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Master of Science in Computer and Information Sciences

George J. Pothering
Interim Chair
843.953.6905

Anthony P. Leclerc
Program Director
843.953.5963
leclerca@cofc.edu

http://compsci.cofc.edu/graduate-programs/index.php

Program Description

The College of Charleston and The Citadel offer a joint graduate program leading to a Master of Science in Computer and Information Sciences. The program is offered primarily at Harbor Walk and is designed to serve a growing professional work force in computer science, information technology, software engineering and cybersecurity in the Lowcountry of South Carolina.

The 33-credit-hour program offers four areas of specialization: computer science, information systems, software engineering and cybersecurity.

Courses are taught in the evenings or late afternoons, accommodating the schedules of most professional students. Courses are offered on alternating days, permitting full-time students to schedule up to four courses (12 credit hours) in a semester.

Thesis Options

Students pursuing the Master’s may complete the degree in one of three ways for any of the three specialization areas.

Non-thesis option: A student must complete 33 credit hours of graduate coursework.

Project thesis option: A student must complete 30 hours of graduate coursework and a project thesis. This option is characterized by a research project that applies or extends course topics through systems development. The project may be associated with a current work-related problem. External documentation will accompany the project. Students electing this option will need to register for CSIS 698 during the semester in which the research begins.

Research thesis option: A student must complete 27 hours of coursework and a research thesis. The thesis option is a traditional research project characterized by a comprehensive paper on a research topic. Students selecting this option will register for CSIS 699, which is a six-credit-hour course that extends over two semesters.

Notes: All options for degree completion requirements are constrained by elapsed time and GPA requirements for graduation.

For any thesis or project thesis with a duration that extends into additional semesters, including the summer, students are required to register for additional research hours. Research hours do not satisfy elective credit hours.

Both the thesis option and the project thesis option require a proposal for project approval. Proposals must be approved by both the program director and the thesis advisor.

Program Duration

A typical professional student might take two courses per semester during the fall and spring terms and one course during the summer. Such a schedule would put the student on track to graduate in two and a half years, depending on which degree-completion option is selected. Non-degree students simply desiring to build skills and expertise in one or more specialized areas may, of course, simply schedule such courses as desired. A full-time, degree-seeking student would typically take between three and four courses during the fall and spring terms and up to two courses during the summer, putting the student on track to graduate within a year and a half, depending on the degree-completion option.

Minimum Admission Requirements for Master’s Program

  • A completed application form – degree-seeking admissions status.
  • An official copy of a transcript from each institution of higher learning attended, including documentation of graduation from an accredited four-year college or university.
  • Scores from GRE tests taken through July 31, 2011 must have a minimum combined score of 1000 on the verbal and quantitative sections of the general test, and a minimum score of 4.0 on the writing assessment. The minimum requirements for tests taken starting August 1, 2011 require a composite score of 300. There is a five-year time limit on the use of scores.
  • International students must demonstrate proficiency in the English language and fulfill other admissions requirements as set forth by the policies of The Graduate School of the College of Charleston.
  • Either coursework or acceptable work experience in computer science and mathematics. All students must have an understanding of the following four core competencies:
    • basic computer architecture
    • object-oriented programming
    • discrete mathematics
    • data structures
  • In addition to the core competencies, it is highly recommended that students also have the proper background in their specialization of choice. Recommended competencies by specialization are:
    • Computer science specialization: operating systems theory and programming language theory;
    • Information systems specialization: business management;
    • Software engineering specialization: programming language theory;
    • Cybersecurity specialization: networking and operating system theory.
    • Note: Undergraduate courses are available for completing the competency requirements.

Transfer Credit Policy

An applicant or student of the M.S. in Computer and Information Sciences program can seek approval from the Joint Program Committee to accept up to nine transfer credit hours. These courses must have a grade of B or higher, and can count toward the M.S. in Computer and Information Sciences degree requirements. Courses with a grade of “Pass” or “Satisfactory” will not be accepted.

Plan of Study

A plan of study must be approved by the program director and would include a list of any required undergraduate competency courses.

B.S./M.S. Degree Requirements

The College of Charleston offers a Bachelor of Science/Master of Science in Computer and Information Sciences program. For selected students, permitting up to 12 hours of graduate-level course work taken as an undergraduate as early as the junior year to count towards the Bachelor of Science in Computer Science degree and the Master of Science in Computer and Information Sciences degree allows for the design of a plan for completing a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science degree and a Master of Science in Computer and Information Sciences degree in five years. An undergraduate student in the five-year plan taking a graduate level course during the junior and senior years for both undergraduate and graduate credit would in every respect be treated as a graduate student in the course. The reason for including this option is to allow outstanding and motivated computer science majors to earn graduate credit during their junior and senior years and earn a Master's degree in Computer and Information Sciences in a shorter time. Students enrolled in this program typically complete their M.S. degree within one calendar year after receiving the B.S. The combined degree is designed to integrate undergraduate-and graduate-level research and to give the selected students an outstanding preparation for entering a Ph.D. program in computer and information sciences or related fields.