Course Information

YCPS Description

Individual study for qualified students who wish to investigate an area of computer science not covered in regular courses. A student must be sponsored by a faculty member who sets the requirements and meets regularly with the student. Requires a written plan of study approved by the faculty advisor and the director of undergraduate studies. May be taken more than once for credit.

Enrolling in CPSC 480

To enroll in CPSC 480, you must:

  1. Find an advisor.
  2. Prepare a plan of study for the semester. This is a written document, negotiated with your advisor, that must include:
    1. a description of the topic and objectives;
    2. a list of the books or other materials you will be reading;
    3. the nature of any homework or papers;
    4. the kind and frequency of meetings with your advisor;
    5. your qualifications to undertake a study of this topic; and
    6. a statement of how such a study fits into your academic goals.
  3. Submit the final version of your plan of study, as approved by your advisor, by email in plain text or PDF format to the DUS. You should CC your advisor on this message.

Your plan of study must be approved by the DUS at least two days before your course schedule is due.

End-of-Term Requirement

The following requirement must be completed by noon on the last day of reading period:

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is CPSC 480?

    Individual study (under the supervision of a faculty advisor) of an area of computer science not covered in a regular course.

  2. Who may advise a CPSC 480 project?

    Any faculty member with an appointment in the Department of Computer Science. The advisor meets regularly with the student (normally for at least one hour per week), sets the requirements, evaluates the work, and assigns the final grade.

  3. What topics are appropriate?

    Any area of computer science not covered in a regular course.

  4. How do I choose a topic?

    There are two general approaches

    and a host of possibilities in between.

  5. What are the requirements?

    In addition to the end-of-term requirement described above, the course must have some kind of “product,” such as regular homework or examinations, a final examination, a series of short essays, or a term essay.

  6. Does CPSC 480 count as an advanced elective for the CS major or related majors?

    No. CPSC 480 only gives you credit toward your 36-credit graduation requirement.

  7. How often may I take CPSC 480?

    You may take CPSC 480 more than once for Yale credit.

  8. May a group of students study the same topic in CPSC 480?


  9. How does CPSC 480 differ from CPSC 290 and 490?

    There is no project in CPSC 480.

  10. How is CPSC 480 graded?

    CPSC 480 is graded pass/fail. Typically your advisor will decided your grade.

  11. Does my grade in CPSC 480 affect Distinction in Major?

    Because CPSC 480 does not count toward any major, it is not included in calculations of Distinction in Major.