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Prospective Student Frequently Asked Questions

Should I be worried if I haven’t taken any computer science courses in the past, or don’t have a lot of programming experience?

You do not need to have any prior experience with programming to be successful in UMass Lowell’s Computer Science program. For a myriad of reasons, many incoming freshmen have little to no programming experience (and thus little to no bad habits). The beginning computing courses in UMass Lowell's Computer Science Department are taught using the C programming language and are designed to accommodate people of all levels of experience. Though some experience using a computer will, of course, be helpful, it is much more important that you have taken and done well in mathematics, science, and English courses.

What if I am a current UMass Lowell student and want to change my major to computer science, add computer science as a second major, or add computer science as a minor?

You should talk over your intentions with a CS faculty member, preferably one of the undergraduate coordinators, either David Adams or Sirong Lin. They can help you assess whether a computer science major/minor is right for you and walk you through the process of making the change.

Do you teach cybersecurity? Do you have a cybersecurity degree option?

Yes! We do teach cyber security classes. Starting fall 2020, we will be offering a cybersecurity degree option. In addition, we have a Security and Privacy Research Lab.

I want to become a game designer. What courses should I take?

While we do not have a formal game design track or degree option, we do offer many classes that would put you on the path towards becoming a successful game designer. In addition to Computer Science classes like Graphics I-II, the university offers many courses on storytelling, art, sound, etc. in other departments, which all contribute to the broad scope of talents and skills necessary to create a successful game. Additionally, UML has an active Game Development Club, which you may want to get involved in.

What programming language(s) do you teach?

The first two introductory computing courses (Computing I-II) are taught in C, and the next two (Computing III-IV) are taught in C++. By teaching a lower-level language first, students learn about the underlying concepts and processes that are often masked from the user in higher-level languages. This “bottom-up” approach allows students to be able to more easily identify problems in both lower-level and higher-level code languages since they have a deeper understanding of the code that goes into the higher-level functions.

Subsequent courses may teach and/or require self-learning of other languages. For example, in Database I you are taught SQL in class, but for other classes such as GUI or Artificial Intelligence, you may be expected to learn HTML & Javascript or python as you go.

Don’t panic about the idea of having to self-teach a whole new language. When you learn one programming language (for example C), you are really learning how to think about programming languages. The syntax between languages may be different, but the underlying concepts are the same. Once you know one language, picking up other languages is not as hard; this is similar to how if you know one romance language, like Spanish, it may be easier to pick up other romance languages, such as Italian.

What kinds of research labs do you have, and how can I get involved in one?

For more information on what research labs we have, please visit our Research page.

There are two paths to getting involved in one of our labs on campus. The first pathway is through the immersive scholars' program. Immersive Scholars are selected freshman applicants who are awarded merit scholarships through the early action admission process. Students cannot apply for the Immersive Scholar Award directly; accepted incoming freshmen receive a letter notifying them that they have received this award for $4,000. One of the program options for an Immersive Scholar is a research experience on campus with a faculty or staff member. The research experience usually happens during the summer between freshman and sophomore year, and it is a great way to get involved in a professor’s research lab on campus. For more information about the immersive scholars' program, please visit the Undergraduate Research Opportunities and Collaborations page. You can read about projects immersive scholars have worked on in this news article How They Spent Summer Vacation too.

If you were not selected as an immersive scholar, don’t fret! Visit your professors during their office hours and ask about their research. Whether you are an undergraduate student or a graduate student, If you are interested in a particular lab, ask the professor who runs it what kinds of opportunities are available. For more information on projects and capstones that our students have completed, take a look at this news article: ‘Invitation to Innovation’ Celebrates Student Ingenuity, Imagination.

Do you have a co-op program? Will going on a co-op delay a student's graduation?

Yes, we do have a co-op program. It is not required for students to participate, but going out on co-op can be a really enriching experience, and can even lead to a full-time offer down the road. All of the co-op experiences are paid, which is a nice benefit as well.

A student can either go out on a 3-month or 6-month co-op. A 3-month co-op experience occurs purely during the summer months and does not impact school work at all. A 6-month co-op occurs during the summer, but also overlaps with a semester of school (the co-op cycles are Jan – June or July – December). It is most likely that going out on a 6-month co-op will delay a student’s graduation by one semester as a result. When you are on co-op during a semester, you maintain full-time student status during that semester.

For more information about the CS co-op program, including which companies our students have been hired at, and who to contact for more information, please visit our Co-op Education page.

I took AP classes in high school. How/will those credits transfer to UMass Lowell?

Please see the Transfer Student FAQ below, which covers the transfer credit process thoroughly.

Where do current UML CS graduates work? Where can a future graduate expect to work?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for software developers is expected to grow 24 percent through 2026!

Our graduates are highly sought after by regional, national and international companies, including 3COM, Analog Devices, AstraZeneca, Avid, BAE, Cisco, EMC, Fidelity, Google, IBM, InforSense, iRobot, Merck, MITRE, Microsoft, Motorola, Nortel, Oracle, Raytheon, and Segway, as well as academic and research organizations, including Beijing University, Utah State, Louisiana State, MIT, and Pfizer Research.

For information on which companies students have worked at on co-op, plus more general information on the co-op program, please visit the Co-op Education page.