What are the Computational Science majors offered at UC San Diego?


Bioinformatics refers to advanced computational and experimental methods that model the flow of information (genetic, metabolic and regulatory) in living systems to provide an integrated understanding of the system properties of organisms. Undergraduate students of bioinformatics get the chance of doing biology, computer science and mathematics at the same time and many graduates of this major go on to graduate school, medical school or choose careers for further study or employment in biotech companies.

In UCSD, three departments offer rigorous and interdisciplinary trainings for this new and quickly evolving field. All of these departments provide courses on molecular biology, computer science and mathematics. Click on each major for details.



Bioengineering: Bioinformatics emphasizes systems engineering and model-based approaches to interpreting, integrating, and using bioinformatics data. 

Computer Science w/spec Bioinformatics focuses on design of software systems to further the study in computational molecular biology.

Biology w/spec Bioinformatics is interested in applying, and to some extent developing, tools of bioinformatics for the study of biological systems.

Cognitive Science

Cognitive Science at UCSD is more than a department and an academic program; it is a thriving community with over 60 faculty across the campus, uniting scholars in many different disciplines. This broader community gives cognitive science at UCSD an unusual scope and depth. Moreover, this community is not simply a passive resource; it is actively engaged in substantive interaction and has a major presence on the campus. We believe the combination is unique.

The department emphasizes three main areas of study:

  • Brain - the understanding of neurobiological processes and phenomena
  • Behavior - the experimental methods and findings from the study of psychology, language, and the sociocultural environment
  • Computation - the powers and limits of various representations, coupled with studies of computational mechanisms

The study of cognition takes place within the controlled situations of the laboratory and the natural situations of the everyday world, as well as through modeling and simulation studies of these situations. The unit under study ranges from the individual neuron, to neural systems, to the individual person, to social groups in which language, social organization, and culture play important roles. 

The underlying philosophy of the department challenges faculty and students to be knowledgeable in and sympathetic to a wide variety of fields and techniques. For example, required topics for both undergraduates and graduates include courses in behavior, computation, and the neurobiological basis of cognition.



Computational Mathematics

Mathematics provides a language and tools for understanding the physical world around us and the abstract world within us. Our Mathematics Department represents a broad spectrum of fields ranging from the traditional areas of pure mathematics such as analysis, algebra, geometry, and topology, to applied mathematics areas such as combinatorics, computational biology, fluid dynamics, theoretical computer science, and theoretical physics.

Our students go on to a wide range of activities after graduation. Some go on to graduate school in mathematics, physics, computer science, finance, or engineering. Many begin careers in investment banking, consulting, or software engineering.

The mathematics department offers a wide range of courses in pure and applied mathematics for its majors and for students in other disciplines. The department offers seven majors leading to the BS: (1) mathematics, (2) applied mathematics, (3) mathematics—computer science, (4) joint major in mathematics and economics, (5) mathematics—scientific computation, (6) mathematics—applied science and (7) probability and statistics, and one leading to the BA: mathematics—secondary education. In addition, students can minor in mathematics or mathematics education. The department also has an Honors Program for exceptional students in any of the eight majors.http://www.math.ucsd.edu/programs/undergraduate/

Computational Physics

The computational physics specialization is designed to support a broad range of career development tracks, so students may pursue (1) a terminal BS for gainful employment in information technology and high-tech industry, (2) preparation for graduate studies in computational science with an MS, and (3) graduate work in physics with strong interest in computational physics. This flexibility is afforded by a wide array of restricted electives which allows students to design much of their own program (subject to adviser’s approval) while simultaneously maintaining the essential physics-based curriculum. Academic advising will be provided by physics faculty in the Computational Physics Specialization Program to assist students in designing their optimal career development track in the flexible curriculum.



Computer Engineering

This major is jointly administered by the Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) and the Computer Science and Engineering (CSE)  Possible area of studies include computer graphics, computer-aided design, multimedia systems, databases, parallel computation, distributed computation, artificial intelligence, optical computing, very-large-scale-integration design, and fabrication.






Computer Science Engineering

Students in the LabComputer Science is the study of automating algorithmic processes that scale. It can be divided into a variety of theoretical and practical disciplines, such as artificial intelligence, computer architecture, computational complexity theory, computer graphics, computer vision, database and information management, embedded systems and robotics, human-computer interaction, programming languages, computer security and cryptography, software engineering, systems and networking, etc. Undergraduate students majoring in Computer Science study not only programming but also the theory of computation and the design of computational systems. Students who have graduated with this major capture leading academic appointments as well as fuel the Internet, wireless communications, biotech and computer industries.

This study is offered in Computer Science and Engineering department as two different majors: B.S. Computer Science and B.A. Computer Science. The major difference between these majors is a B.A. in Computer Science requires fewer elective classes than a B.S. in Computer Science does. By requiring fewer electives, the BA computer science program serves those students desiring more time for undergraduate studies outside their major subject.







Electrical Engineering

This major provides a broad background in diverse areas such as computer electronics, phone and satellite communication systems, advanced circuit and optical systems design, and wireless communications.


Interdisciplinary Computing and the Arts

The Interdisciplinary Computing and the Arts major in the Music and Visual Arts Departments draws upon and aims to bring together ideas and paradigms from computer science, art, and cultural theory. The goals of the program are to prepare the next generation of artists who will be functioning in a computer-mediated culture; to give students necessary technical, theoretical and historical backgrounds so they can contribute to the development of new aesthetics for computer media; to prepare students to mediate between the worlds of computer science and technology, the arts, and the culture at large by being equally proficient with computing and cultural concepts; and to give students sufficient understanding of the trajectories of development in computing so they can anticipate and work with the emerging trends, rather than being locked in particular software currently available on the market.

Music: http://musicweb.ucsd.edu/ugrad/ugrad-pages.php?i=103

Visual Arts: http://visarts.ucsd.edu/icam-interdisciplinary-computing-and-arts-major