Computer Science and Engineering FAQs

What is the CSE Program all about?

This program leads to a Bachelors of Science in Engineering with a Major in Computer Science and Engineering.  As the program name implies, it combines the technical content of a Computer Science degree and a Computer Engineering degree in a single degree program.  The program curriculum is jointly taught by faculty from the Electrical and Computer Engineering and Computer Science Departments.

Why is this new program needed?

The technical revolution fueled by the advent of the so-called smart technologies is fundamentally transforming society.  As the world becomes increasingly connected via the Internet, smart technologies are revolutionizing everything from healthcare delivery to transportation systems.  Over the next several decades, this area is expected to be the single most important driver of technological and economic development across a broad spectrum of areas. This ongoing technical revolution requires engineers who are competent in both computer software and hardware and who possess the engineering skills to design and implement complex, intelligent systems.  We have designed this program in close consultation with our industrial advisory boards to produce graduates best suited to meet the current and future needs of business and industry.

What are the kinds of careers for which the CSE degree prepares students?

The CSE degree prepares students to work in the full range of career options pursued by computer engineering and computer science graduates and, with the appropriate choice of electives, software engineering.  CSE graduates will be particularly well prepared for careers in the burgeoning area of smart technologies, which is projected to be the largest driver of technology-related jobs during the next several decades.  The CSE curriculum has been developed in consultation with College and Departmental Advisory Boards to assure that it is aligned with the needs of area and national business and industry.

How does this program differ from the current EE Program?

Most importantly, the new program has a different degree designation (Major in Computer Science and Engineering versus Major in Electrical Engineering).  In addition to the full component of Electrical and Computer Engineering courses, the curriculum provides additional coursework in Computer Science and a tailored Capstone Design experience.  The curriculum is designed to meet accreditation requirements for both Computer Science and Computer Engineering.

In most cases we recommend that students with computer-related interests opt for the CSE program rather than the EE program.  However, there are special circumstances where the EE computer track might be a better option.  An example is a situation in which the student desires to pursue a Business minor or Technical Entrepreneurship Certificate. In this case the EE program may offer slightly more flexibility to pursue the minor without taking extra coursework.  Students should work closely with their academic advisor to determine which program is better suited for their goals.

How is this program different from the Computer Science degree program offered in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences?

A Computer Science degree provides students with a strong theoretical and conceptual understanding of the principles underlying computing, along with practical software development skills.  Computer Engineering exposes students to both software and hardware aspects of computing and along with the engineering analysis, design and multidisciplinary teamwork skills needed to develop large and complex systems containing both software and hardware components. The CSE program includes all of the technical rigor of the BS program in Computer Science, but also provides a full component of Computer Engineering coursework.  This means that graduates will have the foundational knowledge provided by a computer science education together with the critical thinking, problem-solving, and system design skills at the heart of a Computer Engineering curriculum.  This unique combination of knowledge and skills will differentiate graduates of this program from those of other Computer Science and Computer Engineering programs.

Will this program require more coursework than other Engineering programs?

No, the CSE program requires 128 SH of coursework, like other Engineering programs and has essentially the same core component as other Engineering programs (with one exception, described below).

What are the Elective Focus Area options for students in the CSE Program?

The CSE program includes an 18 S.H. elective component, students to tailor their studies to fit their specific needs. Most of the EFAs open to Computer Track EE students will also be available for CSE students.  Additionally, there are some new options specifically for CSE. Of course, as in our EE program, CSE students have the option of working with their academic advisor to develop an EFA plan individually tailored to their goals and objectives.

What about accreditation?

The University of Iowa is fully accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.  The curriculum for the CSE program has been designed to meet additional criteria for accreditation in both Computer Science and Computer Engineering. The program will be formally reviewed for accreditation at the first possible opportunity in the fall of 2020, following graduation of the first full class of students.  If, as fully expected, accreditation is granted at that time, it will retroactively apply to students graduating in the 2019-20 academic year.  The CSE program will be the only program in the state to have dual accreditation in both CS and Computer Engineering.

Can a student pursue a double major in CSE and EE?

Yes, but only if the student opts for the Electrical Track of the EE program.  A second major in EE requires completion of approximately five additional courses beyond those required for the CSE degree.  Details regarding this option can be found on the ECE website.

If I'm seriously interested in this program, are there any special considerations for planning my first year of studies?

Yes.  If you are seriously interested in this program, you should take the course ENGR:1300, Engineering Problem Solving II, during your first semester.  Then, during your second semester, you should take the course CS:1210, Computer Science I: Fundamentals.  The CSE program does not require ENGR:1100, Engineering Problem Solving I.

Do I need to make this commitment now, or can I keep my options open until I've had a chance to experience Engineering at Iowa?

You can opt into the CSE program at any point during your first three semesters of study with little or no penalty.  If you want to keep your options open, you can stick with the standard College of Engineering freshman curriculum.  If and when you are ready to commit to CSE, a faculty advisor from the ECE Department will work directly with you to transition into the program in the most expeditious manner.

If you have already taken EPS I before selecting CSE, you can use it as an elective course in your CSE program.  If you have already completed the course ENGR:2730, Computers in Engineering, before selecting the CSE program, we will ask you to substitute a higher-level Computer Science course for Computer Science I: Fundamentals.

How can I get more information about the CS&E program?

Contact the ECE Department.  We will arrange for you to visit with a faculty member who can answer your questions and provide additional information.

Contact information

Phone: (319) 335-5198