Frequently Asked Questions

The following is a list of frequently asked questions.

What are examples of the junior and senior projects that Computer Science students do?

Here's a list of recent CS Computer Science Senior Projects.

Many students do their junior-year project at off-site project centers. Here is a list of those project sites with examples of projects done at each site.

What's the BS/MS program?

The combined Bachelor's & Master's Program allows undergraduates to earn both a bachelor's and a master's degree in less time than would normally be required. This is done by counting some undergraduate credits towards the master's degree, and overlapping the two programs. If you're interested, apply at the beginning of the junior year.

Do students have opportunities to work with faculty on their research? On what kinds of problems?

The Wall Street Journal has rated WPI as the top school in the nation for faculty that do the best in combining scholarly research with classroom instruction.

In Computer Science, many faculty integrate their research with undergraduate research and Senior Projects. These collaborations can result in conference or journal publications. The range of research areas can be seen by looking at the range of at faculty research interests.

What do WPI students do after graduation?

A summary of what our students do after graduation is compile each year by WPI's Career Development Center. This annual Career Outcomes Report shows that Computer Science students do very well in both placement rates and average starting salaries with excellent companies.

For CS majors are co-ops mandatory to graduate? Are they available to CS majors?

We do not have a required co-op, although co-ops are available to those students who would like to pursue them. Most WPI CS students find they acquire valuable work experience from paid summer internships as well as their senior project.

What is the curriculum like for the first two years?

Our intro sequence focuses on program design and core CS topics, although students doing well begin to take upper-level courses at the end of the first year or more commonly in the second year. More information is available on our beginning courses.

What if any courses can a student test/place out of? Do they include introductory courses? If so, how does that happen?

In our intro sequence, our primary course sequence (CS1101/CS2102) expects no prior programming experience. However we also have accelerated-paced versions of our first two courses (CS1102/CS2103). These accelerated courses are often good courses for students who have prior CS experience and can handle a faster pace. These courses allow the students to see more advanced material.

Also we have no required courses in our curriculum. Rather we have only three requirements in CS for our 7-week courses at WPI:

  1. 15 CS courses,
  2. at least 5 CS courses at the 4000 (senior) level, and
  3. one course out of each of four areas (systems, social implications, design, theory).

As a guideline, students typically take five courses at the CS1000/2000 level, five courses at the CS3000 level and the required five courses at the CS4000 level.

There is flexibility so if a student already knows the material in a course then there is no requirement the student take the course. The student simply goes on and takes the next course. This flexibility is great for students as they can focus on the courses of interest and end up taking more advanced material. This approach is also possible because we have "recommended background" for courses and not "prerequisites" so if a student thinks they have the appropriate background for a course then they can simply take it. Students do not need to obtain a waiver of prerequisites for a course.

What are the possibilities for double majoring in computer science and software engineering? If possible, can it be achieved in 4 years? What about double majors with other degrees?

We do not have a separate Software Engineering major at WPI, but our CS major has a heavy component of software design and engineering. We have a specific course in software engineering that most students take to satisfy the design requirement and a 4000-level course in Object-Oriented Analysis and Design.

We have many interdisciplinary majors that are related to CS. A double major can be done in four years with one of these majors as well as disciplines such as Math, Physics and Electrical & Computer Engineering.

Can I study Cybersecurity at WPI?

Yes, as the Cybersecurity Concentration can be pursued as part of a completing the requirements for a major in Computer Science.

Can I minor in Computer Science at WPI?

Yes. a Computer Science minor can be earned by completing six courses in CS rather than the 15 CS courses required for the major.

Should I take CS Advanced Placement classes? Will I get credit for them?

If you are taking or have taken advanced placement or accelerated courses in high school then you are probably qualified to begin your WPI courses with CS 1102 (our first course for experienced programmers) instead of CS 1101 (our introductory course for expecting no programming background). If you take the Advanced Placement Examination and score a "4" or "5" you will receive elective credit at WPI (does not count towards the CS major).

We find that for students who are able to gain Computer Science experience in high school helps them learn if they like CS and have an aptitude for it.

Do I have to buy a computer, and, if so, which one?

WPI does not have a specific requirement, but here are recommendations.

CS students have machines running Windows, Mac and Linux. Due to the use of virtual machines and widely available programming environments, all of these platforms work just fine.

In addition, WPI has many public computing labs available to all students.

How large are the CS classes?

Classes vary in size from about 30 to about 120. Senior level classes in more specialized subjects, and those about less `popular' topics, tend to be smaller, while introductory courses, which are also taken by students from other majors, are the largest.

We try to provide you with lots of additional assistance. Large classes break out into smaller groups for seminar sessions and labs led by graduate teaching assistants (TAs), undergraduate senior assistants (SAs) and faculty. Office hours, and perhaps also help sessions, are provided for every course. Help is also available for all courses via email and online forums.

WPI's plan of undergraduate studies also requires students to do projects where students interact directly with one or more faculty members. This provides the equivalent of six courses of direct faculty-student contact.

The growth in enrollment for CS programs in the universities with the best return on investment has challenged all of us to provide high quality education. Over the years we have gradually increasing the number of faculty -- making sure we hire new faculty with a unique blend of strong teaching ability and high quality scholarship. We are committed to providing a "high touch" education, where students deal with people who provide customized care, and do not just interact with technology.

Are all courses taught by faculty?

Yes, all courses are taught by faculty with assistance from graduate and undergraduate assistants.