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Not Just Any Science: Computer Science – Getting a BS CS or BS SE @ UT Dallas

Technology is increasingly impacting our lives, from smartphones, social media, devices such as Alexa, the sharing economy of Uber, Airbnb, etc., to the promise of self-driving cars and artificial intelligence. What is common among all these technological advancements is that they are made possible by software. Software is truly changing our lives, and its impact will become more significant as automation continues and accelerates its dominance. Who builds these software systems for automating everything? Computer Scientists.  And how does one train to become a computer scientist? With a degree in computer science!

Career prospects for CS majors, therefore, are extremely good. They are in demand by top tech companies such as Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, and Amazon. Every industry is realizing that their business is highly dependent on software technology, and they are heavily investing in it. In fact, many of the companies are so dependent on software (insurance & banking, for example), that even though the software is not the product they sell, they call themselves a technology company. These companies are hiring computer science majors in increasingly larger numbers. The COVID-19 pandemic has further highlighted the importance of software technology to our economy as self-isolation has increased our dependence upon technologies critical for maintaining connections between people and between businesses.

Thus, the demand for computer science majors is red hot, and it will continue to be this way for the foreseeable future. Because of this demand, wages are quite high. Top graduates from UT Dallas BS CS program earn salaries of more than $100,000, accompanied by joining bonuses of up to $70,000 and stock options of as much as $150,000. A major in computer science has never before been more appealing.

UT Dallas Computer Science is the ideal place to pursue a major in computer science. There are many reasons for pursuing CS at UT Dallas:

  1. Distinguished facultyCS faculty, numbering nearly 100, is extremely distinguished. It boasts world-renowned faculty in leading-edge areas such as AI, machine learning, natural language processing, cybersecurity, software engineering, algorithm design, systems, big data, and data science. These faculty members include instructional faculty, nearly all of whom have Ph.D.’s along with significant industry experience. Our faculty members are closely involved with students in the role of mentors.
  2. Strong Foundations and Strong Beginnings: To be a successful computer scientist, one must have strong foundations. Strong foundation in CS means a student must be good at computer programming as well as know the mathematics of computer science—discrete mathematics—well. The CS department is unusual compared to most other departments in the country as it has instituted a sequence of beginning programming courses that is three courses long, and a sequence of discrete math that is two courses long (each sequence is one more than most other programs). What is more, to ensure that CS students will have rock-solid foundations, the CS Department has created the CS Mentor Center (CSMC), which operates all day long, where students can walk in and get help from senior student mentors, who have earned A grades in these foundational courses. The CSMC organizes exam reviews, as well as organizes review sessions at the request of instructors.
  3. Strong Finish: To ensure a strong finish, our curriculum includes the capstone project, where students make use of all the knowledge learned in the program to complete a team project that implements a product that is substantial. To make the capstone experience still richer, we have instituted the UTDesign program. Under this program, students do a team project for a company, thus obtaining real-world experience, and in many cases, a job offer at the end of the course.
  4. Smaller Class Size: A great advantage of our large faculty size is that section-size is small. Whereas in CS departments at other Universities—public and private—CS class sizes are exploding so that a section can contain hundreds of students, at UT Dallas, we keep the class section size to no more than 60 to 70 students. The small class size allows for more interaction between the faculty and students. Another great advantage of large faculty size is that courses are offered on diverse topics—from machine learning, to virtual reality, to software testing and natural language processing. Courses are offered in almost every topic in computer science
  5. CS Freshman Experience class & CS Freshman Dinner: All freshman students are required to take the CS freshmen experience class where they learn skills for surviving in a rigorous, math-heavy program, as well as learn problem-solving skills. CS students need to learn that the main skill they need to learn as a computer science major is problem-solving — problem-solving with a computer, of course.
  6. CS2 Honors Program: To challenge especially gifted students, the CS Department started the CS2Honors Program several years ago. Top echelon students are invited to join the program. These students have to pass a test that assesses their problem-solving skills in order to be inducted into the program.
  7. A Large Number of Student Organizations: The CS Department student body has nearly a dozen organizations. The Association of Computing Machinery (ACM) student chapter is the principal organization, under whose umbrella there are another 10+ organizations: Women Who Compute, The Linux Users’ Group, Cyber Security Student Group, AI Society, The Open Source society, Virtual Reality Society, Codeburners group, Codewarmers group, etc.
  8. Living Learning Community (LLC): CS majors can elect to reside in a common area in residence halls. The CS/SE Living Learning Community, which is about 150 strong, has many activities organized for it, including events such as the student-faculty game night. The LLC facilitates the formation of study groups as well as enhanced camaraderie among CS students.
  9. Industry Internships: Students are strongly encouraged to gain internship experience while pursuing their degree. An internship office consisting of five full-time employees helps students find internships in computer science and engineering disciplines. Almost every student can get an internship if he/she wants one. A large number of students find internships in top companies such as Amazon, Facebook, Google, etc., along with many startups and traditional companies such as Intuit, State Farm, Liberty Mutual, Capital One, CBRE, etc. UT Dallas’ location in the middle of the technology corridor (DFW is home to nearly 3,000 high-tech companies) further facilitates finding internships and full-time jobs.
  10. Undergraduate Research: CS faculty encourages academically gifted students to engage in research. An undergraduate research class Is offered to students every semester.
  11. Fast-Track Master’s Degree: Students with good performance can choose to join the Fast-Track MS CS or SE program. The fast-track program allows undergraduate students to obtain an MS degree in as little as one year.
  12. Programming Competitions, Hackathons: The various student organizations organize a number of hackathons, typically 4-6, each year. Hackathons are an event where teams of students “hack” a software system together in order to accomplish something useful. Several sponsor companies participate as well. The largest hackathon organized by the ACM (HackUTD) attracted nearly 700 students in Fall 2019, not just from UT Dallas but also from the greater DFW area, the rest of the US, as well as abroad. The CS Department organizes a number of programming competitions as well. There is even an undergraduate competitive programming team that participates in regional, national and international organizations.
  13. Opportunities for Outreach: The CS Department runs an extensive K-12 outreach program through the Center for CS Education and Outreach and engages undergraduate and graduate students to teach coding to K-12 students through summer camps, after-school clubs, and other events. The Center, in addition, also organizes many tutorials, workshops, and certification courses that help CS Department students gain knowledge about practices and tools currently prevalent in the industry.
  14. Highly Ranked by External Groups: The CS Department at UT Dallas has done well in research-based rankings such as csrankings.org, where it ranks 7th in the area of natural language processing, 5th in the field of software engineering, 11th in artificial intelligence, and 6th in real-time systems (2009-2019 period). The department also has done well in placement rankings, placing twenty-first in the 2015 LinkedIn ranking that measured the placement of software developers in top companies. Great Value Colleges ranked the top 40 best colleges in the U.S. for Artificial Intelligence, placing UT Dallas Computer Science Department as the fifth-best college for undergraduate studies in Artificial Intelligence (AI). The website Computer Science Degree Hub Rankings placed the UT Dallas CS department’s Computer Science Bachelors and Masters Programs in the top 50 universities that offer CS Degree Programs. More recently, the website Best Computer Science Schools ranked the 25 Best Colleges to earn a Bachelor’s in Software Engineering Degrees placing UT Dallas Computer Science Department as the ninth-best college. Grad Reports ranked the top 25 best colleges in the U.S. that offer a Master’s degree in Computer and Information Science and ranked UT Dallas CS at number nine.

There are many more such programs designed for our students. Our goal is to engage our students not just inside the classroom but outside the classroom as well, so as to produce well-rounded students who are ready for all of life’s challenges (click here to read about one of our successful recent graduates).

Given the nurturing and care that the CS faculty provides, CS students are truly getting an experience similar to what they would get at a top private school, all while paying public-school tuition.

F0r more information, please visit the UT Dallas Department of Computer Science Main Website.

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ABOUT THE UT DALLAS COMPUTER SCIENCE DEPARTMENT

The UT Dallas Computer Science program is one of the largest Computer Science departments in the United States with over 3,315 bachelors-degree students, more than 1,110 master’s students, 165 Ph.D. students,  52 tenure-track faculty members, and 44 full-time senior lecturers, as of Fall 2019. With The University of Texas at Dallas’ unique history of starting as a graduate institution first, the CS Department is built on a legacy of valuing innovative research and providing advanced training for software engineers and computer scientists.

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