College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Computer Science & Software Engineering

Frequently Asked Questions

If you are considering majoring in computer science or software engineering at Butler University, then this page is for you. Below we have gathered questions that are frequently asked by interested students and their families.

If you have a question not addressed on this page, please feel free to contact Jon Sorenson or any of the other faculty in the department.

What are the differences among computer science, software engineering, computer engineering, information systems, and scientific computing? ~ Show Answer

  • Computer science is the study of algorithms and composing computer programs.
  • Software engineering is the study of techniques for developing high quality, reliable software systems and applications.
  • Computer engineering focuses on hardware and computer design.
  • Information systems applies knowledge from computer science to solve business problems.
  • Scientific computing applies computer science to solve problems in sciences like biology, chemistry, or physics.

If you are interested in computer science or software engineering, our department is what you are looking for. Butler offers computer engineering through IUPUI and the Engineering Dual-Degree Program. The College of Business at Butler offers a Management Information Systems degree. We currently do not offer a program in scientific computing, but double majoring in computer science and, say, physics would be excellent preparation for graduate study in this area. Note that our new supercomputer makes scientific computing an attractive choice.

What do students usually do when they graduate? ~ Show Answer

Most of our students seek employment upon graduation. Typical jobs include software engineer, database administrator, programmer, network support, etc. For some specific examples, see the  Graduation 2003 page. Some of our graduates go on to graduate school, and we have placed students in several of the top 10 graduate programs in computer science.

What is the typical class size? ~ Show Answer

In our department, freshmen-level courses typically have 15-25 students. Upper-division courses average around 8-10 students.

Do you have teaching assistants? ~ Show Answer

We do not have a graduate program and we have no graduate teaching assistants.

What sorts of scholarships are available? ~ Show Answer

Our department awards several $2000 scholarships each year through the annual Scholar's Forum, which is held in February, with an application deadline of December 1st. Contact the  Admissions Office for more details on the Scholar's Forum.

What makes Butler's programs unique? ~ Show Answer

  • Our software engineering program was the first in the U.S. in a liberal arts college, providing a balanced education.
  • We are a small department able to give individual attention, and our programs are in a liberal arts setting; we stress critical thinking, problem-solving, communication skills, and life long learning as preparation for a career and/or graduate study.
  • We are located in the beautiful Fairbanks Building housing dedicated labs with 24/7 student access.
  • Our programs stress mathematical and logical thinking as a foundation; we want our students to take our foundations course as first semester freshmen.
  • Our department has close ties with industry (see our advisory board). This collaboration results in a relevant curriculum, professional career preparation, opportunities for internships and jobs, and programs like our seminars and First Monday Lunches where our students learn about career paths and state of the art computing, and build networking contacts.
  • There are opportunities for undergraduates to do research during the summer through the BSI program. Several students are joint authors with faculty members in research papers published in journals and conference proceedings.
  • Our EPICS program is quite special.

What is EPICS? ~ Show Answer

EPICS (Engineering Projects in Community Service) is a team software project, of multiple semesters in duration, for a client that is a charity or non-profit organization. It is a service-learning course. The students run the project; students who have been with the project for several semesters take on leadership roles. For more details, ask a faculty member or visit the  Butler EPICS web site.

How does Butler's program compare to other programs? ~ Show Answer

Our juniors and seniors take the Major Field Achievement Test (MFAT) each year for program assessment purposes. Since 2001 semester, as a department we placed at the 71st percentile compared to participating departments nationwide.  Major Field Achievement Test results from previous years.

How large is the department? ~ Show Answer

We currently have four full-time faculty, with a couple adjunct professors, and a half-time secretary. We have roughly 40 undergraduate majors in our department, plus a number of minors majoring in other departments.

What is the social diversity of the students? ~ Show Answer

Like most CS departments, we have more males than females, but we have graduated 40% females in the last 10 years. In the summer of 2007, of our 36 declared CSSE majors, 5 were female. We have a variety of ethnic and racial backgrounds, and we have several international students. In the summer of 2007, we had students originating from Egypt, Mexico, Russia, and Uzbekistan. Within the past decade we've had students representing China, Germany, Ghana, Holland, Libya, Kenya, Poland, Taiwan, Thailand, Ukraine, and Vietnam.

What if I'm an athlete or have other interests? ~ Show Answer

We have had student-athletes compete in basketball, football, swimming, tennis, baseball, lacrosse, and other sports and graduate on time.

We also encourage students to add a major or minor from another department or college. We have had students double-major in computer science and a foreign language, music, business, physics, mathematics, english, and others. We also have several students majoring in computer science who are in the Engineering Dual-Degree Program.

Many of our students choose to spend a semester abroad. Some of our students have done internships abroad.

What if I change my min about majoring in CS or SE? ~ Show Answer

Many students decide to switch majors. If you start out as a CS or SE major and switch to something else, you will not have "wasted" your time in our department; the problem solving skills and computer science knowledge will help you in your new major, whatever it is. Butler is a University; there are many majors to choose from, and it is unlikely you will have to transfer to do what you want to do.