Elements of Computing

Regardless of their field of study, college students live in the digital information age. The Elements of Computing certificate program offers a set of courses intended to help students understand the sophisticated technologies they use everyday as well as gain the computer skills that employers value. The goals of the program are to:

  • Provide students with knowledge of computer science that employers find valuable.
  • Support study in other disciplines requiring computational proficiency.

Elements courses are intellectually stimulating and personally rewarding, and they can supplement any undergraduate program. Click here to see the courses that we are offering each semester. CS 302, CS 301K and the CS courses that end in E are Elements courses.

While students are welcome to take just one or two Elements courses, some students choose to pursue a coherent set of courses that lead to receipt of an Elements of Computing certificate. The certificate may be used as part of a resume or as proof of computational knowledge. The certificate will be accompanied by a letter that explains the program. Students do not need to apply to take the courses as they are open to all students meeting the pre-requisites.

How to earn the certificate (two options): students may earn the 12-hour or 18-hour certificate, but not both.

  • 12-hour certificate: students who complete an approved sequence of 12 semester hours of Elements courses will earn a certificate from the Department of Computer Science. Requirements for the 12-hour certificate include:
    • Completion of CS 303E with a grade of C-, or better.
    • Completion of two upper division Elements electives with a grade of C-, or better.
    • No more than one course substitution permitted for the 12-hour certificate.
    • Spring 2017 will be the last semester in which the Department of Computer Science will certify students for the 12-hour Elements of Computing certificate. The Department will still continue to certify students for the more robust 18-hour transcript-recognized Elements of Computing certificate.  Please see the requirements for the 18-hour certificate if students are interested in pursuing this option.
       
  • 18-hour transcript-recognized certificate: students who complete an approved sequence of 18 semester hours of Elements course will earn a certificate from the Department of Computer Science and have it recognized on their official University of Texas at Austin transcripts. Requirements for the 18-hour certificate include:
    • Completion of CS 303E with a grade of C-, or better.
    • Strongly recommended completion of CS 313E with a grade of C-, or better (CS 313E will be required starting in Fall 2016*).
    • Completion of three upper division Elements electives with a grade of C-, or better (four upper division electives will be required starting in Fall 2016*).
    • No more than two course substitutions permitted for the 18-hour certificate.

*These new requirements are for students who are in the 2016-2018 catalog (and beyond) for their major. Please see the FAQ tab for more information regarding these changes.

Required Coursework: all must be taken for a letter grade with a grade of C-, or better.

  • Two Core Courses
    • CS 303E Elements of Computers and Programming (required for both the 12-hour and 18-hour certificate)
    • CS 313E Elements of Software Design (requires CS 303E as a pre-req) (required for the 18-hour certificate starting Fall 2016, strongly recommended currently)
  • Lower Division Elements Elective Courses
    • CS 301K Foundations of Logical Thought
    • CS 302 Computer Fluency (may not be earned once student has received credit for CS 303E, or an approved equivalent)
       
  • Upper Division Elements Elective Courses
    • CS 320N Topics in Computer Science
    • CS 324E Elements of Graphics and Visualization (requires CS 303E as a pre-req)
    • CS 326E Elements of Networking
    • CS 327E Elements of Databases (requires CS 303E as a pre-req)
    • CS 328E Topics in Elements of Computing (requires CS 303E as a pre-req)
      • Elements of Computing in Society
      • Intro to Game Development
      • Elements of Navigating Cyberspace
      • Elements of Security
    • CS 329E Topics in Elements of Computing (requires CS 313E as a pre-req)
      • Elements of Data Visualization
      • Elements of Mobile Computing
      • Elements of Web Programming
      • Elements of Programming Languages

Courses with the same topics cannot be taken for separate credits (e.g., CS 328E: Into to Game Development and CS 329E: Intro to Game Development cannot be taken for two separate credits).

Previously approved Elements course substitutions:

No more than one course substitution can be used towards the 12-hour certificate and no more than two course substitutions can be used towards the 18-hour certificate. CS 312 and CS 314 will not count against the course substitution limit.

Elements Course Substitution Approved Through
CS 303E Elements of Computers and Programming CS 305J Introduction to Computing Always approved
CS 303E Elements of Computers and Programming CS 312 Introduction to Programming Always approved
CS 303E Elements of Computers and Programming EE 312 Software Design and Implementation 1 Approved through Summer 2018
CS 313E Elements of Software Design CS 307 Foundations of Computer Science Always approved
CS 313E Elements of Software Design CS 314 Data Structures Always approved
CS 313E Elements of Software Design EE 422C Software Design and Implementation 2 Approved through Summer 2018
CS 327E Elements of Databases

MIS 325 Database Management

Approved through Summer 2018
Upper Division Elements Course Equivalent CH 368 Intro to Computational Methods or CH 354M Intro to Computational Methods in Chemistry* Approved through Summer 2018
Upper Division Elements Course Equivalent BIO 321G Principles of Computational Biology Approved through Summer 2018
Upper Division Elements Course Equivalent M 348 Scientific Computation in Numerical Analysis Approved through Summer 2018
Upper Division Elements Course Equivalent MIS 333K Web Application Development Approved through Summer 2018
Upper Division Elements Course Equivalent PHY 329 Introductory Computational Physics Approved through Summer 2018
Upper Division Elements Course Equivalent SSC/SDS 335 Scientific and Technical Computing Approved through Summer 2018

*CH 368 Intro to Computational Methods and CH 354M Intro to Computational Methods in Chemistry are equivalent courses so they may not both be earned as separate credits.

If a course substitution is "Approved through" a specified semester that means an approved course taken on or prior to the listed semester is a valid course substitution.

If a student would like to petition a non-approved substitution course for the Elements certificate, please print, read through, follow all the instructions, and fill out the Elements Course Substitution Form. The student must be registered for the course, and have received or will be expecting to receive a C-, or better, letter grade. Transfer courses will need to be completed and transferred in to UT prior to the evaluation process. These petitions are not guaranteed for approval and the student will be sent a SAN once the Elements faculty advisor makes a final decision.

Elements CS Course Registration Policy

Please note that all students may only register for two Elements CS courses during the first registration period. Students may add a third Elements CS course to their schedule during the add/drop period. Students are allowed to access the waitlist system if the courses are waitlisted during the first registration period and add/drop period.

On the semester that students are completing the certificate, please submit the Online Certification Request Form. Students will be awarded a digital Elements of Computing certificate and completion letter once the form has been approved at the end of the certification process. These items will be sent to the email provided on the certification form.

 Please note: If something is amiss with your certification form, you will hear back from us through email. If you don't hear from us a few weeks past the deadline, you may assume that your form is approved and we are in the process of certifying your application.

Certification deadlines: In order for us to certify students for a given semester, please submit the certification form by these deadlines. If any of these dates fall on a weekend, please submit the form by the next business day. If you missed the deadline, please submit the form prior to the next deadline so that we may certify you for that semester.

  • Spring: May 1 by 5 PM
  • Summer: August 1 by 5 PM
  • Fall: Dec 1 by 5 PM

Verification of the 18-hour Elements of Computing Certificate on UT Transcript

Once you've completed all the certificate requirements, applied for certification, and received approval on your certification form, you will receive a digital Elements of Computing certificate and completion letter at the end of the certification process. These items will be sent to the email provided on the certification form. The Elements of Computing certificate designation will not appear on your UT transcript until you graduate from UT.

Am I required to take CS 303E, or an approved equivalent?

Yes. All students seeking the Elements certificate are required to take CS 303E, or an approved equivalent.

Am I required to take CS 313E, or an approved equivalent?

Students who are on the 16-18 catalog (and beyond) for their major and seeking the 18-hour certificate are required to take CS 313E, or an approved equivalent. Currently, all students seeking the Elements certificate are strongly encouraged to take CS 313E in order to meet pre-reqs for upper division Elements courses. Otherwise, your choices for upper division electives will be limited.

If I have an approved equivalent for CS 303E and/or CS 313E, how will I be able to register for upper division Elements courses?

It is very likely that you will need a pre-req waiver in this case. Please email elements@cs.utexas.edu: provide your name, eID, which course is substituting for the pre-req, and which course you will like to be waived for. We will respond to you ASAP once we’ve created a pre-req waiver, and it is up to you to register for the course on your own. A pre-req waiver does not guarantee a spot in the course. You will only be granted a pre-req waiver for an APPROVED course substitution. Here's an example of a pre-req waiver request:

Name: John Smith

eID: JH123

Substitution: EE 312 for CS 303E

Course(s) to be waived: CS 324E and CS 327E

Which upper division courses do not have CS 313E as a pre-req?

As of the moment, the CS 324E, 327E, and 328E topics courses only require CS 303E as a pre-req. Many Elements courses require CS 313E as a pre-req, which is why it is highly recommended that students take the course prior to taking upper division Elements courses. We will not waive pre-reqs if students do not have an approved pre-req course.

If I took CS 303E already, does that mean I can no longer take CS 302?

That is correct. CS 302 will not be an option once you’ve taken CS 303E, or an approved equivalent. Additionally, CS 302 will not count towards the Elements certificate if the course is taken after you've received credit for CS 303E, or an approved equivalent.

When should I start taking courses for the Elements certificate?

In order to have the best chance at completing the Elements of Computing certificate by graduation, students should take at least one Elements course each semester beginning in the sophomore year.  Elements courses have limited seating, and students will not be given special priority when registering. Students must have at least 50% of the certificate completed if they wish to complete any remaining coursework after graduation; additionally, students must complete all requirements and apply for certification within one academic year after graduation.

May I take any Elements courses pass/fail?

No. All Elements courses, and any approved equivalents counting towards the Elements certificate, will need to be taken for a letter grade. You will need to receive a C-, or better, in order for the course(s) to count towards the Elements certificate.

How many Elements courses are offered each semester? Are you expecting to add more courses to the course schedule?

The number of Elements courses offered each semester varies. It is highly possible that we are not expecting to add more courses to the course schedule; however, please check the course schedule periodically because any changes will reflect on the course schedule.

I can only register for two Elements courses during the first registration period, so when can I add a third course to my schedule?

Students may add a third Elements course to their schedule during the add/drop period. Please utilize the waitlist system if the courses are waitlisted during the first registration period and add/drop period.

What does it mean if a course is “Approved through” a specified semester?

That means if you took the course on or prior to the listed semester, it is an approved substitution for the Elements certificate regardless of when you apply for certification.  Taking the course past the semester will need approval from the Elements faculty advisor in order for it to be a valid substitution.

What if I would like to petition a non-approved course substitution for the Elements certificate?

You must be registered for the course, and have received or will be expecting to receive a C-, or better, letter grade. Please print, read through, follow all the instructions, and fill out the Elements Course Substitution Form. These petitions are not guaranteed for approval, and you will be sent a SAN once the Elements faculty advisor makes a final decision. The final decision may not be appealed.

How do I go about getting a transfer course evaluated as a course substitution?

If the transfer course in question does not transfer directly as an approved substitution, then you will need to submit an Elements Course Substitution Form after you’ve transferred the course in to UT. This means you must have completed the course with a C-, or better, and send in your transcript to be evaluated by UT’s Office of Admissions. Once that evaluation is on your records, please submit the Elements Course Substitution Form. Please print, read through, follow all the instructions, and fill out the form. These petitions are not guaranteed for approval, and you will be sent a SAN once the Elements faculty advisor makes a final decision. The final decision may not be appealed.

What are the new requirements for the 18-hour transcripted certificate?

The new requirements are for students who are in the 2016-2018 catalog (and beyond) for their major. If you are not sure what catalog year you are under, please contact your academic advisor. The new requirements for the 18-hour certificate include the following:

  • CS 303E, or an approved equivalent, is required.
  • (NEW) CS 313E, or an approved equivalent, is required.
  • (NEW) At least four upper division Elements elective courses, or approved equivalents, is required.
  • Only two course substitutions are permitted.
  • All courses must be taken for a letter grade with a grade of C-, or better.

When will the department stop certifying the 12-hour Elements certificate?

Spring 2017 will be the last semester the Department of Computer Science will certify students for the 12-hour Elements certificate. All 12 hours must be completed and the certification application must be submitted by May 1, 2017. No exceptions will be made. Students who would like to earn an Elements certificate after Spring 2017 will have to complete the 18-hour transcript-recognized Elements certificate in order to be certified by the Department. If students wish to complete only 12 hours of Elements courses after Spring 2017, they may do so but the students will not receive the Elements certificate.

When do I apply for the Elements certification?

Students may apply for certification on the semester they are completing their last requirements. They do not need to be graduating on that semester because the graduation application is a completely different process. In order for us to certify you for a given semester, please submit the certification application by these deadlines. If any of these dates fall on a weekend, please submit the application by the next business day. If you missed the deadline, please submit the application prior to the next deadline so that we may certify you for that semester:

  • Spring: May 1 by 5 PM
  • Summer: August 1 by 5 PM
  • Fall: Dec 1 by 5 PM

Once you've completed all the certificate requirements, applied for certification, and received approval on your certification form, you will receive a digital Elements of Computing certificate and completion letter at the end of the certification process. These items will be sent to the email provided on the certification form. The Elements of Computing certificate designation will not appear on your UT transcript until you graduate from UT.

 

If you have additional questions about the program, we encourage you to email elements@cs.utexas.edu. You must include your EID in all communication, by phone, voicemail, or email, for our office to assist you.