Frequently Asked Questions
Here, we address some of the common questions that prospecitive majors, new majors, and current students have either before declaring or while finishing the degree.
If you still have questions regarding the program, please send the MCS Program an email!
Course Credit questions
I took data science 101 (STATS 101) before declaring MCS. Can I count this course towards the major requirements?
I took CS 109 before declaring. Can I substitute it for STATS 116?
No, CS109 is not equivalent to STATS116. STATS116 is more comprehensive than what is covered in CS109, though the material taught is applicable to CS. If you still wish to declare MCS, but have already taken CS109, you will be required to take STATS217 (+ STATS 200, and either STATS 191 or 203) to fulfill the Statistics core requirement. This does not exempt you from any of the other Statistics core requirements.
I took the AP exam in Computer Science. Do these units count toward the MCS degree requirements?
In general, no. The CS department has determined that the AP exam does not equate to that of CS106A. If you place out of CS106A and take CS106B upon entering Stanford, we may ask that you take an additonal CS course (3-5 units).
May I use transfer credit toward the major?
Transfer students may petition to apply coursework from institutions outside Stanford University to their major, provided the Registrar has already awarded transfer credit and that the coursework is relevant and/or equivalent to courses approved for the MCS major. All such petitions are subject to approval by the MCS faculty advisor. More information on transferring credits, along with the requisite forms, can be found on the MCS transfer credit page.
How do I take a course for my major that is not on the pre-approved course list(s)?
MCS majors may count no more than one approved course substitutions (subject to MCS faculty advisor approval) toward their individual requirements. If the course is taken at another institution, Stanford must first award you Stanford credit if you would like the course to be considered in lieu of an MCS requirement. MCS faculty advisors review all course substitution petitions and course transfer petitions. Please see the forms section of the website to obtain forms for both course substitutions and evaluation of transfer courses.
I'm interested in doing a Coterm program. What happens if some classes required for MCS are also required for the Coterm?
Much like not double counting courses in multiple majors/minors, the courses required for your undergraduate degree do not also count toward your graduate coterm program. If a given course is part of your chosen coterm program and is also required to complete your degree requirements for your undergraduate degree, you will need to discuss appropriate higher-level, additional courses with the coterm department to satisfy the requirements of the coterm. Taking the courses for your undergrad degree does not simultaneously satisfy the requirement in your chosen graduate degree program.
I do not have AP Math credit. How do I decide which math course to enroll in freshman year?
I'm interested in doing MCS Honors. In which math sequence should I enroll?
What is the difference between an academic department and an interdisciplinary program?
An interdisciplinary program crosses the boundaries between traditional disciplines to tackle problems that require a diverse set of methods and concepts. The MCS Program's affiliated faculty members represent several other departments including Computer Science, Material Science & Engineering, and Statistics. By learning to bring this rich collection of disciplinary expertise to bear on questions of science and technology, students graduate uniquely equipped to succeed in professions that demand interdisciplinary fluency across technical and social frameworks.
How many students are in the MCS program?
There are usually around 100 to 130 students in the MCS program.
May I choose a faculty advisor?
After you declare, you will be assigned in Axess to a faculty advisor who is affiliated with MCS. Students who have a pre-existing relationship with an MCS-affiliated faculty member, and would like to request them as their advisor, must inform the MCS Student Services Officer upon declaration. You should be proactive in scheduling an annual appointment with your advisor during their office hours to discuss your academic interests, goals and challenges. You are also encouraged to meet with your advisor to discuss research and other academic opportunities.
I haven't taken any Statistics courses. Will my major declaration still be approved?
We ask that students have completed 2 of 3 required MATH 50 courses as well STATS 116 (or another Statistics core course). If, upon declaration, you have not fulfilled these requirements, the MCS Student Services Officer will get in touch with you about next steps.
May I study abroad and major in MCS?
Absolutely! A quarter abroad in a different cultural context allows you to enrich your academic interests, expand your network, and generate new ideas. The MCS major constitutes roughly 80-90 of your 180 required graduation units, which allows you the time, if you plan ahead, to take a quarter to travel abroad. To find out if there are pre-approved courses overseas that will count towards your major, check the Bing Overseas Program website and then cross-reference any BOSP courses you plan to take with the MCS course lists in your chosen concentration area. Even if you are unable to take coursework towards your major, you will still be making progress towards your total Stanford units.
Does MCS offer curricular practical training (CPT)?
Yes, CPT is available for declared MCS majors maintaining a valid F-1 visa during summer quarter (additional information on CPT eligibility can be found on the Bechtel International Center website). Students obtain an internship in a relevant research or industrial activity to enhance their professional experience consistent with their MCS degree. The student is responsible for arranging their own internship. For more information, please visit the MCS policies on Internship Credit for International Students.