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Everything you wanted to know about Computer Science at UMass Dartmouth, but were afraid to ask...

A guide for parents and incoming freshmen

What are the job predictions for computer science graduates for the next ten years?

By visiting the following website you can get access to the "Occupational Outlook Handbook" that describes names and characteristics of different industrial professions. In particular, it describes "what kind of jobs computer scientists do"; there many professions that correspond to degree BS in Computer Science:

Bureau of Labor Statistics information on Computer and Information Science Professions

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Is computer science program at UMass Dartmouth accredited? What is accreditation agency? Why is this important?

YES, the BS in Computer Science at UMass Dartmouth is accredited by the Computing Accreditation Commission of ABET, A standard question when applying for job is whether your diploma is from an accredited school/department/program. The fact that the CS program is accredited increases the marketability of our graduating students and puts them at an advantageous position.

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What kind of minimal preparation from high school is required to be an effective computer science major?

At least 16 units of college preparatory courses including:

  • 4 units in English
  • 2 units in social science including one in US history
  • 3 units in mathematics
  • 2 units in the same foreign language
  • 3 units in a science (two years with laboratory)
  • 2 units of college preparatory electives

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Do I need to take computer programming courses in high school to apply to the computer science program at Umass Dartmouth?

NO, even knowledge of a computer as such is not required. However, all these skills and knowledge are certainly helpful in studying computer science.

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What is Computer Science all about?

Studying algorithmic mechanisms of computational processes independently of the application domain, i.e. how to solve problems of a society by means of computers. "It has often been said that a person does not really understand something until he teaches it to someone else. Actually a person does not really understand something until he can teach it to a computer, i.e. express it as an algorithm." Donald Knuth

Computer science encompasses the following sub-disciplines:

  • Algorithms and data structure
  • Programming languages
  • Computer Architecture
  • Numerical and symbolic computation
  • Operating systems
  • Software methodology and engineering
  • Databases and information management
  • Artificial intelligence/Intelligent Information Systems/Robotics
  • Computer and Information Security, Human-computer communication
  • Net-Centric Computing and Internet Computing
  • Computational Science, Bioinformatics

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What is a difference between Computer Science and Computer Engineering?

Computer science tends to be more software oriented vs. computer engineering being more hardware oriented. However, both majors deal to some extend with both hardware and software. Computer science program puts attention on methodologies of computing and, at the same time, prepares you to work with two most powerful programming languages - Java and C. Fundamentals and methodologies have longer lifetime of around 20 years or more and graduates with these kinds of backgrounds have higher chances to be more competitive in a market place.

Computer Science at UMass Dartmouth requires 120 credits to graduate. Computer Science program is flexible in being able to realize a minor in another academic discipline. It allows 9 credits (3 courses) of free electives.

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What is a difference between Computer Science and Computer Engineering at UMass Dartmouth?

Computer Science requires 120 credits to graduate, Computer Engineering requires 126 credits. Computer Science is more flexible in being able to realize a minor in another discipline. It allows 9 credits (3 courses) of free electives. Computer Engineering program has no free electives.

Computer science program puts much more attention on fundamentals and methodologies of computing and, at the same time, prepares you to be proficient with the two powerful programming languages - Java and C. Fundamentals and methodologies have longer lifetime of around 20 years or more and graduates with these kinds of backgrounds have higher chances to be more competitive in a volatile market place. Technologies change more often and require knowledge renewal every 5 years or so.

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What are the most important features of computer science curriculum at UMass Dartmouth?

We designed our curriculum following guidelines published in "Computing Curricula 2001" that are endorsed by the Association for Computing Machinery and IEEE.

In addition, flexibility, focus on foundations, methodologies and emerging technologies, were our design principles. Where others will teach you to make a living, with us you will learn to make a life.

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What are the main features of my freshmen and sophomore years at UMass Dartmouth?

Main Features:

  • Computer science curriculum that is consistent with "Computing Curricula 2001" endorsed by the ACM and IEEE
  • Program that teaches computer software and systems development skills in a spiral model over a period of four years
  • Program that combines software, systems, and fundamentals tracks in an effective and efficient way
  • Program that smoothly combines computer science methodologies and technologies
  • Intertwined computer science, science, and general education courses
  • Individualized attention - honors version of CIS 180 Object-Oriented Programming I course, lecture sections of at most 32 students, lab sections of at most 16 students
  • Learning through hands-on experiences in all computer science courses through mandatory laboratories with one student per computer
  • Individualized and group design and program development assignments
  • Programming projects taken from real practical applications
  • Actively coordinated computer science, mathematics and science courses

Observed Results:

  • Significantly improved retention of computer science majors through group design and development projects
  • Improved academic performance of an average computer science major

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What are the computer environments/platforms at CIS department, UMass Dartmouth?

The Department uses Windows and Linux platforms for instruction (Labs) and course assignments. No prior knowledge of Linux is necessary.

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Is it required that computer majors have their own computers?

No, it is not. However, it is most beneficial to have your own computer. There are three labs, with 24 computers in each, open to students. The demands on them tend to increase when assignments are due. Most CIS majors have their own computers and login remotely to our computers.

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What kind of computer and hardware/software configuration should computer science student have?

Most students find it useful to have a duel-boot machine, for Windows and for Linux. This will cover coursework from all courses. Any off-the-shelf PC will do. As most of the programming assignments will be in either C or Java, a compiler is a must. The CIS Department subscribes to MSDN Alliance with Microsoft Corp. This makes computer science students eligible to use many Microsoft software products.

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How can I increase my marketing power having a degree in Computer Science?

Degree in computer science is and will be a very lucrative profession in the market place.

It gives you a starting salary of at least $50,000, on average. Various computer-related professions require at least BS in Computer science. There are a lot of IT jobs currently and even more are planned to be needed.

Having additional minor or certificate in another discipline, such as mathematics, physics, biology, chemistry, business, and computer engineering, will be a definitive plus. Summer internships and summer employment may increase your marketability. Co-op opportunities are helping also in finding desired employer.

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How many programming languages will I learn during my undergraduate computer science studies?

At least two. You will learn object-oriented programming language Java in the software track of the computer science curriculum and C programming language in systems track. We also offer courses with programming languages such as Visual Basic, Fortran, and object-oriented C++.

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Who teaches the undergraduate computer science courses?

Full-time faculty teach all computer science courses for computer science majors. Laboratories are run by computer science graduate teaching assistants, closely supervised by faculty instructors teaching related course.

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How do I learn hands-on skills in computing?

Eight of our required computer science courses have mandatory lab instructions. Students solve problems first individually and later in collaborative multi-disciplinary groups of four students working on larger projects.

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How do I gain practical experience?

Computer science majors have an option to join the Coop program. This gives them industrial experience of a year and a quarter. The Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship (formerly ATMC) in Fall River offers internships for juniors and seniors in computer science.

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What kind of knowledge in mathematics is required for computer science majors and why?

The Computer Science curriculum at UMass Dartmouth requires 17 credit hours of mathematics: 6 credit hours of discrete mathematics, 8 credit hours of calculus, and 3 credit hours of probability.

Discrete mathematics is considered to be the calculus of computer science. It encompasses: elements of mathematical logic, predicate calculus, set theory, number theory, graphs, combinatorics, and proof methods.

Probability is very useful in description and analysis of networked computer systems with randomly changing workloads.

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How do I satisfy the Science requirements in computer science curriculum at UMass Dartmouth?

Student has a choice of taking a sequence of two 4-credit laboratory-based biology, chemistry, and physics courses. One additional 3-credit course is also required, which can help you in pursuing a minor in Biology, Chemistry, or Physics.

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Are high school credits transferable to UMass Dartmouth?

YES, Advanced Placement high school courses in many disciplines that ended with Advanced Placement Test in which student received score of three or higher are transferable to UMass Dartmouth.

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How many Advanced Placement credits can I transfer to UMass Dartmouth?

As many credits as you have earned in Advanced Placement Tests. Please check for details in the UMD General Catalog for 2005-2006 on page 59.

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Do you have free electives in your computer science curriculum?

9 credits (or 3 courses) are free electives out of 120 credits, required to graduate with BS in Computer Science at UMass Dartmouth. This allows you to do a minor in another discipline (or pursue a certificate of your interest).

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What are the General Education requirements for computer science majors at UMass Dartmouth?

Computer science majors take 9 credits (3 courses) of Artistic and Cultural Literacy, 3 credits (1 course) of Global Awareness, and 3 credits (1 course) of Diversity as general education requirements. Computer science majors also take 9 credits of critical reading and writing in English including Technical Communication.

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Are mathematics, chemistry, and physics courses taken in the engineering program called IMPULSE transferable into Computer Science major?


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