The “2 before 3” policy and the size of the major
Published August 2020, Last Updated November 2020
Beginning in Spring 2021, the Department of Computer Science will begin to restrict registration for upper division courses higher than 420 that count toward the major (either BA or BS). The policy will be to give all declared majors who have taken (or are taking) COMP 311 and have not completed the major requirements an opportunity to register for up to two (2) COMP courses numbered >= 420 that count toward the major before the normal registration process begins for the next semester. After this pre-registration, any remaining seats in these upper division courses will be restricted to majors and minors through the normal registration period. After this, any remaining seats will be released to any student.
We believe this policy maximizes the number of majors the department can support given its teaching resources, provides a measure of certainty to students when planning their course of study, and ensures the fairest access to the major possible. An essential feature of this policy is that it ensures that all unfinished declared majors past the introductory sequence culminating in COMP 311 will be assured two courses that help advance their progress toward the major before any such student gets to register for a third. As a short hand, we’ll refer to this policy as the “2 before 3” policy.
The “2 before 3” policy allows the department to maximize the total number of majors that can be supported by ensuring that everyone makes even and steady progress toward the major. It also means that going forward we can ensure that the size of our major matches our ability to offer upper division courses by controlling the number of seats we offer in COMP 311. In our model, we can ensure that all students past COMP 311 can make steady progress toward completion at a minimum of two courses if the number of seats in upper division offerings is at least 7 times the number of seats offered in COMP 311. Thus, the number of seats offered in COMP 311 acts a regulator for the total number of majors we have in our pipeline. Using this model, at present, given our current resources, the department can reasonably support 250 seats in COMP 311 each semester.
Students should take the “2 before 3” policy into account when planning their course of study. Below are possible plans for the BA and the BS that are compatible with the policy and assume no prior programming experience. These plans only show the core requirements of the major and the courses subject to the “2 before 3” rule. Other requirements (pre-requisites, additional requirements outside of the department, college-level requirements) would need to be taken into account depending on the specific circumstances of the student.
|1||MATH 231, COMP 110||MATH 231, COMP 110|
|2||COMP 283, COMP 210||COMP 283, COMP 210|
|3||COMP 211, COMP 301||COMP 211, COMP 301|
|4||COMP 311, COMP 455||COMP 311|
|5||COMP 550, COMP Elective||COMP Elective, COMP Elective|
|6||COMP Elective, COMP Elective||COMP Elective, COMP Elective|
|7||COMP Elective, COMP Elective||COMP Elective, COMP Elective|
A few notes on the plans as shown above:
- For students with credit for calculus (MATH 231) and prior programming experience (COMP 110 credit either by placement exam, AP Computer Science, transfer credit, or otherwise), the number of required semesters is reduced by 1.
- Although technically subject to the “2 before 3” policy, the department is planning on offering COMP 455 and COMP 550 to as many students as possible, making it more likely that those two classes can be taken by students prior to or in the same semester as COMP 311. For BA students that choose to include COMP 455 and COMP 550 as COMP electives, this can further reduce the number of semesters required.
- Two of the COMP Elective courses for the BA can be fulfilled with courses from other departments that would not be subject to the “2 before 3” policy. Doing so would allow the BA plan of study to be compressed even further. See here for the most up to date list of courses that have been approved.
- The department has approved the use of COMP 495, Mentored Research, and COMP 691H, Honors Thesis, as COMP Electives for the major. These learning contract based courses are not subject to the “2 before 3” policy and could be incorporated as a third course during a semester to further compress a plan of study if necessary.
With the above notes in mind, below are compressed plans that rely on the likely availability of COMP 455 and COMP 550 and assume prior MATH 231 and COMP 110 credit:
|Semester||BS – Compressed||BA – Compressed|
|1||COMP 283, COMP 210||COMP 283, COMP 210|
|2||COMP 211, COMP 301, COMP 455||COMP 211, COMP 301, COMP 455|
|3||COMP 311, COMP 550||COMP 311, COMP 550, BA-eligible Major Elective Outside of COMP|
|4||COMP Elective, COMP Elective||COMP Elective, COMP Elective, BA-eligible Major Elective Outside of COMP|
|5||COMP Elective, COMP Elective, COMP 495|
Students are encouraged to meet with a major advising faculty member to review their specific planned course of study for feedback and advise. The advising calendar can be found here.