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Majoring

The Department of Computer Science curriculum engages students in rigorous exploration of ideas and theory that are shaping the future of the information age.

How to Major in Computer Science

Below, we've compiled answers to our most frequently asked questions for those considering majoring in Computer Science at Hunter College. If you have any questions in addition to those answered here, please contact the department at (212) 772-5213 or drop us an email at csinfo@hunter.cuny.edu and we'll help you get started.

What degree programs are offered through the department?

The Computer Science Department offers two degree programs: the Bachelor of Arts in Computer Science and the Bachelor of Arts in Computer Science with a Concentration in Bioinformatics.

What are you getting into?

The computer science major requires a minimum of five semesters; most entry-level full-time students need eight semesters to complete the CSCI and MATH requirements. Unless you own or have access to an Internet-accessing computer outside of school, you will be spending a lot of time on campus. The major also requires substantial mathematics, both within our own courses and from the Mathematics Department. Most successful computer science students are comfortable with math.

How To Get Started

Most students who want to major in computer science should start by taking CSCI 127. This is the beginning of the undergraduate sequence in computer science, including the basics of programming. Students with some prior background in computer science may have CSCI 127 waived as a prerequisite for a particular class. If you think you fall into this category, see the class instructor or department chair for permission.

FOR NON-MAJORS: Students who do not plan to major in computer science can still find many introductory level courses to help get them started.

Computer science minors: A computer science minor is a great way to learn something about the field, including how to write serious programs that will be of use in your major field. See How to Minor in Computer Science.

Science or non-computer-science bioinformatics majors: A good introductory course for science-oriented students is CSCI 132. Liberal arts majors: If you want to learn something about computers and are majoring in the liberal arts, the courses designed for you are CSCI 120 and/or 121. Neither course has any prerequisites.

 Note: CSCI 120, 121, 127, 132 and 133 cannot be used toward the Computer Science major, but  CSCI 127 is a prerequisite for CSCI 135.

 

Declaring The Major

Before you can declare computer science as your major, you must take CSCI 135 and receive a grade of C or better.  Since CSCI 135 has a MATH prerequisite of either pre-calculus (MATH 125) or Calculus 1 (MATH 150) and a CSCI prerequisite of 127, you must take one of these math courses and CSCI 127 first. The additional prerequisites for declaring a major in computer science with a concentration in bioinformatics are described further on in this document.

What do the course numbers mean?

The course numbers are there for your guidance. The prerequisite courses are on the 100 level. The core courses required for the major include two streams: the 135-235-335 sequence (programming, data structures and algorithms), and the 160-260-360 sequence (architecture and logic design). You MUST take these courses in numerical order! 300-level courses are appropriate for upper-level majors, and 400-level courses are for those who have special interest in their content or who have exhausted the 300-level electives. Courses numbered 395.xx (our rotating Topics courses) and 493.xx (our Honors Seminar courses) are different every semester.

How well do I have to do in my major courses?

Each of the required and elective courses which count toward the major (including MATH/STAT courses) must be completed with a grade of C or better. The Department of Computer Science does not award final grades of CR (credit) in any CSCI courses to be used toward the major, from CSCI 135 through the 400-level courses. In addition, you will be expected to maintain a minimum grade point average of 2.0 in all courses required for the major. Please note that, for Computer Science majors, "D" is not considered a passing grade in any Computer Science or Math/Stat course.

What does it take to complete a major?

In addition to the following credits, you must complete the General Education Requirements as set forth in the Hunter College Undergraduate Catalog.

42 Credits in Computer Science

  • CSCI 135: Software Analysis and Design 1
  • CSCI 136: Supervised Programming Lab
    (CSCI 136 is recommended as a supplement to CSCI 135, but is not creditable toward the major.)
  • CSCI 150:  Discrete Structures
  • CSCI 160:  Computer Architecture 1
  • CSCI 235:  Software Analysis and Design 2
  • CSCI 260:  Computer Architecture 2
  • CSCI 265:  Computer Theory 1
  • CSCI 335:  Software Analysis and Design 3
  • CSCI 340:  Operating Systems
  • CSCI 360:  Computer Architecture 3
  • CSCI 499:  Capstone Course in Computer Science
  • a minimum of 11 additional academic credits chosen from CSCI elective courses numbered above 135

14 Collateral Credits in Mathematics:

  • MATH 150:  Calculus 1
  • MATH 155:  Calculus 2
  • MATH 160:  Matrix Algebra
  • STAT 213:  Applied Statistics

Do we really mean it when we put prerequisites on courses?

All course prerequisites are carefully determined by the faculty. If you take a course without the proper background, you will not be prepared to do the work and it is very unlikely you will succeed.

What programming languages will I learn?

It is currently the policy of the Department to teach only C++ on the introductory level (CSCI 135).  Some Assembly language is taught in CSCI 127 and 260.  LISP is taught in most sections of CSCI 350 (Artificial Intelligence), PROLOG in some Honors seminars; SQL in CSCI 435 (Databases), and Processing in 267.  PERL is taught in CSCI 132.  Advanced Programming Languages). Other than that, students are expected to learn new languages and applications primarily on their own.

What is Independent Study?

It is possible to pursue up to three credits of Independent Study (CSCI 391, 392 or 393) in an area not covered in any course offered by the Department. This option is available only to declared computer science majors who have successfully completed at least 15 CSCI credits. Each Independent Study course takes the form of a project which must be fully specified and clearly defined before registration, and must be sponsored and supervised by a member of the Department who will be the one to submit a final grade for the student. No student may do for Independent Study credit a project whose goal is to learn a new language!

What if I have Computer Science credits from another college?

If you are coming to Hunter from one of the other CUNY colleges, many of your computer science credits will have been evaluated automatically through Admissions. If you are transferring from a college outside of CUNY, you will have to bring both a copy of your Hunter transcript and course descriptions from the other college to be evaluated by a full-time faculty member in the Computer Science Department. Faculty advising hours are posted outside HN 1008. Be aware that many courses which have titles similar to those in this department are not, in actuality, equivalent to our courses and may not be eligible for use toward the Computer Science major at Hunter College. If you wish to check how many of your other CUNY credits will transfer with Hunter equivalents, you can go to http://www.tipps.cuny.edu.

What if I already know a lot?

The Department will permit you to test out of CSCI 127, CSCI 135 and / or CSCI 150. If you can pass the Test-out Exam with a grade of B or better, we will award you Credit by Exam for that course and permit you to take more advanced courses as if you had completed the course successfully. If you feel you are sufficiently expert in the course material covered in CSCI 127, CSCI 135 or CSCI 150, come to the Department Office and ask for a copy of the Test-out Guidelines and an application form. Tests are scheduled at the mutual convenience of both the student and the proctor. Please note that if you have already taken these courses at Hunter and failed them, you will not be allowed to take the test-out exam.

Can I receive a degree with honors in Computer Science?

Yes, if you meet all of the following criteria:

  1. 2.7 Grade Point Average over all your courses at Hunter
  2. 3.5 Grade Point Average in your Computer Science and Math courses at Hunter
  3. A grade of A in a Computer Science Honors seminar course (CSCI 493.xx)

Can I take more than one Computer Science/Math course at a time?

If you have no prior programming experience and/or your math background is not substantial, we strongly suggest that you start slowly: programming courses require a great deal of time and a lot of effort. The three 100-level courses are the foundations on which virtually all of our other courses are built, so the material in these courses should be understood thoroughly before you go on to a higher level. It is important to remember that the prerequisites listed for each course are the foundations for that course. Your class schedule MUST NOT be put together based solely on the fact that classes are offered on the same days!

How do I plan my curriculum?

The two sample tracks shown below can be used as a guide in planning your curriculum. What courses you can actually take will be affected primarily by what courses you may have already taken and by what courses are being offered in a given semester, both within your major and across departments. In any case, remember the importance of completing prerequisites first!

Suggested Course Sequences

Suggested Minors For Computer Science Majors

Minors are not required by either the Department or by Hunter College; however, they can be important to prospective employers and to graduate schools. Computer Science students are encouraged to minor in a field they find interesting. Minors that have been beneficial to Computer Science students in the past include Mathematics, Geography, Film and Media Studies and Economics. Interested students should check with the appropriate department for more details.

Bioinformatics Courses For Non-Computer Science Majors

These courses are open to Computer Science majors, but may not be counted toward the 42 CSCI credits required for the major. Further information is available in the Bioinformatics Concentration section of our site.

CSCI 132 Practical UNIX and Programming, with Lab 3 hrs, 3 cr
This is an introduction to elementary computer programming and the UNIX operating system. Students are taught fundamental programming principles that can be applied to any programming language, and are given a conceptual overview of the UNIX operating system and programming environment along with a practical introduction to shell programming and the use of UNIX filters and utilities. This is a pragmatic course with an emphasis on skills acquisition.

CSCI 232 Relational databases and SQL Programming, with Lab 3 hrs, 3cr
Prerequisite: CSCI 127 or 132. This is an introduction to elementary database concepts and SQL (Structured Query Language), the standard language for communication with most database systems. This is a pragmatic course with an emphasis on skills acquisition; students will learn how to get things done quickly and easily in a database environment.

What if I have more questions?

If we haven't answered all of your questions here on our site, please email us with your questions at csinfo@hunter.cuny.edu. To visit us in person, the Faculty Advising Schedule is available on our site and is posted in the glass case next to the Computer Science Department office in Hunter's North Building, Room 1008. The times listed are "walk-in" hours and require no appointment; however, we strongly suggest that you come with a copy of your most recent Hunter transcript in order to facilitate the advising process.

 

Updated January 15, 2013.

NEXT: More on the Bioinformatics Concentration...