Computer Science Major Guide for 2013-2014

What is Computer Science

Computer Science is the systematic study of algorithmic processes that describe and transform information: their theory, analysis, design, efficiency, implementation, and application.  The fundamental question underlying all of computing is: What can efficiently be automated?

Computer Science is far more than programming. It incorporates the paradigms of theory (mathematical), abstraction (experimental), and design (engineering) within many topic areas, including:

  • algorithms, data structures
  • architecture
  • artificial intelligence (AI) & robotics
  • bioinformatics and systems biology
  • computer systems
  • computational science
  • databases and data mining
  • high-performance computing
  • human-computer communication
  • programming languages
  • software engineering

Career Opportunities in Computer Science

Career opportunities exist in many fields for our graduates.  These include, for example, financial systems, communication, scientific research facilities, transportation systems, medical information systems, computer system administration, national security, and electronic commerce.  A good resource is the U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook http://stats.bls.gov/oco/ocos027.htm.

High School Preparation

The College of Engineering has established admissions criteria for incoming freshmen based on several performance criteria, including completion of core academic subjects, GPA scores on these subjects and standardized test (SAT or ACT) scores. A Success Prediction Indicator (SPI) number of 60 and a math ACT of 25 or a math SAT of 570 are minimum standards used for admission to the College of Engineering. The admitted class may also be limited by space available in the College. The SPI is calculated by adding an individual’s ACT mathematics score to 10 times their core high school GPA (based on a 4.0 scale). For information on what constitutes core high school courses, please consult admission website http://admissions.utk.edu/undergraduate/apply/requirements.shtml.

SPI EXAMPLE: A student with a high school core GPA of 3.5 and an ACT mathematics score of 28 would have an SPI of 63 using the formula (3.5 X 10) + 28 = 63. SAT scores are converted to an equivalent ACT score to perform this calculation.

Students who wish to pursue a degree in the College of Engineering at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, but do not meet the college admission criterion may enroll as Arts and Sciences Exploratory students and complete appropriate mathematics, science, and other courses before applying for admission to the College of Engineering as an internal transfer student.

How to Major in Computer Science

As of Fall 2008, the computer science degree is administered by the Min H. Kao Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS). Students applying to the university should specify computer science as their chosen major when completing the admission form.  Transfers from other institutions are generally handled the same as transfers from other UT programs.  However, a prospective transfer student should consult with an advisor in computer science to determine which courses can be accepted toward the major.  It should not be assumed that courses with similar names to UT courses will be accepted as part of the major.

Requirements for Computer Science

The EECS Department currently does not have any special requirements for admission to the computer science program, other than the general admission requirements for the university and the college.  College of Engineering students are required to own personal computers for class work.  For more information, please visit http://www.engr.utk.edu/futurestudents/computers.html.

Special Programs, Co-ops, and Internships

Collaborative research projects between EECS faculty and colleagues at Oak Ridge National Laboratory along with summer internship programs provide undergraduate computer science majors excellent opportunities to engage scientific problems of national importance.

The College of Engineering’s Office of Professional Practice (EPP) provides income-generation opportunities for students to experience real-world challenges through cooperative education (co-op) and internship programs.  Both programs offer structured learning environments where students develop increasing responsibilities by holding full-time paid positions in a professional environment related to their academic and career goals:  www.coop.utk.edu

In addition to financial and scholarship programs available to all students, the college also provides special programs to minority students, including:

The College of Engineering also participates in the University Honors Program, which is designed to give academically outstanding students a unique undergraduate experience consisting of special courses, seminars, mentoring and research projects: http://www.utk.edu/honors/

The UT Center for International Education collaborates with the COE to create opportunities for students to study in other countries:  https://studyabroad.utk.edu/

Highlights of Computer Science

The EECS department has a new 150,000 square foot facility, which provides students and faculty with state-of-the-art classrooms, laboratories, and research facilities.  This facility is funded, in part, by a substantial endowment by Dr. Min Kao, Chairman and CEO of Garmin International Inc.  The new building bears Dr. Kao’s name in honor of his generosity.  Specific areas of computer science research by EECS faculty include: bioinformatics and systems biology, high-performance computing, computational science, data mining and machine learning, artificial intelligence, image analysis, visualization, scientific computing, and parallel and distributed computation.

Ready for the World logoReady for the World

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, offers study abroad programs in Asia, Europe, Africa, Australia, South America, and North America. Program lengths vary from mini-term trips to the entire academic year, and students may choose to fulfill general education requirements, study a foreign language, or take courses within their majors. In addition, UTK offers students opportunities for international internships.

Students are highly encouraged to begin planning early in their academic career and to consult with an academic advisor about the best time to study abroad as well as what courses to take abroad. For more information about program options, the application process, and how to finance study abroad, please visit the Programs Abroad Office website.

For more information about opportunities for majors in the College of Engineering, please see the section of the Engineering Outreach Office website which highlights study abroad programs for engineering students.

Learn more about UT’s Ready for the World initiative to help students gain the international and intercultural knowledge they need to succeed in today’s world.

Academic Plan and Milestones

Following an academic plan will help students stay on track to graduate in four years. Beginning with first-time, first-year, full-time, degree-seeking students entering in the Fall 2013 semester, UT has implemented Universal Tracking (uTrack), an academic monitoring system designed to help students stay on track for timely graduation. In order to remain on track, students must complete the minimum requirements for each tracking semester, known as milestones. Milestones may include successful completion of specified courses and/or attainment of a minimum GPA.

To see a sample academic plan and milestones for this major, go to Computer Science in the Undergraduate Catalog (catalog.utk.edu).

Honors Program in Computer Science

Students who wish to pursue the honors electrical engineering concentration, honors computer engineering concentration, and honors computer science concentration will normally be part of the Chancellor’s Honors Program.

Candidates for the honors electrical engineering concentration and honors computer engineering concentration must complete the first year courses for honors concentration in the engineering majors. Candidates for the honors computer science concentration must meet the first year requirements for the Chancellor’s Honors Program.

In addition to satisfying the requirements described above, candidates for these three honors concentrations must also satisfy the following requirements.

  • Two upper-division honors courses in computer science or electrical and computer engineering via Honors-by-Contract or Honors Independent study, or equivalent.
  • If participating in only the Chancellor’s Honors Program, the Honors-by-Contract paperwork goes to the Chancellor’s Honors Office on campus during the first 10 days of the semester. If participating in Engineering Honors and not Chancellor’s Honors, the Honors-by-Contract paperwork is submitted the first 10 days of the semester to the engineering major department. If participating in both Chancellor’s and Engineering Honors, the Honors-by-Contract paperwork is submitted to both areas.
  • Complete a 3-credit hour senior project course. This can normally be completed as part of the capstone design course, ECE 402 *  for computer engineering majors and electrical engineering majors or COSC 402 * for computer science majors.

Five-Year BS/MS Program

The department offers a 5 year BS-MS program for qualified students. The primary component of the program is that qualified students may take up to 6 hours of approved graduate courses for their senior undergraduate electives and have them count toward both their bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the University of Tennessee. This program is designed for students attending the University of Tennessee for their Master of Science degree because other universities may not accept these courses for graduate credit since they were used to satisfy requirements for the Bachelor of Science degree. Significant components of the program are:

  • Students must have an overall GPA of at least 3.4 to be admitted to the program. Conditional admission may be granted after completing 64 hours of required course work while full admission is granted after completing 96 hours of required course work with a minimum overall GPA of 3.4.
  • Students must at least have conditional admission before taking graduate courses for both their bachelor’s and master’s degrees. All courses taken for graduate credit must be approved by the departmental chair of the program. Students admitted to the program must request permission from the Graduate School to take approved courses for graduate credit.
  • Students admitted to the program must also follow the normal procedure for admission to the Graduate School. Admission of students into this program must be approved by the department and the Graduate School.
  • Students will not be eligible for graduate assistantships until they are enrolled as graduate-level students in the Graduate School.

For More Information

Min H. Kao Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
401 Min H. Kao Building
Knoxville, TN 37996-3450
Phone: (865)974-5067
Fax: (865)974-4404
Email: info@eecs.utk.edu
Web: www.eecs.utk.edu