About The School of Computer Science

Computer Science covers the theory and practice behind the design and implementation of computer and information systems. Fundamental to computer science are questions about how to describe, process, manage, and analyze information and computation. A fundamental building block is the study of algorithms. An algorithm presents a detailed sequence of actions solving a particular task. A computer program is the implementation of an algorithm in a specific programming language, which enables a computer to execute the algorithm. Software generally refers to a computer program or a set of related computer programs.

Based on the building blocks of computational thinking and programming, computer science is split into many different areas. Examples are:

  • The study of algorithms and data structures
  • Programming languages and methodology
  • Theory of computation
  • Software engineering (the design of large software systems)
  • Computer architecture (the structure of the hardware)
  • Communication between computers
  • Operating systems (the software that shields users from the underlying hardware)
  • Database systems (software that handles large amounts of data efficiently)
  • Artificial intelligence (algorithms inspired by human information processing)
  • Computer vision (algorithms that let computers see and recognize their environment)
  • Computer graphics
  • Robotics (algorithms that control robots)
  • Computational biology (algorithms and methods that address problems inspired by biology)

Computer science also plays an important role in many other fields, including Biology, Physics, Engineering, Business, Music, and Neuroscience, where it is necessary to process and reason large amounts of data. Computer Science is strongly related to mathematics, linguistics, and engineering.

A degree in Computer Science offers excellent job prospects. As the use of computers and specialized software plays a crucial role in business, science, and our personal life, computer science graduates are in high demand. Computer scientists find jobs in software development, consulting, research, and project management. As computer scientists often develop the software for a specific application domain (e.g., business, engineering, medicine), they must be prepared and willing to get to know their application area.

The School of Computer Science offers a wide range of programs. Most programs start with the same set of basic courses allowing students to decide on their exact program once they get a basic understanding of the discipline. Within the Faculty of Science, there is:

  • Major, Honours, Liberal, and Minor programs in Computer Science;
  • Major and Liberal programs in Software Engineering;
  • Major in Computer Science: Computer Games Option;
  • Joint Major and Joint Honours in Mathematics and Computer Science (see Mathematics and Statistics (MATH));
  • Joint Major and Joint Honours in Statistics and Computer Science (see Mathematics and Statistics (MATH));
  • Joint Major in Physics and Computer Science (see Physics (PHYS));
  • Joint Major and Joint Honours in Computer Science and Biology (see Biology (BIOL)).

The School also offers a Major Concentration and Minor concentrations in Computer Science, and a Major Concentration in Software Engineering through the Faculty of Arts (see Faculty of Arts > Undergraduate > Browse Academic Units & Programs > Computer Science (COMP)), or as part of a Bachelor of Arts and Science (see Bachelor of Arts and Science > Undergraduate > Browse Academic Units & Programs > Computer Science (COMP)).

The School's courses are available as electives to Engineering students. Engineering students interested in a minor in Computer Science should consult Faculty of Engineering > Undergraduate > Browse Academic Units & Programs > Minor Programs > Computer Science Courses and Minor Program.

Most course instructors are faculty members of the School that do research in the areas they teach. The School favors interactive teaching practices where students get to know their professors and have the opportunity to do cutting-edge research. Some graduate courses in Computer Science are available to suitably qualified senior undergraduates. The School offers large computing labs in the Lorne Trottier Building, which is dedicated to undergraduate students.

All students planning to enter Computer Science programs are strongly encouraged to make an appointment with an academic adviser through the School's Undergraduate Student Affairs Office (see www.cs.mcgill.ca/academic/undergrad/advising).