Faculty Recruiting Support CICS

Exploratory Track FAQ

I have been accepted to UMass Amherst as an Exploratory Track student in the College of Information and Computer Sciences.  Am I a computer science major or am I undeclared?

You are an undeclared student in the Exploratory Track Program in the College of Information and Computer Sciences.  You are welcome to apply to the computer science major, and you are free to explore any other major UMass Amherst has to offer.  Your college advisor can assist you as you navigate the application process to the computer science major while you are simultaneously exploring other potential majors. 

As an Exploratory Track student how can I and when can I get into the computer science major?

All UMass Amherst students are welcome to apply to the computer science major.   The application deadlines are October 1 in the fall and March 1 in the spring.  A student can apply once they are in COMPSCI 187 and are in or have completed Math 132.  Go to Major Change to CS to learn more about the application process.   Note that acceptance into the computer science major is strictly based on academic performance here at UMass Amherst.

What does a typical first semester of classes look like?

Normally, a first-year student takes 4 classes and one seminar.  We stress the importance of a balanced schedule and recommend that students take 2 technical and 2 non-technical courses.  For example, a student who comes without any college credit for calculus and computer science may take:

MATH 131 (4 credits)

COMPSCI 121 (4 credits)

Elective (3 or 4 credits, area of interest or potential interest)

Elective (3 or 4 credits) or college writing (3 credits)

Seminar (1 credit)   

What are the requirements for a high school senior enrolling in computer science at UMass Amherst?

You first need to be admitted to the university and express an interest in the major.  The admissions department then decides whether to admit you directly into the major - usually this requires that you do well in high school pre-calculus in addition to meeting the general requirements for admission to the university. 

Once you are at UMass, we figure out whether you are ready to take engineering-level calculus and Java programming.  Even if admissions does not put you directly into the major, CICS will admit you if you do well in calculus and programming (and acceptably in your other courses), but you must apply and be admitted to the major. The admissions process for the BS and BA degrees are the same.

I have AP credit from high school. How do I figure out what courses I can get credit for given my exam score?

UMass has a standard list of AP equivalencies that you should check. Please confirm this with your advisor as this list changes from time to time.

I have taken, or would like to take, some classes at another university and I would like to transfer the credit to UMass. Is there a list of classes that are already approved?

Yes we have a short list  for colleges that are nearby. If there is a course you have taken at a university or college that is not listed, contact us and ask for course approval.  You will need to fill out a TCE to get computer science classes approved.

What is the difference between the CS-BS and the CS-BA?

The Bachelor's of Science (BS) is composed of 14 CS classes, 4 math classes, and 2 lab science classes.  The Bachelor's of Arts (BA) is composed of 10 CS classes, 3 math classes, 4 course concentration (approved courses outside of CS), and a foreign language requirement.

Does UMass Amherst have an Informatics major?

Yes. Informatics studies the design, application, use, and impact of computational principles and technology.  Presently, there are two Informatics "tracks": Data Science and Digital Media.

If I know I want to major in computer science, why is it important to explore other major options?

It is good to have a backup plan. Every student should vigorously pursue any major of interest while staying focused on the classes and grades needed to get into the computer science major.  There are over 90 majors on campus and most of them are open or "unrestricted"; however, there are about a dozen "restricted" majors at UMass.  A restricted major is simply one in which a student has to do something to get into it.  All restricted majors have different entrance standards.  It is important to understand what is needed to gain entrance to the major.  Computer science is a restricted major, please check out "Becoming a CS Major" to learn more about the computer science application process.