Frequently Asked Questions


What can I do with a major in Computer Science?

There are many things you can do with a major in Computer Science.  This guide (Technology Career Guide) will help you understand the different career options available to Computer Science majors.  These videos by CRA-E about Choosing a PhD in Computer Science showcase the work of researchers with PhDs who are working in industry.

Can I pursue a second major or minor while majoring in Computer Science?

Not only is it possible, but we encourage students to seek minors or even second majors.  Computer science is used in so many different fields that it is an advantage when applying for jobs.  Two of the most common minors that CS majors pursue are Math and Business.  The most common second majors are Math, Physics and Actuarial Science.

I have very little experience with computers and have never written a computer program before. Can I still major in computer science?

Yes! In any given year, more than half of the freshmen enter our major with no significant prior work in CS and we have designed our introductory courses with this fact in mind.

If I have prior experience will I be challenged?

If you come in with AP credit, you may receive credit for one of our introductory courses.  Our Introduction to CS (CSIS110) is designed to introduce students to several different areas of computer science and the languages used are typically ones that are not offered in high school computer courses.

Should I buy a desktop or laptop computer?

A laptop computer is preferable as some of the courses use laptops in the classroom to practice concepts that are being taught.

Am I required to purchase a laptop?

No, we understand that not everyone can purchase a computer, so we have labs that are available 24/7 with all necessary software that the courses require.  For courses that use laptops in the classroom, we have some laptops available for the class period.

Does the CS department require a particular type of laptop?

No, we do not. While the computers in the labs are Windows based, faculty and students use whatever system they prefer.  It’s split about 50/50 between Apple and Windows machines.  Whenever possible we choose software that is free and runs on both systems.  If software is not free, it is installed on the lab machines for students to use 24/7.

How is AP CS credit used?

There are two different AP CS courses and exams and they come in as two different courses.  Obtaining a 4 or 5 on the AP Computer Science A exam will transfer in as CSIS120.  Obtaining a 4 or 5 on the AP Computer Science Principles course will transfer in as CSIS110.


If I am a freshman and have AP CS credit, what class should I take my first semester?

If you receive credit for the AP Computer Science A exam, you have two courses that you could take.  You should take CSIS210 and/or CSIS110.  The CS major requires 4 upper level electives OR CSIS110 and 3 upper level electives.  So, the decision is up to you!

If you receive credit for the AP Computer Science Principles exam, you should register for CSIS120 your first semester.

What languages are taught at Siena?

The primary language for many of our courses is Java, though all students will learn at least one other language throughout the major.

What is the difference between all these different sections of CSIS110?

Our Introduction to Computer Science takes a broad look at computer science, similar to the CS Principles AP course.  Approximately 60% of the course is common among all sections of the course and covers such things as data representation, hardware, operating systems, and artificial intelligence.  The other 40% of the course is specific to the chosen theme.  Common exams are administered where the 60% is the same for all sections of the course and the other 40% is specific to the chosen section.

Which section of CSIS110 should I take?

You may choose a theme that fits your interests (as long as seats are available).  All sections cover the same core material, but do so in the context of their theme.  Some of the themes that are offered include:

Multimedia Computation with Python: Programming concepts demonstrated in the language Python.  Using this language, students will learn to manipulate images and sound.

Linux Programming:This theme will focus on computer system administration tasks (using the Linux operating system) as a way of introducing programming.

Making Music with Python:  Students will create music using the Python language, manipulate music with algorithms, and create online interactive musical instruments.

Scientific Computation with Python: Programming concepts demonstrated in the language Python.  Students in this class will use Python to process data in various forms to solve various problems such as simulations and cryptography.

3D Programming with Alice:  Programming concepts will be demonstrated using the Alice graphical environment.  Students will create games and videos through manipulation of 3D programming objects.

Department Chair

Eric Breimer

Eric A. Breimer

Associate Professor of Computer Science

320 Roger Bacon

(518) 786‑5084