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Computer Science


AC101 Paul G. Allen Center for Computer Science and Engineering

Computer science is the study of information and algorithms within the context of real and abstract computing devices. Computer scientists are interested in such topics as the representation and storage of information; algorithms to access, display, edit, and transform information; programming languages to express algorithms; and hardware and software processors to execute algorithms. These concerns lead to practical developments in computer systems software, such as operating systems and compilers; in application areas, such as artificial intelligence, computer graphics, and computational biology; and also lead to theoretical investigations of computers, algorithms, and data.

Undergraduate Program

101 Paul G. Allen Center for Computer Science and Engineering, Box 352350
(206) 543-1695

The Department of Computer Science and Engineering offers the following programs of study:

  • The Bachelor of Science degree with a major in computer science
  • The Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering degree (see Computer Engineering section)

The core requirements of the two undergraduate majors are similar. The computer science major may be more appropriate for students who want to earn a double major with another College of Arts and Sciences program, who want the additional flexibility of the computer science requirements (the computer engineering major has more required courses and fewer electives), or who may be more interested in the theory, design, and implementation of software systems and applications (for example, the techniques of modern compilers or the algorithms behind computer graphics and animation).

The computer engineering major may be more appropriate for students who are interested in creating and building systems that include both hardware and software components and that must be engineered to meet a variety of cost and performance constraints. The program includes a general foundation in engineering fundamentals to enable interdisciplinary work with other departments in the College of Engineering and the University as a whole.

Bachelor of Science

Department Admission Requirements

Applicants are considered in two groups: Direct Admission and Regular Admission. Admission is competitive. Completion of minimum requirements does not guarantee admission.

  1. Direct Admission: Computer Science and Engineering enrolls up to 30 percent of its incoming class directly out of high school, prior to the completion of university-level prerequisites. Freshman applicants to the University listing computer science or computer engineering as their intended major are automatically considered. Competitive applicants have taken calculus and at least one year of laboratory science (preferably physics) upon entering the University. Admission is for autumn quarter only.
  2. Regular Admission
    1. Course requirements: MATH 124, MATH 125, MATH 126 (or MATH 134, MATH 135, MATH 136); at least five credits of Natural World, including one of the following: PHYS 121, CHEM 142/CHEM 145, or BIOL 180 (or any approved science course that requires one of these courses as a prerequisite); CSE 142, CSE 143; and at least five credits of English composition. In addition to any AP credit, at least one calculus or post-calculus mathematics course and one approved Natural World course must be completed prior to applying to the department.
    2. Admission is for autumn or spring quarter. Application deadlines are July 1 for autumn quarter and February 1 for spring quarter.

Major Requirements

87-90 credits as follows:

  1. Science (10 credits): 10 credits from the list of approved natural science courses in the CS&E handbook. Courses that meet the department's science requirement include PHYS 121, CHEM 142/CHEM 145, and any course in biology, chemistry, physics, earth and space sciences, astronomy, and atmospheric sciences that requires PHYS 121 or CHEM 142/CHEM 145 as a prerequisite.
  2. Mathematics (15-18 credits): MATH 124, MATH 125, MATH 126, (or MATH 134, MATH 135, MATH 136); MATH 308 or MATH 318 (waived if MATH 136 taken); MATH 390/STAT 390 or MATH 391/STAT 391
  3. Required Courses (29 credits): CSE 142, CSE 143, CSE 311, CSE 312, CSE 331, CSE 332, CSE 351
  4. Senior Electives: At least 33 additional credits from courses on the approved CSE electives list in the CS&E handbook, including at least the following:
    1. Six courses from the CSE core courses list in the CS&E handbook of which four courses must be 400-level CSE courses
    2. Either one additional course from the CSE core courses list or one course from the CSE capstone list in the CS&E handbook
    3. Minimum 2.0 grade for any course applied to the major. Transfer students must earn a minimum of 24 graded credits toward the major through the UW.

Student Outcomes and Opportunities

  • Learning Objectives and Expected Outcomes: The computer science field has a broad base of private- and public-sector jobs suitable for the Bachelor of Science graduate: systems analyst, systems programmer, applications programmer, technical sales and marketing, and hardware or software engineering specialist. In addition, there are jobs for which graduate education may be appropriate: producers and developers of computer systems, and teachers and researchers. The field is also highly valued for practicing entrepreneurship.
  • Instructional and Research Facilities: Paul G. Allen Center for Computer Science and Engineering includes more than 20,000 square feet of laboratories, nearly 1,000 computer systems, and more than 50 terabytes of storage. Gigabit connectivity is provided to every desktop by more than 60 miles of data cabling, and wireless access is available throughout the building.

    CSE general-purpose laboratories support the diverse set of hardware and software platforms required for a cutting-edge education in the field. CSE special-purpose laboratories provide tailored support for activities such as mobile robotics, computer graphics, digital design, motion capture, embedded systems, laser scanning, educational technology, networking, and artificial intelligence.

    The Allen Center is one of the finest computer science and computer engineering facilities in the nation. All of its capabilities are available to all CSE students.

  • Honors Options Available: With College Honors (Completion of Honors Core Curriculum and Departmental Honors); With Honors (Completion of Departmental Honors requirements in the major). See adviser for requirements.
  • Research, Internships, and Service Learning: Internships and co-op opportunities are available for computer science undergraduates. See and for information.
  • Departmental Scholarships: CSE has a limited number of scholarships available to current CSE majors. Scholarship information is listed at
  • Student Organizations/Associations: A student chapter of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) operates within CSE.