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Frequently Asked Questions

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What can I do with a computer science degree?
There are a number of interesting and rewarding career opportunities available.  The Career Opportunities link explains the specific of many field in more depth.  There is hardly an industry in existence today that hasn't been in some way directly or indirectly impacted by computers.  They are pervasive.  In the room that you are sitting you can probably find several computers and the software that run on them.  Besides the computer you are currently on you may find software in the Play Station or Game Boy.  A digital thermostat that controls the temperature of your room will contain software.  If you have a digit watch you are wearing a computer.  

Computer jobs are found in every major industry from telecommunications to food services.  Most systems today are built of a series of computers networked together.  The controlling element of all of these systems is software.  If you want to have a fundamental understanding of the systems that surround you everyday and want to have influence in how they behave, then software is where you will probably want to be.
What should I look for in a Computer Science Program?

There are three key factors to consider: faculty, curriculum and facilities.

Faculty

You will spend a lot of time in class and your primary guidance will come from your instructors.  It is important to understand where they are coming from, what their background is and how well they can impart their knowledge to you. 

You should ask questions like: Who teaches the classes?  Is it a graduate student or a professor?  If it is a professor, is he lecturing to a class of 30 students or 300?  What type of work is given?  Is it programming labs where you write your own code or do you simply type in a program and see if it runs?

For most students coming out of high school, the quality of the faculty is a difficult thing to determine.  Part of a student's thought on this subject will come from the school's reputation but then it is more important to look at a given department's reputation which can be harder to come by.  Probably the best way to get a good feel for the department is to visit with the faculty and with current students.  Visit the school and ask yourself if the faculty appears to be interested and attuned to their students needs.

Curriculum

The curriculum will play a large part in the direction you may go once you leave school.  A solid comprehensive curriculum is an important part of the undergraduate education.  The school must have this.  In addition, try to determine if the program is oriented toward one or more specific fields that are of interest to you.

Facilities

The CS facilities should be up-to-date and readily available.  You should be aware that most programs that have specialty equipment may not be accessible until late in the undergraduate education process or not at all unless you are a graduate student.  It is important to get a good, solid, broad exposure to the computers and software systems in use today.


What is the difference between a Computer Science degree and a Computer Information Systems degree?
A Computer Science (CS) degree is not a s specialized as a Computer Information System (CIS) degree.  The CIS degree program is focused primarily on the development of business applications.  The CS degree is a more general degree that does not provide a specific specialization.  It s focus is on how software applications are developed.

The CS program at Tarleton does emphasis software engineering and embedded systems development.  It requires a firm mathematical underpinning.  However, the core CS topics are covered in depth which will prepare the student for a career in Computer Science.
How long does it take to get a CS degree?
Typically, the CS degree is a 4 years program.  The length of time is dependent on a number of factors including course load, number of hours transferred in, and previous changes of major to mention a a few.
What are the math requirements for a CS degree?
Specifically Math 1204 - Calculus I,  Math 3103 Discrete Mathematics,  Math 3603 Numerical Analysis are required.  A description of these courses can be found in the Course Catalog.
As a high school student, what courses should I take?

Of course any computer science courses will be useful, especially the programming courses.

It is strongly advised that you take as much mathematics as you can.  Not only is advanced math required for all Computer Science programs in the nation but it will also help you in your other courses.  Math helps you think in different and often-subtle ways not always appreciated until later in life. Studies have found that High School students who have four years of math are more likely to graduate from college than those that do not.  Mathematics helps to develop critical thinking skills that are used in many disciplines and throughout life.

Take as many science courses as you can.  In particular Physics is a frequently chosen science for CS majors.

Apply early to the school you plan to go to and get a feel for the department and students.  Most schools are more than happy to talk with you and tell you about their program and the opportunities available in CS.  If they aren't, then that should tell you something.

What Computer Science Courses can I transfer in?
That depends on the course.  Generally C, C++, Java and Data Structure courses will transfer with no problem.  However, you need to speak with your advisor to see what exactly will transfer.
Can I test out of some of the introductory CS courses?
That depends on your background and experience.  Check with your advisor to see what the requirements are.
What courses are offered and when they offered?
The Course Listing  and Online Course Schedules will provide specific answers to this question.  In addition, for those courses not being offered in the immediate future the Generic Schedule will give you an idea of when a course will be offered.
What do I do if I am a transfer student?

Make sure that the courses you are taking will transfer to the university you plan to attend.  Most upper level courses have prerequisites and, if they are not met, then you could possibly spend an additional semester or more in school before you obtain your degree.

Check early with the university that you are interested in and verify what will and will not transfer.

Why should I choose Computer Science at Tarleton?

All courses are taught by experienced professors.  Class sizes are small and individual attention is a key part of each course.  The CS program is housed in the new Science building with two labs used for teaching the courses. 

TSU's new program offers the opportunity to develop a curriculum that is not restricted by institutional biases.  New invigorated approaches are easier to incorporate into the curriculum.  Just because a program is new does not mean that the courses are less challenging, students expect to be challenged and that is what we do.  The basics are taught and the student can take a number of advanced courses to round out their expertise.

The Computer Science program at Tarleton will apply for ABET (Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology) as soon as permitted under ABET guidelines.

Facilities

CS classes are taught in the new Science building where each student has access to a computer.  These are used to follow examples shown by the instructor or to take notes.  There are times when the best way of determining a student's level of expertise in programming is to ask them to write a program.  To support this portions of a test are   frequently conducted on the computers. 

There are several computer labs found across the campus.

What we offer

Testing out of courses

Students who have prior programming experience can take a comprehensive programming test in the C, C++ or Java to test out of the appropriate introductory programming course.  These tests are aimed at high school students who have had some programming at the high school level.  Students from junior colleges will normally transfer the appropriate courses to Tarleton.

Advantages of a smaller school

A major advantage that a university like Tarleton State has over the larger universities is the emphasis and ability to provide a quality undergraduate education.  Larger universities are forced to have large introductory classes where there are hundreds students in the class.  These classes are lecture and by the nature of the size of the class, do not permit a ready exchange between the students and the professors.  The smaller class sizes found at Tarleton means that you can directly ask a professor a question in class and not wait to deal with a graduate assistant at a later time.  The professors are readily available and accessible for out of classroom teaching.  Smaller classrooms let you bond with fellow classmates and develop team skills that will help you in the workforce.

Tarleton State University is located in Stephenville which does not have the congestion and pollution found in the larger cities.  The pace is a little slower but you still have access to the conveniences of a larger city.  The Dallas/Fort Worth metropolitan area is just 60 miles away.