Thematic VISP Track: Computer Sciences

The Department of Computer Sciences is a top-ranked department at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. The award-winning faculty are committed in both research and teaching that provides a quality experience for all students enrolled in Computer Sciences courses. The department offers courses that cover the fundamentals of computer science, including complexity theory, algorithms, programming languages, compilers, optimization, operating systems, computer architecture, networking, security, cryptography, database management systems, artificial intelligence, machine learning, graphics, and many others.

Program Overview

As a member of the UW-Madison Computer Sciences Thematic VISP program, you are able to choose 3 to 4 courses related to your areas of interest in Computer Sciences. You may also wish to explore new areas to learn more.

In addition to course enrollment, you will also have the support of Computer Sciences faculty and staff to provide resources for your success and networking opportunities to increase your knowledge of the computer sciences field.

Student Support

From the time you apply to the end of your stay, the VISP staff will be there to assist you. As a VISP participant you have full access to all academic and student support services, such as departmental advising on courses, libraries, computer labs, clubs, and sports facilities; the opportunity to participate in VISP sponsored social and cultural events; and inclusion on department networking events. Upon completion you will receive an official UW-Madison transcript.

The Department of Computer Sciences welcomes Thematic Track VISP program students to participate in several department activities during the academic year. Typical events range from a welcome event, to networking opportunities with current students and faculty, and an end of the semester gathering. Additionally, students will receive a weekly electronic department newsletter sharing information about student organizations, speakers, and social activities happening within the department.

VISP students will also be connected to an academic advisor within the Computer Sciences department who can be their point of contact for academic resources, enrollment support, and concerns regarding student life on-campus. If there are any questions, comments, or concerns, you are always able to reach out to the advisor for assistance.

Program Eligibility

Participants must meet the VISP eligibility criteria for admission into this program. This Thematic Track admits students at the Undergraduate or Graduate level.

Applicants to this Thematic Track must also have completed the following coursework:

  1. Introductory Programming and Data Structure Courses (CS 300 & CS 400 or equiv.)
  2. Proficiency in Java programming language
  3. Calculus II (Math 222 or equiv.)
  4. Discrete Math (Math/CS 240 or equiv.)

It is preferred (but not required) you also have linear algebra (Math 340 or equiv.) experience prior to participating in this thematic track. The equivalent of junior or senior standing from your home institution is preferred for undergraduate applicants.

If you are not sure that you meet the Introductory Java Programming & Data Structures course requirements through prior coursework, please contact the for assistance (please include VISP in the subject line). Course descriptions can be found on the Computer Sciences Guide page.

Available Terms

Students can participate in the fall and/or spring semester. Summer term may also be available with limited offerings. Check with for more information.

Academics & Course Offerings

Thematic Track participants will rank their course preferences from a variety of advanced-level Computer Sciences courses using a survey that is provided after admission.

Enrollment in advanced Computer Sciences courses is guaranteed to thematic track participants. While seats are reserved for participants, final course enrollment is determined by demand and availability of preferred courses. Additional questions about course enrollment or course offerings can be sent to (please include VISP in the subject line).

Available Course Options
(Course options will depend on semester)
Detailed Course Descriptions can be found here.

Computer Sciences Theory & Software/Hardware Courses
(Choose 1 course)
Computer Sciences Applications & Elective Courses
(Choose up to 2 courses)
Comp Sci 354: Machine Organization and Programming (Fall only) Comp Sci 412: Introduction to Numerical Methods
Comp Sci 407: Foundations of Mobile Systems and Applications Comp Sci 435: Introduction To Cryptography (Fall only)
Comp Sci 506: Software Engineering Comp Sci 513: Numerical Linear Algebra
Comp Sci 520: Introduction to Theory of Computing Comp Sci 524: Introduction To Optimization
Comp Sci 536: Introduction to Programming Languages and Compilers Comp Sci 526: Advanced Linear Programming
Comp Sci 537: Introduction to Operating Systems Comp Sci 540: Introduction to Artificial Intelligence
Comp Sci 538: Introduction to the Theory and Design of Programming Languages Comp Sci 559: Computer Graphics
Comp Sci 542: Software Security Comp Sci 570: Introduction to Human-Computer Interaction
Comp Sci 552: Introduction to Computer Architecture (must have prior digital systems experience) Comp Sci 638: Undergraduate Topics in Computing (available offerings will vary)
Comp Sci 564: Database Management Systems: Design and Implementation Comp Sci 639: Undergraduate Elective Topics in Computing (may choose up to 2 topics – subjects will vary by semester)
Comp Sci 577: Introduction to Algorithms
Comp Sci 640: Introduction to Computer Networks (must have prior operating systems experience)
Comp Sci 642: Introduction to Information Security (must have prior operating systems experience)

Cost of Attendance

Estimated cost of attendance information is available on the VISP website.

Application Instructions

Submit your VISP application and in your essay please include: “I am applying for the Computer Sciences VISP track.”

Questions? Please contact the VISP coordinators.

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