College of Letters and Science to implement computer science GPA requirement

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Following a record number of applications this spring, the computer science major in the College of Letters and Science will implement a minimum GPA requirement that will take effect in either spring or fall of 2014.

Enrollment in the major will be limited to students with a 3.0 or higher GPA in the seven prerequisite classes, as approved by the college’s executive committee in May. Last semester, more than 150 UC Berkeley students applied to the major — an all-time high and about 70 applicants more than in the previous semester.

“Since 2008, there has been an increasing trend of applicants every term,” said Christopher Hunn, an adviser for the major. “This coincides with unprecedented growth in funding for startups. Right out of college, students can secure very lucrative jobs with a computer science degree.”

Prospective computer science students also feel the excitement around the major and the potential for future jobs.

“I’m not surprised at all about this increase,” said Sam Jiang, a sophomore and intended computer science major. “The news around us has more and more been focused around tech, how these new products are going to change the way we live … Who wouldn’t want to be behind these developments?”

But some students are worried about the minimum GPA, saying it will change the atmosphere surrounding grades in the major.

“The cap scares me a little bit,” said Michael Ross, a sophomore and intended computer science major. “I want a wholesome college experience and don’t just want to worry about getting the necessary grades to get into an increasingly competitive major.”

In addition to the GPA requirement, there will be changes to major requirements. Electrical Engineering 42, “Introduction to Digital Electronics,” is no longer a prerequisite for the major. Instead, it can be taken at any time or replaced with Electrical Engineering 20, “Structure and Interpretation of Systems and Signals,” or Electrical Engineering 40, “Introduction to Microelectronic Circuits.”

Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences faculty members also voted this spring to discontinue Computer Science 162 and Computer Science 170 as absolute major requirements for electrical engineering and computer sciences as well as computer science majors. The ultimate decision to remove the requirements lies with the executive committee of the College of Letters and Science, but the committee will not rule on the issue until the fall.

The choice to remove the requirements allows “greater flexibility” in a computer science student’s curriculum, according to Hunn.

The computer science major last had a minimum GPA in 2005, but it was eliminated that year because of a declining number of applications. According to Hunn, 2005 to 2007 represented a low point for applications due to considerable economic growth in the real estate and banking markets, where students could alternatively find profitable jobs.

Contact Nico Correia at [email protected]