Declaring The Concentration

Declarations are made through ASK. The following steps describe the process.  There is an FAQ at the bottom of the page. (Advisors, your FAQ is here.)

Understanding The Requirements

Before you declare, look at the course requirements. Useful documents include:

Steps To Declaring

Here is a video demo of how to declare in ASK.  What follows is a textual summary.

Log into ASK, go to the Declarations menu, select My Declarations and follow the instructions to create a declaration.

Note that the Professional Track option (in the drop-downs at the top) is intended for international students who wish to do internships under CPT. The track offers no benefits to other students.

Once you create the declaration, you need to indicate the courses that you will use to satisfy the concentration requirements (the "Course Plan"), and map those courses onto the requirements (the "Program Plan").  About halfway down the main page for your declared concentration, you will see two buttons, one labeled Course Plan and the other Program Plan, with "(Edit)" to the right.

Screenshot of course and program plan buttons

  1. Click on "Edit". This will put you in a screen that looks like the following (partially-completed plan):

    Screenshot of the Program Plan Editor

  2. In the left column, add courses that you want to apply to your concentration (you can also do this through the Course Plan button on the previous page ).

  3. Once a course appears in the left column, you can drag it into the boxes for specific concentration requirements in the right column. As you drag in courses, the icons within the requirements area will change to green circles or checkmarks (indicating that you have satisfied part of the requirement).

    Ultimately, you want to see green icons (checkmarks or circles) for each of the high-level requirements (you must fill in the intermediate courses in pathways, even though they appear checked by default). You can find a summary of the icons on the previous (declaration overview) page to the right of the Course/Program Plan buttons. 

    • In the screenshot, the student has dragged CS15 into a requirement, but not CS32 (which explains the different colors in the left column)

    • In the screenshot, the student has partly satisfied the introductory courses requirement in the right column (CS16 is missing). If the student dragged in CS16, the introductory courses would be marked with a green icon (the shape depends on whether the student has finished taking or plans to take the selected courses)

  4. Check that your declaration is complete. This means:

    • Making sure you have populated each requirement area (so you have green icons on all of them). If you aren't sure which courses or pathways you want, put in something tentative for now.

    • Making sure you have populated the intermediate course areas of the pathways. The pathways will have green icons even without this (since the intermediate courses are also listed elsewhere).  You can drag the intermediate courses into the pathways even though they are already "used" in the intermediate course area.

  5. Once you believe your declaration is complete, submit it for approval (using the button at the bottom of the page).  Shortly after submitting, the Director of Undergraduate Studies will match you up with a concentration advisor (you may, but do not need to, request a specific advisor on the form before submitting). Your assigned advisor will review your plan with you prior to approving it (during which you can discuss and refine tentative selections).

Approval does not mean that you are now required to complete the listed courses. You may change the courses (and pathways) used in your declaration at any time until part way into your last semester. Approval means "if you finished the listed courses, you would satisfy the concentration requirements".  Students change their minds and revise their declarations all the time. The point of approving something now is to make sure that you understand the concentration requirements and have a tentative plan that you have discussed with an advisor.

FAQ About Declaring

The answers to many of these pertain to declaring pure CS, as opposed to a joint concentrations.  If you have questions that are not answered in this FAQ, contact Professor Fisler.

Do I have to identify an advisor before declaring?

You may identify your own advisor if you wish, or you can let us assign you an advisor.  If you don't list a preferred advisor, we will match you up with someone appropriate (based on a combination of your interests and the existing advising loads of the faculty).  Even if you list a preferred advisor, we may need to assign you to someone else based on how many advisees your requested advisor is able to take on at the time you declare.

Professor X agreed to be my advisor, but they aren't listed

Email Tom as soon as you declare, and we can set that up. If you have an email confirming that your advisor has agreed, forward it as part of your email to Tom.

The intermediate courses in the pathways are checked off automatically.  So do I need to fill those in?

Yes. Intermediate courses appear checked off in pathways by default because these courses get formally checked in the intermediate courses section. But your advisor still needs to see the intermediate pathway courses in place in order to review your declaration.

Can I drag a course into more than one requirement in the program plan?

Yes, you will need to do this with those intermediate courses that are used to satisfy pathway requirements.

I chose my intermediate courses based on the old requirements, but they don't satisfy my intended pathways under the new requirements.  What should I do?

Declare with pathways that fit your 1000-level courses. If you don't have intermediate courses that match the pathway requirements, drag in the most appropriate intermediate course that you can (if you have to use a systems course instead of a math course, or vice versa, that's fine). The substituted course will be flagged with a warning triangle within the program plan.  Your advisor can resolve this warning when reviewing and approving your declaration. (This is the easiest way to handle most cases of students who land between the old and new requirements).

I planned my courses around the old requirements, and I don't see how to fit them into the new requirements.  What should I do?

Students who were enrolled at Brown prior to January 2018 may still graduate under the old requirements.  If you feel you need to graduate under the old requirements, populate your course plan, but not the program plan.  Then contact Tom or Kathi, who will help move your declaration over to the old requirements.

I've already taken 22, which doesn't seem to fit many pathways. What do I do now?

You can use one extra intermediate course in place of a 1000-level CS course.

There's a course in another dept that I want to use as a CS 1000-level course. What do I do?

Check the concentration handbook to see whether we have already made a decision on that course. If the course isn't listed as either approved or rejected, email Tom or Kathi with a link to the syllabus so we can review it.

I dragged a course into my program plan but the icon for that section didn't turn green.  What happened?

There are several possibilities:

1) Perhaps you put the course in the wrong box.

2) You are substituting a course for the one that is formally in the requirements (such as using Math 100 for the Calc Prerequisite). Your advisor will have to check these manually.

3) There are a couple of courses for which the name of the course is slightly different across the two databases used to populate ASK information. The green icons check both course number and title, so these courses don’t appear satisfied.  Your advisor will inspect these cases manually.

I'm trying to submit my declaration, and am getting an error that my intermediate courses are not satisfied

You have to drag your intermediate courses into two places: the general intermediate course requirements, and the intermediate requirements for the individual pathways. If you are getting this error, you probably only populated the intermediate courses in one place (or you missed a course when completing one of the two kinds of requirements). The intermediate courses in the pathways will get a green checkmark automatically, even if you don't populate them (this is an artifact of having to record them in two places).  You still need to drag them in, despite the checkmark.

Why do some areas say “0-2 credits”?

Our requirements need to count intermediate courses in two places: the intermediate courses requirements, and the pathway requirements.  The “0-n” configurations in the pathways are what let us record the same course two places, while only counting it once (in the intermediate courses section) towards your total credits.  The same issue applies to the ScB capstone course.

I removed an intermediate course from a pathway, and it disappeared from my overall set of intermediate courses as well. What happened?

The ASK development team is aware of this problem. At the moment, this is how the system behaves, however.

What is "sifting mode"?  Can I edit my program plan in that mode?

Sifting mode hides all requirement areas that are not being used in your current declaration. This helps hide all the pathways that you are NOT completing, for example. Unfortunately, (a) you can’t change the sifting mode while you are in Program-Plan edit mode, and (b) if sifting mode is on, you can’t add courses to requirements that you weren’t already using (in other words, sift is fine for reading but interacts poorly with writing).  The ASK development team acknowledges that there are issues here that they need to fix.

I'm considering study abroad.  How do I handle that in my declaration?

AB students may transfer up to two study-abroad courses to the concentration; ScB students may transfer up to three.  Actual transfers get approved by Tom (as Director of Undergraduate Studies).  When you fill out your declaration, take your best guess at courses you will take at Brown or transfer from elsewhere (you can always update your courses as your study abroad plans take shape).  You can add a comment to your declaration about your study-abroad interests.  We strongly urge you to review planned course transfers with your advisor and/or the Director of Undergraduate Studies before you leave, so that there are no surprises when you seek concentration credit upon you return.

I have a question that isn't covered here or in the concentration handbook...

Email Tom or Kathi with your question.