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What distinguishes Hope's computer science program from other colleges?

Hope College is a national leader in undergraduate research, and this includes the computer science program. Students are given the opportunity to participate with faculty on their research, and those students who don't pursue research still benefit from the way faculty members bring their research and other professional experience into the classroom environment.

Hope's small class sizes and individual attention available to students make it much more likely that you'll get the in-class and out-of-class benefits of personal relationships with your professors

What is the difference between Computer Science, Computer Information Systems, Information Technology and Computer Engineering?

According to the Association of Computing Machinery's Computing Careers site, Computer Science "spans the range from theory through programming to cutting-edge development of computing solutions, with the work that computer scientists do falling into 3 categories: a) designing and building software, b) developing effective ways to solve computing problems, and c) devising new and better ways of using computers."

Computer Engineering students "study the design of digital hardware and software systems including communication systems, computers and devices that contain computers. ... An important area within computing engineering is the development of embedded systems. Devices such as cell phones, digital audio players, digital video recorders, alarm systems, x-ray machines, and laser surgical tools all require integration of hardware and embedded software, and are all the result of computer engineering.

Hope College offers a degree in Computer Science as well as a Computer Engineering emphasis within the Engineering department.

Information Systems, on the other hand, is "concerned with the information that computer systems can provide to aid a company, non-profit or governmental organization in defining and achieving its goals. ... IS people are concerned with the relationship between information systems and the organizations that they serve, extending from theory and principles to application and development. Many IS professionals also are involved in systems deployment and configuration and training of users."

Degrees in Information Technology prepare professionals who "possess the right combination of knowledge and practical, hands-on expertise to take care of both an organization's information technology infrastructure and the people who use it. They assume responsibility for selecting hardware and software products appropriate for an organization. ... In IT, programming often involves writing short programs that typically connect existing components.

Hope College does not offer degrees in Information Systems or Information Technology. Students who get degrees in Computer Science are able to transition into such jobs, however.

Does Hope offer a degree in computer engineering? The Engineering department, in coordination with the Computer Science department, offers an emphasis in Computer Engineering, which currently requires 5 or 6 computer science courses. For more information about this program, please see the most recent version of the college catalog.
What courses are offered by the Computer Science department? The Computer Science department offers a wide range of courses in its computer science curriculum, including foundational programming classes, topical classes such as Computer Networking, Operating Systems, and Programming Languages, as well as special topics courses that address timely topics. For a full list of courses, click here.
What are the requirements for a major/minor in Computer Science? A degree in computer science requires at least 32 credits in CS, with a number of courses selected by the student based on his/her interests. For complete details of the degree requirements, see this page.
What is the difference between the Computer Science B.S. and B.A. degrees? Most students studying Computer Science at Hope get the B.S. degree, which includes more diverse science requirements and a bit more mathematics than the B.A. Students who are double-majoring in a non-science field, such as Business or a Foreign Language, often have a difficult time fulfilling the extra science hours outside of Computer Science and earn the B.A. degree. However, these students still frequently add the Computer Science courses required for the B.S. to their B.A. plan of study.
How much mathematics are required for a computer science major? This depends on whether a student completes the B.S. or B.A. degree. For the B.A., there is no mathematics requirement other than the college's general education requirements (see the college catalog) and a course in Discrete Mathematics. For the B.S. degree, students complete two semesters of Calculus along with one other upper level Mathematics course along with the Discrete Mathematics course.
Can I get credit for AP classes I took in high-school?

You sure can! You will need to have taken one of the Computer Science AP Exams. Our current policy regarding the necessary scores on these exams to receive credit is as follows:

Advanced Placement Exam Credit Policy
EXAM Score Credit Awarded/Recommendation
Computer Science - AB Exam 3-5 Students receive credit for CSCI 225.
Computer Science - A Exam 4-5 Students receive credit for CSCI 225.

Is it possible to double major? Many students who complete Computer Science degrees double-major in other fields as well. Some recent second majors include Mathematics, French, Japanese, Communications, International Studies, and Music.
What programming languages do you teach?

As with everything else in the world of technology, the lifetime of a programming language is quite short. Usually, the hot programming language today will be old news within 10 years. Because of this fact, a computer science major at Hope College will get exposed to a number of programming languages. Our goal is that students will understand the concepts of programming in a number of different languages and types of languages, and will have experience in learning to adapt to new environments, since that happens so frequently.

Having said that, we of course do have to choose some language for our courses. Our introductory programming language is currently Java; students can get exposure to C++, Perl, C# and several other languages during their time at Hope.

What types of careers do majors in Computer Science pursue? Degrees in Computer Science are useful in a large number of different careers. In fact, that's one of the things that makes having a degree in Computer Science so exciting. To give you a sampling of the kinds of things that our graduates do, we've put together a page highlighting some of our graduates. The page can be found here.
Why should I study computer science at a liberal arts institution like Hope? When employers of computer science graduates are asked what are the most important qualities that they look for when they hire students right out of college, unanimously the top two on the list are "problem solving ability" and "the ability to communicate." These are both strengths of students coming from a liberal arts environment. In addition, in today's ever changing global environment, liberal arts students with an understanding of different cultures and a knowledge base beyond the technical are highly valued in the workplace.
What is the job placement rate for graduating seniors? Our students have no difficulty finding good jobs in the field. It is not possible to give an accurate job placement rate since not all graduates seek employment directly after graduation. To give an idea of the number of opportunities that are available to our graduates, take a look at a website that lists opportunities that are available right now. You will see that there are many positions open.
I'm interested in computer generated graphics/design and animation, does Computer Science include study in these areas? While Computer Science itself doesn't explicitly address these areas in the way that students often think about them, having a major or minor in Computer Science can be a benefit when working in these types of fields. For example, web designers who are able to communicate better with programmers when implementing interactive web sites will have a leg up on those who don't understand the processes and limitations of programming. Many computer animation environments provide the capability of "scripting" their actions, allowing for automation of routine tasks.
What about that dot-com crash and overseas outsourcing? Will I be able to find a job with a CS degree?

Reports of the impacts of outsourcing and offshoring on the technology field are widespread. Recently, the Association of Computing Machinery commissioned a task for on Job Migration to examine the impacts of Globalization and Offshoring of Software. The task force produced a report on their findings, whose conclusion states:

Globalization of, and offshoring within, the software industry will continue and, in fact, increase. This increase will be fueled by information technology itself as well as government action and economic factors and will result in more global competition in both lower-end software skills and higher-end endeavors such as research. Current data and economic theory suggest that despite offshoring, career opportunities in IT will remain strong in the countries where they have been strong in the past even as they grow in the countries that are targets of offshoring. The future, however, is one in which the individual will be situated in a more global competition. The brightness of the future for individuals, companies, or countries is centered on their ability to invest in building the foundations that foster innovation and invention.

So while the report does indicate there will be some impacts on the job market for Computer Science graduates, it also indicates that the future still looks bright. For those who are interested, the entire report is available at

Are there jobs for computer science majors while on campus? Computer science majors are frequently in high demand for employment, both on- and off-campus. Several of our students work for the college's Computing and Information Technology department, performing a variety of tasks from computer trouble-shooting and maintenance and technical support to writing code. Other students are employed by the Tech Lab in the library, providing support to other students working on technology related projects. We have opportunities for students to serve as teaching assistants and as paid research assistants during the academic year. Some students serve as systems administrators/web site administrators for other academic departments. Finally, local companies often look to hire our students for part-time positions or internships.
How large are computer science classes? Since all of our courses are taught in our innovative Tablet PC classroom, the maximum course size is 20 students. Most upper level courses are smaller than that, with between 10 and 15 students.
What courses should I take my first semester?

There are a couple of options available to you. If you have some prior experience with computer programming, you should most likely sign up for CSCI 225. You should also take CSCI 112 your first year, so if this fits into your schedule during the first semester, you can take it in addition to CSCI 225.

If you haven't had computer programming courses before, or if you want to explore what computer science is about before taking CSCI 225, you should enroll in CSCI 114. Note that this course includes the material in CSCI 112, so you'll be completing that requirement at the same time as getting an introduction to computer programming

What kind of computer and hardware/software configuration should a computer science student have?

Probably whatever kind of computer you would plan on bringing will be just fine. The one key thing that you'll probably want to make sure is that your computer is capable of connecting to our network using a standard Ethernet connection (almost all reasonably new computers come with this option standard). Laptops and desktop machines are about equally popular with computer science students.

It is unlikely that any of the applications that we use in class will tax your computer's resources any more than other applications that you run on it. But if it does, the machines in our lab are very capable of handling any thing that you throw at them. In terms of software, most of our classes use languages and tools that are freely available on the Internet; most of these tools will run in both Windows and Mac environments. We also participate in a program with Microsoft that allows students to install their development environments for free in conjunction with a class/research project.

Is there a major that will help me learn to repair computers? We do not offer degrees in this area. These skills typically fall outside of the scope of a degree in computer science, and are better learned elsewhere.