See how CCIS empowers female undergraduates to code—and learn—with confidence.
CCIS is committed to diversity
We aim to establish a computing population—students, faculty, researchers, and staff—that reflects today’s global society. Quite simply: we believe the current shortage of women and underrepresented minorities in computer science and related fields must change.
Dean Carla Brodley is leading the charge within CCIS and across Northeastern. By encouraging more diversity—of thought and experience, of gender and demography—we believe we can greatly increase participation at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Our big goal: a 50/50 balance of female/male students enrolled at CCIS by 2021. Here’s how we’re doing it.
Attracting new talent
Today’s complex world demands college graduates with knowledge as diverse as it is deep, which is why we’re working to increase the number of students who learn some computer science while at Northeastern—no matter their background or career path. We help students across the University make computer science part of their education through:
Combined majors – CCIS has developed more than 25 combined undergraduate majors, which pair a computer, data, or information science degree with another area of study at Northeastern. Combined majors provide both a strong technical foundation and an understanding of how computing concepts apply to a chosen domain.
CCIS Meaningful Minors – This program allows students to pursue a computer or information science minor that ties the CCIS curriculum into their major. For example, a journalism student may take courses in Digital Storytelling and Web Development, or a psychology major may take an Artificial Intelligence elective. Students gain in-depth interdisciplinary knowledge that directly applies to their studies, plus technical know-how that gives them a competitive advantage after graduation.
Revisiting the fundamentals
Like any academic program, a student’s first experience with computer science sets the tone for everything that follows. That’s what guides our way of teaching the Fundamentals of Computer Science introductory course, also known as “Fundies,” which is required for all undergraduate majors and minors.
During the course, students learn a new coding language designed by our faculty, and are given the choice to enroll in either a regular or accelerated section. Students without prior computer science or programming experience—freshmen, non-majors, and majors alike—can explore concepts with classmates who are at a similar level and feel comfortable asking basic questions. Meanwhile, more experienced students can work at a quicker pace and on more complex tasks. Yet both groups also work together, providing an opportunity to bridge knowledge bases and skill sets within a diverse community of learners. That’s what Fundies are all about.
Fundamentals of Computer Science introductory course sequence:
- CS2500 Fundamentals 1 – Introduces first-time coders to systematic and explicit program design while enabling students with prior experience to grow their design skills.
- CS2510 Fundamentals 2 – Focuses on systematic program design in the context of a real-world language (Java) and incorporates existing libraries into design.
Supporting diversity outside the classroom
From strong mentoring and tutoring programs to hackathons created exclusively for female students, we are dedicated to helping underrepresented groups put their skills to the test and succeed in the world of computer science. Our efforts include:
Sponsorships – CCIS sponsors and provides opportunities for students to attend conferences and events that foster diversity, including:
- Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing
- ACM Richard Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing
- CRA-W Graduate Student Cohort Workshop
- Women Engineers Code (WeCode) Conference
Student groups – A collaborative, team-oriented culture runs through CCIS. Students join and lead groups at the college and across Northeastern, from the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and Information Systems Security Association (ISSA) to NU Hacks and the Game Development Club. CCIS also features two groups that, while open to all, are focused on female students:
- Northeastern University Women in Technology (nuWit), which fosters and supports a diverse community of women interested in computer and information science
- NU Grad Women Coders, a community of female students who help each other further their ambitions and take on leadership roles in the tech world
Hackathons – Hackathons are collaborative events that showcase the skills and talents of our diverse students in action. Student teams, with the support of real-world experts, dive into technical projects and problem-solving work. These fun competitions help students build camaraderie while learning from each other and professionals in the field.
Opening new doors
The ALIGN Program provides a unique pathway to a Masters for students without a background in computing or information technology—and it creates a strong pipeline of diverse talent for today’s high-tech workforce. Graduate degree options include:
- ALIGN Master of Science in Computer Science
- ALIGN Master of Science in Health Informatics
- ALIGN Master of Science in Information Assurance and Cybersecurity
ALIGN Scholars Program – Thanks to a grant from the National Science Foundation, $10K tuition scholarships are available to highly qualified ALIGN MSCS students with demonstrated financial need. The grant makes a computer science graduate degree accessible to a broader base of demographic groups—including those traditionally underrepresented in computing—and opens new doors to intellectually curious students seeking careers in high-tech.
Leading the charge for diversity
Read what Dean Brodley has to say about diversity at CCIS and within the field of computer science.
- Tech Republic: How Northeastern plans to reach equal male-female computer science enrollment by 2021
- Good Call: How Three Colleges Work to Close the STEM Gender Gap
- Northeastern News: National Science Foundation grant bolsters Northeastern’s work to diversify computer science field
- Times Higher Education: Dean Carla Brodley speaks at Times Higher Education’s Young Universities Summit at QUT (Queensland University of Technology) on Northeastern’s strategies for CS for Everyone