Computer Science (Engineering)

Computer science lecture
Degrees Offered: BS ME MS PhD

Computer science is concerned with how computers are constructed, how they store and process data, how they are used in problem solving and how the quality of those solutions are assessed. It is about the science of creating software for a variety of users and understanding how that software interacts with the hardware on which it is run. Computer science goes well beyond the machine to the study of how people interact with the technologies around them. 

Computer scientists work most often on the hardware and software aspects of system design. They develop new theories of computation and algorithms, design new hardware and sensors, develop large software systems, evaluate the utility and usability of software systems and study the impacts of computing technology on society. Computer scientists develop video games or software used in business; improve healthcare through the development of electronic medical records that reduce costs and increase communication between medical providers; produce animation for the movie industry; invent new hand­held devices; and/or develop software to manage an air traffic control tower. Many computer science students found their own tech start­-up companies and chart their own path after graduation.

Undergraduate Opportunities

At CU­-Boulder, undergraduate computer science students develop a wide array of skills that prepare them for a wide variety of high­-paying jobs. The Department of Computer Science is interdisciplinary and collaborative, giving students the opportunity to explore applications in a range of fields and with faculty in a variety of disciplines. Students tackle problems hands-­on, including completing year-­long software design projects for industry clients. Students can also gain professional exposure through the student chapter of the Association for Computing Machinery on campus.

The department’s specialized tracks allow students to tailor their degree to their own interests. In addition to a general computing track, curricular options allow students to specialize in areas such as computational biology, computational science andengineering, human-­centered computing, networked devices and systems, software engineering and low-­level operating systems.

Graduate Studies

CU-­Boulder offers three graduate computer science degrees: a Master of Science in Computer Science, a Master of Engineering in Computer Science and a Doctor of Philosophy in Computer Science. The department also offers close interaction with faculty: nearly all computer science courses, including undergraduate courses, are taught by regular, rostered CS faculty rather than by graduate student assistants. The same faculty members are performing world­-class research, and offer many opportunities for both undergraduate and graduate students to get involved.

Graduate-­level research in several areas makes the program one of the most prominent in the nation. Research areas include: artificial intelligence, computational biology, human-­centered computing, numerical and scientific computing, programming systems, systems and networking and theory of computing.

Research Opportunities

CU-­Boulder is surrounded by a thriving high­tech industry. From well­-known companies such as Oracle, Microsoft and Google, to the national laboratories (NIST, NOAA, NCAR and NREL) and a robust technology start­up culture, the opportunities for internships and jobs for computer science students in Boulder are virtually unlimited.

In addition to the excellent internship and employment opportunities, computer science undergraduates can gain valuable experience through research with expert faculty both within and outside of the department. Motivated students are bound to find a research group working on cutting­-edge topics that they are interested in. Some of the possibilities include: health informatics, cognitive modeling, data mining, computer vision and computer science education. 

Finally, a key area of strength is the collaboration opportunities with other centers and departments. For example, the department shares in a $250 million gift to the university from the Coleman Institute to develop technologies that will enhance the lives of people with cognitive disabilities. Over the next few years, the department will also use four successive awards to improve its computing infrastructure.