GC Computer Science

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Frequently-Asked Questions

Do I have to know a lot of math to do Computer Science?

At some colleges and universities the Computer Science major involves a lot of math, but the minor here at Georgetown does not. The most "mathy" we are liable to get is in the CSC 303 Fundamentals of Data Computing, but even then if you can pass any lower-level math course at Georgetown such as MAT 111 Statistics, then you should be fine in this course.

That being said, it is true that Computer Science does develop math-like skills such as problem-solving and critical thinking. It is distinguished by its emphaisis on organizing infromation and devising methods for managing complexity. You'll find that these skills come in handy in a wide variety of future endeavours.

Can I be a software developer if I minor in Computer Science?

Honestly, no, the minor doesn't provide enough technical background for that. On the other hand, some of the top software developers in the world did not major in Computer Science: instead they studied things that interested them at the time--art, music, literature, political science, etc. Some of them moved gradually into programming as they saw how much these fields now depend upon it. Others joined technical firms in a non-technical capacity and gradually got drawn in by the fascination of computing.

I'm a science major. What will Computer Science do for me?

A lot! Basic computer programming, data analysis and even web design are increasingly part of the required tool-kit of professional scientists. Biologists especially are into R, the first language we teach in this course.

If you are part of the Science Honors program at Georgetown then you will do a summer of undergraduate research. The two top "side-skills" for your research experience tend to be statistics and computer programming. If you take our minor then you won't be afraid to tackle these activities in your summer of research.

I'm a social science major. What will Computer Science do for me?

See the previous question! The social sciences are getting more and more quantitative, too. A background in statistics and computing is a great help in graduate school.

I major in the humanities. Why Computer Science?

If you major in English, Religion, History or Philosophy you probably won't end up working professionally in your major field. You'll take jobs with organizations that value the critical thinking skills and the broad perspective you picked up in your major---or you might start your own small business.

But whatever you do, it's highly likely that you'll have the opportunity to analyze data. Or perhaps you'll want to put up a website to get the word out about your business, a conference you are organizing, or to promote the work of your favorite charity or non-profit. This minor will give you the skills to take on such challenges.

But you can use the minor now, as a student. Everyone in the minor creates a website and/or a blog. If you enjoy your humanities major, why not use the blog to write about discipline and to build community with other like-minded folks?

I'm gonna major in math, physics or engineering, and I want to learn Computer Science to support my major.

Well, that's fine: if you are determined to minor in Computer Science we won't stop you. But consider taking a minor in another field, one that will broaden your perspective. The Math major has plenty of computing opportunities, and you can always take one or two extra Compute Science courses, just for fun.

What if I'm only interested in part of the minor?

This can happen. For example, if you are in a Business or science major you might be interested mostly in the Data Analysis element of the minor. In that case, you should take just CSC 115, CSC 215 and CSC 303. On the other hand if you are primarily interested in Web Design, then take CSC 115, CSC 216, CSC 323 (or ART 323) and CSC 324. The Art Department may offer some other web-related courses, too.

Random Programming Quote

The key to performance is elegance, not battalions of special cases.
Jon Bentley and Doug McIlroy