New B.A. in computer science proposed

By JACKSON NOLDE/Montana State News

The Montana State University Faculty Senate heard a proposal for a new bachelor of arts program in computer science Wednesday.

This program was met with concerns over what would require the capstone to be. Dean John Paxton suggested having students develop a prototype software and do a write-up on how the concentration contributed with the student inviting a B.A. supervisor to attend.

The B.A. in computer science would involve a year of modern language courses followed with more humanity core classes. This could allow a sociologist with a computer science degree to research with Facebook. expanding the job prospects greatly with this proposed major. 

Leila Sterman, representing the MSU library, asked how many students are currently involved with the computer science program. Paxton, said that 50 undergraduates and 25 masters are  currently involved with the program. Those numbers are quickly expanding.

According to an article in the The Economist on Jan. 17, students nationwide are taking interest in this program. However, senators asked if this new program will bring in new students? Or will it just collect new students from existing majors.

Eric Austin, representing political science and a past hiring manager, believes this program would not limit a student’s job prospects. In fact, he said he believes it would add up and compete well in a job market dominated by STEM.

With the B.A. in computer science, it would step away from the STEM category which is notably lacking in women.  This degree could help fix those odds and include more women in the program. A former HP recruiter, Austin said that 70 to 80 percent of jobs do not require a B.S. in computer science, so it wouldn’t take away from job opportunities.

This change would help keep the university moving forward and keeping it competitive with universities that already offer a B.A. degree in computer science.  The next meeting on March 22 will resume the conversation on this topic and maybe result in a vote taking place.

– edited by Emma Hamburg

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