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The following are frequent questions that pertain to the M.S. in Computing Program.

What is the Integrated Practicum and who is eligible?

The Integrated Practicum is intended for students who want to continue their studies of computer science, computing, or software engineering on a full-time basis but wish to simultaneously start a career and receive financial support for graduate school study.

Students who are awarded this opportunity will be introduced to employers seeking qualified workers. The employers will have the opportunity to hire students who are learning about the latest in technology.

Because this option integrates graduate coursework with work assignments, the student experiences the practical aspects of implementing technology. Classroom projects and assignments are certainly beneficial, but practical application provides greater benefits.

The students have the benefit of enhanced learning and completing their MS degree in less than two years. They will gain valuable work experience and receive wages to offset graduate school expenses. A more detailed explanation can be found in the Marquette Graduate School Bulletin.

To be eligible, the student must declare the intention to follow this curriculum path from the first semester in the MS in Computing program. The students must maintain part time employment with a participating employer throughout their studies. This option qualifies as Curricular Practical Training. International students with an F-1 visa are eligible for the integrated work assignments starting in their first semester.

What are specializations?

Marquette University provides specializations in Master's degree programs to designate an emphasis on a specific field within the scope of a discipline. The MS in Computing program does not require a specialization but it offers them. The completion of the required courses in the specialization carry a designation on the diploma and transcript indicating pursuit of study in a specific area. For more information about specializations in the MS in Computing program see Specializations.

Why pursue the M.S. in Computing?

The M.S. in Computing assists students in adding depth and breadth of knowledge of computing technology and technology management to grow careers. The program is based on a strategy that includes:

Who is it for?

This degree program is aimed at two groups: the prospective career-changing student and the practicing professional who senses the need for more depth and breadth of knowledge to enhance career growth. The program can be taken on a full-time or part-time basis. A non-degree option is available for professionals looking to strengthen their knowledge by taking selective classes offered by any of the cooperating departments.

What are your classes like?

Students may select computer science, computer engineering, information technology, and technology management courses offered by the Department of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science (MSCS), the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (EECE), and the Graduate School of Management, Information Technology (INTE) courses. Courses in other schools and departments may be added to a program when they make sense for the student. For a complete listing of pre-approved classes go to the Approved Courses page.

Our classes not only teach you how to use the concepts of computer science to identify strategic information technology that delivers business success but they also teach you how to advocate, develop, and deliver the technology.

"One of our measures of quality of instruction is what you are able to accomplish in your work perhaps several years after completing our program."
--George Corliss, faculty and founding Director

What are the online class options?

With the addition of Distance Learning capabilities, the MS degree can be obtained through online participation.

We are committed to the online format for several reasons:

The Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science Department offers a majority of the MS in Computing classes through synchronous, distance learning. By inserting two-way audio and video capabilities into the classroom and using web-based conferencing technology we have extended the classroom across the internet. Whether studying from home, on vacation, or at a remote work site, students can attend classes at the prescribed times for the class. Any of the popular browsers allow students to look into, hear, and be virtually present in the class. In addition, classroom sessions are typically recorded and made available to students for review or offline viewing. Students typically use their Internet connected computer with audio capability to take advantage of this offering. However, most smart phones can provide access to the virtual classroom as well.

We offer some classes and an online seminar as asynchronous online offerings. In these classes students access materials and complete assignments at a pace defined by the instructor. Materials are made available and exchanged between the instructor and the student through our learning support platform, Desire 2 Learn. This facility allows students to submit assignments and participate in threaded discussions that are facilitated by the instructor. Class materials typically consist of textbooks, recorded video, and documents. Other techniques such as web conferences may be used in these classes to provide contact with other students and the instructor. Classes span the term in which they are offered.

Should a class require access to computing resources on campus, remote access is always available.

What are the differences between the thesis and the coursework options?

In the coursework option, students compile 36 semester hours through classes, seminars, independent study, and an optional practicum. (The 42 credit Career Change Opportunity is an exception to this.) Credits for a practicum are not available in the thesis option. The thesis option requires 24 semester hours and a thesis that adds another 6 semester hours for a total of 30 semester hours.

The thesis process generally begins with student interest in a problem. This leads to collaboration with a thesis advisor and a more formal identification of a problem. Certain documents must be prepared and sent to the Graduate School for approval to enter into the thesis option.

There must be a compelling reason why the problem under study needs a solution or needs a better solution. The problem must be one faced by multiple organizations and the findings of the research must be widely applicable. Because this is a professional degree program, the thesis is not limited to theoretical issues. It may address a practical problem. Because of the breadth of the program, the problem may arise from any of the perspectives of computer science, computer engineering, software engineering, information technology or information systems. Research efforts vary from proposing and analyzing algorithms (the computer science perspective) to increasing the understanding of the role of information in business operations (the information systems perspective).

The six thesis credits are awarded for the preparation and delivery of the thesis document and the oral defence of the research and findings.

The practicum is not required in the coursework option; it is available to the student approaching graduation. It consists of applying knowledge gained in the course of study to a challenging assignment and reporting the results. The practicum focuses on the delivery of a practical solution to a problem faced by an organization engaged in applying computing. The problem addressed and the solution delivered can be specific to the organization sponsoring the practicum It is typically a work assignment resulting from either full-time employment or an internship. The practicum requires a faculty sponsor.

How do you assess the program?

We assess our program based on the following program learning outcomes.

Upon completion of the program students will be able to:


How does Computing compare with the Computational Sciences degree program?

The master's degree in computing is intended as a professional masters degree leading to careers typically in applications development, software engineering, service delivery, architecture and information technology management.

The master's degree in computational sciences complements the master's in computing by offering a choice for students seeking more mathematical content or preparation for a doctoral program or a research career. There are significant differences in the degree requirements:

  1. Students in the computational sciences program must complete an essay or thesis.
  2. There are 18 credits of core courses required in the computational sciences master's program. The computational sciences core includes courses in probability, simulation, applied analysis, and applied linear algebra (MSCS 6010-6040). The computational sciences program therefore expects students have the background to complete four graduate school courses in mathematics and statistics, in addition to studying computer science.

While the computing program integrates computer science, computer technology and technology management, computational sciences integrate computer science and mathematics.

Why not call this a Master of Science in Computer Science?

The leading professional organizations in computer science, the ACM and the IEEE Computer Society, along with the Association for Information Systems, described the elements of the Computing Curricula as consisting of the following subdisciplines:


This is a professional program with a decidedly practical orientation and broad scope. Our program includes opportunities for courses in all five disciplines. We encourage students to take classes from across campus. While engineering and business courses are obvious choices, other departments teach graduate courses in the application of computing to their specific discipline. The result is preparation for a career that is much broader, more applicable, and in touch with student interests.

What are the prerequisites?

Many of our courses assume that you can write programs and are comfortable with common data structure concepts. While a professional position in computing may not require you to write programs, programming is one of the experiences expected of computing professionals.

We require prior course work or the equivalent training or experience. We expect you to have experience programming in some modern language. Java, C++, C, Pascal, Python, Lisp, Scheme... are all reasonable alternatives. We expect you to be able to work with data structures such as stacks, queues, lists, graphs, trees, and hash tables. These are the fundamental building blocks of many computer algorithms.

We are happy to consider appropriate experience in lieu of actual coursework. Some students are able to meet the requirements through self-study.

If you do not have the prerequisite knowledge, we offer undergraduate classes to prepare you. However, these classes do not count in the total course requirement of semester hours because they are undergraduate classes. The classes are as follows:

  1. COSC 1010 Introduction to Computer Programming
  2. COSC 2010 Data Structures for Engineering or 2100 Data Structures and Algorithms

The MS in Computing program has no mathematics requirements. We think that mathematics is an excellent background for computing and some of our available classes in MSCS and EECE draw heavily on math. However, many of your classes require no math.

How do you handle BOTH those with Computer Science exposure and those without?

There are several features that work together to achieve handling both groups.

  1. Computer science entrance requirements are minimal. The two areas typically covered in Computer Science undergraduate courses, programming and data structure are the prerequisites. Equivalent experience is acceptable. We have had many students without Computer Science exposure take the prerequisite courses in our undergraduate offerings to get ready for the program. Recently we have added the Specialization for Career Change Opportunity which covers the prerequisites in MSCS 6500 Foundations of Computing course.
  2. We offer many courses at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Under Marquette's system, graduate students are permitted to take up to half their graduate program from courses also available to undergraduates. Hence, the students in the computing program with less computing background will probably take half their program in classes also offered to undergraduate Computer Science majors. Since there are many graduate classes offered, students with more prior academic or work experience will probably take nearly all graduate-level courses.
  3. There are no classes that are required. While we have breadth of study requirements, experience qualifies as an alternative and you have the flexibility to select the classes that meet your needs, your career plans, your experience, and your schedule.

One result of this duality is that not everyone graduates with the same skill set. We take students where they are and move them along. The person who started with the equivalent of an undergraduate Computer Science or Information Technology major graduates with a VERY strong skill set. Those students typically qualify for jobs requiring a few years experience. The person who started with little background grows a lot, but is not at the same place. Those students typically qualify for entry-level jobs, a bit ahead of undergraduate Computer Science or Information Technology students.


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Summer Research Experience

The Department of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science hosts a Summer Research Experience (REU) for Undergraduates. This program provides undergraduates with an intensive, faculty-mentored, summer research experience in the areas of applied mathematics, high-performance computing, statistics, ubiquitous systems and mathematics education. Learn more