Creating new computer science majors

Two new degree programs are making their way to Georgia State. The Admissions and Standards Committee approved major eligibility requirements for Bachelor of Science degrees in data science and game development.

On Jan. 23, the Student Government Association held their first university-wide meeting of the semester where Sen. John Le, Student Services Committee chair, announced the committee’s progress.

“[The Academic and Standards Committee] are pretty much over everything that happens in the academic catalog or approving new programs,” Sen. Le said.

Shelly-Ann Williams, director of the College of Arts and Sciences, presented the degrees, according to Le.

Both new degree proposals will be coming out of the Creative Media Industries Institute.

“They’re still under review in the Board of Regents,” David Cheshier, director for Academic Programs at the Creative Media Industries Institute, said.

Major eligibility requirements for both degree programs are similar to the requirements for a bachelor’s degree in computer science in the undergraduate course catalog. Students must have a 2.5 GPA across three course areas (A, B and C), meaning they must receive a grade of C or higher in each course. 

The bachelor’s in data science requires Principles of Program for Data Science I (DSCI 1301) for Area A. The bachelor’s degree in game development requires Programming for Games I (CMIS 1301).

Area B gives students the choice to take either Theoretical Foundations of Computer Science (CSC 2510) or Discrete Mathematics (MATH 2420).

Area C offers Precalculus (MATH 1113), Calculus of One Variable I (MATH 2211), Calculus of One Variable II (MATH 2212) or Multivariate Calculus (MATH 2215) to meet the area requirement.

The GPA requirement for the course areas are based on a first-attempt basis.

Withdrawal failings count as an attempt, but regular withdrawals before the withdrawal period ends do not count as an attempt. The university “Repeat to Replace” policy courses are not counted as first attempts.

“People that transfer into Georgia State that want to go into [the bachelor’s in data science] program can use the grades from their transferred courses into GPA calculations, or they can attempt them once here,” Le said. 

Attempts taken at Perimeter College count as first attempts as well.

“I asked [the committee] about making an academic pathway from an [Associate in Science] in data science at Perimeter and then transition here for a [bachelor’s degree],” Le said. “They said, at the moment, they’re planning on just having students … take computer science courses at Perimeter College instead of data science, and then, when they come here, their courses can just replace data science requirements.”

According to Le, the actual courses for each degree program haven’t been created yet.

The degree programs use a different programming language that students must learn to progress in each course. Computer science uses Java, data science uses Python and game development mainly use C# and C++.

Currently, there is an existing degree program where students can earn a Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies degree in game design and development. 

“From what I can discern from this whole conversation with [the committee] was that they want to separate the game design and development,” Le said. “Because game development is so coding heavy, if you take into account data science and computer science requirements, it requires a lot of math because it is a computational science.”

The list of optional courses for the bachelor’s degree in game design and development are so wide-ranging that a student could potentially avoid or ignore the coding side of the degree. The degree program has the makeup of two degrees in the form of one, but the game development side of the program doesn’t have a math requirement.

“My assumption is that they want to actually separate the game development side from it so that it can include the math requirements so that people won’t just go straight into coding and get lost or go into system levels programming or any of the really rigorous computer science courses and then just get lost,” Le said.

The bachelor’s in game design and development will remain the same. The bachelor’s degree in game development is just an additional degree program that gives students more options and a better focus on the coding side of games with better preparation for the math needed to excel in the program.

“I think they just want to add a math requirement to it because it has to have the same rigor as if you’re taking data science or computer science,” Le said. “They want to give more options while also keeping that math rigor because it is very computational overall.”

The Bachelor of Business Administration degree in computer information systems has also become an option for students interested in computer information to combine technical skills and business skills.

“A lot of the main reasons why they put these kinds of major eligibility requirements for computer science is because a lot of people, if they don’t go into computer science, they’ll try to hop into the [computer information systems] track over on the business side, if they don’t do that, then there’s really not much of a choice,” Le said.

The computer information systems degree program requires students to take Introduction to Programming (CIS 3260). According to Le, that course can be replaced by Principles of Programming I (CSC 1301) for students that either took a programming class early or changed their major from computer science to computer information systems.

There is also already a Master of Science in data science and analytics in the J. Mack Robinson College of Business.

“The thing about data science is that it’s a very quickly growing field because now you’re having a lot of people that know how to do all of the technical stuff,” Le said. “But they don’t have the skills to actually relay that to terms that people can easily understand and data science closes that gap between those.”

The growing need for data science in the business field has introduced the desire to develop a degree program specifically for it, according to Le.