Sunday, November 28, 2010

Choosing a Major – How About Computer Science?

When I first came to UVA, I had no idea what I wanted to study.  The first few classes I took were completely unrelated, ranging from Astronomy and German to Computer Science and Psychology.  Honestly, I was a bit intimidated – it seemed like so many people came here knowing exactly what they wanted to do, and could pretty much plan out their schedule for the rest of college.  With time though, it’s not hard to figure out what’s the right fit for you.

A few weeks into the semester, I was really enjoying my Introduction to Programming class with Professor Jim Cohoon (if you’re at all interested in Computer Science and don’t have any prior programming experience, I highly recommend his course!).    Something seemed to click, and I knew that Computer Science could be the right major for me.

Which brings me to the main focus of this post:  the wonderful Computer Science program we have at the University.  There are two main ways one can major in Computer Science – either through the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, or through the College of Arts and Sciences.  One of the major distinctions between Computer Science in the College and in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences is that one graduates with a BA in the College, and a BS in the E-School.  There are some differences between the two programs, but since I’m in the College of Arts and Sciences I’m going to talk about that major.

Computer Science is one of the newer majors in the College; the first graduates of the program were in 2007.  After a student has taken at least one introductory programming class, he or she may declare the major – there are five core courses, four computing electives, and four integration electives.  The integration electives required by the BA are (in my opinion) the biggest difference between the BS; the electives allow students to take classes which apply computer science in many other departments (such as Music, Media Studies, Drama, Philosophy, Biology, and Psychology). 

Right now, the Computer Science department is housed in Olsson Hall, but UVA is constructing a new building directly to the right of it – which means a brand new facility for future Computer Science majors! 

The current building housing the CS department, Olsson Hall
One of the best parts about majoring in Computer Science is that the degree is incredibly flexible; if you choose to major in it, you’re not going to be stuck in a cubicle programming and doing software development for the rest of your life.  Many consulting companies hire CS majors if that’s what you want to go into, and that’s just the start of job opportunities.  (Also a side note:  the average starting salary of a UVA Computer Science graduate is around $60,000 a year – so there’s a lot of money in the field too). 

That’s just one of the many great majors at UVA – no matter what your interests are, you’ll find the right fit. If you are interested in majoring in Computer Science, check out the following link for more information:

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!


  1. You folks could use a SEAS major on your panel of bloggers! Hope you had a great Thanksgiving too!

  2. Then maybe you should volunteer and sign up to write. Last year we had all the schools represented.

  3. We'll try to find one to start in the spring. Thanks for the comment!

  4. I'd volunteer if I was a SEAS major! I thought this was for prospective students to read. Thanks for the response Tik.

  5. "stuck in cubicle programming and doing software development". I would say how better can it get. The most anti socials are in BS CS I guess :D.. But I say BS degree has great focus and is respected if you want to keep your options open for research and graduate studies.