Student Information

Computer Science Department

Revised 24 May 2012

The Computer Science (CS) Department hopes every student can succeed in our programs. Knowing about local policies and procedures will help students learn about issues related to academic success and to proceed efficiently through our programs. Students new to Colorado State University (CSU) may find some policies of the Department and CSU are different from those whence they have come. Students are strongly encouraged to review this document to see what it contains. We encourage you to study the section on Academic Integrity, which has critical policies that specifically apply to our courses. Knowing about local practices and resources available will help you succeed.

This document is divided into three main sections:

Advising and Registration

This includes information on:

Academic Integrity Policies

This section includes detailed information on acceptable academic practices, and unacceptable practices (dishonesty) with examples.

Department Policies and Procedures

Policies and Procedures include:



Students are encouraged to seek advice whenever they have questions about their degree program. Department faculty and staff are here to help students succeed in their academic endeavors. CS faculty have an open-door policy when it comes to helping students. Students are strongly encouraged to ask for help in any situation.

The Department has developed a two-part advising system:

1) a Key Advisor, and assistant advisor, who helps students with policies, procedures, and with making proper degree progress; and

2) a faculty advisor, who helps students select their senior level computer science courses, and advises them on careers paths in computer science.

The Key Advisor:

The Key Academic Advisor is an advising professional who is responsible for helping students complete their degree requirements. The Key Advisor, and the Assistant Director keeps students informed about which set of requirements apply to them, their remaining degree requirements, and how to navigate the policies, procedures, and resources of the Department, College and University. Students should feel free to contact the Key Advisor by phone, email, or in his office at any time.

Faculty Advising:

In addition to the Key Advisor, the Computer Science Department brings students and regular, tenure-track faculty together one-on-one to discuss senior CS elective (Group I) choices and career plans and other issues related to their computer science education. The faculty advisor is assigned during a student's third year in the program. Students are encouraged to maintain contact with their assigned faculty over their last years in school with any academically-related problems and concerns they may have. Faculty advisors can offer unique insight into the nature of the discipline, alert students to opportunities and careers in computer science after graduation, and discuss with them the content of advanced computer science courses.

In summary: the advisors are experts on Department and CSU rules, specific policies, and degree-related information. Faculty advisors work with the students to find and work toward their individual special interests and goals.

Faculty and Staff Help:

In addition to working with academic advisors, the CS Department encourages students to contact any individual faculty to discuss any academic matter at any time. Faculty are here as a resource for students, and can be relied upon to provide help and encouragement. If you want to speak to any professor about any school-related matter, you should not hesitate to stop by their offices, send email to them, or call them on the phone.


Registration for classes is done over the Internet, using CSU's RamWeb facility ( ). Registration for the next regular semester (Fall or Spring) begins approximately two months before the end of the semester. Graduate, Honors Students, and upper-class students (Juniors and Seniors) register first, followed by Sophomores, and then Freshmen. Freshmen (students with fewer than 30 hours) must see the Key Advisor before registering, to get the advising code they will need to register. Freshmen are generally not allowed to register until a month before the end of the semester.

Class Overrides:

Students may find themselves unable to register for a class for a number of reasons. Courses may be full, or the registration system may not recognise their prerequisites. In such cases students may request an enrollment override from the CS Dept. for CS courses. Access to courses in other departments can only be obtained by the department offering the course.

The CS Dept. allows adds during the first week of classes, after that, unless a student has been attending class, adding a course is not allowed. This is in order that students not add a class in which they are already too far behind to catch up.

Minimum Grades & Prerequisites:

There is a C or better requirement (i.e., greater than a C-) for using a CS (and certain mathematics) classes as prerequisites for other CS classes. This requirement is strictly enforced so that students understand material well enough to proceed in the program. For the same reason, the prerequisite order in which courses may be taken is taken very seriously by the computer science faculty, who have spent considerable time and energy deciding the optimal order of topics in the curriculum. Exceptions are granted only very rarely, and only for academically defensible reasons.

Challenge Examinations:

Students who believe that they already know the content of a CS course may request "testing out" of the course through a Challenge Examination. Whether a Challenge Examination is offered is up to the department and instructor offering the course for which a challenge is requested.

Since Challenge Exams are to test students on material they have already learned outside normal University courses, challenge exams are not offered to students who have previously attempted a course (including W drops). Challenge examinations may be attempted only once for a given course.

To request a Challenge Examination, students should start by contacting the current instructor of the course for which a challenge is desired. Challenge examinations may consist of a comprehensive examination, a substantial programming assignment, or both. Students must earn a grade of C or better on the examination in order to obtain credit.

Students attempting a challenge examination will be charged $20 per credit whether the challenge is successful or not (this will be billed to a student's University account). Successful challenges will earn a student credit for the course with an entry on the student's transcript with a grade of "pass."

Degree Audits:

All Students who have at least 60 hours are encouraged to contact the Key Advisor for a degree audit -- a definitive list of a student's remaining requirements for graduation. All students who are about to graduate should set up an appointment with the Key Advisor prior to registering for their final semester to go over their requirements.

Degree audits can be requested by email in many cases.

Contact the Key Advisor:

Phone: 970/491-7137



Students taking CS Department classes are required to follow our policies. Students should consult the instructor of the course for clarification before taking action. Ignorance of our rules and customs is not an acceptable excuse for violating a policy of the Department or University.

All CSU academic integrity policies apply within the Department. The CS Department has additional policies to deal explicitly with course work involving computers. It is important to understand these policies, since actions considered acceptable in other types of classes may not be acceptable in the CS Dept. Not knowing CS Dept. policies could adversely affect your grade, or might be considered cheating, even if you had no intention of dishonesty.

In questionable situations, the decision as to whether a student cheated is made based on the intent of the assignment, the ground rules specified by the instructor, and the behavior of the student. Two guidelines help an instructor decide if cheating has occurred:

* Program plagiarism will be suspected if an assignment that calls for independent (single-student) development and implementation of a program results in two or more solutions so similar that one can be converted to another by mechanical transformation.

* Academic dishonesty will be suspected if a student who was to complete an assignment independently cannot explain both the intricacies of his or her solution and the techniques used to generate that solution. In the case of paired programming, each student in the pair must be able to explain independently the intricacies of the pair's overall solution.

Here are some examples of cases which are clearly unacceptable and others that are clearly considered acceptable in the CS Department.

Examples of clearly unacceptable behaviors:

Examples of Acceptable Practices:

IN SUMMARY: you may discuss assignments with other students but the work you turn in must be your own:

The Computer Science Department faculty will not condone academic dishonesty. When academic dishonesty is suspected, instructors will take action to establish whether it has actually occurred. If it has, the instructor will apply appropriate disciplinary policy. The University specifies that academic dishonesty may be grounds for dismissal. Penalties less severe may be imposed instead. A list of possible disciplinary actions is given below.

Actions Within the Course:

Actions by the University:

The following policies apply to all cases of academic dishonesty:

  1. For the first offense, the penalty will always be more severe than the penalty for failing to turn in the assignment (or take the exam) in question.
  2. For either repeated offenses or a flagrant offense by any student, the instructor shall refer the incident directly to the University for action and assign a penalty no less severe than failure in the course.

NOTE: Faculty are obligated by University policy to report to the Office of Conflict Resolution and Student Conduct Services all violations of academic integrity for which any penalty is imposed.



The University Manual specifies the guidelines for incompletes. The Computer Science Department recommends a grade of I (incomplete) be granted under conditions of grave emergency which could not have been reasonably foreseen by the student at the beginning of the semester and which conditions are essentially beyond the control of the student. An instructor may request documentation confirming the nature of the emergency.

In order to encourage progress through the degree program, it is recommended that a grade of I only be given if the student has completed at C level or higher the majority of work in the course, and it is anticipated that the remaining work will be finished within a specified time period.

As an alternative to the incomplete, there is a university procedure in case of emergency to permit a student to withdraw late (with a grade of W) from a course after the regular drop period.


The University calendar is set two years in advance by the faculty council in accordance with the authority invested in it by state law. The calendar is published in the CSU directory, CSU bulletin, and class schedule. It is a student's responsibility to be aware of important dates such as beginning of classes, final examinations and deadlines for withdrawing from a course with no record or with a grade of ``W'' recorded. Students do not have the legal competence to change the calendar and, hence, should not ask for special consideration to allow them to miss classes or not take examinations, including finals, at appointed times. The Department does not accept a student's travel plans or arrangements as an excuse for missing examinations or classes. The Department expects students to attend all classes including the last class prior to a vacation and the first class after a vacation. It is a corporate faculty prerogative to set the length of a vacation and not that of an individual student.

Participation in official University activities, e.g., an out-of-town athletic event, or special religious observances may provide a legitimate reason for an excused absence. The student is responsible for discussing this with the instructor at the beginning of the semester.

The student may be required to provide verification for absences due to the death of a family member. A funeral announcement or a newspaper notice of the death is usually sufficient. (This requirement may appear harsh, but the reporting by students of deaths that have not occurred has led to it.)


It is a violation of the law in the State of Colorado to make entry or use of a computer account for which authorization has not been granted. Academic Computing and Networking Services and the Computer Science Department treat all such incidents seriously. When warranted, violations will be reported to the district attorney for prosecution.


It is an instructor's duty not to discriminate amongst students on the basis of irrelevant criteria. In particular, no special consideration is given based on class standing, e.g., being a graduating senior.

These principles apply explicitly to grading practices. Instructors shall not assign grades based upon capricious criteria, nor shall students expect special treatment based upon conditions unrelated to the course in which the grade is to be assigned.


The policy of the University is to assure the speedy and fair resolution of perceived grievances, to provide for review processes to guarantee fair and reasonable application of University policy, and to encourage mediation of possible conflicts at the earliest possible moment. A student who believes that he or she has been treated unfairly should first appeal to the instructor involved and try to resolve the problem on a mutually satisfactory basis. The student should then discuss the matter informally with the Key Advisor, if the problem has not been resolved with the instructor.

Academic Dishonesty:

Faculty members are expected to use reasonably practical means of preventing and detecting academic dishonesty (see Catalog for the Academic Integrity Policy). If a faculty member has evidence that a student has engaged in an act of academic dishonesty, the faculty member will notify the student of the concern and make an appointment to discuss the allegations with the student. The student will be given the opportunity to give his/her position on the matter. If the student admits to engaging in academic dishonesty or if the faculty member judges that the preponderance of evidence supports the allegation of academic dishonesty, the faculty member may then assign an academic penalty. Examples of penalties include assigning a reduced grade for the work, a failing grade in the course, or other lesser penalty as the faculty member deems appropriate.

If a student disputes the allegation or the penalty imposed by the faculty member, he/she should appeal to the Office of Conflict Resolution and Student Conduct Services. A hearing will be conducted to determine whether a preponderance of evidence exists in support of the allegations of academic dishonesty. If the University Hearing Officer finds insufficient evidence or clears the student of the charges, the faculty member will change the grade to that which the student would have earned if the penalty for dishonesty had not been assessed. If the University Hearing Officer finds the student responsible for the charges, the Hearing Officer may uphold the academic penalty imposed by the faculty member or recommend a greater or lesser academic penalty and may impose additional University disciplinary sanctions.

Appeals of Final Grades:

Faculty members are responsible for stating clearly the instructional objectives of the course at the beginning of each term and for evaluating student achievement in a manner consistent with these objectives. Students are responsible for meeting standards of academic performance established for each course in which they are enrolled. Faculty members and instructors are responsible for assigning final course grades. Graded examinations, papers, and other materials used as a basis for evaluating a student's achievement will be available to the students for inspection and discussion.

Students may appeal faculty grading decisions. The burden of proof, however, rests with the student to demonstrate that the grading decision was made on the basis of any of the following conditions:

Before making an appeal, the student should discuss the situation with the faculty member involved in the grading decision.

To file an appeal, the student shall submit a written request to the department chair. The request must set forth the basis for the appeal identifying one of the three categories set forth above. The request must be submitted or postmarked, if mailed, no later than 30 calendar days after the first day of classes of the next regular semester following the date the grade was recorded. If the appeal is not made within this period the grade shall be considered final.

Within 30 days of receipt the request for an appeal, the student's appeal shall be provided to the faculty member who assigned the grade and an appeals committee as set forth in the Dept. Code. This committee shall be composed of two faculty members not involved in assigning the disputed grade, and two students from within the department and one outside faculty member who will serve as a voting chair.

The appeals committee will review the written appeal and response of the faculty member. They may elect to interview both the student and the faculty member before rendering a decision. The decision of the appeals committee will be based upon whether one of the conditions for an appeal set forth above has been met. At the conclusion of the deliberations, the committee will render one of the following decisions:

1) The original grading decision is upheld, or

2) The department chair or his/her designee will reevaluate the student's achievement of the instructional objectives of the course and assign a grade accordingly.

Written notice of the committee's decision and the reasons for the decision normally will be sent to the student and the faculty member within 30 calendar days of appointment of the committee. The appeal committee's decision is the final decision of the University. Written summaries of the hearing and decision, together with a rationale for that decision, shall be provided the student and the faculty member who assigned the grade and retained in the department office for a period of one year.


Colorado State University affirms its commitment to maintaining a work and study environment for faculty, staff, and students that is free from sexual harassment. The display of sexually explicit digital computer images on or in campus facilities may constitute conduct of a sexual nature that creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment, even if not directed at offending a particular individual, and is prohibited by the University Sexual Harassment Policy. Any violation of the University Sexual Harassment Policy may result in the imposition of appropriate sanctions.