- Computer Science at LMU
- Frequently Asked Questions
Loyola Marymount University’s Computer Science programs feature modern, interdisciplinary curricula built on the principles and values of the open source culture and emphasize:
- Computing on multiple platforms. Students work with computers running macOS, Linux, and Windows, as well as iPhones, iPads, robots, drones, smart TVs, IoT devices, and game consoles (Xbox, PS3, Wii, Kinect).
- Open source software development. Students frequently work in teams and publish their work openly on repositories such as GitHub, CodePen, and various public playgrounds.
- First-year apprenticeship courses and two senior year capstone projects. LMU was one of the first innovators of the undergraduate computing capstone project, valued highly by both industry and university graduate programs, and now an expected culmination of a quality curriculum in Computer Science.
- Interdisciplinary coursework. We offer courses in such fields as biological databases, virtual worlds, scripting for animation, and game design, several of which are team-taught. Several senior capstone projects involve teams of students from multiple majors.
- Opportunities beyond the classroom. Many students take advantage of undergraduate research (generally leading to publication), create their own independent studies courses, and participate in student design competitions, intercollegiate programming contests, hackathons, summer programs featuring industry partnerships, and professional societies.
Class sizes are small, with faculty interaction and attention the rule, not the exception. Computer science majors benefit from the University's core curriculum, which includes several courses from the humanities, arts, and communications — providing a well-rounded education differentiating LMU's graduates from those of other institutions.
Our department offers a B.S. degree in Computer Science, an undergraduate minor program in Computer Science, and an M.S. degree in Computer Science. Our M.S. program was created in 1974 and our B.S. program in 1981. We also offer a variety of courses of general interest, including a few that are part of the University Honors Program.
Be sure to check out our curriculum, course offerings, collaborations, senior project history, and world-class laboratory facilities. You may wish to start at the frequently asked questions.
LMU is located three miles from the beach in the city of Los Angeles, and is adjacent to LAX, the aerospace hub of El Segundo, and the vibrant tech-centered community of Playa Vista.
- What is computer science?
Broadly speaking, computer science is the study of algorithms and computational processes, their expression, limitations, and applications. It is also concerned with the construction and operation of agents for performing these algorithms, such as computers, robots, drones, game consoles, and mobile devices. Computer scientists study not only algorithms, but software systems, data modeling and organization, knowledge representation, language, intelligence, and consciousness.What can I do after graduation?
You can work in many different fields including (but not limited to) aerospace, biotech, gaming, entertainment, digital media distribution, search and information retrieval, nanotechnology, mobile, cybersecurity, logistics, business, finance, law, and medicine. LMU computer science graduates have a strong background in the humanities, arts, and communication thanks to LMU's Jesuit heritage and its core curriculum, which aid in integrating computing into other fields of study and with career advancement in traditional technology industries.What are the advantages of studying computer science at LMU? Shouldn't I go to a “tech school” to study computer science?
Liberal Arts colleges like LMU offer undergraduates in technical disciplines a well-rounded education with a focus on communication skills, ethics, and justice that are indispensable in scientific and engineering endeavors, and greatly strengthen the foundation for graduate study. In addition, LMU Computer Science features:
What kind of assignments do computer science majors have?
- Small class sizes and close interaction with the faculty as the rule, not the exception;
- World-class laboratory facilities that provide:
- A wide variety of programming platforms, including computers running Linux, macOS, and Windows, as well as Xbox 360s, Playstations, Wiis, Kinects, iPods, iPads, drones, and robots,
- An NSF-funded networking infrastructure that not only runs the laboratories but is used as a hands-on teaching platform,
- Professionally designed laboratory layouts to maximize collaboration between students,
- A full-size poster printer, a 3-D printer, projectors, a small library, games, HD projectors perfect for movie nights, and plenty of educational paraphernalia, and
- A few soccer balls, volleyballs, and footballs, good for exercise breaks;
- A unique program centered on student success, emphasizing applicative skills demanded by industry;
- Apprenticeship and capstone courses;
- A pre-freshman three-week intensive Google Computer Science Summer Institute Extension program (space is limited and an application is required);
- A selection of interdisciplinary courses, in areas such as biological databases, virtual worlds, and animation pipelines.
- Significant opportunities for undergraduate research.
You'll have a mix of classic homework sets and mid-size to large programming projects. Such projects are not only required of industry professionals, but often serve as the best vehicle to reinforce the concepts you learn in the classroom. Because computer programming is an inherently collaborative endeavor, many (though not all) projects will be group-oriented. Many projects are public-facing and follow industry development practices using wiki-based documentation and version control.
Computer science majors take at least seven courses from the arts, communication, and humanities, plus a handful of courses from science, mathematics, and electrical engineering. There are approximately seven free electives to allow students to take a minor, double major, or simply enjoy a very broad educational experience.Will I need my own computer?
No, there are ample computer resources in the lab and all over campus, but if you want the convenience of doing work at home, the dorms, restaurants, or other public spaces, having your own computer is very useful. Even if you do have your own laptop, please bring it into the lab and work with your friends and classmates in a social setting! The lab has its own 5GHz wireless network and ample charging outlets.Can undergraduates do research?
Absolutely! Just ask any faculty member and he or she will be glad to work with you, and help you get publications to improve your resume and graduate school application profile. The university encourages undergraduate research. View our research page for an overview of many of our current and past projects.Is it possible to double major?
Yes, but it's not for everybody. You have to satisfy the major field requirements for both majors, which is often difficult to accomplish in four years. For most people, majoring in computer science is challenging enough, although taking a minor in a different field is not uncommon. Several minors can be attained simply by filling the existing elective slots with the appropriate courses from the minor field, requiring no additional courses beyond those required to reach the unit minimum. Naturally, students with AP credit will have more available slots for minors or double majors, though such credits are certainly not required.
Yes. Refer to the LMU bulletin for a current list of accepted AP classes and requirements.
Yes, many courses from other institutions will be transferable for their LMU equivalents.Does the school participate in the International Programming Contest?
We send multiple teams to regionals every year. It is a fun experience. Here's a picture of Juan, Justin, Maddie, Eddie, Alejandro, Natalia, Sage, Maya, Donovan, Ian, and Teddy at the 2018 regionals:When should I start looking for internships?
While there no requirement to do an internship in computer science, it is certainly encouraged and is a valuable experience. Many students have interned as early as the summer after their first year. Many summer internships start accepting applications as early as the fall semester of the academic year leading up to the summer. Work performed in internships can often be made a part of the requirements for an independent studies course for which you can receive credit towards graduation.
You can check out the University's Career and Professional Development (CPD) Center (Pro Tip: ask for Erica Privott directly), the Center for Student Success for the Seaver College of Science and Engineering, or ask any faculty member and he or she will be happy to help you.
This depends on what you want to pursue after graduation. Computer science students can and do go straight to a professional career with only a bachelor's degree; however, so much cutting-edge research in computing is being performed by university graduate students that graduate school is an exciting option for many. Talk to a faculty member in your junior year if you're wondering whether graduate school is right for you.
Excellent, actually! There is a perennial shortage of computer science graduates to fill the available jobs in the United States! Offshoring exists, of course, but the “problem” is overstated — many companies still have a hard time filling open positions. See the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics outlook for the computing professions. LMU computer science graduates have the advantage of industry-preparation skills emphasized by our program, as well as the network of alumni who are passionate about LMU and often hire new graduates. Popular destinations for our recent graduates include Google, Atlassian, TechEmpower, Northrop Grumman, Edmunds, IBM, STRIVR, Space X, and Disney, among many others (both established companies and startups).
Google is one of several wonderful industry partners. LMU is one of only a handful of colleges to participate in Google's Computer Science Summer Extension program. LMU Computer Science has run the program every summer since 2017. Many of the program participants (ten in just the first two years) have gone on to Google internships in the summer after their first year at LMU. In addition, Google is a popular destination for employment after graduation, with four of the 30 computer science graduates in the class of 2019 securing employment at the company. In addition, the student ACM chapter has participated in tours of the nearly-next-door Google Playa Vista campus.How is the Computer Science culture?
We strive to be as welcoming and friendly as possible. We have separate open/collaborative and quiet laboratory spaces. Undergraduate research is common. Teaching assistants have open laboratory office hours when on-duty. Group projects and frequent events attract an engaged student population with spontaneous peer mentoring and peer teaching. The ACM student group is very active; during 2019 they have hosted a lightning lecture evening, a mentor/mentee meet-n-greet, a CSSI Reunion, interview and resume workshops, recruiting events for multiple companies, multiple lunch-n-learns, ALUMNIGHT (get it?), and coming up in 2020 is the first annual LMUHacks. Computer science students also participate in events run by the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and other clubs and organizations on campus. As part of Seaver College, computer science students have access to the Center for Student Success and participate in college-run events such as Seaver Spotlight.
Sure. You simply take the introductory programming course (CMSI 185), the laboratory course (CMSI 186), the data structures course (CMSI 281), one of algorithms (CMSI 282) or computer systems (CMSI 284), and any two upper-division courses of your choice. A grade of B or better in both CMSI 185 and 186 is required.