Elements of Computing

Regardless of their field of study, college students live in the digital information age. The Elements of Computing 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 classes that we are offering each semester. CS 302, C S 301K and the ones that end in E are Elements classes.

Click here to view the benefits of earning the Elements Certificate and to read comments from students who have earned the certificate.

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 prerequisites.

How to earn the certificate (two options):

  • Students who complete an approved sequence of 12 semester hours of Elements courses will earn a certificate from the Department of Computer Sciences. C S 303E is required for students to earn the 12hr certificate.
  • Students who complete an approved sequence of 18 semester hours of Elements course will earn a certificate from The University of Texas and have it recognized on their official transcripts.  C S 303E is required to earn the 18hr certificate.  C S 313E will be required in the 16 - 18 catalog, and currently it is strongly recommended students take it in order to meet pre-reqs for upper division C S Elements courses.

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

  • Two Core Course
    • CS 303E Elements of Computers and Programming (required for both the 12hr and 18hr Certificate)
    • C S 313E - Elements of Software Design (required for the 18hr certificate begining fall 2016, strongly recommended currently)
  • Two to Four Elective Courses (two must be upper-division for 12hr certificate and three must be upper-division for the 18 hr certificate): 
    • CS 301K Foundations of Logical Thought
    • CS 302 Computer Fluency (may not be earned once student has received credit for CS 303E)
    • CS 313E Elements of Software Design (strongly recommended, especially for the 18hr)
    • CS 320N Topics in Computer Science
    • CS 324E Elements of Graphics and Digital Media
    • CS 326E Elements of Networking
    • CS 327E Elements of Databases or equivalent
    • C S 328E Topics in Elements of Computing (requires C S 303E as a pre-req)
    • CS 329E Topics in Elements of Computing (requires C S 303E and 313E as a pre-req)

*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 12hr certificate and no more than two course substitutions can be used towards the 18hr transcript-recognized certificate.

  • CS 303E substitutions: CS 305J, CS 312 (always approved), EE 312 (approved through Aug 2016)
  • CS 313E substitutions: CS 307, CS 314 (always approved), EE 422C (approved through Aug 2016)
  • CS 320N substitutions: EE 316 (approved through Aug 2016)
  • CS 327E substitutions: MIS 325 (approved through Aug 2016)
  • CS Upper Division Electives substitutions: M 348, PHY 329, SSC 335, CH 368 (approved through Aug 2016)

On the semester that you're completing the certificate, please submit the Application for Certification form to the Undergraduate Advising Center. You will be awarded the Certificate once the form has been approved.

If you have additional questions about the program or coursework that you hope to apply to the certificate, we encourage you to email the Elements of Computing faculty advisors. You must include your EID in all communication, by phone, voicemail, or email, for our office to assist you.

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

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

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 seeking the 18-hour certificate starting Fall 2016 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 very 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.

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

As of the moment, the CS 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.

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 so on the course schedule.

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.

What does it mean if a course is “approved through Aug 2016?”

That means if you took the course prior to the listed date, it is an approved substitution for the Elements certificate.  Taking the course past the date will need approval from the Elements Director in order for it to be a proper substitution. Please email elements@cs.utexas.edu for further questions.