Computer Science

Chairperson: Shawn Bowers
Professors: P. De Palma, K. Yerion
Associate Professors: D. Hughes (Emeritus), S. Bowers
Assistant Professor: D. Schroeder, Y. Zhang

The Department of Computer Science offers a B.A. in Computer Science and Computational Thinking, a B.S. in Computer Science, and jointly administers the B.S. in Computer Engineering with the Department of Electrical Engineering. See the Undergraduate Catalog entry (College of Arts and Sciences) for “Computer Science and Computational Thinking” for a full description of the B.A program. The B.S. in Computer Science program is built upon a foundation of mathematics, natural science, intensive programming, and computer architecture, while the B.A. in Computer Science and Computational Thinking is built upon a foundation of computer science and the liberal arts. All seniors of both programs participate in a large software engineering project, completed under the guidance of a faculty member and a project sponsor. 

Faculty research interests include remote sensor networks, wireless mobile networks, genetic algorithms, speech recognition, mathematical modeling, scientific data management, data visualization, computer graphics, database systems, cloud computing, and computer security. Select students can participate in these and other projects through the Gonzaga University Center for Evolutionary Algorithms, the Intel Corporation Computational Sciences Laboratory, the Computer Science Research Laboratory, or directly with a faculty mentor. Students are encouraged to pursue summer research or internships. Many of our students secure summer research funding through the National Science Foundation-sponsored Research Experience for Undergraduates program. Others intern in the computer industry, some with companies that regularly work with our department.

The department has several laboratories which include a general purpose lab, a senior design lab, a group research lab, and a computer cluster, composed of Intel quad and dual core blade servers. All computer labs on campus, as well as the dormitory rooms, are connected to the campus-wide network and from there to the Internet. The department sponsors two student organizations: a chapter of the Association for Computing Machinery, the world's largest and oldest organization of computer scientists, and a chapter of Upsilon Pi Epsilon, the international honor society for computer science and related disciplines.

Computer Science majors can graduate with departmental honors if they have fulfilled all computer science degree requirements, achieved a grade point average of at least 3.50 in their CPSC courses needed for a major in Computer Science, written a senior thesis under the supervision of a Computer Science faculty member, and successfully completed CPSC 495 and 496.

Computer Engineering

The Departments of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering jointly administer the B.S. in Computer Engineering program.  Computer Engineering combines computer science and electrical engineering.  Computer engineers develop computer hardware, software, and especially the kinds of embedded systems found in cell phones, industrial control devices, and medical instruments.  See the Undergraduate Catalog 2015-2016 entry "Computer Engineering" for a full description of the program.

B.S. in Computer Science: 128 or 129 credits
I. Computer Science Requirements: 28 credits
Lower Division
CPSC 121 Computer Science I 3 credits
CPSC 122 Computer Science II 3 credits
CPSC 223 Algorithms and Abstract Data Structures 3 credits
CPSC 224 Object-Oriented and Event Programming 3 credits
Upper Division
CPSC 326 Organization of Programming Languages 3 credits
CPSC 346 Operating Systems 3 credits
One of the following two courses:
    CPSC 351 Theory of Computation
    CPSC 450 Design and Analysis in Computer Algorithms
3 credits
CPSC 491 Software Engineering 2 credits
CPSC 491L Senior Design Project Lab I  1 credit
CPSC 492L Senior Design Project Lab II 3 credits
CPSC 499 Computers and Society 1 credit
II. Engineering Requirements: 8 credits
CPEN 230/CPEN 230L Introduction to Digital Logic 4 credits
CPEN 231/CPEN 231L Microcomputer Architecture and Assembly Language Programming 4 credits
III. Computer Science Electives: 21 credits
CPSC 200 level and above General elective 6 credits
CPSC 300 or 400 level Tech elective

    excluding CPSC 423, 435, and 436

15 credits
IV. Science: 4-5 credits
Science Requirements.  Either a, b, or c is required: 4-5 credits
   a. BIOL 105/L
   b. CHEM 101/L
   c. PHYS 103/L
V. Mathematics Requirements: 17 credits
   MATH157 Calculus-Analytic Geometry I 4 credits
   MATH 231 Discrete Structures 3 credits
   MATH 258 Calculus-Analytic Geometry II 4 credits
Two courses from the following are required: 6 credits
   MATH 260 Ordinary Differential Equation
   ENSC 371 Advanced Engineering Math
   CPSC 455 Chaos and Dynamical Systems
   any 300 or 400 level Mathematics course
VI: Science and Mathematics Electives:                                      (not already chosen to meet requirements above) 11 credits
   BIOL 105/L Information Flow in Biological Systems and Lab
   BIOL 205/L Physiology & Biodiversity and Lab
   BIOL 206/L Ecology and Lab
   BIOL 207/L Genetics and Lab
   CHEM 101/L General Chemistry and Lab
   CHEM 206/L Inorganic Chemistry and Lab
   CHEM 230/L Organic Chemistry and Lab
   CPSC 455 Chaos and Dynamical Systems
   ENSC 371 Advanced Engineering Math
   PHYS 103/L Scientific Physics I and Lab
   PHYS 204/L Scientific Physics II and Lab
   PHYS 205/PHYS 217 Modern Physics and Lab
   MATH 259 Calculus-Analytic Geometry III
   MATH 260 Ordinary Differential Equation
    any 300 or 400 level Mathematics course


Minor in Computer Science (18 credits)
CPSC 121 Computer Science I 3 credits
CPSC 122 Computer Science II 3 credits
Any four 200, 300, or 400 CPSC courses 12 credits

In addition to their major and minor areas of study, all undergraduate students follow a common program designed to complete their education in those areas that the University considers essential for a Catholic, Jesuit, liberal, and humanistic education. The University Core Curriculum consists of forty-five credits of course work, with additional designation requirements that can be met through core, major, or elective courses.

The University Core Curriculum is a four-year program, organized around one overarching question, which is progressively addressed through yearly themes and questions. Hence, core courses are best taken within the year for which they are designated. First year core courses encourage intellectual engagement and provide a broad foundation of fundamental skills. Second and third year courses examine central issues and questions in philosophy and religious studies. The fourth year course, the Core Integration Seminar, offers a culminating core experience. Taken at any time throughout the four years, broadening courses intersect with the core themes and extend students’ appreciation for the humanities, arts, and social and behavioral sciences. Finally, the designation requirements (writing enriched, global studies, and social justice) reflect important values and reinforce students’ knowledge and competencies.

Overarching Core Question: As students of a Catholic, Jesuit, and Humanistic University, how do we educate ourselves to become women and men for a more just and humane global community?
Year 1 Theme and Question: Understanding and Creating: How do we pursue knowledge and cultivate understanding?

  • The First-Year Seminar (ENSC 191 and ENSC 192, 6 credits): The First-Year Seminar (FYS), taken in the fall or spring of the first year, is designed to promote an intellectual shift in students as they transition to college academic life. Each small seminar is organized around an engaging topic, which students explore from multiple perspectives. The FYS is offered by many departments across the University (click here for list of FYS courses).  
  • Writing (ENSC 191 and ENSC 192, 6 credits) and Reasoning (PHIL 101, 3 credits): The Writing and Reasoning courses are designed to help students develop the foundational skills of critical reading, thinking, analysis, and writing. They may be taken as linked sections. Writing (ENGL 101) carries one of the three required writing-enriched designations (see below).
  • Communication & Speech (ENSC 191 and ENSC 192, 6 credits): These courses introduces students to interpersonal and small group communication and requires the application of critical thinking, reasoning, and research skills necessary to organize, write, and present several speeches.(ENSC 491 and ENSC 492, 6 credits) will provide the culminating experience in communication.
  • Scientific Inquiry (PHYS 103/103L, 5 credits): This course explores the scientific process in the natural world through evidence-based logic and includes significant laboratory experience. Students pursuing majors that require science courses will satisfy this requirement through their major.
  • Mathematics (above Math 100, 3 credits): Mathematics courses promote thinking according to the modes of the discipline—abstractly, symbolically, logically, and computationally. One course in mathematics, above Math 100, including any math course required for a major or minor, will fulfill this requirement. MATH 100 (College Algebra) and courses without the MATH prefix do not fulfill this requirement.

Year 2 Theme and Question: Being and Becoming: Who are we and what does it mean to be human?

  • Philosophy of Human Nature (PHIL 201, 3 credits): This course provides students with a philosophical study of key figures, theories, and intellectual traditions that contribute to understanding the human condition; the meaning and dignity of human life; and the human relationship to ultimate reality.
  • Christianity and Catholic Traditions (RELI, 3 credits). Religious Studies core courses approved for this requirement explore diverse topics including Christian scriptures, history, theology, and practices as well as major contributions from the Catholic intellectual and theological traditions (click here for a list of approved courses) .

Year 3 Theme and Question: Caring and Doing: What principles characterize a well lived life?

  • Ethics (PHIL 301 or RELI, 3 credits): The Ethics courses are designed to help students develop their moral imagination by exploring and explaining the reasons humans should care about the needs and interests of others. This requirement is satisfied by an approved ethics course in either Philosophy (PHIL 301) or Religious Studies (click here for a list of approved courses).
  • World/Comparative Religion (RELI, 3 credits): Religious Studies courses approved for this core requirement draw attention to the diversity that exists within and among traditions and encourage students to bring critical, analytical thinking to bear on the traditions and questions considered. These courses carries one of the required two global-studies designations (see below) (click here for a list of approved courses).

Year 4 Theme and Question: Imagining the Possible: What is our role in the world?” 

  • Core Integration Seminar (432, 3 credits). The Core Integration Seminar (CIS) offers students a culminating core experience in which they integrate the principles of Jesuit education, prior components of the core, and their disciplinary expertise. Some CIS courses may also count toward a student’s major or minor. The CIS is offered by many departments across the University (click here for list of CIS courses).

The Broadening Courses

  • Fine Arts & Design (ENSC 491 and ENSC 492, 6 credits): Arts courses explore multiple ways the human experience can be expressed through creativity, including across different cultures and societies. One approved course in fine arts, music, theatre, or dance will fulfill this requirement (click here for a list of approved courses).
  • History (HIST, 3 credits): History courses are intended to develop students’ awareness of the historical context of both the individual and the collective human experience. One course in History (HIST 101, HIST 102, HIST 112, HIST 201, HIST 202) will fulfill this requirement.
  • Literature (ENGL 102-106, CLAS 220, 3 credits): Literature courses foster reflection on how literature engages with a range of human experience. One approved course in Literature (offered by English, Classics, or Modern Languages) will fulfill this requirement (click here for a list of approved courses).
  • Social & Behavioral Sciences (CRIM, ECON, POLS, PSYC, SOCI, or WGST, 3 credits): Courses in the social and behavioral sciences engage students in studying human behavior, social systems, and social issues. One approved course offered by Criminal Justice, Economics, Political Science, Psychology, Sociology, or Women and Gender Studies will fulfill this requirement (click here for a list of approved courses).

The Designations
Designations are attached to already existing core, major, minor, and elective courses. Students are encouraged to meet designation requirements within elective courses as their schedule allows; however, with careful planning students should be able to complete most of the designation requirements within other core, major, or minor courses.

  • Writing Enriched (WE; 3 courses meeting this designation): Courses carrying the WE designation are designed to promote the humanistic and Jesuit pedagogical ideal of clear, effective communication. In addition to the required core course, Engineering First Year Seminar (ENSC 191 and ENSC 192, 6 credits, which carries two of the WE designations, students must take one other WE-designated courses (click here for a list of approved courses).
  • Global-Studies (GS; 2 courses meeting this designation): Courses carrying the GS designation are designed to challenge students to perceive and understand human diversity by exploring diversity within a context of constantly changing global systems. In addition to the required core course, World/Comparative Religion (RELI 300-level), which carries one of the GS designations, students must take one other GS-designated course (click here for a list of approved courses).
  • Social-Justice (SJ; 1 course meeting this designation): Courses carrying the SJ designation are designed to introduce students to one or more social justice concerns. Students must take one course that meets the SJ designation (click here for a list of approved courses).