Frequently Asked Questions

What is computer science?

Computer science (CS) is a discipline that stresses the design, analysis, implementation, management and application of large software systems as well as systems combining both hardware and software. In the Watson School, we offer a rich set of courses in software design, programming, hardware design and everything in between.

What's unique about studying computer science in the Watson School?

The CS program at Binghamton University has been nationally accredited through ABET since 1988. Many employers look for this "seal of approval" from a national board.

Our CS program is flexible. Students begin taking CS courses in their first semester at Binghamton and then can specialize in such areas as software systems, networking, operating systems, Web-based systems, graphics, robotics, microprocessor-based design and game design. This flexibility in choosing courses also allows students the opportunity to minor in such areas as the arts, business, math, music, languages or the sciences.

In addition to the four-year bachelor's degree in CS, two combined-degree programs are available for undergraduate students. Qualified students can earn a BS in computer science and a master's degree in five years: either a BS in computer science and a MBA or a BS and MS in computer science. At the graduate level, students can earn a master's or PhD degree in computer science within the Watson School.

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What kind of job can I get when I graduate?

Computer science graduates have a proven and consistent track record of being hired by top companies, including "powerhouse" computing companies (such as Microsoft, Cisco, IBM, Intel, Google, Computer Associates and HP), specialized high-technologies companies (such as Lockheed Martin, BAE Systems, L3 Systems, Pixar and DreamWorks), financial institutions (such as Bloomberg, Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch) as well as consulting firms (such as KPMG and Sapient). Many of these companies interview on campus through the Career Development Center. Some of our graduates are also hired by the federal government, and a growing number move on to graduate programs in computing or other disciplines such as law, business and medicine.

What if I want to visit the Watson School?

You're encouraged to visit the campus if you are interested in attending the Watson School. You are welcome to join group information sessions and student-guided tours of the campus held on most weekdays and selected Saturdays during the academic year. These sessions cover general information about admissions, academic and campus life, housing and the surrounding community. We encourage you to phone 607-777-2171 at least one week in advance of to be sure that a session will be scheduled for the day that you choose to visit.

Each fall the Admissions Office and individual Binghamton University schools host an open house for all interested potential applicants and their families.  Each spring open houses are offered for all admitted freshmen and their families. These events provide general campus information as well as focused sessions on the Watson School, with the opportunity to meet faculty and staff representing your intended major. Check out the visiting campus section of the University's website for more information about visiting our campus.

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How do I apply for undergraduate studies?

For everything that you ever wanted to know about undergraduate admission, visit our Undergraduate Admissions website.

How do I apply for graduate school?

For more information on how to apply for graduate studies, visit the Graduate School's website, and you are encouraged to check the special FAQ - Graduate section below.

FAQ for Prospective Graduate Students

Is graduate admission ultimately decided by the Graduate School or by the department? And do I need to send one package of application materials to the grad school and another to the department separately when I apply?

The department decides. You should send only one package directly to the Graduate School, which will organize the application materials and send them to us.

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What are the exam requirements for international students? What is an acceptable TOEFL or IELTS score?

Exam requirements and acceptable scores for international students can be found on the Graduate School website.

I'm an international student, but I will be receiving an undergraduate degree from a U.S. school. Am I required to submit TOEFL/IELTS scores?

The TOEFL/IELTS score is not required if you have received a degree from a U.S. institution or if you have received a degree from an institution in a country whose native language is English.

What proportion of the TOEFL and GRE scores do you take into consideration during the admission process. Are they decisive?

All factors are taken into consideration, including TOEFL and GRE scores. Strength in other areas can compensate for low test scores. There are minimum required TOEFL scores. Although there is no firm minimum required score on the GRE, successful applicants typically have a score of 700 or higher on the Quantitative part of the GRE. Slightly lower scores may be accepted if the applicant is strong in other aspects (e.g., good course grades and/or strong research experience).

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Is GPA a decisive factor? Will you even consider an applicant whose GPA is below your requirement?

All factors are taken into consideration, including GPA. Strength in other areas can compensate for low GPA. We pay particular attention to your academic performance in the key courses in Electrical and Computer Engineering; grades in junior-level and senior-level courses tend to be weighted most heavily.

Do you consider the reputation of applicant's undergraduate university? Is it important?

Yes, it is important and we consider the reputation of an applicant's undergraduate university

What kind of applicant background is competitive? High test scores, research experiences or something else?

It is difficult to isolate a single factor; they are all important.

What percentage of your students are international students?

Roughly 60 percent are international students.

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What about the financial aid for master's students? As far as I know, few master's students can get financial support.

Some master's students can receive financial support, usually as a teaching assistant (TA), and sometimes as a research project assistant (RPA). Exceptional academic performance, high test scores and research experience can increase your chances of receiving support.

What kind of job opportunities exist for graduates?

Job opportunities depend heavily on many external factors (e.g., the economy, the particular area of specialization, the student's job search skills, etc.) so it is hard to give precise information on this. Graduates from our master's and PhD programs have been successful getting job offers from both large and small employers throughout the U.S. For additional information, consider conducting an Internet search or contacting the Computer Science Program's Director of Graduate Studies, Associate Professor Leslie Lander.

What are the deadlines for the application?

Please see the Graduate School's application deadline page. Please note that the Computer Science Department will review late applications but funding considerations begin immediately after the posted deadline.

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Last Updated: 12/3/15