Computer Science Major, B.A.

The bachelor of arts degree with a major in computer science will prepare students for a career in either a traditional computing field or a field in which computing is a significant enabling technology. The B.A. degree is the preferred degree for those who wish more flexibility in their program of study.

Admission to the Major

The demand for concentrating in a computer science program has grown significantly at UNC–Chapel Hill over the past decade. In order to maintain the quality of educational experiences Carolina students studying computer science deserve, we must restrict the number of students majoring in computer science relative to our faculty size’s ability to sustain the programs. 

Those wishing to concentrate in computer science must be admitted to a major program (B.A. or B.S.). Students are eligible to apply in the spring semester after completing or while currently enrolled in COMP 210. Students who are admitted to the program continue through the introductory course sequence with COMP 301 and COMP 211 and will have access to upper-division electives to complete their degree programs. Please see the department's website for the most up-to-date information about the admission to the major process.

Student Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of the computer science program (B.A.), students should be able to:

  • Understand major concepts, theoretical perspectives, empirical findings, and historical trends in the core of computer science
  • Gain employment in highly competitive industries and companies and be successful in those positions
  • Use critical and creative thinking skills in their approach to analyzing and solving computational problems
  • Apply their knowledge in the completion of a significant real-world experience

Requirements 

In addition to the program requirements, students must

  • earn a minimum final cumulative GPA of 2.000
  • complete a minimum of 45 academic credit hours earned from UNC–Chapel Hill courses
  • take at least half of their major core requirements (courses and credit hours) at UNC–Chapel Hill
  • earn a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.000 in the major core requirements. Some programs may require higher standards for major or specific courses.

For more information, please consult the degree requirements section of the catalog.

Core Requirements
COMP 210Data Structures and Analysis 13
COMP 211Systems Fundamentals 13
COMP 301Foundations of Programming 13
COMP 311Computer Organization 13
COMP 283IDEAs in Action General Education logo Discrete Structures 1, H3
or MATH 381 Discrete Mathematics
Two additional COMP elective courses numbered 420 or higher (at least three credits each) 26
Four additional elective courses chosen from the following, with no more than two courses from other departments:12
COMP courses numbered 420 - 599 (excluding COMP 496)
Graduate level courses (600 or higher) excluding COMP 690, COMP 692H, and COMP 790 3
Analysis and Interpretation of Sequence-Based Functional Genomics Experiments
Data Science Basics
IDEAs in Action General Education logo Advanced Financial Economics
Human Computer Interaction
Human Factors in System Design
Information Retrieval
Applications of Natural Language Processing
Experimental Information Retrieval
Text Mining
Mathematical Linguistics
Introduction to Numerical Analysis
Scientific Computation I
IDEAs in Action General Education logo Physical Computing
Numerical Techniques for the Sciences I
Machine Learning
Other courses must be approved by the director of undergraduate studies and must have a significant computer or computing technology component.
Additional Requirements
MATH 231IDEAs in Action General Education logo Calculus of Functions of One Variable I (A grade of C or better is required) 1, H, F4
STOR 155IDEAs in Action General Education logo Introduction to Data Models and Inference 4, F3
or STOR 435 Introduction to Probability
or STOR 535 Probability for Data Science
or PSYC 210 IDEAs in Action General Education logo Statistical Principles of Psychological Research
B.A. majors in computer science must fulfill all General Education requirements, including the Supplemental General Education requirement.
Total Hours40
H

Honors version available. An honors course fulfills the same requirements as the nonhonors version of that course. Enrollment and GPA restrictions may apply.

F

FY-Launch class sections may be available. A FY-Launch section fulfills the same requirements as a standard section of that course, but also fulfills the FY-SEMINAR/FY-LAUNCH First-Year Foundations requirement. Students can search for FY-Launch sections in ConnectCarolina using the FY-LAUNCH attribute.

1

A grade of C or better is required in each of COMP 283 (or MATH 381), COMP 210, COMP 211, COMP 301, COMP 311, and MATH 231.

2

Excluding COMP 496COMP 690, and COMP 692H

3

COMP 790 courses are general seminar courses that are not appropriate for this requirement and may only be counted with the approval of the director of undergraduate studies.

4

PSYC 210 requires PSYC 101 as a prerequisite. Both STOR 435 and STOR 535 require MATH 233 as a prerequisite. 

Computer science (COMP) course descriptions.

Sample Plan of Study

Sample plans can be used as a guide to identify the courses required to complete the major and other requirements needed for degree completion within the expected eight semesters. The actual degree plan may differ depending on the course of study selected (second major, minor, etc.). Students should meet with their academic advisor to create a degree plan that is specific and unique to their interests. The sample plans represented in this catalog are intended for first-year students entering UNC–Chapel Hill in the fall term. Some courses may not be offered every term.

The following is a suggested four-year plan of study for B.A. majors.

Plan of Study Grid
First YearHours
First-Year Foundation Courses
IDST 101 IDEAs in Action General Education logo College Thriving 1
ENGL 105
IDEAs in Action General Education logo English Composition and Rhetoric
or IDEAs in Action General Education logo English Composition and Rhetoric (Interdisciplinary)
3
First-Year Seminar or First-Year Launch F 3
Triple-I and Data Literacy 4
Global Language through level 3 varies
Major Courses
COMP 110 IDEAs in Action General Education logo Introduction to Programming and Data Science (if needed) H 3
MATH 231 IDEAs in Action General Education logo Calculus of Functions of One Variable I (fulfills FC-QUANT) H, F 4
Additional Courses
Lifetime Fitness 1
Electives or IDEAs in Action Requirements 11
Hours 30
Sophomore Year
An appropriate physical and life sciences IDEAs in Action course 4
COMP 283 IDEAs in Action General Education logo Discrete Structures H 3
COMP 210 Data Structures and Analysis 3
COMP 211 Systems Fundamentals 3
COMP 301 Foundations of Programming 3
Four additional IDEAs in Action courses 12
Free elective 3
Hours 31
Junior Year
COMP 311 Computer Organization 3
STOR 155
IDEAs in Action General Education logo Introduction to Data Models and Inference F
or Introduction to Probability
or Probability for Data Science
or IDEAs in Action General Education logo Statistical Principles of Psychological Research
3
Three COMP courses numbered 420 or higher 9
Three additional IDEAs in Action courses 9
Two supplemental General Education courses 6
Hours 30
Senior Year
Three COMP courses numbered 420 or higher 9
One Supplemental General Education course 3
IDEAs in Action and free elective courses 17
Hours 29
Total Hours 120
H

Honors version available. An honors course fulfills the same requirements as the nonhonors version of that course. Enrollment and GPA restrictions may apply.

F

FY-Launch class sections may be available. A FY-Launch section fulfills the same requirements as a standard section of that course, but also fulfills the FY-SEMINAR/FY-LAUNCH First-Year Foundations requirement. Students can search for FY-Launch sections in ConnectCarolina using the FY-LAUNCH attribute.

The following is a suggested plan of study for students initiating coursework for the B.A. major in their junior years. This is an accelerated plan appropriate for students who have already completed most if not all of their general education requirements, COMP 110, and MATH 231. Students without prior programming experience are highly encouraged to complete COMP 110 prior to starting the program.

Plan of Study Grid
Junior YearHours
COMP 210 Data Structures and Analysis 3
COMP 211 Systems Fundamentals 3
COMP 301 Foundations of Programming 3
COMP 311 Computer Organization 3
COMP 283 IDEAs in Action General Education logo Discrete Structures H 3
STOR 155
IDEAs in Action General Education logo Introduction to Data Models and Inference F
or Introduction to Probability
or Probability for Data Science
or IDEAs in Action General Education logo Statistical Principles of Psychological Research
3
Supplemental General Education 9
Elective 3
Hours 30
Senior Year
Six COMP courses numbered 420 or higher 18
IDEAs in Action and free elective courses 12
Hours 30
Total Hours 60
H

Honors version available. An honors course fulfills the same requirements as the nonhonors version of that course. Enrollment and GPA restrictions may apply.

F

FY-Launch class sections may be available. A FY-Launch section fulfills the same requirements as a standard section of that course, but also fulfills the FY-SEMINAR/FY-LAUNCH First-Year Foundations requirement. Students can search for FY-Launch sections in ConnectCarolina using the FY-LAUNCH attribute.

Notes on the Suggested Plan of Study

A first formal course in computer programming (such as COMP 110) is a prerequisite for COMP 210 and COMP 211. Students with no programming experience should begin their program of study with COMP 110. Students who are unsure if their background preparation enables them to begin their studies with COMP 210 and COMP 211 are encouraged to consult a departmental advisor.

Students who are able to begin with COMP 210 and COMP 211 may take it in their first semester and either advance the suggested program of study by one semester (giving themselves an extra free elective in their junior/senior years) or take another appropriate course such as a first-year seminar. In either case, COMP 110 is not a required course in the major.

This plan of study further assumes that students will place out of Global Language 1. If this is not the case, then the student should start with Global Language 1 (and have one fewer free elective in the senior year).

Special Opportunities in Computer Science

Honors in Computer Science

Students are eligible for graduation with honors if they complete the following requirements:

  • A cumulative grade point average of 3.3 or better
  • A grade point average of 3.3 or better from among the set of COMP, MATH, PHYS, and STOR courses taken to fulfill the graduation requirements for the major
  • Graduation with honors requires the completion of two semesters of research (COMP 691H and COMP 692H). As part of COMP 692H, students must submit a written honors thesis and complete an oral public presentation of the thesis. Graduation with highest honors in computer science is possible for those students whose honors project and thesis are judged by a faculty committee to be particularly distinguished.

Students interested in pursuing honors in computer science are encouraged to contact the director of undergraduate studies.

High-Impact Experiences

When arranged in advance with a supervising faculty member, COMP 293 can be used to earn credit for appropriate work experience. COMP 293 satisfies the high-impact experience requirement. Another possibility is through study abroad (see below).

Assistantships and Internships

In addition to their classroom experiences, undergraduates may enhance their learning experience as research assistants or learning assistants. Students also can participate in nationally recognized research programs or use the department's facilities to pursue self-directed research with a faculty member.

Work-study students can gain valuable work experience as assistants on the department’s computer services staff or on development or research activities with faculty. The department also encourages students to pursue internship experiences. Carolina’s proximity to Research Triangle Park means that computer science majors have many internship and postgraduation opportunities available in their own backyard.

Study Abroad

Study abroad opportunities with priority for computer science students are offered through a number of international institutions including the National University of Singapore (NUS) School of Computing, Lancaster University, Trinity University–Dublin, University of New South Wales, and Seoul National University. Study abroad at NUS is eligible for the Phillips Ambassadors Scholarship. Please see the Phillips Ambassadors website for more information. Availability of these programs may vary and additional programs may be available. Application for study abroad is through the University’s Study Abroad Office. 

Study abroad satisfies the experiential education General Education requirement of the undergraduate curriculum. Up to two computer science courses taken at these institutions may be counted toward the major as computer science electives beyond the introductory sequence. Specific course equivalencies for some programs are posted on the department’s website. Students interested in taking a course not listed should contact the director of undergraduate studies before registering for courses at the school. 

Undergraduate Awards

The department awards two yearly prizes to computer science majors. In conjunction with SAS Institute, the department annually presents the Charles H. Dunham Scholarship. The Dunham scholarship includes a scholarship and a summer internship at SAS and is awarded in the fall semester to a student in their junior year. The department also annually presents the Stephen F. Weiss Award for Outstanding Achievement in Computer Science, which includes a cash prize. The Weiss award is presented to a student in the spring of their senior year.

Department of Computer Science

Visit Program Website

Brooks Computer Science Building, 201 S. Columbia Street, CB# 3175

(919) 590-6000

Chair

Kevin Jeffay

Director of Undergraduate Studies

Ketan Mayer-Patel

kmp@cs.unc.edu

Student Services Manager

Denise Kenney

kenney@cs.unc.edu