Regardless of their field of study, college students live in the digital information age. The Elements of Computing certificate is an 18 hour program that 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. However, it is crucial to note that these courses require excellent time management and strong logic. Please consider these factors when exploring the Elements of Computing Certificate. To see what courses are being offered in a given semester, please check out the University Course Schedule.

How to Apply for the Elements of Computing Certificate

Step 1: Apply for the Elements of Computing certificate: Minor/Certificate Application

Step 2: Select “C S Computer Science” in the dropdown menu, and then “ELEMENTS OF COMPUTING (CTEC S01)

Step 3: Once you have received a SAN indicating that you have been approved for the certificate, please contact your academic advisor, and ask that the Elements of Computing certificate be attached to your degree profile *** This is an important step in the process! Do not miss this step.

Step 4: Either in the semester you are finishing certificate courses or in your graduation semester (whichever is later), fill out the Elements of Computing Certification Survey to ensure the certificate appears on your transcript and to receive a digital copy of the certificate

Students who are following 2014-2016 or older catalogs will not be able to apply for the certificate. Please email elements@cs.utexas.edu for guidance on how to register for the Elements upper division electives.

Being accepted into the Elements of Computing Certificate and having the Certificate attached to your degree DOES NOT provide priority to or any guarantee of being able to register for any computer science course. 

Attaching the certificate to your degree profile DOES NOT change its status and is not considered a degree requirement, and therefore is not guaranteed under Senior Countdown or any other similar program.

In order to have the best chance to finish the certificate within four years, students should begin their first course no later than their sophomore year.

For any inquiries that you have related to the certificate and Elements courses, please email elements@cs.utexas.edu and include your name and UT EID.

To earn the Elements of Computing Certificate, a student must:

  • attach the certificate to their degree profile - certificate must be "pursuing"
  • complete and pass all required coursework (18 hours) with a C- or better letter grade
  • complete at least 9 hours of coursework in residence at UT
  • use no more than TWO substitutions for the certificate
  • be a current undergraduate student at UT

How to set the certificate to pursuing:

  1. After you have applied for the Elements of Computing certificate and received a SAN of approval, contact your academic advisor and ask them to attach the certificate to your degree profile
  2. If the certificate shows “Yes” under “Pursuing” for the Elements of Computing certificate, you will have access to register for or waitlist the Elements upper division electives once you meet prerequisites
  3. If the certificate shows “No” under “Pursuing” for the Elements of Computing certificate AND your advisor has already attached the certificate, please email elements@cs.utexas.edu with your name and EID so the effective date can be updated

Students may be on different catalogs. The differences in the catalog requirements can be found below.

Requirements for the 18-Hour Certificate  Catalogs 2016-2018 and Newer Catalogs 2014-2016 and Prior
CS 303E, or an approved substitution Required Required
CS 313E, or an approved substitution Required Strongly recommended
Minimum upper division elective hours 12 hours 9 hours**
Course substitution limit(s) Two courses Two courses
All courses completed with C-, or better Required Required
Transcript recognized? Yes Yes

**For 2014-2016 catalogs and prior, a minimum of 9 upper division electives hours is required. Please keep in mind though, a student is required to complete 18 hours for the certificate. So a student might end up taking more than 9 upper division hours. 

The Elements of Computing certificate requires 18 hours of coursework. The two lower division courses are both required and students have the option of choosing 12 hours of upper division electives for the remaining requirements. The Elements upper division electives may vary semester by semester.

Lower Division Courses:

  • C S 303E: Elements of Computers & Programming
  • C S 313E: Elements of Software Design (requires C S 303E)

Upper Division Electives (all require C S 313E):

  • C S 324E: Elements of Graphics & Visualization 
  • C S 327E: Elements of Databases
  • C S 329E Topic Courses*
    • Elements of Data Visualization
    • Elements of Mobile Computing
    • Elements of Programming Languages
    • Elements of Software Engineering**
    • Elements of Web Programming
    • Elements of Data Analytics
    • Elements of Game Development
  • C S 330E: Elements of Software Engineering I
  • C S 331E: Elements of Software Engineering II (requires C S 330E)

*Students can take multiple C S 329E topic courses, as long as the topics are different.

**C S 329E: Elements of Software Engineering has been renamed and renumbered to C S 330E: Elements of Software Engineering I; students may not use both courses to count towards the certificate

Click here for a list of previously approved course substitutions

Any course that is not an Elements course (C S course that ends in an E) offered by the Department of Computer Science would need to be reviewed by the faculty advisor. If a student would like to petition a non-approved substitution course for the Elements of Computing certificate, please read through 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 Upper Division Elective Course Registration Policy

Students will only be able to register for two Elements upper division electives during the initial registration period. Students have the opportunity to take a maximum of three Elements upper division electives in a semester; this is highly unlikely though due to the demand of the courses. Students are allowed to access the waitlist system if the courses are waitlisted during the initial registration period and add/drop period. 

**Please note that students on 2014-2016 and earlier catalogs will not be able to register for Elements upper division electives on their own. These students will need to email elements@cs.utexas.edu for instructions.**

Submit the Online Certification Request Form in the semester that students are completing certificate requirements or graduating, whichever is later. 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.

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

Once you've completed all the certificate requirements and applied for certification, 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. Lastly, you MUST apply for certification at the latest one year after your graduating semester (e.g., a student who graduated in Spring 2021 must apply for certification by May 1, 2022). The deadline for each semester is below.

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

How can I apply for the Elements of Computing certificate?

Please follow the instructions here on how to apply for the Elements of Computing certificate.

How many courses do I need to take for the Elements of Computing certificate?

Two lower division courses (C S 303E and C S 313E) and 12 hours of Elements upper division electives. This certificate is an 18 hour credential, and it requires students to take six courses.

Can I meet with a CS advisor to discuss the Elements of Computing certificate?

Students pursuing the certificate are encouraged to meet with their academic advisor about how the certificate can fit into their current degree plan. Questions that students or advisors may have can be directed to elements@cs.utexas.edu.

Do I need to apply for the certificate to start taking courses?

It is encouraged to apply for the certificate while taking C S 303E. Students must have the certificate attached to their degree profile and shown as “pursuing” in order to have access to the Elements upper division electives.

I am pursuing a different certificate and it has Elements courses listed. Can I still take the Elements courses for my other certificate?

Priority for the Elements upper division electives goes to students who are pursuing the Elements of Computing certificate. Students pursuing other certificates should find alternate coursework.

Can I substitute the lower division courses?

Students should anticipate taking C S 303E and C S 313E. There is credit by exam options offered for C S 303E through Testing Services. Students can also use C S 312 if they have taken that course, or they can use AP Computer Science credit as an equivalent for C S 303E.

When should I start taking courses for the Elements of Computing certificate?

To have the best chance to finish the certificate by graduation, students should take at least one Elements course each semester beginning in their second/sophomore year. The Elements upper division electives have limited seating and students will not be given priority when registering. The certificate requires at least four semesters for students to complete with the current prerequisites in place.

Are Elements upper division courses guaranteed by Senior Countdown?

No. Attaching the certificate to your degree profile does change its status as a credential and is not considered a degree requirement, therefore is not guaranteed by Senior Countdown or any other similar program.

Can the certificate be made Stand Alone instead of being attached?

Students will need to have the certificate attached their degree profile by their academic advisor and set to pursuing to have access to the Elements upper division electives. The Elements of Computing certificate will not be made Stand Alone unless a student is graduating.

Can I finish the certificate after I graduate?

Yes, student have up to one year to finish certificate requirements. Students need to have at least half of the certificate completed upon graduation because a maximum of nine (9) hours of certificate coursework can be taken after graduation. This information can be found with the UT catalog information.

I am a graduate student, can I earn the certificate?

The certificate is only able to be earned by current undergraduates at UT. Graduate students will not be able to register for the Elements courses; they can check with our office on the 5th class day of the long semesters to see if there is space in the course. Graduate students can also contact the instructors about auditing the courses.

Can Elements courses be taken pass/fail?

No, all Elements courses and any approved substitutions will need to be taken for a letter grade. Students will need to receive a C- or better for the course(s) to count for the certificate

***Spring 2020, Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 semesters are the exception since students were able to use pass/fail and COVID pass/fail exceptions for their courses

What is the maximum number of Elements upper division elective I can take in a semester?

Students will be limited to two Elements upper division electives during the initial registration period, with the opportunity to join waitlists once they become available. The maximum number of Elements upper division electives a student can take is three, though this is highly unlikely due to the demand of the courses.

Can I take courses at another institution and have them count towards the certificate?

If a student has already taken a course and would like to the faculty advisor to review it, they can submit a course substitution request. It should be noted that community colleges do not usually offer courses that will substitute C S 313E or any of the Elements upper division electives. Study Abroad courses can be reviewed prior to taking them to ensure that they will count, but these courses will count as substitutions.

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, students will need to submit a course substitution request after the course has already been transferred to UT. The course must be on the student's academic record and student needs to have a C- or better in the course. Please read through and fill out the course substitution request, and follow the instructions on the form. The course will be reviewed by the Elements faculty advisor and the student will be sent a SAN with the results. There is not an estimated time for when students will recieve this SAN and the decision cannot be appealed if denied.

Can I get a course reviewed prior to taking it at UT?

No. Students can submit course substitution requests for courses that they have already taken and passed, or courses that they are currently enrolled in. Our faculty advisor cannot and will not review courses that a student has not yet taken.

Can all C S courses count towards the Elements of Computing certificate?

No. The Elements courses (C S courses that end in E) are the courses they have been created for the certificate. Other C S courses do not automatically apply to the Elements of Computing certificate and are reserved for C S majors. 

How can I get a waiver for a previously approved course?

Please email elements@cs.utexas.edu with your name, your EID and the course that has been approved for the waiver.