A Major Dilemma: Computer Science

Computer science is concerned with the systematic study of algorithms for describing and transforming information. At William & Mary, students can choose to either major or minor in the program, and graduate students may pursue a master’s degree and PhD. The university also offers a five-year program, leading to the one-year master’s degree. The minor requires 19 credits, and the major requires 37 credit hours. To earn a Bachelors of Science in Computer Science, students will take a set of core classes that will familiarize them with different programming languages and various points of computer systems and programming. Find a detailed catalog of requirements for the major and requirements for the minor. Computer science is becoming increasingly important, and intersects with nearly every field; every student, regardless of major, must complete a major computing requirement that teaches relevant computing skills. Here’s what one student has to say about the Computer Science department:

Why did you choose this major, and what is your favorite thing about it? I initially took Computer Science classes as a major requirement for Math. In fact, I had never programmed anything at all when I started my first Computer Science class. But in a very short time, I fell in love with it. The engaging design problems and challenging programming conundrums were, to me, an application of all of the problem solving fun that I love Mathematics for.

Favorite class you’ve taken in the major and why? My favorite Computer Science class I’ve taken at William & Mary was Software Development with Professor Peter Kemper. The class mainly consisted of a semester-long project, in which we added additional functionality to a Maze game (including automated maze exploration) and ported the game into an Android application. The ability to work with something real, to add features to a game, and to see the results of my work as a polished Android application I could play on my phone was deeply gratifying.

Favorite professor/s in the department? My favorite Computer Science professor is Professor Jim Deverick. I had him for Data Structures (one of the three introductory level  Computer Science classes). Not only was he very understanding as a professor (allotting three hours of time for a one hour midterm), but his enthusiasm and knowledge of all sorts of Computer Science topics made his class a delight to attend. Furthermore, he would always give interesting real world examples of the topics were were learning for additional motivation.

What would you tell someone considering this major? If you are considering majoring in Computer Science, know that you have a difficult, yet extraordinarily rewarding road ahead of you. Majoring in Computer Science does come with a lot of work, including a plethora of programming projects, challenging concepts, and a little bit of mathematical analysis. But there’s nothing more rewarding than finishing a programming project, running it, and seeing the fruits of your labor. Along the way, you’re likely to meet many great friends in the lab while you work. And when you’re finished with your time here, you’ll have little difficulty finding a great job, as you’ll be well-equipped to program anything from a video game to industrial software.

Whether you are strongly considering majoring in Computer Science or are just trying to discover your interests, I highly recommend you take a Computer Science class. Not only will the programming skills you learn be an invaluable hard skill that will aid you beyond college, there is quite a bit of fun to be had in being able to program a computer to do what you want it to.

A big thanks to this student for offering their thoughts on Computer Science! If you want to hear about a specific W&M program, message Peer Advising on Facebook, and we’ll incorporate that program into our Major Dilemma series this summer. If you have any questions regarding academic programs or policies, or questions about life at W&M, you can email Peer Advising at OAAPeeradvising@wm.edu.

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  1. Laura Madary

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