Specializations versus Majors

CS Majors are required to take a three-course Specialization. In planning a specialization in area X, it helps to be familiar with the requirements for a major in X. Those requirements, which reflect the collective wisdom of the professors in the field, should be kept in mind when selecting courses. Sometimes a specialization "is not enough", and the student might want to graduate with another major (besides CS major). Electrical Engineering, Operations Research, Mathematics, Linguistics, and Economics are among the more popular choices for a second major. However, without a significant amount of AP credit, these second degree opportunities require very tight schedules, as well as an extra semester. The added layer of requirements may rule out interesting "side trips" into the curriculum. It is important to discuss these matters with the advisor. Students with interdisciplinary ambitions are often surprised to learn that they can be realized with something less than a full second major. Nevertheless, a second major may be just the right thing for the well-qualified, enthusiastic CS Major who wants submersion in the culture of another field.

Double Majors

Some students find that they have a deep interest in two fields to the point that they decide to major in both fields. If the fields are closely related, like CS and ECE for example, a better option might be to major in one field and concentrate heavily in the second. This affords many students the ability to take more advanced courses in both fields and possibly to move on to early entry into a masters program. Close consultation with field offices and advisors is imperative. The process for declaring a double major varies from college to college, but the first step is to consult with both field offices and then fill out whatever paperwork your college requires to make the double major official. You will have two advisors and your college will assume that your first major is your primary major unless you notify them otherwise. Note that CS majors in the College of Engineering cannot double major with the ISST (Information Science, Systems, and Technology) major.  

The Minors in Engineering

The Engineering College has official minors that are reflected on a student's university transcript following graduation. The Engineering minors recognize formal study of a particular technical subject area outside of a student's major. For more information on the Engineering Minors, see the Engineering Handbook section on Engineering Minors.

The Concurrent Degree Option

It is also possible to choose a second major from a different college. This is called the concurrent degree option. For example, an Engineering CS Major (who obtains a BS) can obtain a BA in Mathematics. Because two sets of College requirements are involved, the concurrent degree option involves even more careful planning than a simple double major. The procedures to follow if you are interested depend on your college (Engineering or Arts).  For more information on this program, contact the Office of Internal Transfer and Concurrent Degrees.

The College Scholar Program

If you are a truly outstanding student with unique CS interests that cannot be realized through a conventional major or double major, then the College Scholar Program in Arts and Sciences may be for you. College Scholars are exempt from the usual college requirements for a degree and are allowed to design their own curricula, in collaboration with their advisor. This program is meant to serve students whose interests and talents would benefit from a little more academic freedom than other students have, who have demonstrated exceptional promise, and who show maturity to plan and carry out a well-designed program of study. College Scholars must complete 120 credits of course work (100 in the college) and 34 courses. They must spend the usual eight semesters on campus. A senior project is required. Each applicant to the College Scholar Program is asked to write an essay, which is due the last Wednesday in April of the freshman year. Students should contact the Academic Advising Center in 55 Goldwin Smith for additional information.

The Independent Major

The Independent Major in Engineering, like the College Scholar Program in Arts and Sciences, is designed for well-qualified students whose educational objectives cannot be realized by one of the regular field programs. Students apply to enter the Independent Major by the end of the first term of the sophomore year. They should have a GPA of at least 2.0. The major (primary area) must be in a subject area offered by schools or departments of the College of Engineering,  and the specialization (secondary area) should be in a second engineering subject area. Each program must be approved by the Independent Major Committee. For further details see Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs, 167 Olin Hall, phone: 607.255.8240

Professional Degrees

With proper coursework, the CS Major can establish the necessary foundations for a career in medicine, law, business, or education: Interest Reasonable Specialization/Second Majors Medicine Biological Sciences, Chemistry Law Science and Technology Studies, Economics Business Operations Research and Industrial Engineering Education Cognitive Studies Joint programs with the Johnson School of Management exist for qualified CS Majors who are interested in obtaining an MBA.

Cornell Abroad

The Cornell Abroad Program at Cornell University allows students to spend a semester or two studying at a foreign school. The faculty in the CS Department of have recommended the following schools as possible places to pursue studies abroad (not all schools are affiliated with Cornell Abroad): Univ. of Edinburgh, Scotland Univ. of Manchester, England Univ. of London, England Sussex, England Cambridge Univ., England Oxford Univ., England Delft, The Netherlands Univ. of Bergen, Norway Univ. of Umea, Sweden KTH, Sweden [Royal Institute of Technology] Bar-Ilan Univ., Israel Technion, Israel Technical Univ. of Munich, Germany Univ. of Vienna, Austria Univ. of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia