Harvard does CS

Source: Harvard Crimson, Feb 2016

when it comes to computer science in Cambridge, there’s little doubt that MIT has the more established culture and curriculum. It boasts more students, more professors, more interest from recruiters, and much higher rankings. Differences between the two schools don’t stop there. Where Harvard’s campus is picturesque, MIT’s is stark. Where Harvard students have “concentrations,” MIT undergrads major in a number—6 for Computer Science, 2 for Mechanical Engineering.

Since 2007, Harvard CS faculty has grown from 19 professors to 32. Harvard has 12 electrical engineering professors. MIT’s Electrical Engineering & Computer Science department, meanwhile, has 165 professors. There are more MIT EECS professors in the prestigious National Academy of Engineering than there are total Harvard CS professors. Unsurprisingly, MIT also offers many more computer science courses.

While Stoica, who has taken courses at both schools, says the workloads are comparable, Roger Zou ’17, former president of the Harvard Computer Society, says he got the sense from summer colleagues at Google that MIT was “more rigorous for sure.”

“MIT has a lot more courses that are on the same level of rigor as the Operating Systems Course [CS161] as well as, of course, a greater selection of courses,” says Zou. “They’re more famous, they’re better taught. But that’s just because, you know, [they’re] MIT.”

Karger says he worries that the workload of computer science, especially at MIT, is too demanding.

“[When I was an undergraduate], I didn’t feel like I was in a permanent state of exhaustion from trying to manage this massive workload. I do feel like that’s the state at MIT,” Karger says. “I’m pretty sure that MIT students come out having studied a lot more stuff than Harvard students. It’s not clear to me that that’s at all important to their futures.”

the XFair, a tech-focused career fair held in MIT’s gym which drew 111 tech sponsors this year. Xfair is one of two popular student-run career fairs on campus. The other, the MIT Fall Career Fair, is by far the larger of the two.

The fall fair routinely attracts over 300 companies, most of whom are desperate for software engineers. So large is the demand for Course 6 majors that some students have taken to calling the fair “Course 6 Appreciation Day.”


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