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Advice for First-Year Students

Welcome to Swarthmore College!  If you are interested in taking a Computer Science course or being a Computer Science major/minor, we encourage you to review the information below for first-year students prior to Fall registration.  

  • The college catalog provides a comprehensive overview of the Computer Science program.
  • Students with no prior Computer Science experience should start with CPSC 021: Introduction to Computer Science. This course is available to all Swarthmore students including non-majors and potential majors. 
  • Students with Computer Science AP exam scores or with prior CS experience should take the Computer Science Placement Exam.  Passing the exam will allow students to skip CPSC 021  and start with CPSC 031: Introduction to Computer Systems or CPSC 035: Data Structures and Algorithms, our two intermediate courses.  Students that wish to skip CPSC 021 will be required to take the placement exam, even if they have an AP score of 4 or 5. For the 2020-2021 academic year, CPSC 035 will only be offered in the Fall. CPSC 031 will only be offered in the Spring. These courses are typically offered every semester. 
  • Students who receive a 4 or 5 on the Computer Science Advanced Placement exam will be awarded one (1) credit upon successful completion of a Computer Science course taken at Swarthmore. Upon completion of a CS course at Swarthmore, students must notify the department in order to receive AP credit. Students who are placed out of CPSC 021 with AP credit need to take only seven (7) additional courses in computer science to complete the major, and five (5) additional courses in computer science to complete the minor.
  • Upper level courses typically require completion of CPSC 031 and CPSC 035 prior to registration. Some courses may have additional Math requirements. See the  college catalog for details.