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Undergraduate Program

Declaring the Undergraduate Major


A newly admitted student to the university with the intention of majoring in Computer Science begins as a "Pre-Computer Science" major. A formal application for admission into either the major or the minor is considered only after a student is enrolled in appropriate courses at NIU. However, we will give permission for PCS majors to take appropriate Computer Science courses (including upper-level courses intended only for majors) as they work toward full declaration, assuming that prerequisite courses have been successfully completed.

Please read on to get more information about the declaration process.

The Mandatory Pre-Major/Pre-Minor Meeting

Full admission into the Computer Science major begins with attending a single Pre-Computer Science Major/Minor Meeting. There are typically three of these meetings (which last approximately one hour) a semester and you must register for one of them in advance at the main Computer Science office, Psychology-Computer Science Building Room 460, preferrably during the second week of your first semester taking Computer Science classes.

During this informational meeting, the Undergraduate Advisor will explain departmental procedures and you will have the opportunity to ask questions about major and minor graduation requirements. As a result of the meeting, the Undergraduate Advisor will create a course plan for you that will later be e-mailed. The meeting itself does not constitute your formal declaration into the major or minor; however, the e-mail you receive following the meeting will indicate when you should submit the official declaration application.

Declaration Requirements for the Major & Minor

  • Must have attended the Pre-Major/Pre-Minor Meeting detailed above.
  • Must have completed 30 semester hours of coursework.
  • Must have attained a minimum 2.500 cumulative GPA.
  • Must have completed (or will complete in the current semester) the following coursework:
    • (MINOR ONLY) MATH 110: College Algebra OR a higher level Math class.
    • At least one required Computer Science course taken at NIU.
  • Must have attended the pre-major meeting detailed above.
  • Must have completed 30 semester hours of coursework.
  • Must have attained a minimum 2.50 cumulative gradepoint average.
  • Additional Declaration Requirements for the Major

    • Must have completed (or will complete in the current semester) the following coursework:
      • ENGL 103: Rhetoric and Composition I AND ENGL 203: Rhetoric and Composition II
      • OR
      • ENGL 204: Rhetoric and Composition II (Accelerated)
      • MATH 206, MATH 211 or MATH 229 AND MATH 230

    When to Submit Your Major/Minor Declaration Application

    Once you have attended the mandatory meeting described above, and have received a copy of your meeting paperwork noting the semester in which you should be eligible to declare, you should pick up a yellow declaration application from the main office at the beginning of your semester of eligibility. Be sure to pick up the application early enough that you can submit it to the department during the 3rd-6th weeks of spring or fall semesters and 2nd-4th weeks of the summer term.  Keep in mind that you need to fill out the application completely to avoid delay in the declaration process.

    Your Declaration Application Status

    Unless you are immediately accepted (which happens only rarely), you will still have Pre-Computer Science status at this time, which allows you to register for 200-level courses but requires a permit from the department to register for courses numbered 300 and above. When registration opens for the upcoming semester, you should register for all 200-level computer science courses on your plan, as well as all non-computer science courses. You will need to wait until you receive your final response from the department, after grades are posted, to receive permits for 300- and 400-level computer science courses. You need not worry about getting into these courses, because the department will help you to register for the computer science courses that are appropriate for you, even though it may seem to you like we're waiting until the last minute to do so.

    Course Plans & Registration for Declared Majors & Minors

    To maintain its limited enrollment status, the Department of Computer Science keeps a careful record of approved course plans for each major or minor's schedule of study, from official declaration until a student's graduation from NIU. This ensures that students continue to make efficient registration choices towards gruadation as they progress through their studies, as well as allowing the Department to predict future enrollment that helps ensure students have a seat in their next classes. Students may elect to make modifications to this plan by submitting a Request for Action ("green form"), including the addition or removal of elective courses.

    Retention Criteria

    Once admitted to the major, students eligible to continue at Northern must maintain a 2.0 NIU gradepoint average in Computer Science courses. Students gaining admission must successfully complete all remaining requirements for their particular emphasis as listed in the Undergraduate Catalog that they have elected and for which they are eligible. A student's official catalog year is listed on the Degree Progress Report on MyNIU, a paragraph or two after the section that begins showing the requirements for your declared major.