Undergraduate frequently asked questions

Expand all

What is the difference between a CSE and CLA CS&E degree?

  • Two science courses (Phys 1301W and your choice of Phys 1302W, Chem 1061/1065, Chem 1062/1066, ESci 2201, Psy 3011, or Gcd 3022) is required by CSE, not by CLA.
  • CSE Upper Division Track including an addition math requirement (see UD Math Oriented Requirement below) is 23 credits, of which some can be upper level courses in a "related field." CLA Upper Division Track is 8 semester credits of 4xxx/5xxx CSci courses.
  • CSE requires an additional math course (UD Math Oriented Requirement).
  • CLA requires a second language.
  • CLA requires 18 credits of upper division non-CSCI courses.

Is my Upper Division Track OK?

See the Upper Division Track webpage for additional information. Consult with a CS&E Advisor in 4-196 before starting to take track courses. The advisors can help you to make appropriate choices for a track conforming to your area of interest.

Is my upper division math oriented requirement OK?

See the upper division math oriented requirement webpage for more information. Some CSCI courses are pre-approved to count in this area (can’t double count within your track) and most Math 4xxx-5xxx courses will count unless the topic of the course is specific to a certain field like actuarial.

Can I graduate with {insert odd situation here}?

Connect with advisors. You can fill out a petition in order to graduate in some cases.

How can I graduate with honors?

The University Honors Program is the sole entity at the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities that grants Latin honors to undergraduate students. For information on graduating with Honors, please refer to:

What course fulfills the CLA senior project semester requirement?

CSCI 3081W

What courses fulfill the writing-intensive requirements?

Computer science courses that are "writing intensive" are CSCI 3921W, CSCI 3081W and CSCI 4511W. Note that CSCI 3921W can't be used towards track credits or the CSCI 4000-5000 level electives needed for both the CSE B.S. and CLA B.A. respectively.

Help, I need a part-time/temporary job - now.

Go to GoldPASS or the UMN student employment site (for on campus jobs) to find opportunities.

Most of our students are working part time, many in computer science jobs. Be aware that most of the students who end up on probation work too many hours for the class load taken (including extra-curricular activities and a social life).

Interested in being a teaching assistant? The CS&E department uses undergraduate lab attendants and graders for many introductory courses.

Help, I need a real job - soon.

Go to Handshake to find opportunities.

Use your college's career center. They can help you get prepared for interviews. Remember to learn about the company you interview with. It will impress the interviewers.

If you have a favorite professor, who you are pretty sure thinks well of you, ask him/her for leads.

Check the bulletin board outside the CS&E main office.

Help, I'll need a job - someday.

Go to Handshake to find opportunities and what employers are looking for based on job descriptions.

Participate in class. Get to know professors. Then you can ask them to write letters of recommendation, and they can give a truthful evaluation of your work.

Use the resume service at your college's career center to publicize your resume to companies.

Attend on-campus job fairs and various "Company Recruiting Days" held on campus.

Do a co-op or internship during your junior year.

Use your college's career center.

What are computer science jobs like?

Go to Handshake  to set up an informational interview with a current CS professional.

Go to your college's career center for information on what entry-level jobs are available.

Read industry publications that have articles about the workplace and classified ads for jobs. Some of these publications are available in Wilson or Walter Libraries.

Check the bulletin board outside the CS&E main office.

I transferred here having taken some CS courses elsewhere. What should I take here?

Where you fit in the curriculum gets resolved during the transfer orientation day that both CSE and CLA have. If things were not resolved, please visit a CS&E Advisor.

CSE maintains course equivalencies for numerous domestic and international colleges and can usually resolve most course evaluations. Where there are questions, you will be asked to file a petition and provide catalogs, syllabi, etc., so that the department can perform the evaluation.

How do I take an independent study?

Talk beforehand to the professor you want to study with before the semester begins. This is voluntary work on the faculty's part, and you can't demand that the professor participate. You and the professor will agree on the course number and number of credits. Complete the online Independent Study Form. Once you have submitted the form, your professor will receive an email requesting his/her approval. Once approved, you will receive a permission number for course registration via email. (Independent study sections are always offered, but always closed, so individual overrides are needed.)

Normally, an independent study involves advanced, continued work (with the same professor) from the material covered in a class. Professors will say "no" if you ask to study material already available in a course we offer (which may be taught at an inconvenient time).

You and the professor decide what you will do and how you will be graded.

What if I plan to take a course elsewhere and want to know if it will count?

First, check the online transfer guides for domestic and international colleges maintained by CSE. If the course is not listed there ask a CS&E advisor. Bring along as much information on the course as possible, like a course description or syllabus.

Can I drop/withdraw a class after the withdrawal deadline?

If you have your one time only late withdrawal, then you can withdraw from one class after the deadline as long as you visit your college advising office prior to the last day of the class. If you have used your one time only late withdrawal, then it is unlikely you would be able to withdraw after the deadline. Late withdrawals may be allowed under special circumstances. See your college advising office if you have extenuating circumstances.

CSCI XXXX is closed. What can I do to get in?

Waitlist for the course if that is an option for the course. If there is no waitlist or if the waitlist is full, then contact the listed instructor and attend the first day of class.

Can I receive credit for my internship or co-op?

You receive free-elective credit for your co-op work (2 cr per co-op term, maximum of 2 terms). This credit does not satisfy any CSCI or liberal education requirements. There is no credit for internship work that would count towards major requirements. International students are required to register for CSCI 5996 (Curricular Practical Training) in order to work at an internship. CSCI 5996 is taken pass/fail for one credit, which isn't used towards the student's major requirements. CSCI 5996 would only count as a free-elective towards the 120 credit minimum to earn an undergraduate degree.

Can I take a class if I haven't satisfied all the prerequisites?

In general, you should always follow the prerequisites. However, in certain circumstances (e.g., you took a similar prerequisite course at another university, or you have extensive work experience equivalent to a prerequisite course) you may be able to take a course without taking the prerequisites. If you do this, you must ensure you are sufficiently prepared: look through a copy of the textbook, examine the course description and the course syllabus, and talk with the professor to ensure you have a sufficient background.

I want to buy a computer for home. What kind should I get?

Visit the bookstore, and/or ask other students about what types of computers they use. The bookstore offers discounts for students and faculty. The OIT student site also has information about purchasing technology products. A PC or a Mac works for the purposes of being a student in the CS program. One is not better than the other as long as you have basic capabilities for word processing, spreadsheets, and presentation applications.

Make sure whatever computer you buy can connect easily to the University network. That way you can do much of your work on your own machine; however, some CS classes require software that is available on CSE lab machines, but which is not readily available for home machines.

I need to learn about Unix (or Word or FoxPro, etc.). Are there any courses available at the U?

The Computer Science & Engineering department does not offer courses in computer applications.

Non-credit courses on computer applications are offered through the University Office of Information Technology's Technology Training.

Where can I get information about graduate school?

Undergraduate students are encouraged to talk to the CS&E graduate advisors, and/or faculty about graduate school. Information that highlights the required steps towards graduate school application completion is available at the computer science website.

To find more information about a particular school, try Peterson's Graduate Programs in Engineering and Applied Sciences available in bookstores and libraries. For an electronic version, access Peterson's Guide.

What can I do to strengthen my graduate school application?

  • Plan a course of action at least a year before graduation.
  • Participate in a UROP or undergraduate RA or TA position.
  • Take the GRE seriously and prepare for this test for more than a weekend. Try one of the many study guides available at bookstores. You may want to take the test during your junior year so that you would have the option to retake the test before graduate school application deadlines. The GRE Computer Science Test was discontinued in April 2013.
  • Ask faculty members whom you know well to write letters of recommendation. Give them plenty of advance notice and include a copy of your resume with the recommendation form to remind them of all the great things you accomplished.

I've heard that there is a Computer Engineering program at the U. Where can I get more information?

Information about the Computer Engineering degree is online on the ECE Advising Site.

I'd like to get involved in research. How do I learn about undergraduate research possibilities?

There are many different CS-related undergraduate research opportunities, so there is no single way to learn about them.

View the undergraduate research webpage to see the latest information about how to get involved in research.

Nicholas Hopper

Nicholas Hopper

Director of Undergraduate Studies
4-211 Keller Hall

Goldy headshot placeholder

Academic Advisors

Jacquelyn Burt, Dametrius Coleman, Daliya Jokondo, and Kelly Thomas
324 Lind Hall