4

Senior Honors Thesis proposal must be approved by both the thesis/project advisor and the department undergraduate coordinator before enrollment in COMP SCI 681. A final thesis or project must be filed with the Department of Computer Sciences before a final grade for COMP SCI 682 can be awarded.

  1. Recognize and apply the core principles of Computing (abstractions and algorithms) to solve real-world problems.
  2. Describe and apply the theoretical foundations of Computer Science (e.g., complexity analysis) in practical settings.
  3. Demonstrate knowledge of key elements of computer systems, e.g., hardware, operating systems, networks.
  4. Use fundamental and detailed knowledge, skills, and tools (e.g., specific algorithms, techniques methods, etc.) of computer science and develop the ability to acquire new knowledge, skills, and tools.
  5. Design, implement, and evaluate software in multiple programming paradigms and languages.
  6. Develop a substantial piece of software, and recognize the challenges of designing and developing software.
  7. Exhibit technical (designing, implementing, and testing) and teamwork (communication, collaboration, and professional practice) skills in order to develop solutions as a computer science practitioner.
  8. Can solve problems by applying a broad toolbox of knowledge and techniques.

Sample Four-Year Plan

This Sample Four-Year Plan is a tool to assist students and their advisor(s). Students should use it—along with their DARS report, the Degree Planner, and Course Search & Enroll tools—to make their own four-year plan based on their placement scores, credit for transferred courses and approved examinations, and individual interests. As students become involved in athletics, honors, research, student organizations, study abroad, volunteer experiences, and/or work, they might adjust the order of their courses to accommodate these experiences. Students will likely revise their own four-year plan several times during college.

First Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
COMP SCI 2003COMP SCI 3003
COMP SCI 304 (optional companion course)1MATH 2224
MATH 2215Ethnic Studies3
Communications Part A3Second Semester Language4
First-Semester Language4 
 16 14
Second Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
COMP SCI 4003COMP SCI/​E C E  3543
COMP SCI/​E C E  2523COMP SCI/​MATH  2403
Additional Math Beyond Calculus (MATH 340 recommended)3INTER-LS 2101
Third Semester Language4Communication Part B3
Social Science Breadth3Fourth Semester Language4
 16 14
Third Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
COMP SCI Theory (COMP SCI 577 recommended)3-4COMP SCI Software/Hardware3-4
Additional Math (STAT 324 recommended)3COMP SCI Applications3
Humanities Breadth3Literature Breadth3
Social Science Breadth3Biological Science Breadth3
Elective 3Elective3
 15 15
Fourth Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
COMP SCI Software/Hardware3-4COMP SCI Elective3
COMP SCI Elective3Physical Science Breadth3
Humanities Breadth3Literature Breadth3
Social Science Breadth3Social Science Breadth3
Elective3Elective3
 15 15
Total Credits 120

Advising

The undergraduate coordinators in the Department of Computer Sciences are ready to help students with questions about the major, L&S degree requirements and policy, and course selection. Information on academic advising for students interested or declared in the computer sciences major is posted to the Computer Sciences advising page

CAREERS

Demand for those with a computer sciences education is exceptionally strong. According to figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the vast majority of growth in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) occupations through 2020 will occur within computing fields.

Computer sciences majors are encouraged to begin working on their career exploration and preparation soon after arriving on campus to explore different career paths, participate in co-ops or summer internships, prepare for the job search and/or graduate school applications, and network with professionals in the field.

Department of Computer Sciences: the department hosts one major career fair per year, in the fall, as well as other opportunities to connect with employers, such as technical talks and information sessions.

SuccessWorks at the College of Letters & Science: SuccessWorks offers two major career fairs per year, assists with resume writing and interviewing skills, and offers individual career advising appointments for L&S students.

Engineering Career Services (ECS): ECS offers two major career fairs per year, assists with resume writing and interviewing skills, and hosts workshops on the job search. 

L&S career resources

Every L&S major opens a world of possibilities.  SuccessWorks at the College of Letters & Science helps students turn the academic skills learned in their major, certificates, and other coursework into fulfilling lives after graduation, whether that means jobs, public service, graduate school or other career pursuits.

In addition to providing basic support like resume reviews and interview practice, SuccessWorks offers ways to explore interests and build career skills from their very first semester/term at UW all the way through graduation and beyond.

Students can explore careers in one-on-one advising, try out different career paths, complete internships, prepare for the job search and/or graduate school applications, and connect with supportive alumni and even employers in the fields that inspire them.

Professors  A. Arpaci-Dusseau, R. Arpaci-Dusseau, Bach, Barford, Banerjee, Cai, Doan, Dyer, Ferris, Gleicher, Jha, Livny, Miller, Mutlu, Patel, Reps, Ron, Sankaralingam, Sohi, Swift, van Melkebeek, Wright, Zhu

Associate Professors I. Diakonikolas, Lee, Sifakis

Assistant Professors Albarghouthi, Chatterjee, D'Antoni, J. Diakonikolas, Fernandes, Gupta, Hanna, Hsu, Kim, Koutris, Li, Liang, Sala, Sinclair, Tzamos, Venkataraman, Yu, Zhao

Faculty Associates Ayari Ben Hadj Kacem, Captain, Caraza-Harter, Dahl, Deppeler, Doescher, Hasti, Heimerl, Kuemmel, Legault, Lewis-Williams, Renault, Skrentny, Syamkumar, Williams

Visit Scholarships@UW-Madison to find UW–Madison scholarships and apply online.

Visit the scholarships page on the Department of Computer Sciences website for a compendium of opportunities available to students studying computer sciences.