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BA Concentration Guidelines

Guidelines.  Now that the BA program has been running for a few years, we have some experience in how easy or hard it is to combine computer science with other fields, given the courses offered at UMass. We will continue to update this list over time.  BA Concentration general advice should be taken into consideration when selecting courses.

In general, we are looking for at least one course from an outside department that has a computational focus or at least strong component. Once we see such a course in your plans, we are more flexible with the other 2 or 3. Some departments at UMass don't have any such courses as noted below. Note that the following is based on preliminary experience. If these courses in other departments change significantly from past offerings, we reserve the possibility of denying you concentration proposal.

  • Engineering. Because this field is so close to CS many of the 200-level ECE classes overlap with our own 200-levels. Hence, our standard is to approve concentrations that include only courses above the 300-level. For example, we have not allowed ECE242 (187 equivalent). Further, some ECE classes overlap in content with our courses, and in those cases, we will not allow such courses to count. For example, ECE232, ECE353, and ECE373 can be used to waive 230, so these courses are not allowed.  You can only take one of CS453 Computer Networking or ECE374 Computer Networks & Internet towards the BA (either one is fine though).
  • Mathematics. As, with engineering, many 100- and 200-level math classes include topics that are already covered by our courses at those levels. We are looking for proposed concentrations that include math classes at 300- and 400-level.  Moreover, since the Math department offers many courses related to CS, we expect to see them on your proposal. Specifically, your concentration must include MATH 551 Scientific Computing.
  • Biology. Currently, we are unaware of any courses in the Bio department that relate to CS (and bioinformatics). Moreover, the Bio department has made it very difficult for students in other degree programs to enroll in Bio classes. We will not approve CmpSci BA proposals in Bio unless you have a specific independent study in Bio with a Bio professor related to computation. Note that it is unlikely for you to get an independent study unless you are a Bio major, in addition to completing our BA degree.
  • English. Currently, we are unaware of any courses in the English department that relate to CS.  We will not approve CmpSci BA proposals in English unless you have a specific independent study in that department with an English professor related to computation. Alternatively, the CS department occasionally offer classes (beyond CS305) that have a strong writing component. In the past, this has included CS325 and CS391LI. To the extent that those classes are offered, we can talk. We worry that you will sign up for the CS BA and these classes won't be offered before you need to graduate. Unless the courses are planned, we may not approve your BA concentration (meaning you won't graduate).
  • A Foreign Language. We approve concentrations involving the study of a foreign language (Japanese, French, etc) only if the following conditions are met 1) One of the cores taken is CS250; 2) The concentration includes Linguistics 401 Introduction to Syntax. 3) All courses in the foreign language must be at the 300-level or above.
  • Psychology. We will accept any four courses in Psych numbered 200 or higher that include one of:Psych 315 Cognitive Psychology;  Psych 330 Behavioral Neuroscience; or BIO 572 Neurobiology.
  • Linguistics. We will accept any four Linguistics courses numbered 200 or higher as long as LING 401 Introduction to Syntax is included. We also will count LING 201 towards the concentration (a pre-req for LING 401).
  • School of Management. We don't have many rules yet for SoM, but note that we don't take SCH-MGMT 210 towards the concentration.
This page is preliminary in nature and may contain small errors; clarifying statements will be added shortly.