Life in the Department

The Department of Computer Science at Yale is a stimulating environment in which new ideas, experimental designs, and robust systems are plentiful. In trying to shape the very nature of computer science, it is not enough to ask why things are, nor to ask how things will be—but rather, to ask how things should be now and in the future. How should computers be used in our society, and why? How should we design software, algorithms, new theories of computation? How should computer science be taught? What should the legacy of our efforts be?

The Department believes strongly in dialogue between students, faculty, research staff, visitors and colleagues in other departments at Yale and across the world. This dialogue should begin early, when a student first explores the exciting dimensions of the field. Undergraduates are encouraged to work with faculty on research projects, culminating in a required senior project that exemplifies their skills and creativity. Beginning in the second year, every graduate student is required to give one talk per year to the general audience of the Department, and one to his or her research group. Students are encouraged to attend these talks, provide feedback to their classmates, and generally broaden their own perspective of the field.

Life for undergraduate majors centers around “the Zoo” our educational computing facility which is housed in Watson Hall and is adjacent to a lounge and eating area. DSAC (the Departmental Student Advisory Committee) is an undergraduate organization that facilitates smooth running of the Zoo, promotes undergraduate activities, acts as liaison between students and faculty, provides mentoring services, and hosts occasional pizza parties to lift the spirits at exam time.

In addition to the four-year Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Arts degrees (and optional joint majors with Mathematics, Psychology, or Electrical Engineering), the Department also offers two graduate programs: a Doctoral Program leading to a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree, and a terminal Master’s Program leading to a Master of Science (M.S.) degree. There are also two programs that award Bachelors and Masters degrees simultaneously.

Much of graduate student life outside of the Department is centered around the Hall of Graduate Studies (HGS), and in particular the new McDougal Center, where graduate students from across the campus regularly meet and share interests. Located in HGS, the Center provides space and program funding for building intellectual, cultural, and social life, and for facilitating professional development activities across the entire Graduate School. The magnificently restored Common Room has been transformed into a lounge with comfortable furnishings, internet ports, newspapers and magazines, as well as a student-run cafe serving coffee and light food throughout the day. Other well-equipped rooms provide space for lectures, conferences, performances, film series, workshops and other events. The Center hosts weekly movies on the Really Big Screen, coffeehouse musical evenings, happy hours, poetry readings, student research presentations, health and wellness workshops, teas with campus and community figures, and community service events.