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Advising FAQ

Q. I'm just finishing up CS 149. What should I take next semester?

A. CS 159 and CS 227. See our sample plans of study to see some common paths through the curriculum.

Q. On the sample plans of study what is the difference between an “elective” and a “CS elective”?

A. One of your graduation requirements is to take three CS electives. Another graduation requirement is to take a minimum of 120 credits. Your GenEds account for about 41 and your CS major requirements count for around 52. That leaves around 27 credits to hit the 120 mark. You might have brought in credits through Dual Enrollment or AP Test credit that count toward your 120 credit requirement.

Whatever the amount of credits you have remaining you need to take courses to meet the 120 credit minimum - these courses are called “electives.” You can take classes that interest you (assuming you meet the enrollment prerequisities) or you could pursue a minor to give some shape to those elective credits.

The 120 credit requirement is a hard requirement: the university under no circumstances will budge on this number - so one way or another, you have to get these credits to graduate.

Q. I'm just finishing up CS 159 and am applying for the major. I think I'll meet the 3.0 GPA requirement. What should I take next semester?

A. You will receive an email after being admitted to the major that will tell you which courses to sign up for. It will be one of CS 240 and CS 261, as well as possibly CS 345 or some other course.

Q. I'm just finishing up CS 159 and am applying for the major. I do anticipate the 3.0 GPA requirement being a problem. What should I do?

A. Make sure you meet with your CS 159 instructor to discuss your status and likelihood of admission to the major. If the latter is not a given, you should go ahead and register for CS 159 to save a seat in case you have to re-take it. If you are admitted to the major, drop CS 159 and see the previous question for what to do. If you are not admitted to the major, re-take CS 159 and see if you can use the remaining credits that semester to start picking up a minor or a second/alternative major.

Q. I just finished CS 240 or 261. What should I take next semester?

A. Whichever of the two that you haven't finished, plus anything else you can take given prerequisite and class scheduling restrictions. See the prerequisites tree.

Q. Can you give me an override into CS 330? It's the only CS elective I can take!

A. No. Every semester we have a dozen people with the same predicament and we cannot accommodate everyone. If you don't get in, wait until next semester when you have more prerequisites and thus more options. This would be a good time to start looking at picking up a minor with your extra class slots next semester.

Q. I need to graduate in three semesters. Should I take CS 240 or CS 261 first?

A. Yes, both. Sorry, they are both prerequisites for so many courses that if you haven't had either and you want to graduate in three semesters you'll need to do both at the same time (and probably 345 as well). It will be quite tough, but with these timing constraints you might as well get used to hard semesters. If you can afford it, it would be far better to stay longer and move at a more reasonable pace.

Q. I have a lot of space for electives. What should I do?

A. Yes, the CS Major isn't that big, credit-wise, so you're in a good position to pick up a minor (or two) or even a second major!

Some minors that have overlap with CS include math, robotics, computer information systems, environmental information systems, and logic & reasoning. A surprising number of CS students minor in music.

Most importantly: CS is an applied field. Where would you want to apply it? A minor could be a great opportunity to get some experience in that area.

Or -- since you're already doing the hard thing by pursuing a CS major -- maybe your minor could just focus on a passion or explore an exciting topic. What are you interested in? JMU is a liberal arts college and you should take advantage of that.

See full list of minors.

Q. Do you offer courses during the summer or Maymester?

A. We generally do not. On occasion, a faculty member may decide to offer one during the summer session, but that does not happen often and only for particular courses. We never offer courses during Maymester.

Q. I'm taking a prerequisite class over the summer; can I get an override into the CS course now?

A. No. If you're taking, for example, MATH 231 over the summer, we will not give you an override into the CS course it is a prerequisite for (CS 240). You will not be able to enroll in the CS course until we know the final grade you made in the prerequisite class. That means the CS course you want might be filled up before you are able to enroll.

Q. My enrollment is tomorrow and I'm worried that [insert CS class] is going to fill up before I'm able to enroll. Is there anything you can do to ensure that I get a seat?

A. No. We do not offer preemptive overrides or guarantee seats in advance of your enrollment. If you can't get a seat, get on the waitlist. That's the only thing to do.

Q. Can you give me an override into CS xxx? I need it to graduate!

A. If you absolutely need a specific course to graduate *this* semester, talk to the undergraduate program coordinator, Dr. Buchholz ( -- he is the only person who can give you an override.