College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Computer Science & Software Engineering

Career Planning

One of the most important reasons for attending college is to prepare for a career. So it makes sense to figure out exactly what kind of career you are interested in. Once you know, it will help focus your studies; you'll know what courses are important in preparing you for your career. If you cannot make a decision, try to choose your courses so that you can leave your options open and explore new possibilities.


There are many, many opportunities in computer science right now.

The Career Services Office provides several ways to help you choose a career. They typically hold several job fairs during the year. They also have information on jobs, including part-time jobs while you are still in school.

Many companies send job postings directly to us; we post copies of these in the Lab.

The Butler University Information Technology hires a number of students, mainly to help in the labs around campus. This is excellent experience, especially for Computer Science majors. For more information, contact the computer center at (317) 940-9420.

In the department, we have a number of pamphlets and books on careers in Computer Science. You should look them over. We also maintain a list of department graduates you can contact.

Finally, you should ask faculty and other students about possible careers. Don't wait until you are a second semester senior; start now!


A summer internship is an excellent way to gain experience and find out what a job is like. The idea is to find a summer job (or a part-time job during the regular semester), and get credit for it through CS411.

For details, contact Jon Sorenson (

Research and Independent Study

Independent study normally involves in-depth study of some topic not covered under normal courses, and must be supervised by a faculty member. If there is some topic or project that particularly interests you, you should consider independent study. Note that an independent study requires the Dean's approval.

Research differs from independent study in that research involves doing some work or project that has never been done before. As a result, students often do research by working on a project with a faculty member. At the least, research requires close supervision by a faculty member.

Butler sponsors a summer research program, the Butler Summer Institute, that pays for room and a small stipend (about $2000). You must apply during the Fall semester before that summer. Butler also sponsors an Undergraduate Research Conference, which is free, every April.

If you are interested in independent study or research, contact any department faculty member.

Graduate School

If you are interested in pursuing research for a career, are interested in obtaining a masters degree or PhD, or are interested in teaching at the college level, then graduate school is for you. If you want to work for a computer-based company such as Intel, Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, Oracle, etc. then a masters degree is highly recommended. A masters degree typically requires 2 more years of study, and a PhD 2-6 more than that, for a total of 4-8 years.

Most graduate programs require their applicants to take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE). This exam has two parts: the general test, with sections for math, verbal, and analytic, and the subject test. The general test is similar to the SAT, and the subject test can be difficult. Always choose the subject you are best at; this need not match the subject you want to study in graduate school. Some programs do not require the subject test; if it is not required, you probably don't want to take it. There are a few graduate schools with application deadlines as early as November, so don't put this off.

To choose a graduate school, look at the Peterson's Guide or some other guide, or attend a graduate school fair. Butler holds fairs every year, and Argonne National Labs near Chicago holds a free fair with over 100 graduate schools represented. Most graduate departments are more than happy to send information, and they all maintain web pages.

Finally, all the faculty in our department attended graduate school, so they are an excellent source of information. They may even know several people at the school(s) you are interested in.

Don't forget to apply for graduate fellowships. Each year the National Science Foundation awards a number of full, four-year fellowships for graduate studies based on merit.

Most graduate programs will offer teaching assistantships (half-time) which earn enough to cover the cost of tuition and provide a minimal, if meager, living.

Your Resume

Most of the faculty are quite willing to serve as references when you apply for a job or to graduate school. It is a good idea to provide Amy Aldridge with a copy of your resume to put in your file for use by your references when they write a letter on your behalf or speak to a potential employer over the phone. Make sure you also include a list of awards you may have, either in your resume or attached. Oh, and be sure to post your resume on your web page!