A degree concentration is a set of 4-6 related courses that you can use to specialize in a particular area. It is somewhat similar to a minor, except that the topic of a concentration is a particular sub-area of your major’s discipline, whereas the topic of a minor is usually from a different discipline. For instance, a Computer Science student could pursue a minor in Mathematics, and a concentration in Computer Vision.
Many degrees within SEAS support concentrations. Concentrations serve two important functions:
- to help you pick a good set of courses for your specialization
- to serve as an additional credential. A completed concentration will appear on your transcript; thus, you can use it to demonstrate your competence in an area, e.g., to prospective employers
Who can declare a concentration? Are they mandatory? How many can I declare?
For CIS degrees, only students in the CSCI and NETS programs can currently declare concentrations. The ASCS program (the BAS in Computer Science, not the BSE), DMD and CMPE programs do not currently offer concentrations.
For CSCI students, concentrations are optional.
For NETS students, one concentration is built into the degree requirements and thus mandatory.
For both CSCI and NETS, there is a limit of one concentration per degree. This is not to say that you cannot take classes in, or specialize in, more than one sub-area; however, only one of these areas can appear on your transcript as an official concentration.
Concentrations were introduced with the new curricula for students entering in Fall 2020 or later, but older CSCI and NETS students are also able to declare a concentration. You can only take concentrations that are available with your current degree: a CSCI student cannot declare a NETS concentration like Economics and Networked Markets, or vice versa. Note also that both CSCI and NETS offer Data Science concentrations, though with different sets of eligible courses.
Does a concentration require extra classes?
No, a concentration does not require any extra classes. You can think of it this way: first, satisfy all your degree requirements. Then, look over the set of courses you took and if you satisfy the requirements for concentration A then you can get a “concentration A” label on your transcript.
Typically, the concentration courses would be drawn from Technical Electives. However, you can draw them from anywhere on your CPG. You can also, of course, take extra courses, not required for your degree, to satisfy a concentration. The concentration courses just need to appear on your transcript with a passing grade.
Declaring a concentration
If you are in the CSCI or NETS program, you can declare a concentration using this form. If you change your mind after submitting the form, you can withdraw it and file a replacement form for a different concentration, or you can change up your courses within the same concentration.
However, the final form must be submitted at the beginning of the last semester before you graduate, because at that point we need to check whether you have completed the concentration or not. After that point, you cannot make further changes.
The set of courses that count towards each concentration is fixed, and substitutions are not allowed. The set of classes that can count towards NETS concentrations is somewhat broader than those for CSCI concentrations.
The concentration I want doesn’t exist
Only the official concentrations linked above can appear on your transcript. However, you can obviously still take courses in, and specialize in, any area you are interested in! The department reviews the list of available concentrations periodically. If you have an idea for a new concentration, please reach out to undergraduate chair Joe Devietti!