Advising Frequently Asked Questions

Who is the Undergraduate Advising Head (UAH)?

The Undergraduate Advising Head (UAH) for the 2018-19 academic year is Professor Antonella DiLillo. To schedule an appointment with her, please click here to access her google calendar.  If you wish to discuss declaring a major or minor, please refer to the next question and follow the directions, before making an appointment with her. Her office hours are held in Volen 137.

How do I declare/change/drop a major or minor in Computer Science?

Please follow these directions:

  1. Log in with your Brandeis ID (the first part of your email) and your password.
  2. Use a non-Firefox browser (Safari, Chrome or IE/Edge are all fine).
  3. Connect from on campus ONLY (or VPN first, see - use the instructions to install Junos Pulse, not a one time connection). Please be patient - it saves frequently so that you don't lose anything, but it makes it a little slow.
  4. Fill out the Major/Minor Worksheet found here

If declaring, having thought about what classes you might want to take before you log in will be helpful and you will definitely need your Sage ID number (20******) and list of classes in the University BulletinAfter completing that form, you will receive confirmation of your request and instructions on how to set up an appointment with the UAH, if you need to do that. If you have any questions about the form, experience any problems or have feedback, please send an email to Jessica Maryott (

How do I get an exemption from 11a?

Students who get a 5 on the AP Exam in Computer Science are automatically exempted from COSI 11a and need not do anything.  Students who have taken and passed the introductory course for computer science majors at another institution are eligible to take a placement exam to qualify for an exemption for the computer science major at Brandeis. The placement exam will happen on the first Wedneday after the start of classes each semester.

Any student who wishes to take the placement exam must email to register for it with the following information: a) What course you took that makes you eligible for the placement exam; b) When and where you took that course; c) AP test results or proof of what grade you received (certificate, transcript, etc.).

I learned programming on my own and have not taken a course equivalent to COSI 11a. Can I take the 11a exemption exam?

No. COSI 11a is a pivotal, gateway course to the major for two reasons:  1) it introduces fundamental programming concepts and methodologies that are essential for any computer science graduate, and 2) it provides students with an intensive programming experience that (along with other programming-intensive courses we offer such as COSI 12b) help to ensure that students who graduate are proficient at programming. We do allow exemptions to students who have taken an equivalent course elsewhere provided that they take and pass the exemption exam. But this is the only exemption (along with the AP exemption discussed above) we allow. Students who choose to major in computer science should do so knowing that COSI 11a is a required course for the major. 

I wish to take COSI 12b or COSI 21a even though I haven't taken COSI 11a. Is this possible?

No. Only students who have been granted an exemption from COSI 11a may take COSI 12b or COSI 21a without having taken COSI 11a. The process for getting an exemption from COSI 11a is described above.

How do I get an exemption from required courses other than COSI 11a?

Students who believe that they have taken an equivalent course to to a course required for the COSI major or minor should contact the UAH and present a syllabus for the course they took and a copy of their transcript that shows the grade they received for the course.  Exemptions are granted at the discretion of the UAH.

I wish to take COSI 21a even though I haven't taken COSI 12b. Is this possible?

As of fall 2016, COSI 12b (or permission of the UAH) is now a prerequisite to COSI 21a. In general, the UAH will only grant permission for a student to take COSI 21a without having taken COSI 12b if he/she received a grade of A- or higher in COSI 11a.

How can I propose the substitution of a different course for a course required for the major or minor?

Course substitutions can be proposed by completing the online petition on the registrar's website.

Can I substitute Math 23b for COSI 29a?

A student who has taken both Math 23b and either Math 8a or Math 36a can substitute these courses for COSI 29a.

Can I take a course without having taken its prerequisites?

No. The prerequisites to any given course are carefully chosen so as to ensure that all students taking the course have a mastery of topics that will be assumed as understood when introducing new course material. A student who wishes to take a course without having taken its prerequisite(s) must have been approved for an exemption from (each of) the prerequisite course(s).

The requirements for the major or minor have changed since I declared. Must I abide by the new requirements?

All students have the option of following the current requirements for the major or minor as specified in the current version of the bulletin  or following the requirements that were in effect when the major or minor was declared. You can tell which requirements with which you are currently associated by performing a degree audit on sage. If you wish to change the requirements to an earlier or later version of the bulletin, you may request this by emailing the registrar at

Does COSI 2a count as an elective for the major?

COSI 2a is a course designed for non-majors and thus does not count towards the major. When the bulletin description of requirements for the major were revised a few years ago, the declaration that COSI 2a does not count towards the major was accidentally omitted. This was corrected in fall 2016 and the bulletin now states that COSI 2a does not count towards the major. However, students who declared their major when the bulletin wording allowed for COSI 2a to count towards the major can use the process described above to use this previous version of the major requirements.

I would like a course that I plan to take at another institution to count towards the minor or major. What are the rules for this?

The university (and the COSI department) discourage the substitution of a course taken at another institution for a core course that is required for the minor or major.  If this is the substitution sought, it is recommended that you contact the UAH prior to taking the course and also send them a copy of the syllabus for the course you wish to take and an explanation for why you cannot satisfy the core course requirement at Brandeis.

Transfer credit of courses taken elsewhere for elective credit is more straightforward.  In general, the rule of thumb is that a course offered at another institution can count as an elective towards the COSI major if that course counts towards the major for Computer Science (or its equivalent) at the institution where it is offered.  This requires providing the UAH with documentation of the requirements of the Computer Science major specified by the institution where they will be studying that show that the course or courses in question are accepted for the major.

I would like a course that I plan to take at another institution while studying abroad to count towards the minor or major. What are the rules for this?

See the answer to the previous question of this FAQ. Students should make the case for the set of courses they wish to take while abroad to the UAH before they leave. 

When I do a course audit on sage, I am seeing a mistake. How do I get this corrected?

All questions about sage course audits should be addressed with the registrar at

Do COSI 166 and COSI 167 together count as 1 or 2 electives towards the COSI elective requirements?

COSI 166 is worth 4 credits and thus counts as a single elective. COSI 167 is worth 2 credits. Because there is no other COSI course worth 2 credits, it alone cannot substitute for another elective. Therefore, the combination of COSI 166 with COSI 167 effectively counts as 1 elective.

How can I substitute courses taken at Brandeis or elsewhere for Math courses that are required for BS in COSI?

The COSI department follows the policies of the Math department in deciding on exemptions and substitutions for Math courses that are required for the COSI major.  The policies for receiving credit for AP Math courses for can be found at: 

and the scores required for credit are on the AP chart that can be found at:

If your math courses taken at another university were accepted and approved for the math equivalency through the registrar, we will accept this as well.   Simply email evidence of registrar approval to the UAH prior to filing a petition for the substitution.