To help you with planning your courses each semester, we’ve put together two sample schedules for the CSCI degree. These sample schedules assume no incoming AP course credit.
There are many paths through the degree requirements, and these sample schedules each represent just one possible path. There is intentionally a lot of flexibility to accommodate each student’s interests and preferences. We hope these sample schedules will be a starting point for you to plan your own 4-year journey through the degree. As you begin to fill in and customize your 4-year plan, you’ll want to check the official degree requirements, the SEAS Undergraduate Handbook, consider a degree concentration, and read other articles here that discuss degree requirements.
Start with CIS 110
This first sample schedule starts with CIS 110, our recommended entry point into the CSCI degree.
Solid arrows indicate course pre-requisites, e.g., CIS 120 requires CIS 110. Hollow arrows indicate co-requisites, e.g., PHYS 150 requires that you have already taken MATH 104 or that you take it in the same semester.
We first observe that no semester requires more than 5 CUs, and half of the semesters have only four classes. We have scheduled these lighter semesters deliberately. In the first year, 4 courses per semester helps students adjust to college life and classes at Penn. In junior fall, we chose 4 CUs because CIS 320 and especially CIS 380 are both difficult classes. CIS 380 is also typically a fall-only course, and CIS 471 a spring-only course. Senior fall is 5 CUs but two of them are non-STEM courses from Social Science, Humanities or Technology, Business & Society (see the degree requirements article for more details). A lighter senior fall is desirable to free up time for job interviews, which often require travel and missing class. Finally, senior spring is an easy semester as a concession to so-called “senioritis”, though you might prefer to take a 5th class in senior spring to lighten your load elsewhere.
Start with CIS 120
Since many folks skip CIS 110 and start with CIS 120 instead, we have put together a schedule that begins with CIS 120 instead.
This schedule takes into account the same general considerations as the schedule with CIS 110 (above). There is an additional CIS Elective required to take the place of CIS 110 (we put it in sophomore fall, but it could go many other places, too).
You’ll also notice that the two schedules are essentially converged starting in sophomore spring. Taking or skipping CIS 110 doesn’t have any real impact beyond the first few semesters.