First Year Applicants

Information About the Computer Science Major

Computer Science is the study of computers and computational systems: their application, design, development and theory. Principal areas within computer science include machine learning and data science, cybersecurity and privacy, human-computer interaction, artificial intelligence, programming languages, software engineering, computer systems and networking, algorithms and theory of computing, natural language processing, high-performance and quantum computing, databases systems, bioinformatics, robotics, computer vision, information visualization, and virtual- and augmented-reality systems. A computer scientist is concerned with problem solving. Problems range from abstract questions of what problems can be solved with computers to practical matters such as the design of computer systems that are efficient, secure, and easy for people to use.

The Computer Science major at UMD is a rigorous and math-intensive program. Currently, there are 4 specializations that students can choose from within the Computer Science major: Cybersecurity, Data Science, Machine Learning, and Quantum Information. Students are not required to declare a specialization. Students in the major can expect to learn object-oriented programming, systems programming, and several advanced programming languages, algorithms, computational theory, as well as the development, design, and application of software programs and operating systems.

The Computer Science major focuses on computational systems and software. There are many other computing majors available to students who are interested in other areas of computing.

  • Interested in building computers and the interaction between software and hardware? Consider the Computer Engineering major.
  • Interested in AR/VR/XR and the intersection of computer science and art? Consider the Immersive Media Design major.
  • Does the Computer Science major have a bit too much math for your liking? Interested in the social implications and practical applications of advancing technology? Consider a major in Information Studies.
  • Interested in the intersection of business and technology? Consider a major in Information Systems.
  • Interested in using computational technology to tackle issues such as natural disasters, urban planning, and international development? Consider a major in Geospatial Data Science.

You can find more information about these and other computing majors at

What to Expect from the Application Process

Students applying to the University as first-years (freshmen) can apply by submitting either the Common App or StandOut Admissions Network. We strongly encourage all first-years to apply by the early action deadline of November 1. You can visit for more information on application requirements and review factors.

The Computer Science major is a limited enrollment program (LEP), and we receive thousands of applications each year. For the Fall 2024 admissions cycle, we expect to have spots for about 600 first year students. As such, direct admission to the Computer Science major as a first-year student is very competitive.

To help make your application more competitive, consider the following:

  • Taking math courses in all four years of high school, and computing related courses if they are available
  • Getting involved in computing related clubs, activities, and work
  • Taking advantage of available opportunities such as AP/IB courses, dual enrollment, and internships
  • Demonstrating strong academic performance
  • Extracurriculars, research, honors, and awards

Please note that these are only suggestions, and participating in any or all of these activities will not guarantee admission to the Computer Science major or the University.

On your application, you can indicate that you want to major in Computer Science, and you can even choose one of the available specializations. Choosing a specialization on your application will have no impact on your admission decision. After the application deadline, your application will go through a two-stage review process. The first review will be to consider your application for admission to the University. The second review will be to consider your application for acceptance to the Computer Science major. There are three primary outcomes that a student can expect in their admission decision letter:

  1. Admitted to the University and to the Computer Science major
  2. Admitted to the University but not to the Computer Science major
  3. Not admitted to the University

Decisions on admission to the University and to the Computer Science major are made by the Admissions department and the College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences (CMNS), respectively.

Students who are admitted to the University but not to the Computer Science major are placed into Letters & Sciences, the University's undeclared/undecided advising track. As two thorough and holistic reviews have already taken place, there is no appeal process to reevaluate direct placement into the Computer Science major. If you are accepted to the university but not to Computer Science, you MUST be prepared to pursue an alternative major. There are many other computing majors at UMD including: Geospatial Data Science, Immersive Media Design, Information Science, Information Systems, Social Data Science, and Technology and Information Design. You may also be interested in one of UMD’s other 100+ majors or 80+ minors. Many programs offer coursework involving information technology, programming languages, and data science and offer a lot of the same career opportunities.

It is extremely unlikely that you will be able to internally transfer to the Computer Science major at a later date. We expect to have no more than 100 spots available to external and internal transfer students each year. Students who hope to internally transfer will need to complete the gateway requirements and undergo a selective review process (see the LEP FAQ for more information).

For additional information or inquiries about the application and admissions process, please contact the Admissions department directly at ApplyMaryland [at] umd [dot] edu.

Freshmen Connection

Freshmen Connection (FC) is a fall semester program offered to all freshmen students admitted for the spring semester. Participation in FC is optional, and interested students must first confirm their enrollment at the University of Maryland (UMD) for the spring semester.

While there are a wide variety of courses offered for students in the FC program, these students should be aware that the only Computer Science (CMSC) course applicable to the Computer Science major offered for FC is CMSC131, and its availability is subject to change. If a student already has credit for CMSC131 or has passed an exemption exam, they will not be able to take any other CMSC courses in that first Fall semester at UMD, and there are no exceptions to this. If interested in pursuing the Computer Science major, FC students would have to follow the internal transfer process listed above, however, students should be prepared to pursue a different major. If you choose not to participate in FC in the Fall semester, you can utilize the Transfer Credit Database and work with your FC advisor to determine transferable credits from another institution that you may be able to take in the Fall semester instead.

Last updated: 10/20/2023