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CSE Course Placement Advice

Updated May 6, 2014

Students new to computer science at UCSD often ask which course to enroll in first.  The following suggestions are rough guidelines based on prior experiences with our students:

  • Students who have significant prior programming experience (for instance, a score of 4 or 5 on the CS AP exam; or a high-school programming course; or a course in a community college) are advised to begin with CSE 11.
  • Students who have not had significant prior programming experience, but are comfortable with using computers, are advised to begin with CSE 8A.
  • The remaining students are advised to begin with CSE 3.

Again, these are merely suggestions. It is up to the individual to determine a suitable starting point in CSE. A good strategy is to pick a starting course according to the above rubric, but to change it as early as possible if it turns out to be too elementary or too difficult.

Course Descriptions

Note: For Cognitive Science Majors:

  • CSE 7 - Introduction to Programming with MATLAB: Cognitive Science majors must take the Advisory Exam available at the Cognitive Science Department for placement in CSE 7. Questions for this exam should be directed to Thanh Maxwell at or 858-534-6771.