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 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.
       
  • 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.

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)
    • C S 313E Elements of Software Design (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)
       
  • Upper Division Elements Elective Courses
    • CS 320N Topics in Computer Science
    • CS 324E Elements of Graphics and Visualization
    • CS 326E Elements of Networking
    • CS 327E Elements of Databases
    • C S 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 303E and 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 August 2016
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 August 2016
CS 320N Topics in Computer Science EE 316 Digital Logic Design Approved through August 2016
CS 327E Elements of Databases

MIS 325 Database Management

Approved through August 2016
Upper Division Elements Course Equivalent M 348 Scientific Computation in Numerical Analysis Approved through August 2016
Upper Division Elements Course Equivalent PHY 329 Introductory Computational Physics Approved through August 2016
Upper Division Elements Course Equivalent SSC 335 Scientific and Technical Computing Approved through August 2016
Upper Division Elements Course Equivalent CH 368 Intro to Computational Methods or CH 354M Intro to Computational Methods in Chemistry* Approved through August 2016

*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 you 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. These petitions are not guaranteed and you will be contacted once the 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 you're completing the certificate, please submit the Online Certification Request Form. You will be awarded the certificate once the form has been approved at the end of the certification process.

 Please note: If something is amiss with your application, 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 application is approved and we are in the process of certifying your application.

If you have additional questions about the program, 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.

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.

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.

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 of Computing 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 do so within one academic year.

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.

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 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.

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

Please print, read through, follow all the instructions, and fill out the Elements Course Substitution Form. These petitions are not guaranteed, and you will be contacted once the faculty advisor makes a final decision.