Undergraduate Advising

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The undergraduate programs are listed in the catalog and linked from the programs page. The present page contains advice not contained there. Check the programs page and catalog information first, and then come back here.

Who to Get Advice From

Each student has an official advisor who should approve your selection of courses. First year students normally have an advisor from the University College to make sure you are on track to complete the Foundational Studies requirements. After the first year, students are assigned an advisor in their major. Students who do not yet have a CS faculty member as an advisor should feel free to contact the CS advisors or associate chairperson to get advice and make sure you are taking the right courses.

The CS faculty who currently serve as advisors for undergraduate students are Jeff Kinne and Luke May. Students can also get unofficial advice from other CS faculty and other students. Students should feel free to ask the associate chairperson of CS for advice as well.


See the description of the CS major in the catalog (linked from CS / Programs) for descriptions of the concentrations. Some additional notes on the concentrations...

  • Calculus - computing science and data science require calculus, while information science does not. If you choose one of the concentrations that requires calculus, take a math course each semester until you are through Math 132 Calculus II so that you will have that finished as a prereq when you need it. If you fear and tremble at the thought of taking calculus, choose the information science concentration.
  • Time to complete - below on this page has programs of study and information about course sequencing. You will see that the computing science and data science concentrations have a longer "prereq chain" - sequence of courses that have to be taken one before the next. The information science concentration has more lower level courses and can be completed more quickly. If you are a transfer student without the first few courses in the major done already, information science would probably have you finish sooner.
  • Courses outside your concentration - you should feel free to take courses outside your concentration as long as they fit in your schedule and you have the prereqs. You need to complete the requirements for one of the concentrations, but that does not prevent you from taking additional CS courses. In general, the wider exposure you get in your coursework the better.

Other Courses and General Advice

When Offered Most classes are only offered once per year. So, for example, you cannot plan to take CS 470 in the spring. Only the beginning CS courses are offered every semester, and certain courses are only offered once every two years or as needed. See Courses for information on when courses are normally offered.

Breadth Exposure You must take all the courses from one of the concentrations. For the broadest exposure to computer science, we recommend taking a few courses from other concentrations as well.

Non-CS Courses Courses that are not required but which are useful and recommended: Math 231 Calculus III, Physics (Phys 105 and 106, or Phys 115 and 116), Electronics (ECT 160 Electronic Fundamentals, ECT 173 Fundamentals of Information Technology, ECT 231 Digital Computer Logic, ECT 232 Digital Computer Circuits), an economics course. See the undergraduate catalog of courses for information on particular courses.

Internships/Cooperative Experiences Students are encouraged to seek internships and part-time jobs related to computer science as early as possible in your education. These experiences can greatly increase your chances of finding a good job right after graduating. Note that students who are in the US on a student visa can only be employed off campus as part of a requirement for a course (depending on your particular visa situation). Undergraduate students can enroll in CS 399; graduate students can enroll in CS 699. Contact the associate chairperson of CS for more information.

Start in CS 101 or CS 151 For those starting CS at ISU, we need to decide if you will start with CS 101 or CS 151 as your first course (or both). See CS 101 versus CS 151 in the FAQ for some guidance and also the Computer Science Placement process.

Lab sections, CS 499 The following courses now have required lab sections: CS 401, CS 456, CS 457, CS 458. These are co-reqs, so even if MySAM does not have the lab section listed as required (because you are on an older catalog year) you need to sign up for both the lab and lecture. For example, in the computing science concentration you need to take CS 458, and will need to take CS 458L as well. For CS 499, it is now being offered as 2 credits. Your MySAM may list it as a 1 credit requirement, but you still need to take the 2 credit section (that is all that is being offered). In both cases, the "additional hour" can count towards your CS electives if your MySAM lists CS electives as a requirement. Note for graduate students - there are no lab sections for the 500 level versions of these courses; the instructor might allow you to sit in on the lab for extra help, check with them.

Plans of Study

The course catalog contains plans of study for each major as does MySAM after you have declared a major. To see sample plans of study for all of the different concentrations in one place, see Program_plans_CS_2021.xlsx. Note that this file contains the following plans of study, which are all separate sheets.

  • CS BS computing science concentration, 8 semester plan
  • CS BS computing concentration, 4 semester TSAP plan (assumes you have completed a two year computer science TSAP at Ivy Tech or other Indiana college/university, then complete the CS degree at ISU in 4 semesters, see also TSAP learning outcomes)
  • CS BS data science concentration, 8 semester plan
  • CS BS data science concentration, 4 semester TSAP plan
  • CS BS information science concentration, 8 semester plan
  • CS BS information science concentration, 4 semester TSAP plan

You can also see the "CS BS" sheet in CS Course Sequences (2020) for the recommended sequence just for the CS courses.

Constraints on Completing the CS BS

There are two main constraints on how quickly you can finish a major - prerequisites (must case course X before Y, and Y before Z, etc.) and when courses are offered. You can see the prerequisite structure for the CS courses in ISU CS BS program and prereqs - 2020, and you can see the recommended sequence to take courses in at CS course sequencing (which in particular shows how to complete each concentration in 6-7 semesters depending on whether CS 101 is taken the first term and which term you start in). You can see how the last two years of the major in each concentration can be completed in two years by checking the TSAP sheet in the linked sheet. Your exact situation may differ slightly than any of these scenarios depending on what you already have completed in terms of CS courses and math courses.

Note that if a single course or prerequisite would result in delaying the completion of your degree please check with your advisor and the associate chairperson. It may be appropriate to waive a prerequisite or petition for a substitution so that you can graduate when desired. This is more likely to be possible the better you do in your CS courses, and of course there are no guarantees that we can accommodate the graduation timeline you would like.