Frequently Asked Questions

What is computer science?

Broadly speaking, computer science is the study of algorithms and computational processes, their expression, limitations, and applications. It is also concerned with the construction and operation of agents for performing these algorithms, such as computers, robots, drones, game consoles, and mobile devices. Computer scientists study not only algorithms, but software systems, data organization, knowledge representation, language, intelligence, and consciousness.

What can I do after graduation?

You can work in many different fields including (but not limited to) aerospace, biotech, gaming, entertainment, digital media distribution, search and information retrieval, nanotechnology, mobile, cybersecurity, business, finance, law, and medicine. LMU computer science graduates have a strong background in the humanities, arts, and communication thanks to LMU's Jesuit heritage, which helps both in branching out into other fields and with career advancement in traditional technology industries.

What are the advantages of studying computer science at LMU? Shouldn't I go to a "tech school" to study computer science?

Liberal Arts colleges like LMU offer undergraduates in technical disciplines a well-rounded education with a focus on communication skills that are indispensable in scientific and engineering endeavors, and often provide a stronger foundation for graduate study. In addition, LMU Computer Science features:

  • Small class sizes and close interaction with the faculty as the rule, not the expection;
  • World-class laboratory facilities that provide
    • All students with ample storage space, personal web sites, personal databases (both relational and non-relational), and personal version control repositories,
    • A wide variety of programming platforms, including computers running Linux, Solaris, OS/X, and Windows, as well as Xbox 360s, Playstations, Wiis, Kinects, iPods, iPads, and robots,
    • An NSF-funded networking infrastructure that not only runs the laboratories but is used as a hands-on teaching platform,
    • A professionally designed layout to maximize collaboration between students,
    • A full-size poster printer, projectors, a small library, games, a movie room with SurroundSound, and plenty of educational paraphernalia;
  • A unique program centered on student success, emphasizing applicative skills demanded by industry;
  • Apprenticeship and capstone courses;
  • A selection of highly interdisciplinary courses, such as Biological Databases and Virtual Worlds; and
  • Significant opportunities for undergraduate research.

What kind of assignments do computer science majors have?

You'll have a mix of classic homework sets and mid-size to large programming projects. Such projects are not only required of industry professionals, but often serve as the best vehicle to reinforce the concepts you learn in the classroom. Because computer programming is an inherently collaborative endeavor, many (though not all) projects will be group-oriented. Many projects are public-facing and follow industry development practices using wiki-based documentation and version control.

What classes outside of computer science are required?

Computer science majors take between nine and twelve classes from the arts, communication, and humanities, plus a handful of courses from science, mathematics, and electrical engineering. Beginning in 2011, the number of electives has been greatly increased to allow students to take a minor, double major, or go for a very broad educational experience.

Will I need my own computer?

No, there are ample computer resources in the lab and all over campus, but if you want the convenience of doing work at home, the dorms, restaurants, or other public spaces, then having your own computer is very useful. If you do have your own laptop, bring it into the lab and work with your friends and classmates in a social setting! The lab has its own wireless network as well as stations for wired Ethernet connectivity.

Can undergraduates do research?

Absolutely! Just ask any faculty member and he or she will be glad to work with you, and help you get publications to improve your resume and your graduate school application profile. The university encourages undergraduate research.

Is it possible to double major?

Yes, but it's not for everybody. You have to satisfy the major field requirements for both majors, which is very difficult to accomplish in four years. For most people, majoring in computer science is challenging enough, although taking a minor in a different field is not uncommon.  Several minors can be attained simply by filling the existing elective slots with the appropriate courses from the minor field, requiring no additional courses at all.  Naturally, students with AP credit will have more available slots for minors or double majors, though such credits are certainly not required.

Can I get credit for AP classes I took in high-school?

Yes. Refer to the LMU bulletin for a current list of accepted AP classes and requirements.

Can I transfer from another university into the computer science program?

Yes, many courses from other institutions will be transferable for their LMU equivalent.

Does the school participate in the ACM International Programming Contest?

We send multiple teams to regionals every year.  It is a fun experience.

When should I start looking for internships?

There is as yet no requirement to do an internship in computer science, but it is certainly encouraged and is a valuable experience. Some students choose to do an internship during summer break. Work performed in internships can often be made a part of the requirements for an independent studies course for which you can receive credit towards graduation.

Where can I get career consulting?

You can check out the University's career center, the Center for Student Success for the Seaver College of Science and Engineering, or ask any faculty member and he or she will be happy to help you.

Should I go to graduate school?

This depends on what you want to pursue once you graduate. Computer science students can and do go straight to a professional career with only a bachelor's degree; however, so much cutting-edge research in computing is being performed by university graduate students that graduate school is an exciting option for many. Talk to a faculty member in your junior year if you're wondering whether graduate school is right for you.

What are my job prospects, really?

Excellent, actually! There is a perennial shortage of computer science graduates to fill the available jobs in the United States! Offshoring exists, of course, but the "problem" is overstated — many companies still have a hard time filling open positions. See the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Fact Sheets for Computer ScientistsSoftware Engineers, and Computer Network, Systems, and Database Administrators. LMU computer science graduates have the advantage of industry-preparation skills emphasized by our program, as well as the network of alumni who are passionate about LMU and often hire new graduates.

Can I minor in computer science?

Sure. You simply take the introductory programming course (CMSI 185), the laboratory course (CMSI 186), the data structures course (CMSI 281), one of algorithms (CMSI 282) or computer systems (CMSI 284), and any two upper-division courses of your choice.