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Best Computer Science Electives To Choose (By Category)

Choosing computer science electives can be overwhelming. With so many different courses to choose from, how do you know which ones are the best?

This article will help you narrow down your choices by listing the best computer science electives to choose, based on category. Stay tuned.

What Are the Core Computer Science Courses?

Before getting into elective courses, let’s consider what the core computer science courses are and what they include.

Computer science core courses are the courses that all computer science majors must take as part of their degree program, and they typically focus on important topics that every computer science professional must know. Typically, core computer science courses include:

Core CS courses
Math Foundations of Computer Science
Introduction to Programming
Programming Languages
Introduction to Computer Systems
Data Structures
Introduction to Algorithms
Computer Operating Systems
Computer Organization and Design

What Is a Computer Science Elective?

Computer science electives are courses that computer science majors can take to expand their knowledge in the field. These courses are not required for the major, but they can be helpful in developing specialized skills or knowledge.

Some computer science electives may focus on specific programming languages or applications, while others may cover more general topics such as artificial intelligence or cybersecurity.

In most cases, computer science electives are offered at the upper-level, and students should consult with their advisor to ensure that they are taking the appropriate course for their level of study.

Ultimately, computer science electives provide computer science majors with the opportunity to explore new areas of interest and to gain a deeper understanding of the field as a whole.

Students usually pick computer science electives based on their personal interests and career goals. Some computer science students may choose to specialize in a particular area, such as mobile or web development, and they may choose electives that focus specifically on those skills.

Others may choose computer science electives that cover broader topics, such as big data or machine learning, to gain a deeper understanding of these large field.

students attending a computer science elective
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What Bachelors Computer Science Electives Are There?

Every CS school has a different set of computer science electives. However, there are many that are offered by almost every school.

In this section, we will provide an exhaustive list of computer science electives by category and paint the most popular courses in bold. We will then include the descriptions for these courses below the list.

AI and Machine LearningComputer SystemsData Computing
Introduction to Artificial IntelligenceOperating SystemsDatabase Systems
Machine Learning FoundationsDistributed SystemsData Compression
Applied Machine LearningEmbedded SystemsIntroduction to Data Science
Brain-inspired ComputingIntroduction to BlockchainData Programming
Deep LearningComputer NetworksBig Data Analytics
Computational NeuroscienceWireless CommunicationComputational Data Exploration
Robotics
Software EngineeringGraphics and Computer VisionMath and Statistics
Software Design/EngineeringComputer VisionDiscrete Probability and Statistical Inference
Software MethodologyComputer GraphicsLinear Optimization
Software TestingAnimation ProductionGraph Theory
Mobile App DevelopmentVirtual Reality SystemsStatistical Analysis
User Interface DesignImaging and MultimediaRegression Methods
Game Design & Development
TheoryLanguage TechnologyProgramming Languages
Theory of ComputationComputational LinguisticsCompilers
Computer EthicsNatural Language ProcessingProgramming Languages and Implementation
Technology and PolicyInformation RetrievalFormal Languages and Automata Theory
The Quantum and the ComputerHuman-Computer Interaction
Web ComputingSecurityOther
Cloud ComputingComputer SecurityEntrepreneurship
Web DevelopmentCryptographyIntellectual Property Law for Engineers
Advanced Internet and Web ServicesNetwork Security

Introduction to Artificial Intelligence

This computer science elective introduces students to the theory and practice of artificial intelligence. Students will learn about key concepts such as search, knowledge representation, machine learning, and natural language processing. They will also gain experience applying these skills to real-world applications such as computer vision, robotics, and machine translation.

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Machine Learning Foundations

In this computer science elective, students will learn the fundamental concepts and algorithms behind machine learning. They will explore topics such as supervised and unsupervised learning, regression analysis, classification methods, neural networks, and more. Students will also gain experience working with real-world datasets to build intelligent computer systems that can make predictions or decisions based on data.

photo of girl laying left hand on white digital robot
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Operating Systems

Operating Systems course provides an in-depth overview of computer operating systems. Students will learn how computer systems function at a low level, including topics such as computer architecture, memory management, process scheduling, and system security. They will also gain experience implementing these concepts in a computer system simulator to gain a deeper understanding of computer operating systems and the challenges involved in building robust systems.

Introduction to Blockchain

This computer science elective provides an introduction to blockchain technology, including topics such as cryptography, distributed systems, and game theory. Students will learn about the fundamental concepts and principles underlying blockchain technology, such as consensus algorithms and smart contracts.

They will also have the opportunity to explore real-world applications of blockchain, such as digital currencies and decentralized applications. Whether you are a computer science student interested in emerging technologies or simply want to stay up-to-date on the latest trends in computer science, this course provides a great introduction to blockchain and its many applications.

Computer Networks

This computer science elective provides an in-depth overview of computer networks and the systems that support them. Students will learn about topics such as network topologies and protocols, packet switching, computer security, and cloud computing.

They will also gain experience designing, building, and testing real-world computer networks using computer simulation tools. As such, computer science students who take this course will gain the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in computer networking careers or pursue advanced studies in computer science.

Database Systems

This computer science elective provides an in-depth overview of computer database systems. Students will learn about fundamental concepts such as data modeling, query processing and optimization, concurrency control, and transaction management.

They will also gain experience designing and implementing computer databases using real-world datasets. This course is ideal for computer science students who want to pursue a career in computer systems, information management, or software engineering.

Introduction to Data Science

This course provides an introduction to data science and the tools and techniques used in this rapidly growing field. Students will learn about topics such as big data, machine learning, computer vision, natural language processing, and more.

They will also gain hands-on experience using computer programming tools and statistical analysis software to mine and analyze real-world datasets to gain insight into complex phenomena.

Software Design/Engineering

In the software design/engineering course, students will learn how computer software is designed and implemented. They will explore topics such as programming languages, computer architecture, algorithm design, and software engineering.

They will also gain experience designing and building computer software systems from start to finish. If you are interested in pursuing a career in computer science or computer engineering, this course provides a great foundation for advanced computer science studies or career development.

Mobile App Development

This course is all about developing mobile apps for Android and iOS devices. Students will learn about the fundamental principles of computer programming as well as the tools and techniques used in mobile app development, including computer programming languages and user interface design principles.

They will also gain hands-on experience designing and building mobile apps from scratch using computer simulation tools and software development kits. Whether you are a computer science student looking to gain coding skills or simply want to learn more about computer programming, this course will provide you with the knowledge and skills you need to succeed.

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mobile development as one of the best computer science electives to choose
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User Interface Design

UI design is an essential component of computer science, and this course provides a comprehensive overview of the concepts, tools, and techniques used in computer-based user interface design. Students will learn about computer graphics and computer vision, human computer interaction (HCI), information visualization, and more. They will also gain experience designing computer interface mockups and prototypes using computer software tools.

If you are a computer science student looking to gain experience in computer programming or computer interface design, this course will give you the skills and knowledge you need.

Computer Vision

Computer Vision course provides an overview of computer vision algorithms, techniques and tools used in computer science. Students will learn about computer image processing fundamentals such as feature detection and extraction, object recognition and classification, computer vision applications and computer image analysis methods.

Through hands-on computer programming activities, students will gain experience implementing computer vision algorithms using computer programming languages and computer vision software tools.

Discrete Probability and Statistical Inference

This computer science elective course provides an overview of probability and statistical inference for computer scientists. Students will learn about discrete probability as well as common tools and techniques used in computer science, including computer simulation and computer modeling.

They will also gain experience using computer programming languages to implement computer models and simulations as well as analyzing data using statistical software tools.

Graph Theory

This course introduces the fundamental concepts, tools, and techniques used in computer science to model and analyze complex systems. Students will learn about graph theory fundamentals, computer algorithms, computer complexity analysis and computer data structures.

Through hands-on computer programming activities, students will gain experience implementing computer models and computer simulations as well as analyzing large datasets using computer tools.

Theory of Computation

Theory of Computation course provides a comprehensive overview of computer algorithms and computer science with a focus on the theoretical foundations of computer science. Students will learn about computer programming languages, computer software tools, computer language processing techniques, computer programming paradigms, computer analysis techniques and more. They will also gain experience using these concepts to analyze computer programs in order to determine their computational complexity and efficiency.

Computational Linguistics

If you are interested in computer science and enjoy working with language-based systems, then computational linguistics may be the perfect computer science elective for you. This course provides an overview of the concepts, tools, and techniques used in computer-based natural language processing.

Students will learn about computer programming languages and algorithms used to process natural language texts, computer-based language analysis techniques, computer computer machine learning models and computer language processing applications.

Natural Language Processing

NLP is a computer science-based interdisciplinary field that deals with the computer processing of human languages. Students will learn about computer language processing techniques and computer language analysis methods.

Through hands-on computer programming activities, students will gain experience implementing computer models and computer simulations as well as analyzing natural language data using computer software tools.

gray megaphone on white surface
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Web Development

This computer science elective course provides an overview of computer technology fundamentals and computer programming techniques used in web development.

Students will learn about computer programming languages, computer web applications platforms, computer databases, computer data storage systems and computer network protocols. They will also gain experience using these concepts to create their own computer web applications and computer programs.

Computer Security

Computer Security is an essential computer science elective course that provides students with a comprehensive overview of computer security fundamentals. Students will learn about computer programming languages, computer networking and communication protocols, and other important tools used in the field of computer security.

Through hands-on activities, students will gain practical experience implementing various computer security measures to protect computer systems and computer networks from malicious attacks.

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How Many Electives Can a Typical Computer Science Student Choose?

Typically, a computer science student can pick 6-12 electives throughout their Bachelor’s program, depending on the institution they attend. Master’s students, in turn, can select 3-8 electives as their duration of study is shorter than that of undergraduate students.

Some computer science electives may also be required for students to complete in order to fulfill degree requirements, so it is important to speak with your advisor or academic department if you have any questions about which computer science electives are right for you.

Overall, the choice of computer science electives depends on your personal interests and career goals, so do some research and pick the computer science electives that best match your interests and career aspirations.

How to Choose a Balanced Set of Computer Science Electives

In order to make a good selection of computer science electives, you should follow these steps:

  1. First, consider your learning goals and interests when choosing computer science electives. This will help you select courses that align with your personal goals and preferences for learning.
  2. Next, think about the computer science concepts or skills that you want to gain in your electives. For example, if you are interested in computer security, you may want to take courses that focus on topics like cryptography or network security.
  3. Along with your learning goals and computer science concepts, also consider your career interests when choosing computer science electives. For example, if you are interested in pursuing a career in software development, you may want to focus on courses that cover topics like computer architecture and data structures.
  4. Finally, be sure to consult with your computer science professor or advisor when choosing computer science electives. They can provide valuable insight and guidance, and may be able to recommend specific courses that would be a good fit for your goals and interests.

With these tips in mind, you can select computer science electives that will help you gain the knowledge and skills you need to succeed in your chosen field.

Whether you are interested in computer security, software development, or some other area of computer science, you can find the right courses to help you achieve your goals and grow as a computer scientist.

making a schedule of the best computer science electives with a planner and a coffee
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What Masters Computer Science Courses Are There?

In this article, we have mostly talked about Bachelors-level core courses and electives. But what about Masters courses?

There are many different computer science courses that students can take at the Masters level. There is also a significant overlap between the courses offered at the Bachelors and Masters level.

For example, courses like computer architecture, computer networks, and operating systems are often offered at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

However, some advanced computer science courses are only available for Masters students. We have a separate article on Masters-level computer science courses, which we would love you to read, if you are looking for more information on this topic.

How to Make the Most out of Your Computer Science Electives

One of the great things about computer science electives is that they can provide you with rich learning opportunities and help you develop new skills and knowledge in the areas you are planning to focus your career.

However, in order to make the most out of your computer science electives, it is important to approach these courses with maximum diligence and fastidiousness.

Some tips that can help you get the most out of your computer science electives include:

  • Setting clear learning goals and objectives when you begin a computer science elective course. This will help you stay focused on the topics that are most important to you, and also make it easier to track your progress throughout the semester.
  • Seeking out feedback from your computer science professors or instructors, and using this feedback to improve your learning strategies and techniques.
  • Staying organized and taking good notes during computer science lectures, labs, and assignments. This can help you better understand the concepts being taught in class, as well as prepare for exams or other assessments.
  • Additionally, it is important to make time for self-study outside of the classroom. This can involve practicing computer science concepts on your own, reading computer science materials and resources, or building computer-related projects that you are interested in.

With these tips in mind, you can make the most out of your computer science electives and develop valuable skills and knowledge that will help you succeed in your career.

Conclusion

Choosing computer science electives can be a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. In this blog post, we’ve outlined the best computer science electives for you to choose from, based on the many categories CS encompasses.

We hope this will help make your decision easier and help you get started in the right direction. What computer science elective are you most excited to take?