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Computer Science

The Computer Science major emphasizes the principles of computing that underlie our modern world and provides a strong foundational education to prepare students for a broad spectrum of possible careers in computing.

Students receive a balance of knowledge in low-level computer architecture and systems, middle-level infrastructure like programming languages, databases and networks, and high-level topics such as artificial intelligence, computer graphics and network security. Students also learn about the mathematical and algorithmic foundations that form the basis of modern computing. Subsequent courses allow students to concentrate in one or more such directions.


The CS major balances theoretical underpinnings with a strong emphasis on designing, programming and implementing large-scale systems. The curriculum covers the infrastructure of computers and networks, as well as the software that runs them. Students receive a broad view of the field through a comprehensive set of core classes and, through upper-division elective courses, are given the opportunity to specialize in topics such as machine learning, data mining, distributed and embedded systems, and security. The major places a heavy emphasis on “learning by doing” through a wide selection of classes in which students design and build in-depth projects over the course of a 10-week quarter. In addition, students receive a solid background in computer algorithms, which form the basis of modern computing. The major provides many practical skills that can be immediately put to use in the workplace while also giving students a conceptual foundation that will serve them well for the long term in a rapidly evolving field.


Current Requirements for the CS major can be found in the General Catalogue.


Graduates of the Computer Science program at UCI will be in a position to pursue a variety of careers in high-demand areas such as embedded systems, cloud infrastructure, web services, computer security, networking and data mining. They can be principal designers or involved in implementation, typically at companies that design, implement and sell or manage products or services in such areas. They may find themselves in charge of large-scale deployments and/or customizations at the organizations that use them.

The strong scientific preparation also allows students to become involved in such areas as high-performance computing, computational biology and neuroscience — whether in industry or graduate school. In fact, many students choose to continue their studies, conducting research and earning graduate degrees in fields such as computer science, software engineering or information science. A background in computer science is also excellent preparation for careers in management, law, finance or consulting.

Chen Li, associate professor of computer science, and his students created a Web search tool to reunite people after the quake that devastated Haiti. Chen Li, associate professor of computer science, and his students created a Web search tool to reunite people after the quake that devastated Haiti.

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