Undergraduate Academic Programs FAQ

Undergraduate Academic Programs FAQ

How does one apply for admission and financial aid?

See the Future Students page for more information.

What does SACS and ABET accreditation mean?

See the Accreditation page for more information.

How do the BSCS and BA programs differ?

Eighty to ninety percent of the Department's undergraduate students opt to study in the ABET/CAC-accredited BSCS program. This School of Engineering program combines a professionally oriented concentration in computer science with foundational study in mathematics, the natural sciences, and the liberal arts. The program enables students to prepare for jobs as software developers, as system and network administrators, and in many other positions. It can also enable students to prepare for graduate study in computer science or to enter further professional study in law, business, or medicine.

The BA major in computer science enables students to build flexible programs of study in the context of the College of Liberal Arts. The computer science and mathematics requirements of the BA major are subsets of the requirements for the BSCS. The BA requires a formal minor (or second major) in some other field, study of a foreign language, and general studies in the liberal arts and sciences. The BA is an excellent program for students who want to combine computer science study with a strong concentration in some other field or for students changing to computer science after studying for a year or two in some other liberal arts major.

What other computer-related degrees are offered at Ole Miss?

The degrees offered by the Department, BSCS and BA, can be described as flexible, generalist degrees in computer science. The focus of these degrees tends to be on software development and systems-level issues. There is a strong foundation consisting of the fundamental theories, technologies, and skills of computing. On this foundation, the students can select electives in computer science and other areas to specialize their programs to specific application areas or to continue to explore foundational issues. For example, the ABET/CAC-accredited BSCS degree has 15 credit hours of elective courses in computer science, 15 credit hours of technical electives drawn from other fields, and flexibility in the choice of science and general education courses. Some students have used the flexibility of the BSCS as a springboard for further professioal study in law, business, or medicine.

Those more interested in the deeper issues of computer hardware design may want to consider the computer engineering emphasis on the BSEE degree offered by the Department of Electrical Engineering. The degree program combines a rigorous ABET/EAC-accredited degree program in electrical engineering with what is essentially a minor in computer science. Of course, BSCS students interested in hardware issues can also choose electrical engineering courses for their electives, perhaps completing a formal minor in engineering.

The Management Informantion Systems (MIS) program in the School of Business Administration may be a better fit for some students. This is essentially a general business degree with emphasis on the application of information technologies and information systems principles to business problems. The MIS program tends to focus more on the behavioral aspects of computing than the technical aspects. Of course, BSCS students can also take business courses for some of their technical electives and/or prepare to study for a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree upon completion of the BSCS.

Students interested in the visual, artistic aspects of Web design may want to consider the offerings of the Department of Art in the College of Liberal Arts. For example, the Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree offers a concentration in graphic/Web design. Students in this program learn about the artistic techniques of graphic design, including how to apply those principles in the design of Web sites. Students in this field use graphics application software to create the images that appear as part of Web applications. In general, these students do not get involved with technical, programming aspects of Web design. On the other hand, computer science graduates should be well equipped for the Web programming and even the development of the graphic applications that graphic designers use in their work. Of course, BSCS students with interests in both the technical and visual aspects of Web design can use their electives to take art courses.

What are the advantages of an Ole Miss computer science education?

The Ole Miss approach to computer science education is to offer flexible, generalist programs. This is in keeping with the strong liberal arts tradition of the University, the flagship arts and sciences institution for the State of Mississippi. It is also within the multidisciplinary engineering science tradition of the Ole MIss School of Engineering. Building upon the foundation of the flexible Ole Miss computer science degree programs, a student can select electives in computer science and other areas to personalize his or her program to meet many different career goals.

For example, the ABET/CAC-accredited BSCS program gives a student an unusual degree of flexibility. Of the 127 credit hours required for the degree, only 56 credit hours are in courses that are explicitly required by name. The student has considerable choice in how the other 71 credit hours are selected. The Ole Miss student has 15 credit hours of computer science electives, 15 credit hours of free technical electives, and choice among several courses to satisfy the science requirements. In contrast, the computer science program at another leading institution in the State specifies 85 of the credit hours in its 128 credit hour program by name. In that program, the student has fewer computer science electives, fewer free electives, and no choice on what science courses to take.

A computer science student at Ole Miss has the full resources of a major arts and sciences university available. In addition to the studies in computer science, the student can also pursue studies in areas such as the McDonnell-Barksdale Honors College, the Croft Institute for International Studies, the Trent Lott Leadership Institue, the Center for Intelligence and Security Studies, the Chinese Flagship Program, and the Center for Manufacturing Excellence (CME). By exploiting these unique resources, Ole Miss computer science students can prepare themselves to assume leadership positions as their careers' progress.

What if one wants to transfer from another institution to study computer science at Ole Miss?

The University of Mississippi readily accepts the transfer of college-level, academic course credit from other regionally accredited institutions in the USA. (See the Accreditation page for more information on accreditation.) We welcome transfer students from regionally accredited junior/community colleges and other four-year colleges.

Students should be careful of courses and programs in computer-related fields offered by the vocationally oriented, proprietary colleges they may have seen advertised on television. These programs have some merit, but a strong demerit is that courses taken at these institutions may not be transferrable to regular, regionally accredited colleges and universities such as Ole Miss. A student is best served by only enrolling in institutions that are regionally accredited.

Junior and community college students planning to continue their studies at a four-year institution such as Ole Miss should be mindful of the limitations of the technical or technology courses and programs offered at those institutions. Those may be quite good programs, but they are vocationally oriented programs designed for students who plan to study for two years and then directly enter the workforce with specific skills. Often the technical courses will not transfer to four-year institutions such as Ole Miss. Of course, the regular, academic programs and courses offered by community colleges may be quite good options for many students to take. However, prospective transfer students should be careful to coordinate their community college studies with the expectations of the senior college to which they expect to transfer. Prospective transfer students should also note that no more than one-half of the credit required for an Ole Miss degree program may be transferred from a junior or community college.

Current University of Mississippi students must also obtain written approval of his or her academic dean before taking courses at another institution with the intention of transferring credits toward an Ole Miss degree.

See the Future Students page for more information about transferring to study computer science at Ole Miss.

Do the computer science programs require (or allow) a minor?

The BA program requires a minor. A minor is usually an 18 credit hour concentration of coursework in some discipline outside the major. Most departments and interdisciplinary programs in the College of Liberal Arts have defined minors in their disciplines. In addition, there are minors defined in accountancy, business administration, engineering, computer science, geology, mass media and communications, intelligence and security studies, park and recreation management, and perhaps other fields. See the the current Undergraduate Catalog for information on the requirements for the various minors.

BA majors in computer science can study toward any defined minor (except computer science), subject to any restrictions imposed by the department or program offering the minor.

The BSCS program does not require a minor. However, BSCS students may study toward an optional minor. The optional minor may be drawn from any minor allowed for the BA degree except mathematics and computer science.

Although many students may choose not to complete the formal requirements for a minor, all BSCS students are encouraged to choose their 15 credit hours of technical electives to be a coherent group of courses from other disciplines that enhance their study of computer science.

What if one already has a bachelor's degree in another field?

Students can obtain a second bachelor's degree by satisfying the requirements for the BSCS or the BA computer science major and earning at least 30 hours of credit above the first degree. However, most students with an undergraduate degree in a field related to computer science may want to consider study toward a graduate degree in computer science as an option.

What if one has more questions?

If you have more questions about the computer science programs, contact us in the Department or in the Engineering Student Services offices.