Program in Applications of Computing

Academic Unit

Program Information

The Program in Applications of Computing (PAC) is an interdisciplinary program designed for students who want to combine the study of computing and computers beyond an introductory level with another academic concentration, but who are not concentrating in computer science. The program welcomes students in all disciplines, including both areas traditionally making heavy use of computation (such as engineering, the physical sciences, economics, and mathematics) and emerging application areas (such as biology, cognitive science, graphic arts, music, history, philosophy, politics, sociology, literature, and so on). Many students have found this program an effective way to apply computer science to their own specialties, and to understand how computing concepts and technology are changing our world.

Admission to the Program

The program is open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors who are concentrating in a department other than Computer Science. To be admitted to the program, students must complete one of the following prerequisites: successful completion of COS 126 or ISC 231-234, permission from the COS placement officer,  or the instructor's permission to take COS 217 or 226. Students enrolling in the program must fill out the on-line worksheet to be admitted to the program. Students will not be admitted if they have not filled out the worksheet, and later will not be awarded a certficate if they have not completed the worksheet in a timley way showing all requirements satisfied.  Seniors must be enrolled in the Applications of Computing Program no later than March 1, 2017, and by that date must have shown the completion of all requirements.

Program of Study

A certificate candidate's courses and thesis must form a coherent plan of study that fulfills both the program requirements and the requirements of the candidate's department of concentration. This planning is done in consultation with the program adviser and the student's academic adviser in the department of concentration. The following are the requirements:

1. COS 126 or permission from the COS placement officer.

2. Two courses from among the following three: COS 217, COS 226, and/or COS 323, which is cross-listed with ORF 363. (If placement is granted beyond the 217/226 level, then additional COS departmentals must be taken instead).

3. One COS departmental at the 300 or 400 level, not including 397, 398, 497, or 498.

4. One additional 300- or 400-level course with substantial computing content. This may be either a second COS departmental, or an outside course.  See the PAC Course & Requirements for additional information.

5. A senior thesis on a topic that makes significant use of some aspect of computer science. The intent is that the thesis satisfy the requirements of both the program and the student's department of concentration and is thus necessarily interdisciplinary. A wide range of thesis topics is possible. In the last few years of the program, students have earned certificates with a variety of concentrations, including anthropology, chemistry, classics, economics, electrical engineering, history, philosophy, and psychology.

The thesis work is coordinated through the student's thesis adviser in the department of concentration and an assigned program adviser (who may be, in routine cases, the program director).  When doing a thesis that includes a significant element of computer science is not possible, the student may instead complete one additional 300- or 400-level computer science departmental.

Pass/D/Fail policy: Students may use no more than one course taken on a Pass/D/Fail basis to satisfy program requirements.

Concentrators in departments with computer-related concentrations: Students in these departments who are doing a computer-related concentration are not eligible for PAC. Students in these departments who are not in a computer-related concentration are eligible. For example, ELE majors who want to receive the PAC certificate must concentrate in a noncomputational area of ELE (such as circuit design or photonics).

Courses used to satisfy departmental requirements:   No courses used for a departmental concentration requirement may satisfy PAC requirements. For example, ELE students may not use ELE 206/COS 306 to satisfy PAC requirements. 

Courses used to satisfy other certificate program requirments. No more than one course that is used to satisfy any other certificate or certificates can be used to satisfy PAC requirements. 

Certificate of Proficiency

Students who fulfill the program requirements receive a certificate upon graduation.