B.S. in Computer Science

There are more computing jobs than qualified people to fill them.

Earning a Rensselaer undergraduate degree in computer science prepares students to solve real-world problems and carry out fundamental research. Our students have distinguished themselves by founding companies while still in school, landing high-income jobs at a broad range of companies, and going on to prominent graduate schools. Given our strengths and successes, in 2016, the incoming freshman class was the largest ever in our 32-year history, with 254 new students, also the largest incoming freshman class for any major in the 192-year history of Rensselaer. This trend continues into 2017. As the second-largest major and the most popular dual major, our flexible degree requirements allow students to focus on specific topics within computer science and also provides unique opportunities for open source software development and involvement in faculty-sponsored undergraduate research.


Computer science is the study of the design, analysis, communication, implementation, and application of computational processes. At Rensselaer, an education in computer science prepares students to solve applied real-world problems and conduct research in computer science. The program provides students with a solid grounding in both theory and practice.

Program Outcome

Students who successfully complete this program will be able to demonstrate:

  • An ability to develop a computational formulation of a problem, one or more data structures and algorithms to solve the problem, a program to implement a solution, and strategies for testing and verifying that the program is correct.
  • Knowledge of the mathematical and theoretical underpinnings of computer science.
  • An ability to adapt a solution to different computing platforms, paradigms, and/or programming languages.
  • An advanced depth of knowledge in one or more of the following areas: computer systems, computer theory, applications, software engineering, data analysis, and large-scale software architecture


Each computer science major is required to complete 128 credits including required courses in science, mathematics, humanities, arts and social sciences. The computer science core includes a sequence of named courses as well as a capstone requirement which can be fulfilled by either a substantial research project or software development effort OR a sequence of courses taken in an area of concentration.

Our curriculum provides a great deal of flexibility, with 32 free credits, that students can use to pursue dual degrees and minors. We strongly believe in learning by doing. Many of our students actively participate in research, develop software projects in the Rensselaer Open Source center students, and join the co-terminal program, obtaining a Bachelors and Masters in Computer Science in 5 years.

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Dual Major

Due to the open structure of the degree requirements for Computer Science, it is often possible to obtain a dual major within four years.  Many of our students take advantage of this opportunity.


Program Information

A dual major requires a student meet the course and credit requirements of two separate degrees.  The large number of free electives in the Computer Science program enables students to complete dual majors with most departments in 128 credits and a dual major with Engineering in 134 credits.  Students do not have to declare dual majors immediately and can add them after their first year at Rensselaer.

Computer Science students interested in adding a second major in another department should contact the other department for information about the course requirements for the new major.

Students From Other Majors

We recommend students from others majors interested in Computer Science take Computer Science 1 (CSCI-1100) and Data Structures (CSCI-1200) in their freshman year.  You will not be admitted into the computer science major until you have demonstrated your ability to succeed in computer science courses.

Popular Dual Degrees

  • Mathematics
  • Biology
  • Computer Systems Engineering
  • Electronic Media Arts and Communication (EMAC)
  • Cognitive Science
  • Philosophy
  • Games and Simulation
  • Arts and Sciences (GSAS)
  • Management 

Academic Opportunities

The open source center allows students to work in teams to develop open-source platforms and applications that solve societal problems.

Student researchers play a critical role in the world-changing discovery, innovation, and breakthroughs taking place across campus.

Integrate your classroom studies with paid, productive, real-life work experience.

RPISEC, a student run organization, participates in a number of computer security competitions throughout the school year, typically placing among the top undergraduate US teams.

Celebrates, informs and supports women in computing

The only International Honors Society for the computing and information disciplines.

HackRPI is responsible for the planning, organization and running of the annual RPI hackathon. In past years, more than 500 hackers from the region participated in the hackathon and participated in competitions in many different software categories.