Frequently Asked Questions

Table of Contents

Questions about Advising

Who do we contact to help us choose courses depending on our academic achievements?
To obtain general advising regarding CS course selection or need to confirm that you are on track of completing your CS program requirements, you can contact Liette Chin (liette.chin@mcgill.ca ).  If you need academic advising regarding a particular course, you should contact the instructor of the course directly. 
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Where can I find my Bsc advisor?
For Science students, every student is assigned a faculty advisor. You can find your faculty advisor indicated at the top of your "unofficial transcript".  In the Faculty of Arts, students are not assigned a faculty advisor. You need to consult the advisors' schedule  posted on the OASIS website: https://mcgill.ca/oasis/advising/advising-services.
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Where can I find my Computer science advisor?
For course selection and to know if you are on track, you can contact our CS advisor, Mrs. Liette Chin, liette.chin@mcgill.ca
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Questions about U0/U1 Students

Should all my courses for the first year be on my major or can I also take some courses on my minor?
You can takes courses from both your major and minor in your first year. It is suggested that you keep in mind the prerequisites of later courses. This will help you plan your path. You can also speak to your advisor for recommendations.
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For an incoming U1 student who still has to take the prerequisites of MATH 133, 140 as well as 141, how should we proceed? (Having some programming experience in a different language as well)
You should focus on completing your math prerequisite first. You will need them in order to take any computer science course other than COMP 202.
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Can we take comp 250, 273 and 206 in U0
It is not recommended, but it is possible. Those three courses each require a lot of work. Together, at the same time, will be hard to manage, unless you are very strong in programming and math.
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I took 3 years of Computer Science in high school but no Java experience. Do you still recommend starting with 250 and skipping 202?
Yes, COMP 250 not only reviews Java but also introduces students to other topics that are important to your computer science degree.
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Are we able to take the 200 level math courses in our freshman year (U0)? They aren't part of the Freshman Science Program
They do not count toward the freshman program itself, but you can take higher level courses as additional electives, assuming you have the prerequisites. See https://www.mcgill.ca/science/undergraduate/handbook#bsc-U0-suggested-electives
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As a U1 student, is it ok to take comp 250 in the winter, 251 next fall and 330 next winter? or should i do 250 this fall (i will be skipping 202)
Yes it is Ok.
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How do we know if a course credits count towards our CS major or freshman program?
Freshman courses do not count towards the CS major.  However, COMP 202 may count toward the freshman program  if you have insufficient freshman courses but cannot be double-counted for the CS major. It is advisable to contact your faculty advisor to confirm whether you have met your freshman program requirements.  If you do not need COMP 202 as a U0 Student, it will count for the major program.
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What should I study in my freshman year to be completely ready for CS major in U1 year?
If you do not have programming experience you should take COMP 202. Then make sure to complete the requirements for the freshman program as well as the math prerequisites.
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How many CS courses can we take in U0?
This depends on your background coming into computer science. If you have no background in programming then it will probably be only one of the following: COMP 202 or COMP 204 or COMP 208. If you already have some background in computer science then you can take COMP 250, instead of COMP 202, COMP 204, COMP 208. Again, if you have some experience, then you can also consider taking COMP 206. If you have a very strong computer science background then you could consider to also take COMP 273. But, in general, we do not recommend to take COMP 250, COMP 206 and COMP 273 at the same time because of the workload, so consider carefully.
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Questions about which courses to take

Is it not a good idea to take 250, 206 and 273 at once?
It is not recommended to take all three courses in the same semester unless you already have a pretty strong coding background in either Java or C. It is common for students to take only 250 and 206 or 206 and 273 at the same time.
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Is it possible to take COMP 250, COMP 206, MATH 240 and MATH 133 in the fall semester (skipping COMP 202)?
Yes, that's perfectly fine if you already have experience programming in a high level programming language.
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Are we able to take MATH 141 (which is a prerequisite) with COMP 250 simultaneously?
Yes, it is possible to take MATH 141 and COMP 250 at the same time.
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Is it possible to take COMP 252 in winter as a U0 with prior experience?
For courses with instructor's permission, you will need to contact the instructor to ask for permission and forward the approval email to me. adina.puica@mcgill.ca. I will grant you an override to register for the course. https://www.cs.mcgill.ca/academic/undergrad/advising/
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For the freshman calculus requirements, would you recommend that we take MATH 150 & 151 instead of MATH 140 & 141 when studying computer science?
It is a personal choice.  If you want to be challenged you can take MATH 150 & 151 though it is not mandatory to study in computer science.  You can simply take MATH 140/141 instead.  Note that if you take MATH 150/151 you will be granted an exemption without credits.  In some cases, you will need to complete additional credits of complementary courses to meet the program credit requirements.  
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As a student of joint major of cs&math, if I'm going to take COMP 202, does it means that I can only take math courses and COMP 202 for the fall semester because I don't have the prerequisite for other cs courses.
Yes, you have to first complete COMP 202 in order to be able to take any other COMP course. Computer Science offers three introductory courses for students with little or no programming experience. You can find all the information here: https://www.cs.mcgill.ca/academic/undergrad/comp202/
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For joint cs&math, is it a good idea to take COMP 202, MATH 235, MATH 222 and MATH 242 for the fall semester with one elective?
Yes, this is definitely a viable option for you (granted that you have the math prerequisites).
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What computer science courses would you recommend taking for electives?
Assuming that this is your first year and you are not in Computer Science, courses you can take as electives include: COMP 189, COMP 202, COMP 204, COMP 230
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I'm in stats & cs, can I take MATH 240 as my elective course?
No. The Stats+CS program requires MATH 235.
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Can I take COMP 302 in my first year (it’s one of my required courses)
Yes, although there are multiple prerequisites that should be met first.
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Since you don't recommend COMP 302, how is COMP 303 in the winter semester? I'm doing honours math&cs.
Both 302 and 303 are courses that can benefit from COMP 251/252. It would be better to take these courses in the first semester of your second year. In your first year you should focus on COMP 250, COMP 206, COMP 273, COMP 252, and your MATH requirements.
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Would you recommend 4 required courses and one elective per semester or 4 required courses and on complementary course?
It is a good idea to balance your workload over the semester. In your U1 year, you will notice that you are restricted to take COMP 202 or 250 and a few math courses and 1 elective. In your U2 year and onward, you will have more options to select required courses and complementary courses as you will have acquired some CS knowledge. The following link is a good source to help you with course selection: https://www.cs.mcgill.ca/academic/undergrad/streams/
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So, I will be a U0 student this fall, and I really want to take MATH 240 in the winter semester 2021 (because I have many advanced standing credits and I just want to get a head start in u0), but on the ecalendar it says that "For students in any Computer Science, Computer Engineering, or Software Engineering programs. Others only with the instructor's permission." Who should I contact before registering this course? Do I first choose another course tomorrow and then if I get approval later, drop that one and take MATH 240?
The following are good resources to consult. They will help you figure this out. In addition, you can ask your advisor after consulting these links: https://www.cs.mcgill.ca/academic/undergrad/streams/
https://www.cs.mcgill.ca/prospective/majors/
https://www.cs.mcgill.ca/academic/undergrad/comp202
https://www.cs.mcgill.ca/prospective/freshman//
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Miscellaneous Questions

Can MATH 240 be replaced by MATH 235?
Yes, you can take MATH 235 in place of MATH 240. However, you cannot replace MATH 235 with MATH 240.
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Is COMP 189 (computers and society) a programming course?
No.
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Starting from what year do CS students usually get a chance to work in research?
Students can start at any time in research. The best thing to do is to notice when professors make in class invitations. Another way is to talk to a professor you like and see if they have room in their lab.
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What’s the difference between "mathematics and computer science" and "computer science"?
If you like more math the Joint Math & CS program has more MATH courses.  The program has 72-75 credits thus more challenging in comparison with 60-63 credits in the CS major.   if you want to specialized more in computer science, then the CS major is more appropriate.
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Where can we find course outlines before we sign up for them? Is that possible?
You can find the COMP course outlines at www.cs.mcgill.ca
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What course can someone skip if they have read Cormen's algo book?
You cannot skip any courses unless you have formally taken another course that is equivalent to the one you want to skip. If you have formally taken another equivalent course, then you can speak to the instructor of the course you want to skip or your advisor to get an exemption.
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MATH 223 is full for the winter should I add a different COMP course or wait for the winter?
If MATH 223 is required and taking it later is not an option, you can contact Angela White (angela.white@mcgill.ca ). On the other hand, you can take a different COMP course if this is in line with your course plan and you meet the course prerequisites.
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Questions about majors, minors and programs

Does doing a BA in CS give us a disadvantage compared to the BSc? for job search, internships, etc
If you are doing a BA and taking a major concentration together with the supplemental minor in Computer Science, then you will have earned roughly the same amount of credits as a B.Sc. with major in computer science. Taking only the major concentration in Computer Science in the Faculty of Arts is only 36 credits and is not compatible with a major in CS in the Faculty of Science, since the latter has 60 credits. Ultimately, we believe that what makes you a great candidate for a company is what you have done and what strong background you bring. This includes both the number and breadth of CS courses as well as relevant extracurricular activities.
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How do we declare our CS Major and Supplementary Minor?
You can declare both the CS major and Supplementary minor on Minerva. Note: When selecting the minor if you do not see the "Supplementary minor" option, Press "Add a Minor" again and a new menu should appear.  Scroll all the way down until you find all the "supplementary" minors and Select "Supp.Min.Conc. in Comp.Sci.".
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If we were admitted to u1 for major in computer science, how difficult would it be to switch to major in computer science and biology
Note that CS major is in the PMEC group and CSB major in the BBL group.  You will need to contact Mary Gauthier (mary.gauthier@mcgill.ca ) to discuss the steps involved to transfer.
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Can I take CS major + major + CS supplementary minor? (Can I exceed my credits?)
Exceeding the credit limit should be discussed with a faculty advisor. Absent special circumstances, no, credit is not given for courses beyond the credit limit.
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I want to take the major CS-computer games program. How do I declare it?
When you register there is an option to select a stream called Games. This will require you to take certain courses.
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If I take computer science as a major in the Faculty of Arts, do I also have to take a supplementary minor in computer science?
No, you don't have to to take the supplemental minor in CS, but you can if you want to get a strong CS degree.
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Are there any good minors you would recommend with the CS major?
You are free to complement your degree with almost any minor that interests you, however, it is often useful to select a minor that complements your field of study, for example, a minor in Cognitive Science or linguistic may be a useful pairing with Artificial Intelligence, a minor in Biology is a useful pairing with Computational Biology. We also have students taking a minor in Philosophy and a major in computer science.
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I'm currently enrolled in the CS and bio joint major. What procedure should I follow to switch to Honours CS and bio?
You can switch to Honours CS and Biol on Minerva.  However, it would be advisable to contact a Biology advisor to discuss the Honours program requirements.
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Is there a big difference between the first year courses of CS and joint major such as CS&math?
For the first year the two programs are almost the same, except for some math requirements.
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What are the advantages of doing a joint honours in math/CS? is it necessary for grad school?
Taking a joint honours degree in Math and CS is advantageous when your graduate degree requires background from both programs; in particular, if you want to pursue a graduate degree in Math it is often seen as a requirement, since the Honors Math courses are more challenging than the math courses in the joint major. In CS, we only have few CS honors courses focusing on theoretical computer science, in particular data structures and algorithms.
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As a Bachelor of Arts student, is it still possible to declare as an honors computer science student, and if so, could that allow me to take more courses in the Computer Science program?
As a Bachelor of Arts student, you are not allowed to take the Honours Computer Science program. You can take a major concentration in CS with a Supplementary Minor Concentration for a total of 54 credits. The Joint Honors Math & Computer Science program is also offered in the Faculty of Arts, but this is the only Honors program in the Faculty of Arts that is CS related.
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If we are interested in joining the honours program we should postpone taking COMP 251 until the second year where we enter the honours program and take COMP 252 instead, correct ?
Yes, you can select the Honours program but you do not need to switch until you take COMP 252 (which is the honours version of COMP 251).
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As a BA student interested in Comp Sci and Economics is it possible to switch my degree to the BA & Sci to take the joint degree program or should I do the a major in Econ and Comp Sci within the BA
You can switch to the BA & Sci joint degree.  However, this would perhaps require the student to apply for an intra or inter-faculty transfer as the BA & Sci is administered by the Faculty of Science. Contact: Mary Gauthier (mary.gauthier@mcgill.ca ).
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I'm U1 in Math&CS and would like to join the honours program. I heard from the math department that I can declare the honours program right away. I wanted to confirm this with you guys before I do that if it is correct?
You should contact the Math department directly to confirm.
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I am a student of computer science major. If I want to switch to Major Mathematics and Computer Science program, what are the steps that I should take?
You can switch your major on Minerva.  However, it is advisable that you contact a Math advisor to discuss further the program requirements.
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Is the computer science minor expandable?
No.
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Can Arts students take more CS courses as electives?
Yes you can take more CS courses to expand your CS knowledge.  Once your major/minor program requirements are met, the additional CS courses will count as electives.
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How can we get research opportunities as an arts student? Do companies give the privilege to science students?
An Arts student in a CS program will receive similar opportunities to participate in research and work. What is important are the courses you have completed and the grades you received. For research opportunities, talk to a professor during their office hour to see what is available. There are multiple job fairs that come to McGill. These are great places to submit your CV.
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How does the Major Concentration + Supplemental Minor compare to the Honors Math and Computer Science?
You can take the Honours Mathematics and Computer Science program if you are a student in the Faculty of Science or in the Faculty of Arts. The Major Concentration + Supplemental minor in CS is more comparable to the Major in CS in the Faculty of Science. The main difference between the Honors program and the Non-Honors program is the number of credits you need to complete and that some courses in the Honors program are more demanding. For example, COMP 252 Data-Structures and Algorithm is the Honors version of COMP 251 Data-Structures and Algorithms where the former is more demanding than the latter. The Honours Mathematics and Computer Science is a program with a minimum of 72 credits or a maximum of 78 credits, 39 of which come from MATH courses. The Major Concentration Computer Science + Supplementary Minor Concentration in Computer Science has 56 credits, 12-15 of which come from MATH courses.
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Is it possible to specialize in quantum computing?
We do not have an undergraduate program with such a specific specialization, but it may be possible in the context of a graduate degree. However, you should look at the course calendar to find courses that use quantum computing, like cryptography.
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How easy or difficult it is to shift from cs + bio to cs + math and vice versa? i am still unsure about the exact degree i want to pursue
Note that CS & Math major is in the PMEC group and CSB major in the BBL group.  You will need to contact Mary Gauthier (mary.gauthier@mcgill.ca ) to discuss the steps involved to transfer.
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If I want to take the Major Computer Science- Computer Games route, what courses should I take in first year (I am classified as a U1 student)?
The core courses in CS Major- Computer Games program and regular CS Major are  the same with a few exceptions. Thus you should be concentrating on the core courses in the beginning and later on the computer games specific and complementary courses. 
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Questions about credits

I'm a computer science major. For the complementary courses, there are 21 credits that we are supposed to take from some specific list, what happens to the 9 other credits? Do we take them as electives?
The remaining 9 other credits must be selected from 300-level or above COMP complementary courses (with a few specific course exceptions). Note: Electives courses do not count for the major programs.
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If I have 18 credits for electives, can I do a minor of 18 credits?
If you have room for 18 credits then you can fit in a minor.
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I saw on McGill’s website that students are recommended to take no more than 15 credits in our first semester. Would 16 credits be too heavy of a course load for my first semester?
Keep in mind that for 1 credit at McGill, we expect students to spend 3h per week to engage with the course (including attending lectures). A 3 credit course hence corresponds to 9h of course work per week. 15 credits corresponds hence to 45h per week and 16 credits would correspond to 48h per week! It is also worth keeping in mind that programming assignments can be time sometimes consuming. Hence, many of our students in fact take 12 credits per semester, which amounts to 36h per week. This allows students to also focus on other extra-curricular activities or balance other obligations they might have.
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Questions about COMP 202, COMP 204, and COMP 250

If I have some surface level knowledge in programming, should I take 202 or can I start with 250? Also, if I've taken MATH 133/223 (Linear Algebra) in Cegep, will I need to retake the class in McGill?
If you are comfortable with writing algorithms and have at least 40 hours of programming experience then you can start with COMP 250. You can get an exemption from MATH 133 if you took it in CEGEP, but not MATH 223.
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Is it possible to take COMP 204 without its prerequisite BIOL 112 if we have some background in biology already ?
Yes, but consult the instructor first.
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Is there a way to prepare for COMP 250?
Review core programming concepts such as conditional statements, loops, data structures (strings and arrays/lists), exception handling.
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How much programming experience should we have to skip COMP 202 and do COMP 250?
A quick test would be to consider the problem of computing the maximum value in an integer array. Do you know how to do that in a programming language? If it is not straightforward and obvious, or the question does not make sense, then you should take COMP 202.
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How comfortable should we be with either Python or Java if we want to take COMP 250
To take COMP 250 you need to have programming experience with any one high-level programming language (Python, Java, or something else). You should be comfortable with core concepts such as: variables, expressions, functions, conditionals, loops, data structures, modular software design, importing libraries, file input/output, debugging, exception handling.
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I do have experience for almost 80% COMP 250. Is there way to just learn the remaining on my own and skip it?
The best thing to do is to speak to the current instructor offering the course. They can look at your qualifications and recommend a course of action.
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What knowledge is covered in COMP 202? I have some knowledge in programming but I don't know if i'll miss some stuff by skipping it.
COMP 202 covers core concepts such as: variables, expressions, functions, conditionals, loops, data structures (strings, lists, dictionaries, tuples), modular software design, libraries, file input/output, debugging, exception handling. In addition, some selected topics which might change from semester to semester might be covered like intro to object oriented programming or recursion. If it sounds like you know these things well, then speak to the instructor of COMP 202 or COMP 250 to see if they think you can skip the course.
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Will COMP 250 be easier if we already have knowledge of java?
COMP 250 uses Java as a programming language, so if you are already familiar with the language you will find the first half of the course easier. Note that, we do not assume that students entering COMP 250 know Java, so you can successfully take it when you are familiar with any high-level programming language.
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Will this year’s 202 teach Python or Java?
COMP 202 is taught in Python. The introduction of Java is in COMP 250.
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COMP 202 is the only complimentary course offered in the Freshman program that is strongly related to computer science, and I would love to take some sort of computer science course in my u0 year. However, I already have some experience with programming in Python. Would it make sense for me to take COMP 202?
If you already have experience in Python you should not take COMP 202. In your first year you should first focus on completing the requirements for the Freshman program, and if you'd like to take a course in computer science you should take COMP 250.
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Can the professor remove a student from COMP 250 if they believe that the student doesn't have sufficient programing experience?
A professor may suggest that to a student, but professors do not register or deregister students.
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Could you make a self-test or something of the like for everyone who is confused as to how much cs someone has to know to skip 202?
If you are a Science student you should have access to a myCourse webpage called "Science course review and self assessment modules". There you can find tools to self-assess and decide whether you should be (re)-taking a course or not. There are resources for courses from Mathematics, Biology, Physics, Chemistry, and Computer Science. From CS, you'll find resources for COMP 202. (There are discussions about making the page available also to students outside the faculty of Science)
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IB, CEGEP and DEC Questions

Do you have any recommendation for students that had a technical DEC in comp sci in CEGEP? Should we take more CS course in the first semester?
If you have completed a technical DEC in computer science, then you are welcome to take more CS courses in your first semester. You can select from: COMP 250, COMP 206, and COMP 273. Note that you should make sure to keep up with the math requirements because they will be needed in the later computer science courses (try to balance your math and cs courses in your first year)
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Is IB SL equivalent to any of the math courses (MATH 140, MATH 141, MATH 133)? Can I take COMP 202 without these prerequisites?
You can take COMP 202 with an IB SL. You should contact the instructor giving the MATH course you are interested in taking to see if they will permit an equivalence exemption.
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If I have already studied computer programming(in Python) in CEGEP, can I still take COMP 204?
You can still take COMP 204, but if you already know Python you might not find it as engaging. Note also that you cannot take COMP 204 for credit if you are taking it at the same time or after 250. So, if you already have programming experience, you might want to go directly into COMP 250.
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Questions about deadlines

What will be the « deadline » to change a course if it appears to be too complicated?
You can change a course before the add/drop deadline, usually in the 2nd week of September for Fall and mid January for Winter.
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Questions about graduate studies

Is it harder to get into grad school as an Arts student with a major in CS and the supplementary minor?
Grad school admission is based on your overall record, including courses taken and GPA, but also research experience and other evidence of ability to do research. There are more opportunities for CS research experience in the Faculty of Science programs, but it is not a requirement. Different universities, of course, may have different requirements.
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Questions about conflicts

COMP 250 has conflicts with MATH 151 in winter what to do!???
You should probably complete MATH 151 first.  Note that if you take MATH 150/151 you will be granted an exemption without credits.  In some cases, you will need to complete additional credits of complementary courses to meet the program credit requirements.
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Questions about summer courses

Can I register for summer courses now?
No, not for CS courses. The summer term begins early May. 
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Can you give a few examples of the CS courses that are available during the summer?
COMP 202, COMP 396 (counts as an elective), COMP 400 (reserved for Honours students and Dept approval required), COMP 480 (Dept approval required).
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