Computer Science Undergraduate Handbook (2020-2021) - FMS Application
University of Utah, School of Computing

Full Major Status (FMS) Application, Advice, and Criteria

Any student interested in pursuing a degree in computer science can take the courses designated as "Pre-Major". Upon completion of these courses, and in order to enroll in CS courses at the 3000-level and above, students must have full major status (FMS). Instructions on how and when to apply are below.

Pre-Major Sequence

  1. CS 1030 † - Foundations of Computer Science
  2. CS 1410 - Introduction to Object Oriented Programming
  3. CS 2420 - Introduction to Algorithms and Data Structures
  4. Math 1210 ‡ - Calculus I
  5. Math 1220 ‡ - Calculus II

† Some students may be able to waive this requirement, see: Choosing between 1030 and 1410.

‡ Students may also consider the engineering calculus series MATH 1310 and MATH 1320, or other advanced calculus sequences. See a CS academic advisor for details.

How to Apply for Full Major Status

  1. Be admitted to the University of Utah.
  2. Designate your major as "pre-computer science" by informing a CS academic advisor.
  3. Enroll in the SoC Canvas page.
  4. Complete the pre-major courses listed above.
  5. Submit an application for FMS.

How to Apply for a Minor in Computer Science

Complete the same steps as for FMS listed above, with these two differences:

  • Applicants for the CS minors must have established a primary major and may not be in a pre- or undeclared major.
  • Calculus II is recommended, but not required for CS minors.

Advice

Please click on the appropriate item for more information.

  • FMS Admission Criteria

    The purpose of the FMS admission process is to ensure that students have the proper attributes to succeed in completing a degree in computer science. These attributes include:

    • The ability to effectively write and understand computer programs.
    • The ability to complete a rigorous and demanding course in one attempt.
    • The ability to show good to excellent performance in courses known to be predictors of future success.

    These attributes are highly correlated with grades earned in the pre-major courses.

    All applicants for FMS are reviewed by the School of Computing Undergraduate Admissions Committee. The committee considers the GPAs of the applicant, both the GPA of pre-major courses and the overall University GPA. In addition, applicants are expected to adhere to the following policies:

    • The grade earned in each pre-major course must be C- or higher in order to apply.
    • Each pre-major course may be taken no more than twice. See the full policy on repeating courses for more information.
    • Grades in prerequisite courses are accepted only when they occur prior to the successor course. For example, a student may not take CS 1410 after CS 2420, solely to improve their GPA.
    • The GPA in the pre-major courses must be 3.0 or higher in order to apply*.
    • The overall GPA in all courses taken at the University must be 3.0 or higher in order to apply*.

    * Students whose life situation has excluded them from a typical path into the computer science major should contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies to determine the possibility of FMS.

  • Factors in Admission Decisions

    The goal of the Admissions Committee is to select those students with the promise for success in the challenging CS degree program; therefore, not all applicants may be admitted

    Below are some of the criteria used to evaluate an applicant’s potential for success:

    • Applicants with an A or A- grade in CS 2420 are very promising, while applicants with a C+, C, or C- grades in any pre-major course have very little chance of success in upper-level CS courses.
    • Applicants on an upward trajectory, with grades that steadily improve with each CS and MATH course taken, show promise, while applicants on a downward trajectory have very little chance of success in upper-level CS courses.
    • Applicants who have repeated one or zero courses show great potential to complete the degree requirements directly and efficiently, while applicants who have repeated multiple courses show a concerning pattern that may continue.
    • If other CS, math, physics, and engineering courses have been taken by the applicant, those grades are considered. In particular, A or A- grades in CS 2100, MATH 2210, MATH 2270 demonstrate the ability to perform well in upper-level courses.
  • Guaranteed Admission

    Applicants with pre-major and overall GPAs of 3.5 or higher, no repeated courses, and a B or higher in CS 2420, are assured admission to the computer science major.

  • Providing an Academic Statement

    Applicants may submit a statement to support their application. The purpose of this statement is to guide the Admissions Committee in recognizing factors in the applicant's academic performance that may not be directly evident from the pre-major and overall University GPAs.

    Applicants who have previously been denied admission should use the statement to point out significant improvement since the last application.

    Applicants whose past performance may not be indicative of future performance should explain the changes made that will ensure success in the computer science degree program.

  • If Not Admitted

    If you were not admitted to the computer science major on the first try, consider improving your academic record and applying a second time. The following are suggestions for what you can do to demonstrate a high potential for success in the challenging CS degree program. Please note that it is not necessary to follow all of the suggestions below – choose carefully and be cautious not to overload your course schedule.

    • If your grade in CS 2420 is below a B-, retake the course and strive to improve significantly, while adhering to the policy for repeating courses.
    • Earn an A or A- or better in courses that help you make progress in the CS degree without requiring FMS, such as CS 2100, CS 3200, MATH 2210, MATH 2270, and PHYS 2210.
    • If you have a pattern of repeating multiple classes, demonstrate that you can earn an A or A- or better in two of the courses listed above in only one attempt.
    • Achieve a 4.0 semester while taking challenging computer science, math, and/or science courses.

    If you were not admitted to the computer science major on the second try, it is time to consider another major at the University of Utah or a computer science degree at another institution.