How large are the classes?
We're small enough that you won't get lost in the crowd. By the time you finish your first semester, most of your computer science faculty and classmates will know you. Courses and lab sections tend to have 10 to 15 students.
What percentage of classes do professor teach?
Professors teach all classes. Unlike some large universities, we do not use teaching assistants (TAs) in our classes – ever! The professors teach 100% of the classes and labs, create and grade exams and assignments, and have a significant number of office hours for extra help.
What is computer science?
Students in computer science will begin studying the basic concepts underlying computer science, such as algorithms, software development, and hardware design. Advanced course work will include specialized topics, such as networks, graphics, programming languages, and artificial intelligence. Graduates of the computer science program are contributing to every area in the discipline. Our alumni are employed at both well-known corporations and startups.
What is the difference between computer science, computer engineering, and information technology?
Employment prospects are excellent in all these areas. We encourage you to pursue your interests. Here is what professionals in each discipline do.
- Computer Scientists: Work as theorists, researchers, or inventors. Their jobs are distinguished by the higher level of theoretical expertise and innovation they apply to complex problems and the creation or application of new technology. The areas of computer science research range from complex theory to hardware design to programming-language design. Some researchers work on multidisciplinary projects, such as developing and advancing uses of virtual reality, extending human-computer interaction, or designing robots. They may work on design teams with electrical engineers and other specialists. Education requirements range from a 2-year degree to a graduate degree. Employment is expected to increase much faster than the average as organizations continue to adopt increasingly sophisticated technologies. Job prospects are favorable.
Information Technologists: Plan, coordinate, and direct research and facilitate the computer-related activities of firms. They help determine both technical and business goals in consultation with top management and make detailed plans for the accomplishment of these goals. This requires a strong understanding of both technology and some business practices. Computer and Information Technologists are projected to be among the fastest growing occupations over the 2002-12 period. There are many paths of entry to these occupations.
Job prospects should be best for college graduates who are up to date with the latest skills and technologies; certifications and practical experience are essential for persons without degrees.
- Computer Engineers: Research, design, develop, and test computer hardware and supervise its manufacture and installation. Hardware refers to computer chips, circuit boards, computer systems, and related equipment such as keyboards, modems, and printers. Computer Software engineers (often called computer engineers) design and develop the software systems that control computers. Education requirements range from a 2-year degree to a graduate degree. Employment is expected to increase much faster than the average as organizations continue to adopt increasingly sophisticated technologies. Job prospects are favorable.
What kind of career choices can I expect?
Careers are as varied as the organizations using computers. A hospital software engineer has quite a different career from a software engineer in the military. Our graduates are prepared to enter the field as software engineers, systems analysts, and network designers and administrators. Systems analysts organize and define information and processes for computerizing tasks in various organizations. They combine their knowledge of both the organization and computer information systems to provide automated operation. Software engineers work closely with the requirements of an organization to develop the computer instructions to produce the desired results. Network designers and administrators design and maintain.
The need for personnel to maintain existing software and to produce new products is quite high. National projections indicate computer science and IT are one of the fastest growing occupations. Our experience indicates students who successfully completed our program have multiple job opportunities.
What are some of the career fields that I can go into?
The following is a sample of the areas that a CS / IT Graduate can go into.
- Medical Imaging – Cat Scans, MRIs, and ultrasounds are examples of products created by computing professionals. They design the hardware, create the algorithms to process the inputs, and write the software that ensures the quality. IT professionals connect all of the systems together and ensure that the correct people receive the information at the right time.
- Finding Information on the Web – Search Engines are used by nearly everyone who is looking for something on the web. This includes text, photos, and even videos. Computer Scientists develop the algorithms and the products that can dig up the information while IT professionals design networks that can retrieve and store this information.
- Online Music and Movies – From iTunes to YouTube to online movie rentals, this media is everywhere and needs to be distributed. CS Majors design the huge databases that need to store this information ad also work with artists to create attractive and engaging interfaces for users. IT professionals design the logic that track consumer interests and provide recommendations. Computer Engineers design and build devices like the iPod and other media players.
- Mobile Devices – From cell phones to iPods and beyond, there never seems to be enough devices around. Computer Engineers develop small and less power hungry Integrated Circuits for these devices. They also create compression algorithms to transmit this information more efficiently. IT professionals design the high speed connections between these devices and make sure that the hardware and software is up to date.
- Gaming – From the Sony Playstation to the Nintendo Wii to the Microsoft Xbox 360 there is so much gaming around but underneath each one of these devices is a power computer with outstanding graphics and data communication. Computer engineers design these powerful computing and graphics integrated circuits. Computer scientists create the artificial intelligence that makes these games challenging. IT professionals support the networks that enable game development.
Can I get some practical “real world” experience while earning my degree?
Many students in computer science choose to take advantage of our co-op program before they graduate. This experience enables students to encounter actual work situations. Usually, students go out on co-op during the summer and fall or spring semester. Our co-op students typically graduate after five years with one year of practical experience and some spending money.
What courses will I take?
The curriculum is described in the major requirements section. Electives are described below.
What electives do students have to complete the major?
Students choose at least three electives to graduate in computer science. We regularly offer a selection of advanced elective courses, (3 or 4 per year) including:
- Computer and Network Security
- Computer Graphics
- Database Systems
- Data Communications
- Data Networking
- Net-Centric Computing
- Numerical Analysis
- Parallel Computing
- Theory of Computation
In addition, and with permission of the instructor of your choosing, you may also do a “Directed Study” in a CS field of your choice. Thus, students get a real choice on how to complete the major.
What minors or concentrations are also available to me as a computer science major?
You can choose to minor or do a concentration in other fields related to Computer Science: Computer Engineering, Digital Media, Electrical Engineering, Electrical Computer Engineering, Mathematics and Business. The College also offers many other minors.
Can non-majors take computer science classes?
Yes. The department offers a minor which is especially attractive to students seeking to combine their current major with computer science.
What are the college's computing resources?
Our department works closely with the College’s computer center to provide state-of-the-art computing facilities for our students. All computing facilities on campus have access to the Internet, and students are provided with e-mail accounts.
CS students have many computing resources available to them. Our CS Smart lecture/lab classroom provides a computer with Windows and Linux at each seat. There is also an 802.11 wireless network that covers all of our classrooms, labs, and study areas. Students are also given an account on a server allowing them to store their files in a central location that is accessible from anywhere on campus.
What student organizations are available to the computer science major?
Information about student organizations associated with the computer science major can be found here.
I have taken computer science or other courses at another school. Can I get transfer credit for them?
Most likely! To get transfer credit for a course please work with your Admissions Transfer coordinator.
I finished an associate's degree from a community college in CS, what core courses must I complete at Merrimack?
That depends on which concentration you want to pursue and what courses you have completed. We have had many students do well with your background in our program. For your specific situation, please see your advisor or contact the CS Department Chair.