Specialization

Open Specialization (Computing and X)

The B.Sc. Open Specialization (Computing and X) is for students who want to pursue a concentrated study of computing science, or combine the study of computing science with another discipline. With 21 options available you can design and pursue a program of study that combines computing with almost any other field.

For example, you can follow your love of gaming with Computing and X. This program would include subjects like user interfaces, graphics, programming languages and, naturally, games courses. But it would also include topics such as art and design, psychology and business.

The point of Computing and X is to enhance your study of computing science with another subject that interests you, or have computing science support your chosen subject – ideally it will work both ways. Our advisors can help you design a program to fit your interests and goals, and ensure that your degree will benefit you and your potential employers. 

Specially Designated Programs

Consider these specially designated streams if you are interested in the following.

Business Minor

The Minor in Business program is for students interested in a career that combines Computing Science and Business. Computing is crucial for a business's competitive advantage. A strong Computing Science background gives you a better idea of what computing can deliver to business, and also lets you knowledgeably manage the vendors and IT groups.

Software Practice

The B.Sc. in Software Practice is for students who are interested in all aspects of building software. The program has a broad range of courses to develop depth in programming, algorithms, hardware, software design, user interfaces, project management, and business issues. Even then, almost half of the courses are options.

Bioinformatics

Bioinformatics is a joint program between Computing Science and Biological Sciences, that offers both Honors and Specialization degrees. Bioinformatics developed out of the need for recording and analyzing very large sets from genome and DNA sequencing projects. You will be able to understand problems embraced in bioinformatics and collaborate in building and using new tools.

Planning Your Program

Taking an undergraduate degree requires planning. Each year of your program builds on the previous ones. So if you want to study an advanced topic in your later years, you must plan to build the required background early.

Each degree program has specific requirements that indicate what courses you must take, and what grades you need to remain in the program. Here are some sample program planners.

Once you have a general idea of what you what to do, you must see an advisor who will help you with building your program so that you take the courses you need in the correct order. The advisor can also help you in planning your course load and creating alternatives in case you change your interests.

Specialization FAQs

What do you mean by "Computing and X"?

Computing is no longer restricted to science, engineering and business. It appears everywhere and in many roles. It is now so broad a field that students can only master part of it in a 4 year degree program.

Some students prefer the complex technical details that form the foundation of computing, others prefer the challenges that occur at the interface between people and computers. Many want to use computers to amplify their talents in different disciplines, from anthropology to film to medicine to zoology. Our degree programs let students decide the X that they want to combine with Computing Science.

You mean I could study Computing Science and Music?

Yes. Or Humanities Computing, which is the application of Computing Science to the arts, such as literary text analysis, computer augmented performance, archaeology, and so on. Computing science is key to modern Medicine. The possibilities are really only limited by the the subject you want to combine with Computing Science.

How related do the X and Computing Science have to be?

The point of Computing and X is that the Subject X is either enhancing your study of CS, or CS is enhancing your study of X – ideally both. X should not be viewed like options, which are intended to give you breadth. But this does not prevent you from using your options to take more X, or for courses in X to satisfy your Science and Arts options requirements. So you have to think about how you can combine CS and X.

What does the Specialization program look like?

The Specialization program is designed to provide a core body of Computing Science that you use to build your own program. A typical 4 year program looks like this:

  • Year 1: 2 CS, 2 Math, 2 English, 4 options
  • Year 2: 2 CS, 1 Math, 2 Statistics, 5 options
  • Year 3: 4 CS, 6 options
  • Year 4: 4 CS, 6 options

Specialization programs need to be approved, and continuation requires a minimum 2.3 average (C+). With 21 options available you can pursue a program of study that combines computing with any other field. Download the Specialization Program Planner (PDF) for more details.

I really like the business aspects of computers, what should I take?

Consider the Specialization with Business Minor if you who want a career that combines Computing Science and Business. Computing is constantly introducing new ideas into business, such as using the buzz on the web to predict movie success. Ideas from business find application in computing, for example, by using investment decision theory to decide what parts of a software system should be worked on next.

I really like everything about building software, what should I take?

The BSc in Software Practice is just for you. You are required to take a broad range of courses to develop depth in programming, algorithms, hardware, software design, user interfaces, project management, and business issues. Even then, almost half of your courses are options.

  • Year 1: 3 CS, 2 Math, 2 English, 2 Science options, 1 any option
  • Year 2: 4 CS, 1 Math, 2 Statistics, 2 Arts options, 1 any option
  • Year 3: 3 CS, 2 CS options, 2 Business, 1 Arts option, 2 Science options
  • Year 4: Industrial Internship (IIP)
  • Year 5: 4 CS, 1 CS option, 2 Business options, 1 Science option, 1 Arts option, 1 any option

The key part of the Software Practice program is the Industrial Internship Program.

Actually, I like how computers are used in games, can I do that?

Yes. You could take a Specialization degree, focusing on the topics needed for gaming. This would include both computing subjects like user interfaces, graphics, programming languages and naturally the games courses. But it would also include topics such as art and design, psychology, and business.

What about a combination not mentioned above?

This is the whole point of Computing and X, Choose your X. There are far too many combinations of students and interests for us to invent and define programs of study. We will help you build your own.

For example, if you are interested in computing, and want to work in the Japanese software industry, then your X might be the study of Japanese language and culture.

Or perhaps you are interested in working with both users and developers to define what the software should do. In that case you might want X to be many possible introductory courses in a wide variety of subjects so that you have the broad background to talk to many different kinds of users.

This is why it is important to talk to an advisor and have your program approved.


Department of Computing Science, 2-32 Athabasca Hall, University of Alberta, T: 1 (780) 492-2285, E: info@cs.ualberta.ca