Off-Campus Study in Computer Science

Grinnell's computer science curriculum is designed to permit most CS majors to spend a semester in off-campus study.

Since 2012, several CS majors each year have studied abroad through Aquincum Institute of Technology (AIT-Budapest) program for "creativity in computer science and software engineering." Other students take computer science courses through English-language programs in the United Kingdom, Scandinavia, or Australia. Finally, some computer science majors take no CS courses during their off-campus study, instead choosing programs based on language, culture, or other interests.

Frequently asked questions about off-campus study and the computer science major

About the AIT-Budapest program

Which AIT-Budapest courses count towards Grinnell's CS major?
Analysis of Algorithms is considered equivalent to CSC 301. Theory of Computation is considered equivalent to CSC 341. Other courses may be approved for transfer as CS elective credit. See the Catalog for restrictions on the number of credits that may be transferred towards the CS major.
What courses should I take at Grinnell before a semester at AIT-Budapest?
Completing the CS introductory sequence (CSC 151, 161, 207) will provide the strongest foundation for courses that involve programming and software design. However, many courses draw on different kinds of skills.
Several courses, including Analysis of Algorithms and Theory of Computation, assume a foundation in discrete mathematics. At Grinnell, this foundation can be obtained through either CSC/MAT 208 or MAT 218. Other courses assume basic knowledge of calculus (MAT 124 or 131), linear algebra (MAT 215), probability theory (MAT 209), and/or sketching and construction techniques (ART 111).
See AIT's course syllabi for details on particular courses' prerequisites.
Can I attend AIT-Budapest if I do not intend to complete a CS major?
Yes! However, if you don't have much CS or math background, be aware that your course selections will be very limited.
How many credits should I plan to register for at AIT-Budapest?
"Students are expected to select academic courses with an average load of 20-22 contact hours a week" (AIT's curriculum overview). However, Grinnell's Office of the Registrar awards transfer credit at a 1:1 ratio, up to 18 credits total.
If my application to the Grinnell OCS office is approved, when should I apply to the AIT-Budapest program itself?
The application deadlines posted by AIT-Budapest specify the latest you can apply for any semester. However, you may apply as early as you like. The program reviews applications and notifies applicants on a rolling basis. Be sure to allow your recommenders 2-3 weeks to write a letter.

About other programs

Other than AIT-Budapest, what are some specific programs that CS majors have participated in?
Specific programs where Grinnell students have had good experiences taking CS courses include University College, London (UK) and the University of Adelaide (Australia).
Grinnell CS majors have also studied at Grinnell in Washington, Grinnell in London, and beyond!
What are some other programs I might consider?
How can I choose CS courses to take while studying abroad?
You can try to choose courses that fit Grinnell's CS major requirements, or you can choose electives that are not offered at Grinnell, or both.
Some programs have areas of particular strength. For example, AIT-Budapest emphasizes theory and innovation, with some courses taught by top mathematicians or seasoned entrepreneurs. Australia's university system emphasizes preparation for professional practice, with some courses taught by professional software engineers. If you or your an advisor can identify such a strength, you should take advantage of it.
Because computer science curriculums vary widely, often the greatest challenge is to identify courses for which you are well-prepared. If you are not sure whether you have the appropriate background for a particular course, consult with your (prospective) CS adviser and the course instructor.
How can I find out if a course will fulfill a Grinnell CS major requirement?
Provide your (prospective) CS adviser with as much information about the course as possible: For example, a catalog description, a syllabus, or a Web site. Allow at least a week for your adviser to discuss the course with the rest of the CS department.

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