Carnegie Mellon vs Northeastern vs George Washington vs Stevens

This is an interesting question - with a wide swath of schools. Without reading the rest and without being a CS person - let me say:

  1. GW is far from a normal campus experience. I mean, they don’t even have dining halls. You eat all your meals from area restaurants, etc. We actually left the tour - it’s for some - but not for all.

  2. CMU is the clear leader - but at what expense.

  3. I live in Nashville- but I believe schools like Stevens, Rose Hulman, have great reps.

I see several issues - it’s $$ vs. prestige. But it’s also campus life (CMU, Neastern) vs. a different life - and then Stevens male vs. female.

If you are getting need based aid, then obviously you are budget restricted. Stevens seems like such a great deal but I can see where you’d lack otherwise. Northeastern is a fine school - and from what I read on the CC from everyone - the degree is going to get you a job even if it’s from a no-name school.

I say go for the money. But maybe talk to females at Stevens and find out if it’s inclusive, if they are comfortable, does the overall campus vibe work.

After that, if you’re spending $42K on Neastern, what’s another $8K for CMU - it’s a lot but the prestige is probably worth it.

Good luck.

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Thank you for your response. I agree with the thought that the extra few thousand between CMU and Northeastern should not be a factor in our decision. I think the primary hesitation is the stress level she may have at CMU as well as the limitation in switching her major, especially to CS. Hopefully, once my daughter speaks to a few students at each school (and visits) she will feel more confident in her decision.

Does she want to work in ECE or in CS?
Those are two different fields, with different jobs. Both will be very employable but they’re not the same. Perhaps look into the 4-year plan for each major - the classes will be different.
What sounds interesting to her? What electives does she want to choose from the list?
There’s no wrong choice, but they’re not the same.

(Don’t expect to be able to get into SCS from ECE at CMU. However she could either have an additional major in HCI or a minor in CS. Combining another major or minor with Engineering is tough, though - Engineering everywhere is tough, CMU is tough, so Engineering at CMU with a minor or additional major would not be for the faint hearted. It can be done but I don’t know how much it’d cut into everything else.)

She can easily get a CS job out of [ECE+ some CS courses] program. So that shouldn’t be an issue.

When I was in grad school at ASU for my MBA, my roomie had a buddy at Wharton School. Their primary goal was getting a job from day one. I’m not sure their rigor was even what we had.

I wouldn’t necessarily equate a higher prestige with higher rigor. My son goes to Bama for engineering; turned down a scholarship at Purdue - brilliant kid, getting his butt kicked!!!

CMU may be insane rigor - that could be its rep. But if you’re basing that solely on pedigree, I would not be so sure it’s true then.

This chat is Olin vs. UIUC. Not sure it’s the same but it might interest you…Stevens is much bigger than Olin but it’s still the well known vs. not known school comparison. Olin is balanced m/f I learned. Maybe no relevance but you might find a snippet in there.

The fields can be different. EE is different from CS while CompE shares a fair bit with CS (being a blend of EE and CS). In any case, plenty of ECE majors end up doing software jobs.

BTW, HCI is within SCS at CMU but CMU offers a bunch of CS-adjacent/programming-heavy majors outside of SCS. In their engineering school, in their arts&social science school (including their philosophy department), in their information system program, and in their sciences school (math department)

yes but HCI is specifically indicated as a possible additional major for all students, which I took to mean all colleges. Did I read that wrong?
(Because ECE+HCI would be very complementary for a student interested in both ECE and CS).

OK CMU allows an additional major.

Though it seems like an additional major will likely take more time to graduate (so also money) or extra work and overloads. And they do gate it by GPA. Anyway, if the goal is to work in Big Tech afterwards, just majoring in CompE or switching to one of the many other CS-adjacent majors at CMU seems much easier/realistic than double majoring. And the top tech companies do hire CMU grads in those CS-adjacent majors.

You just asked the same question I have as well. Unfortunately, she only has experience with CS. She has taken AP computer science, attended coding camps, did a data science internship, and currently runs tech/coding classes for kids). However, she THINKS ECE could be of interest to her but there is really no way to know for sure. That is the real risk of picking CMU as I’m afraid there are fewer options if she is wrong. I’m guessing she would probably minor in CS which I’m assuming wouldn’t be too hard with the overlap in classes. The appeal of a place like Northeastern is that she could easily change majors.

Again, with the many CS-adjacent majors at CMU, unless she has as a potential goal getting a PhD in CS, I’m not sure what the worry is. Because it’s CMU, any tech company of note recruits there, and they hire the CS-adjacent majors as well. Which is why the CS-adjacent majors at CMU makes salaries equivalent to CS majors from good programs elsewhere (the median CMU CS salary tops everyone).

BTW, because there is so much overlap between CompE and CS,

  1. There’s no point or need to minor in CS
  2. Everywhere I’ve looked, CS departments don’t allow CompE’s to minor in CS because the CompE major essentially already includes at least as much material as a minor in CS (and generally allows you to take more CS classes than a minor in CS would).

OK, it’s pretty clear you don’t come from a tech background, but you have to believe me and folks with a tech background when we say that there’s nothing magical to the acronym “CS”. What matters is what you learn and she’ll get plenty of opportunity to pick up the skills that tech companies want at CMU even if she isn’t officially a CS major.

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I agree fully if this is true, but I’m struggling to find where this is the case. I’m not an expert on the adjacent degrees, could you link to the degree requirements for some of these that don’t require SCS admission?

I’m in full agreement that the official “CS” designation is not required, but as it stands the ECE degree would still be unideal for someone who knows they want to go into say FAANG as a SWE, though workable and the CMU name will certainly help. It’s not about employability there as much as availability of classes and the flexibility to study what you want. You’d also end up spending a ton of time with EE/CE things that you would perhaps not be interested in if you found out you wanted to be a pure CS.

Finding out if ECE majors can easily minor in CS to get additional access would be good to confirm. My initial googling seems to imply that the CS minor is not allowed for ECE majors, but I haven’t found anything official.

Logic and Computation: Department of Philosophy < Carnegie Mellon University

ECE: Academic guide - Electrical and Computer Engineering - College of Engineering - Carnegie Mellon University

Information Systems: The Major in Information Systems < Carnegie Mellon University

Statistics and Machine Learning:

Computational and Applied Math:

There’s also Computational Finance.

True, ECE will require non-CS classes. The Computational and Applied Math or Information Systems would be the closest to a CS major. I would investigate how easy it would be to switch to that major if interested.

That Computational and Applied Math major allows you to take a bunch of CS classes and seems like a Math+CS major.

Logic and Computation is nowhere near enough to be a SWE at a top company without a ton of self study. ECE and IS have a bit more, but basically get up to a CS minor at best and don’t get you access to CS course electives as far as I can tell.

Stats/Machine learning is probably the one I’d recommend, but that one requires a lot of heavy math so it’s important someone enjoys/excels in that to get through that degree.

Basically, all of these are a lot of non-CS for someone who may not be interested in them.

IS only requires 3 CS courses and doesn’t seem to have any relevant CS elective options. I would not recommend switching from ECE to IS if CMU is the choice. If anything, to Stats/ML.

To me, it seems that unless you enjoy the stats/ML route, there’s not a way to get a full enough CS education without switching to SCS. You’d get far more CS depth as a CS major at your average LAC than compared to these options. I think that’s well worth considering here for someone that could potentially want to be a full CS major.

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I added more majors as I found them in the CMU catalog (edited that post a bunch of times).

One thing to keep in mind is that those are the minimum requirements for each major. All the CMU majors seem to allow space for a fair amount of free electives and CMU has a ton of CS electives (non-majors probably just won’t have registration priority over CS majors; do inquire about the difficulty of signing up for CS classes as a non-major). Also, all of these majors have ended up at the Big 4/Big N software companies. CMU has a very detailed database of where each major ends up, salary, etc. online:

Info on minor and additional major in CS at CMU (as well as switching in to CS):

Evidently, the Cog Sci major at CMU also has a few CA classes.

Reading Reddit, a someone at CMU was saying that 2-3 classes is enough to get a job. The path being take CS 121, 122, and maybe 213, get an internship, and once you have that, you’re set. It makes some sense. Even CS majors won’t have more than a handful of CS classes under their belt when interviewing for internships, and if you do better in them than some of the top CS talent in the world, top tech companies will notice (and an internship from a respected software company will get your resume notice later on).

The path is just much easier at CMU (if you can prove yourself) because CMU is very respected in tech.

Plenty of Math majors at CMU (maybe the majority in fact) end up in software engineering; this is especially true for those that take the Discrete Math track. Their curriculum includes all the same early CS courses, plus a handful of upper-level classes.

As a discrete math major, a CS minor is pretty straightforward. An Additional Major in CS is a bit more complicated and may take a summer or an overload semester, but it’s doable. You have to qualify for the minor, first, by getting good grades in the per-reqs.

The same is true of ECE majors who go on to SWE.

And yes, the internships are there for kids (typically post-soph or more likely jr) for any of these kids, even outside of SCS. But to be sure, the SCS kids have a leg up on the tippy-top firms and can start earlier given their early courses.

I will say that, as is the case in most Stem fields, course selection and planning is important to get it all done and right.

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  1. The fact that a CS degree is more relevant to SWE is wrong. CMU CS is HIGHLY theoretical. The stuff you learn is more relevant for postgrad and not jobs. In fact CMU IS which is also ranked #1 is better or the software track of ECE is better than CMU CS for SWE in terms of what you apply at jobs.
    2)You can easily minor in CS or do an integrated masters which imo is more valuable than just a CS degree

Computer Science, BSCS < Northeastern University is the Northeastern CS major map. Note that 136 semester hour credits are required, more than the usual 120 (136 credits is basically like 9 normal-load (15-16 credit) semesters). The five year plan includes 7 semesters of 16-19 credits each and 1 summer of 8 credits, along with 3 co-ops. The four year plan includes 6 semesters of 16-19 credits each and 4 summers of 8 credits each, along with 2 co-ops.

What is odd is that the CS major map has all co-ops happening in the spring, with course work in the fall. That makes it seem like the CS department will be overloaded in the fall, with little to do in the spring, as far as teaching courses is concerned.