Faculty Recruiting Support CICS

Major Change to CS

The College is proud of its strong commitment to undergraduate teaching and is eager for new students to join our major. The program does not require prior programming experience, such as high school AP courses in computer science. Some students are admitted directly to the major when they apply for admission to the University. The rest apply after they have completed COMPSCI 121 and enrolled in at least COMPSCI 187 and MATH 131.  Applications are considered for the major two times a year with deadlines preceding Spring and Fall registration periods: 

Application Deadline

Registration Period When to apply* Decisions
October 1 for Spring 2021 (November) After Fall add/drop ends
(~Sep 7 through Oct 1)
mid- to late-October
March 1 for Fall 2021 (April) After Spring add/drop ends
(~Feb 1 through Mar 1)
mid- to late-March

*Applications are only accepted according to the above schedule and are reviewed after the deadline.

B.S. Degree Requirements
B.A. Degree Requirements

Application to the CS Major 
*The CS Major Application is no longer available for the March 1, 2020 deadline.  Application will be available in the fall for the October 1, 2020 deadline.



The Undergraduate Program Committee holds an orientation meeting(s) for students interested in changing majors to CS at the beginning of the fall and spring semesters. ALL INTERESTED STUDENTS MUST ATTEND ONE OF THE INFORMATION SESSIONS FOR EACH APPLICATION DEADLINE. Check the calendar for the Undergraduate Orientation for students interested in applying to the CS Major.  Click for slides from the last meeting.


The Undergraduate Program Director (UPD) determines the minimum performance required for all major changes to CS, and generally looks for successful completion of the 4 predictor courses taken here at UMass Amherst (COMPSCI 121, COMPSCI 187, MATH 131 and MATH 132).  

Must be enrolled in at least COMPSCI 187 and MATH 131 to apply.  In addition, UPC Policy is not to consider applications or admit students to the CS Major, who are enrolled in their 5th full-time semester or beyond.

Successful Application for a Major Change to CS.  In recent semesters, students who have obtained a B or better in all predictor courses with at least two of these predictors taken at UMass Amherst with an overall GPA of at least 3.00 at the end of the contract term have been admitted.

  • Predictor courses for success as a CS Major are:
    • COMPSCI 121 Problem Solving with Computers
    • COMPSCI 187 Programming with Data Structures
    • MATH 131 Calculus I
    • MATH 132 Calculus II
  • At least 2 of the 4 predictor courses must be taken at UMass Amherst.  CS/MATH courses beyond usual predictors, may be required if predictors are taken elsewhere.
  • Repeated courses are generally not considered as predictors, requiring CS/MATH beyond usual predictors.


GOALS of the CS Application process:

  • To maximize opportunities to become a CS Major (up to 2 applications) after demonstrating success in predictor courses, and
  • To declare the CS Major (primary/secondary) before the 5th full-time semester at UMass Amherst.

Current standard

Admission standards for major changes into CS are up to the discretion of the Undergraduate Program Director, and are subject to change. The current standard is to meet a contract (one or more terms), consisting of:

  • B or better in contract predictor courses
  • B or better in CS/MATH courses beyond regular predictors, may be required
  • No grade below C
  • At least 12 total term credits earned that are letter graded.  Mandatory P/F courses do not count in this category (One exception: First Year Seminars that are MPF can count toward the 12 contract credits required on applications).
  • No P/F option on contract predictor courses, CS major requirements, or courses counting toward the 12
  • Overall GPA of at least 3.00

Applicants are required to:

  1. Attend mandatory orientation meeting.  For each application deadline, applicants must attend a mandatory orientation session held prior to each deadline.
  2. Align coursework.  Must be enrolled full-time in at least COMPSCI 187 and MATH 131 UMass Amherst to be eligible to apply.
  3. Apply at earliest opportunity.  Apply during (or before) the 3rd full-time semester at UMass Amherst to maximize opportunity for two applications, if needed (see time frame).

TIME FRAME.  First application should be submitted during (or before) the 3rd full-time semester at UMass Amherst.  A first application submitted during the 4th full-time semester will be the only application considered.  Second consecutive application must be submitted during (or before) the 4th full-time semester.  Applications submitted after the 4th full-time semester are not eligible for consideration (see CS Minor).

READMITTED STUDENTS.  Students return to UMass with the same major as when they left and may apply prior to the 5th full-time semester only.  This also applies to students choosing the Fresh Start option.

VIABLE CONTRACT SEMESTER.  Students are required to be enrolled in appropriate CS coursework to align for a contract within the stated timeframe.

COMPLETE APPLICATION.  Current semester schedules should be finalized when applying for the Oct 1 and Mar 1 deadlines.  Applications are not released until after Add/Drop ends.

  • EMAIL pdf to CSapply@cs.umass.edu (until 11:59 PM deadline), or
  • PAPER FORM to CS Main Office (M-F 8:30-5:00 PM, prior to 5:00 PM deadline)

Email will be sent within 1 week to confirm receipt of application. Contact csapply@cs.umass.edu if confirmation is not received.


Applications are reviewed in batch after the deadline by the Undergraduate Program Committee.

  • ADMIT. Students demonstrating a sufficient background or level of achievement may be admitted immediately.
  • CONTRACT. Transcripts are reviewed and specific semester goals for admission are set. Most contracts are for one semester, but some may extend over two terms.  A student given a contract is considered an "Applicant On Contract" (AOC).
  • DENIED. Transcript reflects a pattern that gives negative evidence for success as a CS Major.


Applicants are notified of all decisions via @umass email. 


For AOCs, schedule changes may void contracts and affect applicant status.  Contact upd@cs.umass.edu immediately before making changes. Schedules may be reviewed periodically during the semester and grades are checked at the end of the contract semester(s). For applicants who meet contract, major changes will be processed and override requests will be handled (see Overrides).  For applicants who fail to meet contract, reapplication is available for eligible students.  Students remain on override request lists for consideration, however, priority may be lower based on academic performance and available seats.


AOCs are not considered CS Majors until the contract is met and paperwork is processed to change your major to CS (generally closer to the start of the fall or spring semester). Continue to follow the advising protocol of your current primary major (we will not remove your registration holds).  For CS Advising help and general questions, visit the CICS Advising.  Bring your contract email and identify yourself as an AOC.  If you have additional questions, email the Undergraduate Program Director (upd@cs.umass.edu) and be sure to say you are an AOC.


Overrides are usually needed to enroll in most CS courses that are restricted to majors, so if you meet prerequisites, make sure that you request overrides via the on-line form for the upcoming semester (when link is available).  Register for courses to align with your contract requirements and do not overload a contract term.


Students who are not admitted because of failure to meet the contract are welcome to reapply, according to the following eligibility rules:

  • Reapplication limit not exceeded.  The Undergraduate Program Committee has a limit of 2 applications to the CS Major.
  • Consecutive applications are required.  Do not skip application deadlines.
  • The UPD reserves the right to deny an application before the maximum number of reapplications if a sufficiently negative case for admission is on record prior to that limit, or if the student fails to apply during two consecutive application deadlines.

Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ:  Who isn't admitted when they apply?  Admission is held up only when a student struggles in beginning courses, making success in the major unlikely. Students who are not admitted because of failure to meet the conditions set for admission, are welcome to reapply, according to the reapplication eligibility rules and the timeframe to apply.  

FAQ:  What if I need to make changes or have made changes to my schedule during Add/Drop that affect my contract?  Contact UPD immediately, preferably before making a change.  Changes may/may not impact a contract, but each application will be considered case by case.  Do not assume that changes to your schedule will automatically mean an adjustment to your contract.  The UPD will determine whether to adjust your contract or require a reapplication, if eligible.

FAQ:  What if I know that I won't make my contract?  If circumstance beyond your control keep you from meeting your contract, contact the UPD immediately. Failure to meet contract within two consecutive contracts means you will not be a Computer Science major (see Reapplication).

FAQ:  What if I meet prereq (C or better), but I don't get the contract grade, i.e., I got a C+ in 187 but I needed a B?  University Policy only allows a repeat of C- or lower (see Academic Regulations).  If you received a grade of C or above in the contract course, you are not eligible to repeat that course according to University Policy.  The C+ in 187 meets the prereq for the 200-level core, so you would request an override(s) for core course(s) and reapply if you are eligible.

FAQ:  Can I take a course P/F during my contract term(s)?  See R.O. Academic Regulations for Elective P/F Option rules. The Undergraduate Program follows these guidelines in a contract term: Opting to take a course P/F is permitted except on specified contract courses, CS major requirements, or on courses counting toward the 12 total term letter-graded credits in a contract term.

FAQ:  What about mandatory P/F (MPF) courses during my contract term(s)?  At least 12 total term credits must be letter-graded.  The one exception is for a First Year Seminar that is MPF, which can count toward the 12 letter graded contract credits required on applications.

FAQ:  Can I withdraw from a course during my contract term(s)?  For a contract to remain valid, withdrawals (W) are permitted except for specified contract courses, provided these do not violate the total term credits stated on the contract. If total term credits drop below contract total, the applicant status is no longer valid.  A consecutive reapplication by the next deadline is required.

FAQ:  What if I get an INC grade?  Incomplete grades in a contract term are viewed as a missed contract.  If a contract is missed only based on the INC, the application will be reconsidered if the course is graded at least a month before the next class start.

FAQ:  What is an override?  An override is special permission to enroll in a course when you can't enroll yourself on SPIRE.  We do not provide permission numbers.  Override requests are submitted by students via the online form and Undergraduate Program Staff process approved requests by enrolling students.

For a list of contacts for further information on the undergraduate program, please visit our help page.

College of Information and Computer Sciences
Undergraduate Program
Computer Science Bldg, Room 100
140 Governors Drive
University of Massachusetts
Amherst, MA 01003-9264
phone: (413) 545-2744
fax: (413) 545-1249