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As usual, I need to do courses from several different areas of Computer Science for my Master's degree. I'll focus on Algorithms, Theoretical Computer Science (Computability and Complexity, the foundations,...) and Parallel/High Performance computing plus maybe a bit of Programming Languages at the side. To finish in time, I have to do 5-8 courses per semester.

Is it reasonable to focus on one topic per semester? E.g., I'll do about 5 courses on Algorithms. My assumption is that if I do all of these in one semester, I'll get a deeper understanding of the topic. Or would it be more beneficial for me to do 1-2 courses form each area per semester?

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closed as off-topic by amon, MichaelT, Bart van Ingen Schenau, Dan Pichelman, GlenH7 Dec 19 '14 at 20:12

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I don't think at an undergrad level you would find 5 courses on a specific topic and if you did they would either require one of the others as a prerequisite or make it impossible to meet your degree requirements – Rig Jun 28 '12 at 11:47
Sorry, I forgot to mention that I'm in my Master's. – mort Jun 28 '12 at 11:48
Ah...even at a masters I think it would be tough due to the prerequisite stuff I mentioned but I guess that depends on the school and their track. – Rig Jun 28 '12 at 11:49
At my university, I can choose courses from a rather long list. Anyway, the question is not really related to my specific school; it's rather asking about whether to concentrate on one topic for a while or do all of them for most of the time. – mort Jun 28 '12 at 11:51
anyways, you will forget stuff and have to refer them later on. I learned(SQL) and forgot, then learned again when needed – nischayn22 Jun 28 '12 at 12:51

2 Answers 2

up vote 7 down vote accepted

The point of taking 1-2 courses from each area every semester is that this courses might refer to one another. You might need one course to be able to understand the other properly. So after each semester you will have deeper knowledge on every topic.

If this is the case, the second option is better. At the time when you graduate, you will know al the topics well enough. Besides, you won't have a chanse to forget any of the topics since you will be refering to it every semester.

If the courses are independent, than the first option is more preferable. You will be able to have a very deep and wide picture of each area. Though in this case you will have the risk of forgeting what you learned previously.

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My assumption is that if I do all of these in one semester, I'll get a deeper understanding of the topic.

If you took 25 1-month courses in the same area all at the same time, would you get a deeper understanding of the topic? Of course not -- you'd just be counting the hours until it was over. It takes time to internalize information and turn it into real understanding. You'd be better off taking one or two courses in each area at a time.

But don't take my word for it. Talk to your advisor and/or trusted professors and see if they don't tell you the same thing.

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