Program in Applications of Computing



  • Jaswinder P. Singh

Executive Committee

  • Joel Cooper, Psychology
  • Henry S. Farber, Economics
  • Adam Finkelstein, Computer Science
  • Alain L. Kornhauser, Oper Res and Financial Eng
  • Sharad Malik, Electrical Engineering
  • Luigi Martinelli, Mechanical & Aerospace Eng
  • Jaswinder P. Singh, Computer Science
  • Olga G. Troyanskaya, Computer Science
For a full list of faculty members and fellows please visit the department or program website.

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, neuroscience, 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 enroll in the the program, students must complete the online worksheet.  Every academic year the worksheet is available for sophomores, juniors and seniors from Sept. 1 - March 5, 2021.  The worksheet enables all students to update their progress for the certificate every semester.   Seniors must be enrolled and provide the final worksheet update for completion of all course requirements and thesis draft by March  5, 2021.     Senior worksheets will be reviewed by the director of PAC to ensure that all requirements have been satisfied for the Applications of Computing certificate.    Students will not be eligible for the certificate if they have not completed the worksheet.  

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. 

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. The prerequisite for admission is successful completion of COS 126 or ISC 231-234, or COS placement officer permission to take COS 217 or 226. 

2. Two courses from among the following four: COS 217, COS 226, and/or COS 323, which is cross-listed with ORF 363, and/or COS 324. (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 COS 397, COS 398, COS 497, COS 498, COS 323 (ORF 363) or COS 324. That is, if requirement (2) is satisfied with COS 217 and 226, then COS 323 (ORF 363) or COS 324 cannot count towards satisfying this requirement.    

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.

Thesis approval
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).   The online worksheet requires seniors to fill-out the "Sr. Thesis" information, which will be reviewed by the director of PAC for approval.  Seniors will answer the question, "How is this work related to Computer Science?".   The director will review the information provided by the student and will provide feedback or approval on the worksheet.  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 (not including COS 323 (ORF 363) or COS 324).    Junior independent work cannot be used to fulfill this requirement. 

Pass/D/Fail policy: Students may use no more than one course taken on a Pass/D/Fail basis to satisfy program requirements.  The exception is that any number of courses taken for a "P" in the spring or fall of 2020 may be used to satisfy the 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 requirements. 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.