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Undergraduate Frequently Asked Questions


There are a number of frequently asked questions. Here are answers concerning ...

Computing facilities

Computer science majors use the Department's workstation lab for most of their computing work. The lab contains state-of-the-art workstations and can be accessed remotely.

Buying your own computer

Owning a personal computer, while not absolutely necessary, can be quite convenient, making it possible, for example, to use the Department's computing lab from your dorm room or from any place with an Internet connection. Another potential convenience is that you may be able to do much of your programming work on your own computer, avoiding the occasional rush on the lab machines.

But even if you bought the latest and fastest (and most expensive) machine you should not expect to be independent of the department's lab. Programs often need to be submitted electronically, or you may need to collaborate with other students who are using the department's computers, or you may need to use specific hardware and software available in the lab.

On the whole, you are likely to find having your own computer convenient if it is Internet-capable and has a C++ compiler and a reasonable amount of main memory and disk space. In addition, a word processor can be an advantage in all classes. Beyond that, having the latest and fastest (and most expensive) machine is not likely to make a substantial difference as far as your Computer Science studies go.

If you are unsure about what to get or whether to get a computer at all, you probably want to put off buying one until you have worked in our labs for a while and have experienced the environment first-hand. Also, you might want to check out CU-Boulder Computer Recommendations for more general information on buying a computer for use at CU-Boulder.

Transfer credits

Procedures and policies regarding transfer-credit are explained in the 2010-2011 University of Colorado Boulder Catalog. Note especially that while the Office of Admissions performs an initial evaluation of transfer credit, it is the subsequent evaluation of transfer credit by the department that determines if and how such credit counts towards degree requirements.

Changes in graduation requirements

Graduation requirements do change, but you are entitled to graduate under the rules that were in place when you entered the program. You may later choose to switch to a more recent set of rules, but you may not mix two sets. See BS Degree Requirements for more detail.

If you leave the program and re-enter it later, the rules in effect at the time you re-enter the program are the ones that apply. An exception can be made if the leave is approved beforehand by the Dean's office.

Double major/MS degree

A double degree requires at least 30 hours beyond the requirements of a single degree. You may find it more attractive to plan on a Master's degree instead. You may also consider the Concurrent BS/MS Degree.

Foreign language requirement

Two years of a foreign language in high school are part of the college's "Minimum Academic Preparation Standards" (MAPS). These standards are part of the graduation requirements for the BS degree in Computer Science.


Minimum grade requirements for the BS degree are specified in the BS Degree Requirements. In addition, a final grade of C- or better is required in prerequisite courses to take a subsequent course. The Mathematics Department requires a C in prerequisite courses.

Graduate courses

With permission of the instructor and the department you may take graduate courses. This option is usually reserved for seniors. An average grade of approximately B or better is required.

Linear Algebra courses

Any one of

  • CSCI 2830-3, Linear Algebra with Computer Science Applications
  • MATH 3130-3, Introduction to Linear Algebra
  • APPM 3310-3, Matrix Methods and Applications

satisfies the linear algebra requirement and, together with Calculus 1 and 2, provides the necessary math background for CSCI 3656, Numerical Computation. While APPM 2360-4, Introduction to Differential Equations with Linear Algebra can be used to satisfy the upper division math requirement, it does not include enough linear algebra to satisfy the linear algebra requirement.

Minimum Academic Preparation Standards (MAPS)

These are entrance requirements that are usually taken care of in high school. They are part of the requirements for the BS degree in Computer Science.

"Open Option" first year

Incoming students can delay deciding on a major until the end of their first year and still graduate with a BS in Computer Science within a total of four years. In order to graduate in four years (rather than five), the Computer Science 2: Data Structures course (CSCI 2270) must be taken no later than the summer after the sophomore year.


The Department allows courses counting as free electives to be taken Pass/Fail. Students must petition the Department to take a course Pass/Fail. Note that the College of Engineering and Applied Science has further restrictions on taking a course Pass/Fail. These restrictions are outlined in the College's Grading Policies.

See also:
Department of Computer Science
College of Engineering and Applied Science
University of Colorado Boulder
Boulder, CO 80309-0430 USA
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April 30, 2012 (07:32)