Computer Science Major
Goals for the Computer Science Major
The aim of our program for the major is to enable students to engage in a world shaped by computation and data, including a solid preparation for graduate work and a successful career in computer science or a related discipline. To achieve this success, computer science majors upon graduation will be able to:
- Demonstrate competency in foundational areas of computer science, encompassing its theoretical basis, software methodologies, computer hardware, and applications
- Formulate, analyze, and solve computational problems
- Apply computational thinking to new problems and adapt to new technologies
- Communicate technical material, orally and in writing, including operating in a team-based setting and solving problems collaboratively
- Evaluate the role of computer science in society and draw connections between computer science and other disciplines
Requirements for the Computer Science Major
Students majoring in computer science must complete CS 111, CS 230, CS 231, CS 235, CS 240, CS 251, two 300-level CS courses, and at least one additional CS course at the 200 or 300 level. Independent study courses (CS 250, CS 250H, CS 350, CS 350H) and honors courses (CS 360, CS 370) do not count toward the required courses for the major. Students who do not take CS 111 must replace this requirement with an additional one-unit CS course at the 200 or 300 level. Computer science courses at other institutions used to meet the nine-course requirement must be approved in advance by the department chair on an individual basis. In addition, all majors in computer science are expected to complete (1) MATH 225 (Combinatorics and Graph Theory) and (2) at least one additional course in mathematics at the 200 or 300 level. Particularly relevant mathematics courses are MATH 206 (Linear Algebra), STAT 218 (Intro to Statistics), STAT 220 (Probability), MATH 221 (Statistical Inference), MATH 223 (Number Theory), MATH 305 (Abstract Algebra), MATH 309 (Foundations of Mathematics), and MATH 325 (Graph Theory). The MATH and STAT courses are considered prerequisites for the CS degree and could be counted toward another major. Students should consult a computer science faculty member for advice in choosing mathematics courses best suited to their interests. Students are encouraged to consult the department's website (www.wellesley.edu/cs) for suggestions of possible course schedules for completing the major. Students considering a junior year abroad should consult a faculty member in the department as soon as possible in their sophomore year to plan a schedule of courses to complete the major.
All computer science majors are required to participate in the Computer Science Senior Poster Fair in the spring of their senior year, in which students present posters on a topic of interest related to computer science (see https://www.wellesley.edu/cs/curriculum/senior for past topics). Students who are graduating early should contact the department chair about alternative ways to satisfy this requirement.
Honors in Computer Science
Students can earn honors in computer science by successfully completing an honors-quality senior thesis. A detailed description of the senior thesis project in computer science can be found at the department's website (www.wellesley.edu/cs/research/thesis). Majors who are interested in undertaking a senior thesis project are urged to discuss their plans with either their advisor or the department chair as early as possible in their junior year.
Graduate Study in Computer Science
Students who plan to pursue graduate work in computer science are strongly encouraged to develop their background in mathematics, particularly in the areas of linear algebra, logic, probability and statistics, number theory, and graph theory. In addition, students who are planning either graduate work or advanced technical research or development work are strongly encouraged to pursue at least one independent study or research project before graduating, in the form of a Wellesley course (CS 250, CS 350, CS 360), an MIT UROP, or a summer internship. Consult www.wellesley.edu/cs/research for more details.
Advanced Placement Policy in Computer Science
Students may receive a maximum of one unit of college credit for a score of 5 on the Computer Science Advanced Placement exam. This unit does not count toward the computer science major or minor. Students receiving AP credit for computer science should consult with the department regarding enrollment in CS 230 or CS 240. Computer science majors and minors should consult with a computer science faculty advisor before electing to take a computer science course as credit/noncredit.
Students interested in computer engineering should consult the course listings in Extradepartmental and enroll in ENGR 111, ENGR 120, or ENGR 160. These courses are intended to be a gateway experience for possible subsequent engineering studies, such as the engineering certificates from the Olin College of Engineering. The Special Academic Programs section contains a description of these certificates that represent groups of engineering courses at Olin designed to complement a major at Wellesley. More information can be found at www.wellesley.edu/engineering.
Students interested in an interdepartmental major in Cognitive and Linguistic Sciences, Media Arts and Sciences, or Neuroscience are referred to these listings in the catalog.
Students interested in engineering should consult the course listings in Extradepartmental.