University of Vermont

Department of Computer Science

Frequently Asked Questions



What is unique about Computer Science at UVM?

Computer Science is much more than just programming. Just as good handwriting and typing skills don't make a person capable of producing literature, knowing how to program, in and of itself, doesn't make a person able to conceive and write literate programs that solve difficult problems.

An understanding of what computers are fundamentally incapable of doing, how they can perform tasks normally thought to require human intelligence, and how they can store, manipulate, and transmit massive amounts of information quickly and accurately, is needed to be able to design computer-based solutions to real-world problems. Many places can teach you to program, but our goal is to help you develop a more fundamental knowledge so that you can be a creative problem solver, as well as a literate programmer.

Most four-year Computer Science programs have this objective, so what does UVM offer that makes it unique?

  • Small classes with plenty of opportunity to interact with the instructors. Our courses are taught by faculty instructors only (unless there are exceptional cases to make), and the faculty instructors go beyond their duties to help students.
  • Good lab facilities with undergraduate teaching assistants, graduate teaching fellows, and instructors available for individual help.
  • A very competitive curriculum, with excellent coverage of both Windows and Unix, and cutting-edge senior courses in areas such as bioinformatics, cryptography, data mining, evolutionary & agent-based computing, graphics, networks, and parallel processing.
  • Research opportunities with an award-winning faculty who is involved in the forefront of research in knowledge and data engineering, software engineering and verification, computational sciences, and computer security.
  • Real-world projects (with possible course credits) and industrial scholarships provided by the Vermont Information Technology Partnership (VITP) to enhance academic-industry interaction.

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How is the job situation in the field of Computer Science?

Our students are well placed upon graduation, and indeed many find interesting internships and co-ops during their junior and senior years. Employers contact the department on a regular basis seeking to hire UVM students in Computer Science. In fact, Career Services often experiences the happy difficulty of having more employers coming to campus looking for CS majors than there are students in the program!

For more information on the state of the field, please see the Top 10 Reasons to Major in Computing compiled by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM).

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Is "getting a job" the only reason to study Computer Science?

Of course, it's a very good reason. But we don't think it's the only reason by any means. Computer Science is a broad discipline. It has strong connections with business, mathematics, the sciences, engineering, entertainment, the fine arts, education, and on and on. It's a creative subject area in which problem solving and invention are the main ingredients. All of these make Computer Science an excellent background for a variety of occupations. It's fun to create enrivonments that may exist only in our imaginations.

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How do you prepare for a career in Computer Science?

In high school, it's best to take four years of mathematics, including precalculus. Three years of science should be taken, including courses in chemistry and physics. Courses that include writing are strongly encouraged. Computer programming courses can give you a head start on your college work.

In college you will take several courses in mathematics as well as courses in the sciences. You'll take introductory courses in computer programming, then you'll apply all this knowledge to a variety of CS courses, both theoretical and practical. The theoretical courses provide a concrete understanding of the principles behind computers and computing. The more practical courses involve a significant amount of computer programming and are intended to make you an excellent programmer by the time you graduate.

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Who do I contact for more information?

For questions related to the Computer Science programs at UVM that are not answered in these web pages, email Computer.Science@uvm.edu.

If you have questions about the application process and admission to the College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences, call 1-802-656-3392.

If you are coming to campus and looking for us in person, please call 1-802-656-3330 to arrange an appointment with a CS faculty member. We are located on the third floor of Votey Hall, and the main office at 351 Votey has literature on our programs. Also, we can usually find, on short notice, a faculty member who can answer your questions about CS at UVM.


Last updated: January 22, 2013.

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