How to Plan Your Course Load as a Computer Science Major at UCLA

A UCLA computer science major’s guide to planning your course load. Here are 4 tips for figuring out your schedule.

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Noah Gardner
Edlyft Ambassador

Planning your time as a UCLA computer science major can feel overwhelming, especially in the early stages of your degree. You have four years' worth of classes to take, and you don’t know what each course will be like until you get there. Luckily, I found that the further along I got, the more familiar I became with the tools at my disposal to help create my plan. With the help of these tools, I feel much more comfortable and confident planning my schedule quarter to quarter. 

Here are 5 tips for planning your schedule each semester: 

1. Consider your major requirements.

First, take a look at your required major preparation courses. These courses cover foundational material, and you’ll have to take them before you begin the rest of your major. Major prep courses include:

  • 6 computer science courses (1, 31, 32, 33, 35L, M51A)
  • 7 math courses ( 31A, 31B, 32A, 32B, 33A, 33B, 61)
  • 4 physics courses, 1 of which is a lab (1A, 1B, 1C, and 4AL or 4BL)

Bonus Tip: You may be able to test out of some math courses, depending on how far you advanced in high school. I recommend starting with 32A if you feel you already have a good grasp of Calculus BC. However, I would encourage you not to start much higher, even if you took multivariable calculus at a community college. The courses here will be very valuable and give you a good foundation for the rest of your time at UCLA.

Next, consider the courses required to complete your major. These are:

  • 8 specific CS courses (111, 118, 130 or 132, 131, M151B, M152A, 180, and 181)
  • 1 probability course 
  • 5 CS electives 
  • 3 sci-tech courses (must be three courses all within the same field, and can be CS electives) 
  • 3 tech breadth courses (must be 3 courses all within a new field, and may not be CS courses) 

For a more detailed look at specific requirements and your options, check your DARS (Degree Audit Reporting System), in MyUCLA.

2. Check prerequisites.

When planning your schedule, be sure to check if the class you’d like to take has any prerequisites—whether mandatory or recommended—and take those first. For example, I was excited to take AI and ML courses, so I took my probability elective as soon as I was able. 

3. Consider course difficulty levels.

Next, consider the difficulty level of the courses you’re planning to take. The hardest courses I’ve taken so far were CS 32, 35L, 131, and 180. While taking these courses, I planned the rest of my schedule accordingly: instead of taking additional difficult courses, I found courses with lighter workloads, like general education courses (GEs). 

4. Check out Bruinwalk.

Bruinwalk is essentially a UCLA-specific Rate My Professor. While it can't tell you everything, it can tell you what other students have to say about certain professors and give you insight into the day-to-day of specific courses. Other helpful links I’ve found include quarterly course offerings and the CS major flowchart

5. Speak with a mentor.

Finally, you can always seek additional help from your advisor, or even an upperclassman you know, to assist with your planning.

The bottom line…

Ultimately, experience is the best way to figure out how you want to spend your time, and you’ll learn as you go. Just keep in mind that there are plenty of resources to make your decisions a little less overwhelming, and I highly recommend you take advantage of them.

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Noah Gardner

Edlyft Ambassador

Noah Gardner is a third year computer science student at UCLA. Working as a brand ambassador for Edlyft, he mainly writes articles to provide new and prospective students with advice based on his experiences. Outside of school and work, he spends a lot of time playing guitar and watching sports (go 49ers!).