Undergraduate Program Frequently Asked Questions - FAQ

Prospective Students

How can I get more information about applying to the CSE program at UC San Diego?

Contact the Admissions Office or see the UC San Diego Admissions website for more information. The CSE Department does not administer the admissions process for incoming students.

Which of my classes will transfer to UC San Diego?

As a transfer student, you will need to talk to your counselor at your current college about which classes they suggest taking. You can check Assist.org and the assist tutorial guide to see which classes from community college may count at UCSD for CSE course credit. Note that Assist.org only compares a university's lower-division courses with courses from California community/junior colleges.

Transfer students coming from another University of California school can view our list of UC Articulated CSE Courses to see which of their CS-focused courses have been pre-approved for UCSD CSE credit. 

Out-of-State or 4 Year Transfer students will need to check with UCSD Admissions Office for transferability courses.  You will need to petition your CS courses by following our petition process.

Undeclared Students

What does Impacted/Capped Major status mean?

Impacted/Capped Major means there is a cap on the number of students admitted to the major.  Incoming freshmen, transfers, and continuing students who were not admitted directly into an impacted major will need to apply to change into that major.  Review the Capped Majors webpage for a list of capped majors at UCSD. For information on how to apply to one of the CSE majors as a continuing students, please see our CSE Capped Admissions Program webpage for more details.

I was not accepted into one of the CSE majors. Now what do I do?

We understand this can be a very stressful, overwhelming, and disappointing process. The university has Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) available for students free of charge. CAPS has individual advising, group sessions, and self-help resources for helping students set goals, build self-awareness, manage expectations, and other useful personal and professional skills.

A common misconception is that students only have one real viable option for entering the field of computer science at UCSD – a degree from the CSE department. While the CSE department at UCSD is well known among students who are interested in pursuing a career in computer science, there are multiple other majors that students should also consider, including but not limited to: Bioinformatics (through the Biology or Bioengineering departments), Cognitive Science, ICAM (through Music or Visual Arts departments), and Math-Computer Science. For students who want to explore these other possibilities, reviewing the information on the Computing Paths webpage is highly recommended. The webpage contains a lot of useful information for students who want to pursue a career in computer science. Students should also meet with their college advisor and consider meeting with department advisors from the computer science-related departments.

Career Services is also a valuable resource for students. The Career Services Center staff can talk with you about your career aspirations and then tell you about the various majors that can help you attain your goals. They can help you set up informational interviews to talk with professionals in various fields.  They also can point you to various self-study surveys that might help you discover options for a major or career that you had not considered before!

Students who are interested in pursuing a career in computer science are encouraged to stay active in the CSE community through various opportunities: getting involved with student organizations, conducting research with a CSE faculty member, being a tutor for a course within the CSE department, completing individual projects, and pursuing internships related to specific interests.

Incoming Freshmen and Incoming Transfer Students

School starts this upcoming fall. What should I do during the summer?

First, relax and spend time with your friends and family!  Fall will bring a big change, so enjoy this time while you have it.  Also, start establishing a consistent routine and good sleeping and eating habits. Setting a firm and healthy routine now will really pay off when the quarter ramps up.

Now, if you feel you really must start working on academics, we have a few recommendations. If you have prior experience and are going into CSE 8B or CSE 11, reviewing Java is probably a good idea.  If you have notes and projects from your previous course, that's a good place to start. If you don't have such resources or haven't programmed before, there are a number of free Java-focused tutorials out there that you can explore. For example, you could try the tutorials for Processing (a library built on Java) found here (https://hello.processing.org), an introduction to Java including step-by-step installation instructions (https://www.w3schools.com/java/java_intro.asp), or video lectures like https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GoXwIVyNvX0.

These are a tiny sample of what's out there – do your own searching as well! And as with any material, don't try to "get ahead" and race through without understanding. Focus on finding resources that work for you, learning a few things well, and building some comfort with programming, making mistakes, and debugging. 

What computer should I buy?

This depends on whether you plan to work from home on your assignments, whether you want to use your computer to take notes in class, and whether you'll carry it around with you a lot. Both Windows computers and Macs can be used to work remotely and connect remotely to the lab machines. If you want to take notes (with a pen) in class on your computer, consider a machine with a stylus. If you know you'll be carrying your computer around with you, choose a model that is light, with long battery life. Your computer does not need to be too powerful or expensive, but a chromebook might not be sufficient.

Where are my classes going to be? Are they held on the Jacobs School of Engineering campus?

You will find that you will have courses scheduled across the UCSD campus, including some here in JSOE buildings.

Can you enroll me for a class I am not able to add?

Staff and faculty are not able to add students to classes. If you cannot add because the class is full, immediately get on a waitlist (continuing students may waitlist beginning 2nd Pass). If you cannot add because you have not fulfilled the prerequisites, then plan on taking the prerequisite first.

Do I need to follow my degree audit exactly?

You must complete the major requirements listed on your degree audit in order to graduate. There is no set path to completing your degree audit, but the four-year plan provided on the CSE website provides guidance on creating your long term plan. The CSE website is also a good place to find detailed descriptions of the CSE courses you are planning to take and information about course prerequisites.

What CSE classes should I take as an incoming freshman?

Please see CSE Course Placement Advice and the long term plan listed on our degree program webpages.

What is the CSE lower-division elective?

All B.S./B.A. Computer Science and B.S. Computer Engineering incoming freshmen and transfer students must complete at least 2 units of CSE lower-division elective.  Students can complete this requirement by taking any of the lower division elective options that are listed for their specific major, which you can find these options on the degree program page.

Sophomores/Juniors (continuing students)

When should I start looking for internships?

It is never too early to start looking for internships. Freshman often think they do not have enough programming experience to get an internship, but many internships are looking for basic coding skills. You can look at our Student Success and Opportunities page for some resources on internships and other types of opportunities such as volunteering. 

What if I am having trouble finding an internship?

Go to all of the job talks, tech talks, and job fairs! Even if you do not find something right away, you will begin collecting information about what companies are looking for. Even if it seems like you are just talking to recruiters casually, they are often giving you an informal interview. Coming to these will help you spot the trends going on in the industry.

What are the requirements for the combined Bachelors/Masters program?

You will need to have taken at least 7 upper-division courses and need at least a 3.4 major GPA and general GPA. You will also need letters of recommendation. Check the Bachelor's/Master's Program page for additional details, or come in to see your advisor.

What should I do during the summer?

The summer is a great time to get hands-on experience through an internship or research with a professor. These experiences help students set themselves apart from other students after graduation and will look great on your resume. Students may also look at taking courses through Study Abroad or on campus here at UCSD.

Graduating Seniors

Can I graduate with problems in my degree audit?

No, your degree audit must be cleared before you can graduate. Come see your advisor at least two quarters prior to graduation to make sure your degree audit is correct.

Can I graduate with an "F" in my transcript?

You can graduate with an "F" on your transcript, but you will not graduate if you have not retaken a course you earned an "F" grade in that is a required course for the major or GE/University requirement.

Graduate School

When is the application DEADLINE for the 5-Year Bachelors Masters program?

Check the Bachelor's/Master's Program page about application deadlines. The date varies depending on when you complete your undergraduate degree.

How do I get letters of recommendation?

Get to know your professors. One of the best ways to do that is to go to their office hours. Look up their faculty profile on the website and learn about their research. If you are interested in what they are doing, you can ask to take CSE 199 with them. You may want to bring your resume, in case they would like to learn more about you.


How important is doing research?

Research is extremely valuable, especially if you are planning on going to graduate school. Research is a great way to work on projects over a long period and to see the exciting work of faculty and graduate students.

How do I find an instructor to do research with?

If you are interested in a particular subject, look at the faculty profiles on the CSE website to see which professors are doing work in your area of interest. Office hours are a great time to talk to a professor about their research. Bring your resume with you just in case. You could take a CSE 198 or CSE 199 to get a better understanding of their work, which lead to future additional research opportunities.  More information can be found on our research opportunities webpage

Do I need research to get into graduate school?

The requirements for graduate school will depend on the place you are applying and the program. It is highly recommended that you try to do research not only to make your application stand out, but also to give you a sense for whether you like research, which is something you will be devoting yourself to in graduate school.


Can I become a tutor for a class I've just taken?

The listed conditions and application are online. Unfortunately, there might not be enough tutor positions for all those who apply.

When do I sign up for CSE 95, Undergraduate Seminar (tutor training)?

Students must 1st be offered a tutoring position to be able to enroll in CSE 95. Once you have received an offer, please wait until you receive an email from the enrollment coordinator as they will authorize the enrollment. Please keep in mind that we usually wait until most tutor positions are filled before opening the enrollment.


What are the Special Studies classes?

They are CSE 197, 198, 199. CSE 197 is an academic companion course for internships and 198 and 199 are for research. More in-depth information is available on the linked Special Studies page.

I don't have the prerequisites, but can I take the class anyway?

The CSE Department enforces all course prerequisites.  Students should meet with their major advisor for long term planning.

How do I add a graduate class?

Undergraduate students who wish to add graduate courses must submit a request through the Enrollment Authorization System (EASy). Requests to enroll will be reviewed by the instructor after graduate students have had the chance to enroll, which is typically by the beginning of Week 2. Depending on the demand from graduate students, some courses may not open to undergraduates at all. Seats will only be given to undergraduate students based on availability after graduate students enroll. Enrollment in graduate courses is not guaranteed.

I want to double major. Can I overlap classes between these two majors?

Yes, in general, you can overlap your classes. Lower-division courses may be overlapped without exception. You may also overlap upper-division courses, but must first make sure that there are 10 upper-division courses UNIQUE to each major before you can overlap the rest. See your major advisors to ask about which classes you may/would like to overlap.

I want to have a minor. Can I overlap classes between my major and the minor?

Lower-division courses may be overlapped. For upper-division courses, a maximum of 8 upper-division units may overlap.

I am an engineering major. Can I have double major in another engineering major?

No, students can only major in one major that is in the school of engineering.

I am currently an engineering major. Can I minor in another kind of engineering field?

No, only one of them may be from the school of engineering.

What counts in my major GPA?

Only your upper-division classes listed under the upper-division area on your Degree Audit are considered in your major GPA. This does include major electives and technical electives.

What classes can be taken P/NP?

All major requirements must be taken for letter grade and passed with a C- or better. The only exceptions are CSE 197, CSE 198, and CSE 199.

How do I declare a double major?

Please read the "How to Declare a Double Major" website for more information. If you are eligible to declare a second major, then first go to your college advisors and ask them if you have met the conditions to petition for a second major. It is best if you have already completed a second major petition application before you go in to meet with your college advisor.  Even though the major departments/programs approve the Double Major form, the college has final and ultimate approval.

I do not have room for a CSE class in my schedule. Are there any classes I can take with more flexible hours?

CSE 198 and 199 all do not have set times. You can work out when to meet with your faculty advisor and most of the work can be done remotely. Also, any course in the CSE course list that has an "R" listed next to it indicates that this is a remote course. We do not offer too many remote options, but these courses can help with flexibility in your schedule. 

Can I get a D or F grade and still apply it toward my major?

Effective Fall 2019, CSE majors must complete all CSE major requirements with a C- or better; additionally, the major GPA and cumulative GPA must be at least 2.0.

Can I retake a class I earned a D or F grade in and replace it on my transcript?

All grades you earn are recorded on your transcript, but the first 16 units of repeated classes for which you received a D, F, or NP won't be used to calculate your cumulative GPA.  See the How to Repeat a Class webpage for additional information.

Does the CSE department allow Credit by Examination?

The CSE department does NOT allow Credit by Examination. Unlike many other disciplines, CS concepts are tested more in the application of the concepts than in the question and brief answers available through final exams. Students should expect to successfully complete each course to meet any major requirements or course prerequisite. 

Will every CSE elective be offered every quarter?

Unfortunately, no. Generally, only core classes and prerequisites to core classes are available every quarter of the school year (ie: CSE 11, 12, 100, etc). There are also classes that may be only offered once a year, such as electives (ie: CSE 125, 167, 194, etc), so keep that in mind when registering for classes. The list of classes offered during the current school year is listed under "Tentative Course Offerings".