Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

  • Why study Computer Science?

    We all know that computers are everywhere and technology is changing every day; but the science of computing is evolving at an equally rapid pace. New developments in Computer Science are needed in order to fuel advances in almost every area of our lives, from biotechnology, to business, and from education to entertainment. That makes Computer Science one of the most exciting disciplines to study, where you can have an impact on real world problems. 

  • What is Computer Science? 

    Computer Science is:

    • a science, based on deep ideas that you will discover, apply and can even inventas an undergraduate.
    • highly suited to people who are creative, enjoy solving puzzles, like to design and build things.
    • an ideal discipline for students who have broad interdisciplinary interests, because it can be applied to and in so many other fields.
    • open to students with or without programming experience
    • one of the most employable degrees you can get.

    According to one computer scientist:

    "Computer Science is one of the few academic disciplines that truly embodies the future. What other field has so much impact, is so omnipresent, and is changing the world so fast? In one discipline it combines fundamental science with immediate societal impact. " 
  • What languages do you use?

    CSci 157 & 257 are taught exclusively in Java. Languages used in other courses are determined by topic and instructor. For example, in the Databases course we use PHP, MySQL, and HTML. In the graphics course, C++ and the OpenGL libraries. Python, Scheme and others may also be encountered in our Program. 

  • Do you have a capstone course?

    While our program does not have a course specifically designated as a capstone or senior project course, most of our upper-level electives are similar in spirit.

  • What are your electives?

    Those that frequently appear are Graphics, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Networking, Functional Programming, and Programming Languages. 

  • Where do your majors go when they graduate? Industry? Graduate school?

    Both. We have alumni working at Yahoo, Accenture, Microsoft, and the United States Postal Service. Our alumni are currently enrolled in or have graduated from various graduate programs at masters and doctoral level. We hope they are all well and happy. We wish them only the best and look forward to hearing back from them from time to time. 

  • How can I customize your program/major to fit my own interests?

    Come talk to us! Between our offered electives and the possibility of Independent Study with one of our faculty we should be able to fit something to your needs.

Enrollment Questions

  • What courses should I enroll in during my first semester at Sewanee if I want to major/minor? Be a Computer Engineer? 

    We strongly recommend Computer Science 157 and Math 101 or higher. Your remaining two courses would typically include a foreign language and an individual course of your choice in English, History, etc.

  • What if I already do/don't know how to program? Where should I start?

    If you already have some experience in Computer Science, contact the Computer Science Program Director, Professor Carl (, 931-598-1305, Woods 133), to discuss placement. In the past, students with a strong prior background have been placed in Computer Science 257 - Data Structures.

    But, even more importantly, if you haven't yet experienced Computer Science and you like thinking logically, try out a course and see if you like it. You should start with the course CSci 157 -  Introduction to Programming.

  • Why start with CSCI 157 - "Introduction to Programming"?

    Reasons Programming is Fun -- some quotes:

    • Because it's a combination of intelligent and creative work.
    • The benefit that it brings to users in making their lives easier.
    • The fascination of fashioning complex puzzle-like objects of interlocking moving parts.
    • Being some kind of nerdy superhero.
    • Nearly instant gratification.
    • The pride of seeing my work used by other people.
    • The thing about it that really hooks me is taking a machine that was designed for no purpose in particular and making it do anything I want.
  • What if I want to know more about computers and computer science but am not ready to take the plunge into programming?

    Try CSci 101 - Introduction to Computer Science.

    This course is an introductory survey of computer science designed for liberal arts students. Here you will learn more about how computers work as well as what kinds of problems they are used to solve.

Majoring & Minoring Questions

  • What courses are required for a major in computer science?

    See our Program of Study page for majors.

  • What courses are required for a minor in computer science?

    See our Program of Study page for minors.

3/2 Engineering Questions

  • What courses are required for 3/2 Computer Engineering?

    Six (6) Computer Science courses -- one of these, CSci 157, is required of all 3/2 Engineering majors; the remaining five are particular to Computer Engineering:

    1. CSCI 157 - Introduction to Programming (* Required of ALL 3/2 Majors)
    2. CSCI 257 - Data Structures
    3. CSCI 270 - Computer Organization
    4. CSCI 320 - Analysis of Algorithms
    5. CSCI 428 - Operating Systems
    6. CSCI xxx - any non-required CSCI course numbered 300 or higher

  • What are the partner universities for the 3/2 Engineering option?

    • Vanderbilt University
    • Washington University - St. Louis
    • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
    • Columbia University
    • Georgia Tech University   (open only to GA residents)