University of Maryland students and faculty expressed mixed reactions to the university’s new transfer requirements for the computer science major, which will significantly decrease the number of transfers into the fast-growing major.
The new computer science transfer requirements, announced this fall, will increase the number of freshmen admitted directly to the major from 450 to 600 students. It will also decrease the number of transfers into the major by 90 percent, from 1,000 to 100 students. The requirements will apply to students entering the university beginning in fall 2024 and will not affect students currently attending the university.
The requirements include more stringent academic thresholds for students to transfer into the computer science major.
The university raised the prerequisite GPA to enter the major from 2.7 to 3.0. Students must also attain a minimum grade of B- in some introductory computer science courses. In previous years, students had to achieve a minimum grade of C- in these courses.
The changes will apply to external transfers — students transferring from different universities — and internal transfers, which are students changing majors at this university.
Transfer is also no longer guaranteed into the major, even if the requirements are met.
According to the computer science department’s website, students who are admitted to the university but not to the computer science major “must be prepared to select an alternate major.”
In a statement to The Diamondback, the computer, mathematical and natural sciences college, which hosts the computer science major, said computer science is the most popular major on campus and a significant factor in designing the new requirements. The statement also cited the major’s designation as a limited enrollment program in 2018.
“The LEP has increased selectivity and improved student success, but it has not resulted in lower enrollment,” the statement read. “Lower enrollment is necessary to better match our faculty, teaching assistant, academic advisor and instructional resources.”
Since the major’s designation as a limited enrollment program in 2018, the number of undergraduate computer science majors has increased by more than nine percent to 3,725 students in fall 2023.
Larry Herman, a computer science lecturer who teaches some introductory computer science courses, said the new policy will reduce overcrowding in classrooms and help increase learning quality.
“I do think that it’s going to help our program to have class size a little smaller,” Herman said.
Herman, who has been teaching at this university since 1995, added he is currently teaching 600 students in a course.
61 percent of classes in the computer science department have a class enrollment of 50 or more students in fall 2023. The average course size has also increased by more than 20 percent since fall 2018.
Large class sizes mean that instructors do not have as much time for individual students and some students feel discouraged from asking questions, Herman noted.
But some of this university’s current and prospective students said the new transfer requirements are an additional stress in the application process.
Leo Nguyen, a senior at Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Greenbelt, applied to this university for computer science in this year’s application cycle. He highlighted that if he was not directly admitted into computer science, he would need to invest more time in his studies.
“I will most likely have to invest more time to make sure that my GPA is up to par,” Nguyen said. “It will probably be more stressful.”
Nguyen added that he is unsure whether he would choose to attend this university if he was not directly admitted to the major.
Shivank Bhimavarapu, a freshman enrolled in letters and sciences who is hoping to major in computer science, sympathized with prospective students who will be affected by the new transfer requirements.
“I just feel bad that the requirements are so much more heightened … especially because college applications are also getting a lot more competitive,” Bhimavarapu said.