Faculty Recruiting Support CICS

Undergraduate FAQ

You may also find it useful to look through the UMass Registrar's FAQ on grades and classes.

General Questions

Q: How do I receive permission to enroll in more than 19 credits in a single semester?
A: 
You can appeal for "credit overload" to the college's academic advising office

Q: What are the requirements for a high school senior who is enrolling in Computer Science at UMass Amherst?
A: 
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 precalculus as well as meeting the general requirements for admission to the university.  Once you are here, we figure out whether you are ready to take calculus (at the engineer's level) and Java programming.  Even if admissions does not put you directly into the major, we will accept you in if you do well in calculus and programming (and acceptably in your other courses), but you must apply and be admitted to the major. That is, you can enroll in these classes without being in the major. The admissions process for the BS and BA degrees are the same. Note that students are by default put into the BS program, but can switch immediately to the BA when they arrive on campus.

Q: I have AP credit from high school. How do I figure out what courses at UMass I can get credit for given the exam score?
A:
 UMass has a standard list of AP equivalencies that you should check.

Q: I took the language placement test in language x. How do I find out my grade? Whom do I contact to interpret what the grade means?
A: You can check your grade on Spire once it is available. Or call the New Students Program for your score, and you should talk to the x department about what course would be appropriate to start in.

Q: 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?
A:
 Yes we have a short list for colleges that are nearby. If there is a course you have taken, or a university or college that is not listed, contact us and ask for course approval. See a question below on just how many courses you can transfer in. Residency requirements vary by program.

QI'm interested in getting into the gaming industry. What track should I join?
A:
We do not have a specific track in gaming, however, a number of our students have gone on to work in the gaming industry. Gaming is a broad collection of CS topics, and fortunately, we do offer the right courses to cover them. You should complete the set using the General Computer Science track. Specifically, we suggest: CS320 Software Engineering, CS325 Human Computer Interaction, CS373 Computer Graphics, CS377 Operating Systems, CS383 Artifical Intelligence, CS453 Computer Networking, and CS529 Software Eng Project Management. Also Physics 151 and 152 as your lab science requirement. There are usually other relevant courses offered as well. We've also recently offered CS491IP Programming the iPhone and iPad, and have had courses in Flash and multimedia topics. We also suggest minoring in Art (contact  Prof Galvis-Assmus) or at least taking Art Dept courses in digital graphic design.  

The CS Minor

Q: I am interested in the computer science minor. How much math experience do I need?
A: There is no specific mathematics requirement for the computer science minor, but all the courses require R1 proficiency (such as MATH 104). It's true that COMPSCI 240 and 250 require MATH 132 as prerequisite. MATH 131 and MATH 132 are thus recommended, but students without those math courses can still complete the minor by taking other "core" CS courses COMPSCI 220 and COMPSCI 230.

Q: Is the minor really only 5 classes? I thought it was 10 classes?
A: It used to be 10 classes, but we revised the program. If you are in the old program, in almost all cases, it's strictly easier to complete the 5-course minor.

Q: Can I take classes in another department to complete the CS Minor?
A: Yes and No. You may transfer in equivalent courses for 121 or 187 taken at another university. But the three upper-level (200+) courses of a minor must be courses taken in our department. Classes taken at the Five Colleges do not count towards this residency requirement.

The BS-CS degree

Q: How many classes can I transfer into the BS?
A:  For the BS-CS, 5 of your 8 electives must be taken at UMass Amherst.  Five College and study abroad courses do not count toward this 5-course residency requirement, but may count toward the 3 remaining electives.

The CS LAB Science Requirement for the BS

Q: Can the two 4-credit "science" classes that I need to take be in two different departments.
A: Yes. For example, you can take Chem 111 (4cr) and Physics 151 (3cr) and Physics153 Lab (1cr) for a total of 8 credits. See details approved courses for the CS Lab Science Requirement.

Q:  If BIOL 151 can be used to satisfy one of my CS Science Requirements, then why can't I enroll?
A:  There are only certain majors allowed to enroll in BIOL 151/152 and unfortunately, CS is not one of them.  The CS Curriculum and Undergraduate Program Committees allows a Biology Variance for students who entered the major after May 2014.  While Biology courses are not required for the CS Lab Science Requirement, we allow options to use BIOL 151, 152, and 153.

Q:  My ARR doesn't show any Biology courses acceptable for the CS Lab Science Requirement, but the CS webpage says I can take BIOL 151/152/153 (9 credits) for two CS Lab Science Requirement courses.  Why does my ARR not show these courses as options for the CS Lab Science Requirement?
A:  Students must take BIOL 151, 152, and 153 (lab) for a total of 9 credits, to satisfy two CS Lab Science courses. Students may email upd@cs.umass.edu to request an ARR fix after completing all three courses, although it is not necessary.  We look for these courses when the CS Lab Science Requirement is not satisfied and the ARR will be fixed when clearing students for graduation.

Q: What courses can I use for the CS Lab Science Requirement for the BS?
A: Science requirements for the BS degree must be 4 credit courses that:  (1) count toward major requirements in the sponsoring department; and (2) includes a laboratory component.  Courses that meet this requirement are listed on the B.S. Requirements page. Students normally select two courses from this list---mixing departments is acceptable. Petitions for variances in the lab science requirement require the student to submit documentation to the UPD (upd@cs.umass.edu) that demonstrates that the alternate course meets the lab science requirement.

Integrative Experience Requirement

Q: Can I count either COMPSCI 320 or 326 as both IE and toward an upper level CS Elective?
A:
 Yes.

Q: Can I count a COMPSCI 320 or 326 equivalent taken elsewhere for the IE Requirement?
A: No.  You must take either COMPSCI 320 or 326 here at UMass Amherst to satisfy the IE Requirment.

Q: Can I count another major's IE course for the CS Major?
A: No.  All primary CS Majors must take either COMPSCI 320 or 326 to satisfy the IE Requirement.  Double majors who want to use another department's IE course must switch CS to a secondary major.

Internships

Q: I'm doing an internship related to CS and I want to get credit for my internship.  Is that possible?
A: We currently do not have an internship for credit option in CS.  The Undergraduate Program Committee does not support involvement with internships for credit.  The reasoning is:  1) outside work has it's own reward  2) if there's a promise to award credit to avoid paying you, that seems unfair and we don't want to cooperate with that  3) internship credits only count toward the 120 credits, not meeting any major or gen-ed requirements, thus replacing free electives where you could be doing more academics.

Graduate School

Q: I am interested in graduate studies in Computer Science. How do I find out more?
A: A good first step in finding out about graduate school in Computer Science is to visit the new website on undergraduate research and graduate school for students, mentors, and advisors. After reviewing this site you should make an appointment with you advisor for guidance on how to apply and which graduate schools would be suitable for you.