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. 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.

Certification Process for the 2016-2018 (and beyond) Catalog:
Step 1: Apply for the Elements of Computing Certificate: Apply Here
Step 2: Ask your academic advisor to attach the Elements of Computing Certificate to you degree profile and begin taking Elements courses with your UT coursework
Step 3: Track your certificate progress to stay up to date with what you have completed – contact your advisor for any questions
Step 4: During your last semester of Elements coursework, submit your certificate request: Elements Certificate Survey 
Step 5: Once the semester ends, the certification program will process and a digital copy of your certificate will be sent to the e-mail address you provide.

Certification Process for the 2014-2016 (or prior) Catalog:
Step 1: Please email elements@cs.utexas.edu for further instructions on how to register for Elements courses.
Step 2: Track your certificate progress to stay up to date with what you have completed – contact your advisor for any questions.
Step 3: During your last semester of Elements coursework, submit your certificate request: Elements Certificate Survey.
Step 4: Once the semester ends, the certification program will process and a digital copy of your certificate will be sent to the e-mail address you provide.

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.

Students must apply for the certificate in order to take upper division Elements courses. You can apply here, and once you have received a SAN that the certificate has been approved, please contact your academic advisor and ask them to officially attach the certificate to your degree profile.

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.
    • Completion of CS 313E with a grade of C-, or better.
      (CS 313E not specifically required for 2014-2016 or prior catalog)
    • Completion of twelve hours of upper division Elements electives with a grade of C-, or better.
      (nine hours of upper division Elements electives needed for the 2014-2016 or prior catalog)
    • No more than two course substitutions permitted for the 18-hour certificate.
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. 

Elements Courses:

All required coursework must be taken for a letter grade with a grade of C-, or better. The certificate must be attached and set to pursuing in order to register for or waitlist upper division Elements courses.

  • Two Core Courses
    • CS 303E Elements of Computers and Programming 
    • CS 313E Elements of Software Design (pre-req: CS 303E)
  • Upper Division Elements Elective Course Options
    • CS 324E Elements of Graphics and Visualization (pre-req: CS 303E) 
    • CS 327E Elements of Databases (pre-req: CS 303E) 
    • *CS 329E Topics in Elements of Computing (pre-req: CS 313E) 
      • 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
    • CS 330E Elements of Software Engineering I (pre-req: CS 313E)**
    • CS 331E Elements of Software Engineering II (pre-req: CS 330E)

*You can take multiple CS 329E topic courses, as long as the topics are different.

**Students cannot take both CS 329E: Elements of Software Engineering and CS 330E: Software Engineering I and have both courses count towards the certificate. Only one may count.

Previously approved Elements course substitutions:

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 MIS 304 Intro to Problem Solving and Programming* Approved through Summer 2020
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 2020
CS 303E Elements of Computers and Programming COE 301 Introduction to Computer Programming* Approved through Summer 2020
CS 303E Elements of Computers and Programming BME 303 Introduction to Computing* Approved through Summer 2020
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 2020
CS 327E Elements of Databases

MIS 325 Database Management

Approved through Summer 2020
CS 329E Elements of Web Programming MIS 333K Web Application Development Approved through Summer 2020
Upper Division Elements Course Equivalent CH 354M Intro to Computational Methods in Chemistry** Approved through Summer 2020
Upper Division Elements Course Equivalent BIO 321G Principles of Computational Biology Approved through Summer 2020
Upper Division Elements Course Equivalent M 348 Scientific Computation in Numerical Analysis Approved through Summer 2020
Upper Division Elements Course Equivalent PHY 329 Introductory Computational Physics Approved through Summer 2020
Upper Division Elements Course Equivalent SDS 335 Scientific and Technical Computing Approved through Summer 2020

*If you took a course that substitutes a prerequisite for additional courses, please refer to the FAQ on how to get this substitution recognized

**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 will only be able to register for two Elements CS courses during the initial registration period. Students have the opportunity to take a max of three Elements upper division courses 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 first registration period and add/drop period. 

Submit the Online Certification Request Form in the semester that students are completing the certificate. 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 Process for the 2016-2018 (and beyond) Catalog:
Step 1: Apply for the Elements of Computing Certificate: Apply Here
Step 2: Ask your academic advisor to attach the Elements of Computing Certificate to you degree profile and begin taking Elements courses with your UT coursework
Step 3: Track your certificate progress to stay up to date with what you have completed – contact your advisor for any questions
Step 4: During your last semester of Elements coursework, submit your certificate request: Elements Certificate Survey 
Step 5: Once the semester ends, the certification program will process and a digital copy of your certificate will be sent to the e-mail address you provide.

Certification Process for the 2014-2016 (or prior) Catalog:
Step 1: Please email elements@cs.utexas.edu for further instructions on how to register for Elements courses.
Step 2: Track your certificate progress to stay up to date with what you have completed – contact your advisor for any questions.
Step 3: During your last semester of Elements coursework, submit your certificate request: Elements Certificate Survey
Step 4: Once the semester ends, the certification program will process and a digital copy of your certificate will be sent to the e-mail address you provide.

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. Students MUST apply for certification, at the latest one year after their graduating semester (e.g., a student who graduated in Spring 2018 must apply for certification by May 1, 2019).

  • 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. Lastly, you MUST apply for certification at the latest one year after your graduating semester (e.g., a student who graduated in Spring 2020 must apply for certification by May 1, 2021).

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

Students must apply and have the certificate attached to their degree profile and set to pursuing in order to gain access to the upper division Elements electives. Students who do not have the certificate attached and set to pursuing will not be able to register for or waitlist the upper division courses. Students can apply for the certificate here. *This does not apply to students who are on the 2014-2016 or prior catalogs*

When should I attach the certificate?

As soon as possible. Once you have applied for the certificate and been approved via SAN, please contact your advisor and ask them to officially attach the certificate to your degree profile. It must be attached and set to pursuing in order to gain access to the upper division Elements courses.

I applied for the certificate and my advisor says it's attached, but it's not set to pursuing. What do I do?

Email elements@cs.utexas.edu with your name and EID and ask that your certificate be set to pursuing.

The certificate is attached and set to pursuing; do I have priority for the Elements courses?

No, you have access to register for or waitlist the upper division courses. 

What if I am on the 2014-2016 or prior catalog?

Students following the 2014-2016 or prior catalogs do not have the function of having the certificate attached to their degree profile, so please email elements@cs.utexas.edu prior to registration in order to gain further instructions on how to access the Elements courses.

Can the certificate be made to "Stand Alone"?

No, we will not make certificate Stand Alone; they need to be attached to a degree profile and set to pursuing.

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. Students who have AP credit for CS 312 may claim that course and it be counted towards the certificate.

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

Students who are on the 2016-2018 catalog (and beyond) for their major and seeking the 18-hour certificate are required to take CS 313E, or an approved equivalent. 

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 and 327E 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?

Correct. CS 302 will not be an option once you have credit for 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. Students following the 2016-2018 and newer catalogs cannot use CS 302 towards the certificate.

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.

What is the max number of Elements upper division courses I can take in a semester?

Students have the opportunity to take a max of three Elements upper division courses in a semester; this is highly unlikely though due to the demand of the courses.

Can I register for three Elements upper division courses during the initial registration period?

No.

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 have the potential to add or waitlist a third Elements course during the 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 courses count as substitutions?

Courses that could be considered as substitutions are anything taken outside the Department of Computer Science here at the University of Texas at Austin. This includes study abroad courses even if they are approved as Elements equivalents (i.e. CS 329E).

What are the 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.
  • CS 313E, or an approved equivalent, is required.
  • At least twelve hours of upper division Elements elective courses, or approved equivalents, are required.
  • Only two course substitutions are permitted.
  • All courses must be taken for a letter grade with a grade of C-, or better.
    • *Note: You may claim AP credit for CS 312*

When do I submit the survey 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 the deadline below. 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. Students MUST apply for certification, at the latest one year after their graduating semester (e.g., a student who graduated in Spring 2020 must apply for certification by May 1, 2021).

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.