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The University of Maine    
  Jan 20, 2018
2008-2009 Undergraduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Computer Science

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Computer science is the foundation of computing and information technology. Computer scientists study the theory, design, implementation, and performance of computers and computer software, including the study of computability and computation itself.  Computer scientists are first and foremost problem solvers, using the computer and computing technologies as tools. They bring their breadth and depth of knowledge to bear to efficiently solve computing problems. They design and implement software systems, often managing programmers and other information science professionals. They devise new uses for computers, both to solve new problems and to provide novel, innovative capabilities and services.

Core areas of computer science include databases, high-performance computing, artificial intelligence, computer networks, computer graphics, software engineering, operating systems, programming languages, and computer organization and architecture. Computer science intersects other sciences to form such fields as computational biology and bioinformatics, medical informatics, computational chemistry, cognitive science, robotics, and computational linguistics. Knowledge of computer science, beyond simply what is needed to implement and use information systems, is increasingly important in medicine, business, law, and science, as well as being important for making informed decisions about technology. In addition, computer science creates the knowledge used by its allied fields, such as information systems and management information science, to solve more applied problems.

Academic Programs 

The Department of Computer Science offers both the Bachelor of Science and the Bachelor of Arts degrees. Both degrees give students a strong foundation in computer science, allowing them to succeed in graduate school or the workplace. In both degree programs, students learn to program computers, and they complete several large programming projects throughout their course of study. However, the focus of the curriculum is on the fundamental, underlying principles that must be considered when designing the software systems that make computers work effectively and efficiently.    A degree in computer science thus prepares the student to adapt to the changing nature of computing and information technology that he or she will encounter in the course of his or her professional and personal life.

The Bachelor of Science degree provides significant depth in computer science as well as a strong background in mathematics and science. It prepares the student for a rewarding career in computing as well as optimally preparing the student for continuing graduate work in computer science. Our B.S. degree is accredited by the Computing Accreditation Commission (CAC) of ABET (  The Bachelor of Arts degree gives the student a strong foundation in computer science while providing more flexibility in coursework outside the major. It also prepares the student for a rewarding career in computing or for graduate work.

Bachelor of Science Degree in Computer Science

The Bachelor of Science degree in computer science requires 50 hours of computer science courses. All students must satisfy the University requirements for graduation in addition to the requirements listed below. All courses required by the Computer Science Department must be taken for a letter grade.

Computer Science Courses - 50 hours

Mathematics Courses - 16 hours

Science Requirement - 14 hours

Students must take a minimum of 14 credit hours of science. This must include a two-semester sequence of a laboratory science (e.g., PHY 121 and PHY 122), for a total of 8 hours, and an additional 6 hours of science courses. Courses fulfilling this requirement may be from any of the following areas:

Astronomy (AST, except AST 114)
Biological Sciences (BIO)
Biochemistry, Microbiology, and Molecular Biology (BMB 207 and above)
Chemistry (CHY 121 and above)
Earth Sciences (ERS 101 and above)
Forest Ecosystem Science (FES)
Marine Science (SMS 110 and above)
Physics (PHY 121 and above)
Wildlife Ecology (WLE 200 and above)

Oral and Written Communication Requirement - 9 hours

Ethics Requirement - 3 hours

Students must take either COS 490 or one of a number of approved ethics courses. The complete list is available in the Department office or on the Department’s Web site (

Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences - 21 hours

A total of 21 hours must be chosen from the areas of the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. (The total number from these fields is 30 hours, including the oral and written communication requirements.) These electives must be taken from the following departments in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences:

Social Sciences: Anthropology, International Affairs-Anthropology, Communication, Economics, International Affairs-Economics, International Affairs-Political Science, Journalism, Mass Communication, Political Science, Psychology, Sociology.

Arts and Humanities: Art, English, French, German, History, International Affairs-Foreign Languages, International Affairs-History, Latin, Modern Languages, Music, Philosophy, Romance Languages, Spanish, Theatre.

At least 3 hours must be in the area of Social Sciences. At least 1 courses must be an upper-level course (i.e., a 200-level or above course which has another course as a prerequisite).  Courses used to meet the General Education requirements in the area of Human Values and Social Context may also count toward this requirement, provided they are from departments listed above. 

Bachelor of Arts Degree in Computer Science

In addition to the requirements listed below, the student must meet all Liberal Arts and Sciences requirements for B.A. degrees.

Computer Science Courses - 47 hours

Mathematics Courses - 11 Hours

Oral and Written Communication Requirement - 9 hours

Ethics Requirement - 3 hours

Students must take either COS 490 or one of a number of approved ethics courses. The complete list is available in the Department office or on the Department’s Web site (

Undergraduate Research Opportunities

The Department has several research laboratories focusing on such areas as artificial intelligence and software agents, database systems, high-performance computing, cybersecurity, and computer modeling of physical processes. Most of these laboratories routinely include undergraduates who assist the professors and the graduate students in their research. Students are mentored by the professors and graduate students, and they get a good idea of what research and graduate school is like. In addition to the interesting and valuable experience gained, the students are often paid and/or co-author research papers.

Career Opportunities

Computer Science graduates are well-positioned to secure rewarding, high-paying jobs in the computer industry that are relatively immune to outsourcing. In addition, graduates can also apply their knowledge wherever computers are used, including businesses, research institutions, educational institutions, and government laboratories and agencies. The B.S. and B.A. degrees both provide a rigorous emphasis on computer science along with a strong liberal arts education. Consequently, students are well prepared to enter any career that requires a liberal arts degree. Graduates of the Computer Science Department are also well prepared to enter graduate school for further study in computer science or other related fields or, with some additional preparation, to enter a professional school.

Graduate Work

The Department offers both the Master of Science (M.S.) and the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degrees in computer science. Please see the graduate catalog or the Department’s Web page ( for more information.

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