Computer and Information Science
Degree: BS, BA
College: Arts and Sciences
Computer and information science (CIS) focuses on the development of software and the uses of software to solve practical problems and to support and improve productivity, health, happiness and safety in today's society. Topics studied include algorithms and data structures, programming languages, computer architecture, computer graphics, operating systems, software engineering systems analysis, database systems, artificial intelligence, information security, and networking.
A computing professional analyzes a situation in an application domain, such as biology and medicine, business, engineering, law and public policy, science, and sociology; carefully specifies the problems to be addressed; and then designs, evaluates, implements and tests computer-based solutions to those problems.
Computer and information science students can pursue either a Bachelor of Science or a Bachelor of Arts. The BS involves a more substantial computing component and more of a science focus than the BA. Both degree programs are offered through the Department of Computer Science and Engineering.
Other majors suited for students interested in computing careers:
- Computer science and engineering (CSE) jointly offered in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering and the College of Engineering: almost identical to the CIS major, with additional math and engineering courses and fewer general education courses
- Electrical and computer engineering in the College of Engineering: shares several computing courses with the CSE major but is more hardware-oriented in its other courses
Students must formally apply to the computer and information science major, typically by the end of the freshman year. Acceptance into the major is based on a minimum cumulative point-hour ratio (CPHR) requirement and the completion of entry-level courses in computing, mathematics, writing and introductory physics (BS only).
Learn more about applying to the major at cse.osu.edu/prospective-students/undergraduate/admissions.
The BS in CIS requires courses in computing, math, science and general education. The core CIS courses include software design and development, computational foundations including algorithms and data structures, and computer systems. Study of ethical issues in computing, team projects and a capstone design course are also included. Math and statistics requirements include courses in calculus and analytic geometry, discrete mathematics, and probability and statistics. Electives in the major may be chosen from one of many specializations, including artificial intelligence, computer graphics and game design, database systems and data analytics, information and computation assurance (security), networking, computer systems, and software engineering.
The BS in CIS program requires a total of 124 semester hours, which includes 36 hours of general education, 31 hours of math and science, and 57 hours in the major (of which seven may be from an approved non-CS related discipline or minor program).
The BA in CIS program requires a total of 122 semester hours; compared to the BS in CIS, there are somewhat fewer hours required in the major and in mathematics and science. To compensate, a minimum of 18 hours in an approved related field, based on the student’s interests, are required for this degree.
Although not required, students are encouraged to pursue internship or co-op opportunities. Numerous positions are posted by employers from throughout the country through the College of Arts and Sciences Career Services Office, where students can receive assistance with identifying and applying for appropriate positions, writing resumes and honing interview skills.
Students are encouraged to become active in student chapters of the two main professional societies in computing: the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and the Computer Society of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE-CS).
Other student organizations include ACM-W (an ACM group especially for women in computing), Upsilon Pi Epsilon (an honorary society for computer science students) and The Ohio State University Open Source Club.
Because computing is essential in all areas of society, the demand for people skilled in the computing field continues to grow. Contrary to popular misconception, offshoring of (lower-level) IT jobs is a secondary factor in job growth for the computing profession. Recent Bureau of Labor Statistics projections for U.S. job growth in the next decade show computing jobs, of the sort computer and information science (CIS) graduates might take, comprising the top two—and half of the top ten—positions in the rankings for jobs requiring an undergraduate degree. This is after accounting for the impact of offshoring.
Computer software and hardware vendors hire CIS graduates in areas such as software and hardware product development, quality assurance, customer support, sales and marketing, documentation, and training. Organizations that use these products (such as hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, banks, insurance companies and manufacturing firms) hire CIS graduates as software engineers building system foundations as well as end-user applications, and as systems analysts, database administrators and network administrators, as well as for other types of positions. Most large companies have internal computing departments that develop custom products for use by other departments within the same company. Considerable growth is also occurring in companies focusing on social media and information security.
Beginning salaries for recent computer and information science graduates have averaged near $60,000 but vary depending on the candidates’ skills, work experience, type of industry, current needs of employers and geographic location.
It is the intent of the faculty that within the first few years after graduation:
- Graduates of the program will be employed in the computing profession, and will be engaged in learning, understanding and applying new ideas and technologies as the field evolves
- Graduates with an interest in, and aptitude for, advanced studies in computing will have completed, or be actively pursuing, graduate studies in computing
- Graduates will be informed and involved members of their communities and responsible engineering and computing professionals
Find Student Outcomes supporting our Educational Objectives at go.osu.edu/cse_outcomes.
Interested in a career in the STEM fields?
Check out the STEM Pathway to discover the many majors Ohio State offers that can lead to a career in the fields of science, technology, environment and math.