UNDERGRADUATE PROGRAMS

Four-year U.S. colleges and universities generally offer the bachelor of science (B.S.) although a few institutions award the bachelor of arts (B.A.) degree and business-oriented computer programs may lead to the bachelor's of business administration (B.B.A.) degree or the bachelor's of management (B.M.) degree.
As mentioned above, computer science and related programs may be offered through departments of computer science, engineering, mathematics, business, and others. Thus, the exact title of the degree that one receives depends on the department through which it is earned. Some common computer-related degrees include the following: B.S. in computer science, B.S. in mathematics, B.S. in electrical engineering, B.M., and B.B.A. B.S. degree programs provide students with a broad base of knowledge and technical skills and are designed to prepare students for either graduate study or immediate entry to professional computing careers.
Core computer science courses involve the study of the theoretical foundations of computing; the design and analysis of algorithms; various programming languages, such as BASIC, FORTRAN, C, COBOL, Pascal, and perhaps several assembly languages; operating systems; the design and implementation of data structures; computer architecture; software engineering; and artificial intelligence. Computer science majors are also required to take several courses in calculus, linear algebra, discrete mathematics, and probability and statistics as well as to fulfill various other university-wide requirements in the social sciences, humanities, and the arts.

Business-oriented computer science programs combine courses in business and computer science, emphasizing the organizational application of computer technology. Degree requirements often include course work in calculus, economics, business statistics, marketing, management information systems, COBOL (a business-oriented programming language), computer and business electives, and general education requirements.

Specialization is quite uncommon at the bachelor's degree level (and is in fact discouraged by the Computer Sciences Accreditation Commission). Rather, students are generally advised to obtain broadly applicable computer- related knowledge and skills. Students are, however, encouraged to take several advanced courses in major areas such as artificial intelligence, software engineering, or programming in their third or fourth years.

Two-year community and technical colleges offer a variety of computer-related programs, including associate of science (A.S.) degree programs in computer programming, data processing, computer science, computer technology, computer maintenance, information science, and electronics engineering as well as one-year vocational programs that train computer operators and data entry clerks. Course credits earned in A.S. programs are often comparable to the first two years of a bachelor's degree program and may be transferable to four-year degree programs.

Students interested in degree programs in computer science should have a solid background in mathematics, including courses in algebra, geometry, and trigonometry as well as excellent oral and written communication skills. Previous computer experience is helpful but not required.

The computer science field is highly competitive. Students can significantly improve their chances of finding a job after graduation by getting hands-on computer experience while still in school. Computing majors often find that on- the-job training obtained through internships or cooperative education programs can build on academic course work. Some universities may offer part-time research or lab assistance opportunities to exceptionally qualified undergraduates.

Another way that students can improve their chances of finding employment after graduation is by taking elective courses in other fields that may be particularly useful in the workplace. Employers often favor students who have taken courses in accounting, marketing, and management.


"U.S. Computer Science Study" was produced by the staff of "The Advising Quarterly," a publication for professionals in international education worldwide published by AMIDEAST. The handout was last updated in 1994; if you have comments or suggestions on its improvement, please contact "The Advising Quarterly," AMIDEAST, 1100 17th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036; Phone: 202-785-0022; Fax: 202-822- 6563; E-mail: 62756567@eln.attmail.com. (Please include this information if you use this material.)


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