Computer Science

O-Week FAQs

Why should I study Computer Science?

Computing is the engine of most innovations today and computer science is about studying computing. A computer scientist is a problem solver that can work not only in the hi-tech industry and the computing field, but can also work in fields as diverse as biomedicine, energy, and social sciences, as all of them have been revolutionized by computing.

What do students do when they graduate with a Computer Science degree?

As stated above, computer science is about problem solving, so students can work in any field that requires computational problem solving. The majority of our students work in the hi-tech industry (e.g., Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Microsoft), but some pursue advanced degrees, with a few students sometimes going to medical or law school.

If I am considering this major, what classes do I have to take this year?

Take COMP 140 in the fall and COMP 182 and ELEC 220 in the spring.

If I have AP credit, should I use it or are there classes I should consider retaking anyway?

Computer Science AP credit does not count toward the major requirements. If you have AP credit for Math, you should take the upper-level math requirements earlier.

How should I decide whether or not to use my AP credit?

Talk to your divisional advisor.

Can I study abroad? If so, when is the best time?

Yes. The spring of your junior year is the best time. It is very important though that you talk to your major advisor so that you plan properly in particular in case you plan on getting transfer credit.

What kind of research opportunities are available to your students?

In any given year, about half of the CS faculty work with one or more undergraduates on research. We recommend that you reach out to the faculty in your areas of interest.

What extracurricular activities or projects do students in your program normally participate in?

The Rice University Computer Science Club, Hack Rice, CSters (Rice University’s Society for Women in Computer Science), The Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing.

What do classes in Computer Science normally look like?

A majority of our classes are lecture-based with homework assignments and group projects. Some courses utilized the flipped classroom model, where students watch lecture videos on their own, and do hands-on work during the class meetings. There are also software design courses which consist mainly of a semester-long software engineering project.

Is the curriculum flexible enough for students to pursue other interests? i.e. Can I complete a minor, take classes outside the major or specialize further within the major?

Yes. Our B.A. degree is ideal for combining with a minor (or even a major) in another field. In contrast, our B.S. degree is designed to achieve breadth in a particular area of Computer Science. It is also important that the B.S. capstone consists of courses that do not have to be from Computer Science.

Are there any other things I should know about Computer Science?

Computer Science is the largest major on campus, which provides students with ample opportunities to interact and network with other students. It is also a very collegial department, where students and faculty interact on a regular basis. The department has made great strides towards being more inclusive, with over 30% women in the major.