Computer Science B.A.

Information and Policies

Introduction

The bachelor of arts (B.A.) program at UC Santa Cruz is designed to give students a solid grounding in both theoretical and practical topics in computer science, computer engineering, and mathematics while leaving flexibility for a broad program of study, including some courses outside of science and engineering, or even for a double major in another discipline.

Academic Advising for the Program

The Baskin School of Engineering undergraduate advising office offers general advising for prospective and declared undergraduates majoring in School of Engineering programs. The office handles major declarations, transfer credits, course substitutions, articulations, and degree certifications. Undergraduate students obtain and submit all paperwork requiring departmental approval to the undergraduate advising office. Transfer students should also refer to the Transfer Information and Policy section.

Baskin Engineering Building, Room 225
advising@soe.ucsc.edu
(831) 459-5840

Getting Started in the Major

It is recommended that high school students intending to apply to the computer science major have completed four years of mathematics (through advanced algebra and trigonometry) and three years of science in high school. Comparable college mathematics and science courses completed at other institutions also serve to properly prepare a student for the computer science major.

Program Learning Outcomes

Recipients of a Bachelor of Science or a Bachelor of Arts degree in Computer Science at UC Santa Cruz are expected to have the following skills and experiences:

  1. Demonstrate mastery of computer science in the following core knowledge areas:
    • Algorithms, data structures, and complexity
    • Programming languages
    • Software engineering and development
    • Computer systems
  2. Apply system-level perspective by thinking at multiple levels of detail and abstraction and by recognizing the context in which a computer system may function, including its interactions with people and the physical world.
  3. Apply problem-solving skills and the knowledge of computer science to solve real problems.
  4. Understand how technological advances impact society and the social, legal, ethical and cultural ramifications of computer technology and their usage.
  5. Write about and orally communicate technical material about computer science and computer systems, broadly conceived.

Major Qualification Policy and Declaration Process

Major Qualification

For all students, it is necessary to be listed as proposed computer science majors within the School of Engineering before being able to declare the major. Additionally, students must satisfy the following three criteria to be able to declare the major:

Declare

Students must declare CS (Computer Science B.S. or Computer Science B.A.) as their major between student’s second to sixth quarter.

Foundation courses

Students must have completed the following foundation courses when they declare their major:

Either this course
CSE 13SComputer Systems and C Programming

7

or this course

CSE 13EEmbedded Systems and C Programming

7

13S recommended

And these courses
CSE 12Computer Systems and Assembly Language

5

CSE 12LComputer Systems and Assembly Language Laboratory

2

CSE 30Programming Abstractions: Python

7

Plus one of the following
MATH 19ACalculus for Science, Engineering, and Mathematics

5

MATH 20AHonors Calculus

5

Plus one of the following
MATH 19BCalculus for Science, Engineering, and Mathematics

5

MATH 20BHonors Calculus

5

 

Cumulative GPA

Students must also have a cumulative GPA of at least 2.80 in the foundation courses attempted at UC Santa Cruz, with at most one unsuccessful attempt (grade C-, D+, D, D-, F, or NP) permitted in a foundation course.

Appeal Process

Students who are informed that they are not eligible to declare the major may appeal this decision by submitting a letter to the undergraduate director through the Baskin School of Engineering undergraduate advising office within 15 days from the date the notification was mailed. Within 15 days of receipt of the appeal, the department will notify the student, college, and Office of the Registrar of the decision.

How to Declare a Major

Students interested in pursuing computer science must indicate computer science as a proposed major on their application for admission to UC Santa Cruz. Students admitted to UCSC in fall 2018 or later will be able to declare a computer science major only if they have been admitted to UCSC as proposed computer science majors.

For more instructions about how to declare a major in the Baskin School of Engineering, please refer to the department's website on declaring your major.

Transfer Information and Policy

Transfer Admission Screening Policy

Prior to admission, transfer students must have completed the following five courses or their articulated equivalents. (Students entering UCSC by fall 2020 and students who have catalog rights to follow the 2018-19 General Catalog may follow the screening requirements published in that catalog.)

Lecture/lab combinations count as one course; CSE 12 and CSE 12L count as one course.

This course
CSE 30Programming Abstractions: Python

7

Plus one of the following
CSE 13EEmbedded Systems and C Programming

7

CSE 13SComputer Systems and C Programming

7

Plus one of the following options
Either these courses

CSE 12Computer Systems and Assembly Language

5

CSE 12LComputer Systems and Assembly Language Laboratory

2

or this course

CSE 16Applied Discrete Mathematics

5

Plus one of the following
MATH 19ACalculus for Science, Engineering, and Mathematics

5

MATH 20AHonors Calculus

5

Plus one of the following
MATH 19BCalculus for Science, Engineering, and Mathematics

5

MATH 20BHonors Calculus

5

Minimum GPA

With a minimum GPA of 2.8. A student lacking one of these five courses may be admitted if they have completed CSE 16, and CSE 12 and CSE 12L, or the articulated alternative. 

Furthermore, transfer students entering in the fall must have completed at least three of these courses by the end of the fall term of the previous academic year and have a minimum 2.80 GPA over all completed foundation courses at that time.

Transfer students admitted for the winter term must satisfy the major preparation criteria for transfer students admitted for the fall term and, additionally, must have successfully completed at least two additional courses that are required for the proposed degree, prior to admission. It is highly recommended that these courses should be AM 10 (or MATH 21) and AM 30 (or MATH 23A).

Most courses in the computer science program at UC Santa Cruz have a strong theoretical component to prepare the student for designing, as opposed to simply using, computer systems. Often, courses taken at other institutions which emphasize applications of current languages and computers do not count toward the computer science major at UCSC.

At UCSC, computer science students are first introduced to programming using the programming language Python. The core programming sequence—courses CSE 30 and CSE 13S (or CSE 13E)—exposes students to both Python and C. Many upper-division courses that involve programming use the C and C++ programming languages. 

Transfer students who are not familiar with both Python and C may need to take a remedial course. Students familiar with C++ and Unix should find the transition to Python and C relatively simple.

Getting Started at UCSC as a Transfer Student

Transfer students should declare their major in their first quarter at UCSC. Instructions for declaring a major in the Baskin School of Engineering are on the department's major declaration page.

Letter Grade Policy

All students admitted to a School of Engineering major, or seeking admission to a major, must take all courses required for that major for a letter grade. This policy includes courses required for these degrees that are sponsored by other departments.

Course Substitution Policy

Undergraduate engineering students who wish to substitute a major course with a course from UC Santa Cruz must first consult the School of Engineering Undergraduate Advising Office. The advising office requires a Petition for Course Substitution be approved before credit for an alternate course can be applied to any School of Engineering major requirement.

Petition forms are available at the Undergraduate Advising Office and online.

Petitions and procedures for approval must be obtained from and submitted to the Undergraduate Advising Office.

Double Majors and Major/Minor Combinations Policy

Students may not receive both the computer science B.A. and computer science B.S. degrees.

Honors

Students must obtain a GPA of 3.8 or higher in the courses in the major to be considered for the distinction of "Highest Honors in the Major." Students must obtain a GPA of 3.5 or higher in the courses in the major to be considered for the distinction of "Honors in the Major." The School of Engineering reserves the right to withhold honors based on other criteria, such as an incident of academic dishonesty.

Requirements and Planners

Course Requirements

The aim of this program is to expose students to a rigorous curriculum in computer science while maintaining sufficient flexibility so that students can take courses outside computer science, pursue a minor in another discipline, or complete a double major. Every student must complete a minimum of 16 courses—eight lower-division and eight upper-division. Out of these, the eight lower-division courses and the first upper-division course are required preparatory courses for every student. Once these preparatory courses are completed, students tailor their own program by choosing seven upper-division elective courses.

Lower-Division Courses

Computer Science and Engineering
One of the following courses
CSE 13SComputer Systems and C Programming

7

CSE 13EEmbedded Systems and C Programming

7

CSE 13S recommended

Plus all of the following
CSE 12Computer Systems and Assembly Language

5

CSE 12LComputer Systems and Assembly Language Laboratory

2

CSE 16Applied Discrete Mathematics

5

CSE 20Beginning Programming in Python

5

CSE 30Programming Abstractions: Python

7

Students with no prior programming will take CSE 20 before CSE 30, and CSE 12 & CSE 12L. Students with a prior programming course, AP credit, or clearing the “Test-out” bar will start with CSE 30, and CSE 12 and CSE 12L.

Plus one of the following options
Either these courses

MATH 19ACalculus for Science, Engineering, and Mathematics

5

MATH 19BCalculus for Science, Engineering, and Mathematics

5

or these courses

MATH 20AHonors Calculus

5

MATH 20BHonors Calculus

5

Plus one of the following
AM 10Mathematical Methods for Engineers I

5

MATH 21Linear Algebra

5

Upper-Division Courses

The following course
CSE 101Algorithms and Abstract Data Types

5

Plus three of the following
CSE 102Introduction to Analysis of Algorithms

5

CSE 103Computational Models

5

CSE 110AFundamentals of Compiler Design I

5

CSE 112Comparative Programming Languages

5

CSE 115AIntroduction to Software Engineering

5

CSE 120Computer Architecture

5

CSE 130Principles of Computer Systems Design

5

CSE 131Introduction to Operating Systems

5

CSE 132Computer Security

5

CSE 138Distributed Systems: File Sharing, Online Gaming, and More

5

CSE 140Artificial Intelligence

5

CSE 142Machine Learning

5

CSE 143Introduction to Natural Language Processing

5

CSE 160Introduction to Computer Graphics

5

CSE 160LIntroduction to Computer Graphics Laboratory

2

CSE 180Database Systems I

5

Students can only take one of either CSE 130 or CSE 131.

CSE 160 and CSE 160L lecture/lab combination counts as one course.

Electives

Four courses from the list of B.A. electives below, including two upper-division computer science and engineering courses numbered below 170, or numbered between 180 and 189, or CSE 195.

For other courses, computational media, and Applied Mathematics and Statistics courses are strongly recommended.

List of BA electives
  1. Any 5-credit upper-division course offered by the Baskin School of Engineering
  2. Or any 5-credit upper-division course offered by the Division of Physical and Biological Sciences except those numbered 190 and above (mathematics, physics, chemistry and biology courses strongly recommended)
  3. Any course from the following list:
ART 120Intermedia

5

ART 121Intermedia II

5

ARTG 118Digital Drawing/Painting for Game Design

5

ECON 100MIntermediate Microeconomics, Math Intensive

5

ECON 100NIntermediate Macroeconomics, Math Intensive

5

ECON 101Managerial Economics

5

ENVS 115AGeographic Information Systems and Environmental Applications

5

ENVS 115LExercises in Geographic Information Systems

2

FILM 170AFundamentals of Digital Media Production

5

LING 112Syntax I

5

LING 113Syntax II

5

LING 118Semantics III

5

LING 125Foundations of Linguistic Theory

5

MUSC 123Electronic Sound Synthesis

5

MUSC 124Intermediate Electronic Sound Synthesis

5

MUSC 125Advanced Electronic Sound Synthesis

5

Lecture/lab combinations count as one course.

Disciplinary Communication (DC) Requirement

Students of every major must satisfy that major's upper-division Disciplinary Communication (DC) requirement.

The DC requirement in computer science  B.S. is satisfied by completing one of the following options:

Either one of these courses

CSE 115AIntroduction to Software Engineering

5

CSE 185ETechnical Writing for Computer Engineers

5

CSE 185STechnical Writing and Communication in Computer Science

5

CSE 195Senior Thesis Research

5

or these courses

CSE 104Computability and Computational Complexity

5

CSE 104WComputability and Computational Complexity

2

or these courses

CSE 180Database Systems I

5

CSE 180WDatabase Systems

2

These courses may also fulfill one of the upper-division electives listed above.

Comprehensive Requirement

In addition to the above B.A. requirements, students in the computer science majors must satisfy one of the following two exit requirements: pass one of the capstone courses (see Capstone Courses below); or successfully complete a senior thesis. A passed capstone course also counts toward satisfying the minimum number of upper-division electives requirement.

Capstone Courses

Students may choose from one of the following capstone courses to satisfy their exit requirement (lecture/lab combinations count as one course.):

CSE 110BFundamentals of Compiler Design II

5

CSE 115CSoftware Design Project II

5

CSE 118Mobile Applications

5

CSE 121Microprocessor System Design

5

CSE 121LMicroprocessor System Design Laboratory

2

CSE 138Distributed Systems: File Sharing, Online Gaming, and More

5

CSE 140Artificial Intelligence

5

CSE 143Introduction to Natural Language Processing

5

CSE 144Applied Machine Learning

5

CSE 156Network Programming

5

CSE 156LNetwork Programming Laboratory

2

CSE 160Introduction to Computer Graphics

5

CSE 160LIntroduction to Computer Graphics Laboratory

2

CSE 161Introductionto Data Visualization

5

CSE 161LData Visualization Laboratory

2

CSE 162Advanced Computer Graphics and Animation

5

CSE 162LAdvanced Computer Graphics and Animation Laboratory

2

CSE 163Data Programming for Visualization

5

CSE 168Introduction to Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality

7

CSE 181Database Systems II

5

CSE 183Web Applications

5

CSE 184Data Wrangling and Web Scraping

5

CMPM 172Game Design Studio III

7

ECE 118Introduction to Mechatronics

5

ECE 118LIntroduction to Mechatronics Laboratory

2

Students taking one of the capstone courses will enroll normally. Students need to pass the capstone course to pass the exit requirement. No course may be attempted more than twice without prior approval from the chair of the department offering the course. Withdrawals count as an attempted class for this purpose.

Senior Thesis

The senior thesis consists of a self-contained project within the broad scope of computer science, but one that is not available in the regular course offerings. A student wishing to complete a senior thesis must successfully complete a minimum of 5 credits in CSE 195, Senior Thesis Research. The supervision of a senior thesis student is always at the discretion of the faculty member.

The student first submits a written thesis proposal and obtains approval of a faculty sponsor. Then the student submits a written draft and makes an oral presentation to a faculty examining committee. After receiving feedback from the examining committee, the student submits one or more additional drafts, until the final draft is approved by the examining committee. The total amount of writing shall be consistent with the campus Disciplinary Communication requirement. A passing grade in CSE 195 is earned when the final thesis is approved.

CSE 195Senior Thesis Research

5

Planners

 

The following are three sample academic plans: (1) a four-year plan for the B.A. major for first-year students with programming experience; (2) an alternative first-year plan for students without programming experience; and (3) a two-year plan for the B.A. major for transfer students.

Students completing the courses in the planners will have satisfied the MF general education requirement.

Four-Year Plan for Students with Programming Experience

  Fall Winter Spring
1st (frosh) CSE 30 CSE 12 & CSE 12L CSE 16
MATH 19A MATH 19B   
     
2nd (soph) CSE 13S AM 10 CSE 101
     
     
3rd (junior) Breadth list 1 Breadth list 2 Breadth list 3
Elective list 1 Elective list 3  
     
4th (senior) Elective list 3 (DC)   Elective list 4
(capstone)
     
     

 

First-Year Plan for Students Without Programming Experience

 

  Fall Winter Spring
1st (frosh) CSE 20 CSE 30 CSE 12 & CSE 12L
MATH 3 MATH 19A  MATH 19B
     
2nd (soph) CSE 13S AM 10 CSE 101
  CSE 16  
     
3rd (junior) Breadth list 1 Breadth list 2 Breadth list 3
Elective list 1 Elective list 2   
     
4th (senior) Elective list 3 (DC)   Elective list 4
(capstone)
     
     
 

 

 

Two-Year Degree Planner for Transfer Students

  Fall Winter Spring
1st (junior) CSE 12 & CSE 12L CSE 101 Breadth list 1
AM 10 or MATH 21    
 2nd (senior)
 
Breadth list 2 Breadth list 3 Elective list 3 (DC)  
Elective list 1  Elective list 2 Elective list
(capstone)
     

Note: One elective must be drawn from the DC course list and one from the capstone course.

Curriculum charts for all BSOE majors are available at the department's Major Curriculum Charts page.