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Carnegie Mellon Computer Science Courses

Last Updated on March 2, 2021 by

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Carnegie Mellon founded one of the first Computer Science departments in the world in 1965. As research and teaching in computing grew at a tremendous pace at Carnegie Mellon, the university formed the School of Computer Science (SCS) at the end of 1988. Carnegie Mellon was one of the first universities to elevate Computer Science into its own academic college at the same level as the Mellon College of Science and the College of Engineering.

Today, SCS consists of seven departments and institutes, including the Computer Science Department that started it all, along with the Human-Computer Interaction Institute, the Institute for Software Research, the Computational Biology Department, the Language Technologies Institute, the Machine Learning Department, and the Robotics Institute. Together, these units make SCS a world leader in research and education. A few years ago, SCS launched two new undergraduate majors in Computational Biology and Artificial Intelligence (the first of its kind in the United States), and this year, SCS begins a fourth undergraduate major in Human-Computer Interaction . These new majors, along with the highly-ranked Computer Science major, give students in SCS distinct paths in the field of computing with ample opportunities in industry and advanced research. 

Overview of Programs

The Carnegie Mellon School of Computer Science is recognized around the world as a leader in all facets of computer science and robotics education.

Respected international surveys have consistently ranked CMU’s graduate programs in computer science among the best in the United States. SCS also is ranked highly in specialty areas such as programming languages, artificial intelligence, systems and theory.

And a survey by the editors of The Wall Street Journal ranked our undergraduate computer science program No. 1 in the United States among corporate recruiters.

The School of Computer Science offers the following majors and minors:

  • B.S. in Artificial Intelligence
  • B.S. in Computational Biology
  • B.S. in Computer Science
  • B.S. in Human-Computer Interaction
  • Bachelor’s in Computer Science and Art (joint with the College of Fine Arts)
  • Additional major in Computational Biology
  • Additional major in Computer Science
  • Additional major in Human-Computer Interaction
  • Additional major in Robotics
  • Minor in Computer Science
  • Minor in Computational Biology
  • Minor in Human-Computer Interaction
  • Minor in Language Technologies
  • Minor in Machine Learning
  • Minor in Neural Computation
  • Minor in Robotics
  • Minor in Software Engineering

Computer Science Program

The B.S. program in Computer Science combines a solid core of Computer Science courses with the ability to gain additional depth through a required minor in a second subject or a concentration in a computing area. In addition, the curriculum provides breadth through numerous choices for science, engineering, humanities and fine arts courses. As computing is a discipline with strong links to many fields, this provides students with unparalleled flexibility to pursue allied (or non-allied) interests. 

Students apply to, and are directly admitted into, the School of Computer Science. Admitted students may choose to pursue an undergraduate degree in Computer Science and, upon successful completion, are awarded a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science. Suitably prepared students from other Carnegie Mellon colleges are eligible to apply for internal transfer to the School of Computer Science and will be considered for transfer if grades in core CS requirements are sufficiently high and space is available.

Students in the B.S. program in Computer Science are expected to acquire the following skills upon graduation:

  • Identify, use, design, develop and analyze appropriate abstractions and algorithms to solve problems while being able to prove the algorithm’s performance and correctness across a variety of metrics (e.g., time, space, parallel vs. sequential implementation, computability).
  • Implement solutions to problems in domains such as artificial intelligence, graphics and sound, software engineering, and human-computer interaction, by applying the fundamentals of those areas to create solutions to current problems while being exposed to research developments that will enable them to adapt as the technology changes.
  • Reason about and implement programs in various programming languages and paradigms
  • Describe, specify, and develop large-scale, open-ended software systems subject to constraints such as performance and/or resource issues
  • Communicate technical material effectively to technical and non-technical audiences
  • Work both individually and in teams
  • Recognize the social impact of computing and the attendant responsibility to consider the legal, moral and ethical implications of computing technologies.

Due to the tremendous number of ongoing research projects within the School, many students obtain part-time or summer jobs, or receive independent study credit, working on research while pursuing their undergraduate degree. Students seeking a research/graduate school career may pursue an intensive course of research, equivalent to four classroom courses, culminating in the preparation of a senior research thesis.

SCS also offers a B.S. degree in Artificial Intelligence, a B.S. degree in Computational Biology, a B.S. degree in Human-Computer Interaction, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science and the Arts (jointly with the College of Fine Arts). More detail about the Artificial Intelligence major, the Computational Biology major and the Computer Science and the Arts program is available in separate sections of the Undergraduate Catalog. SCS offers additional majors in Computer Science (for non-CS majors), Human-Computer Interaction, and Robotics, and minors in Computational Biology, Computer Science (for non-CS majors), Human-Computer Interaction, Language Technologies, Machine Learning, Neural Computation, Robotics, and Software Engineering.

Undergraduate Majors

The School of Computer Science offers bachelor’s degrees in artificial intelligence, computational biology, computer science and human-computer interaction. Interdisciplinary majors in computer science and the arts, and music and technology are also available. Admissions to all bachelor of science programs in SCS are administered through the Carnegie Mellon Office of Undergraduate Admission. Students accepted into SCS as first-year students are undeclared until the middle of their second semester. At that time, students will select one of the four available primary SCS majors. Note: acceptance into some majors may be limited due to course and resource constraints. Program objectives are available in our computer science, artificial intelligence, computational biology and human-computer interaction curriculum maps.

Undergraduate Additional Majors

SCS offers additional majors in computational biology, computer science, human-computer interaction and robotics. Students wishing to earn an additional SCS major must meet the requirements for their primary major as well as their additional major as defined by the department overseeing the additional major. Students should consult with the director or administrator of the additional major for more information on requirements and double-counting rules.

Undergraduate Minors

The School of Computer Science offers eight undergraduate minors. Accepted and enrolled undergraduate students interested in a minor should contact their academic advisor for more information.

IDEATE: Technology, Design and Arts Study

Carnegie Mellon’s diverse and top-ranked departments in computing, engineering, design, and arts are uniquely positioned to serve students who have interdisciplinary interests bridging technology and creative practice. The IDEATE concentrations and minors connect students and faculty from across the university through coursework and collaborative studio experiences. As a computer science student at Carnegie Mellon, you will have the opportunity to integrate in your degree a concentration or minor in one of eight creative industry areas: Game Design, Animation & Special Effects, Media Design, Learning Media, Sound Design, Entrepreneurship for Creative Industries, Intelligent Environments, or Physical Computing.

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