Computer Science

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What kind of computer should a CS student own? 
  2. What is Departmental Honors?
  3. What are the requirements for Departmental Honors? 
  4. What are the CS  Major Required Prerequisites?
  5. What are the CS Major Elective Prerequisites?
  6. What is the difference between CS496 and CS498?
  7. What would a sample 8-semester schedule look like for a Computer Science major? 
  8. Could I complete the major in six semesters?
  9. How will I know which semester a Computer Science course will be offered?

Questions and Answers

1. What kind of computer should a CS student own? 
Based on feedback from our upperclassmen, the department recommends that students invest in a portable computer. This will be increasingly useful as you work on team projects in upper-level classes. A modest $300-range netbook is sufficient for coursework, although as you surely know, a more powerful machine may be more convenient. 
Our students and faculty use a combination of Microsoft Windows, Apple Mac OS X, and various distributions of GNU/Linux, including Ubuntu. Many courses use technology that works on any of these platforms. For other courses, the Computer Science Department maintains labs that are configured to use the requisite hardware and software. 
It may be worth noting that the University runs a Computer Store that offers modest discounts on some hardware and academically-licensed copies of some software. It may also be worth noting that most GNU/Linux distributions are free to download, distribute, and use for any purpose ‒ whether academic or professional.

2. What is Departmental Honors? 
Departmental Honors is a special designation on your transcript, indicating that you have graduated with distinction.

3. What are the requirements for Departmental Honors? 
To earn Departmental Honors you must:

Earn a 3.5 or better GPA in the Computer Science core of CS120, CS121, CS124, CS230, CS222 or CS232, MATHS161 or 165, and MATHS162 or 166

Maintain a 3.5 or better GPA in major courses

Earn honors credit in two 300-400-level courses

Complete an honors project (typically CS499 or ID499) under the supervision of a faculty member of Computer Science

Register with the Honors College as one who is seeking Departmental Honors

4. What are the CS Major Required Prerequisites? 
Here is a diagram to help with the CS Major Required Prerequisites but also refer to the undergraduate catalog.  As always, if you have questions, you are encouraged to contact your advisor.

5. What are the CS Major Elective Prerequisites? 
Here is a diagram to help with the CS Major Elective Prerequisites but also refer to the undergraduate catalog.  As always, if you have questions, you are encouraged to contact your advisor.

6. What is the difference between CS496 and CS498? 
In the semester following CS495, you will take the second half of your capstone experience as either CS496 or CS498, depending on whether your project's client is internal to BSU (496) or external (498). The purpose for this distinction is that CS498 carries a WISER+ "S" designation, part of the UCC-21 core curriculum introduced in Fall 2010.

7. What would a sample 8-semester schedule look like for a Computer Science major? 
So glad you asked! 
This example of an 8-semester plan or an example of an 8-semester plan with late calculus shows all the required CS courses by number, and electives can be any CS course 310 or higher.  Keep in mind that this is just an example: there are myriad ways to complete a CS major. Be sure to keep an eye on prerequisites when making your own specific plan. 

8. Could I complete the major in six semesters? 
Yes! If you are changing majors or have transfer credits, then you can likely complete the major in six semesters without Summers. You could also complete the whole bachelors degree in three years by taking Summer courses, which would mostly be core curriculum courses. 
Here is an example of a six semester plan.

9. How will I know which semester a Computer Science course will be offered?  Here is our Computer Science Course Offering Plan that can help to schedule your classes depending on when they are taught.

Department of Computer Science
Robert Bell Building (RB), room 455
Ball State University
Muncie, IN 47306

Phone: 765-285-8641
Fax: 765-285-2614